Metal Chick of the Month – Elina Siirala

The heat that licks my skin, it takes me high…

Brothers and sisters of metal, let’s all get together to praise our metal chick of the month of April 2018, the stunning Finnish soprano and vocal coach Elina Siirala, better known for being the founder and frontwoman for English Melodic Metal band Angel Nation (formerly known as EnkElination), and for joining German Symphonic/Viking Metal act Leaves’ Eyes as the second female vocalist in the history of the band, replacing the iconic Liv Kristine. Having said that, are you ready to know more about such talented musician, and obviously head into the battlefield side by side with her?

Elina was born on October 27, 1983 in the Finnish capital Helsinki, being the second cousin of Tuomas Holopainen, well known founder and keyboardist of Nightwish. And let’s say that music truly runs in her veins as her whole family is comprised of musicians, not to mention she’s the third generation of teachers, with her passion for singing having started at a very young age when she was only 5 years old. Both her parents are teachers at the renowned Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, and her brother works as a professor in Munich, which means there was a lot of singing, playing and listening to music in her life while she was growing up. One funny story about her passion for music was that she basically begged her parents to start violin lessons, even building her own violin out of a piece of wood and rubber bands. She ended up playing the violin for seven years and also learned how to play piano by herself, but in the end singing was always what she loved the most in music.

After taking singing lessons at the age of 17, Elina got into the Metropolia University of Applied Sciences in Helsinki two years later, completing a Bachelor’s degree in classical music and performing in operas and concerts during that period, and after finishing her studies she decided to broaden her knowledge by moving from Helsinki to London, England, where she spent another year studying contemporary styles such as Rock & Soul (a very challenging one vocally speaking according to Elina herself), a course that also included a lot of performing by the way. In addition, throughout all those years of study, she was also a music teacher and wrote a lot of music, which culminated in 2011 with the creation of her own band EnkeliNation. As a matter of fact, her move to London was the true catalyst of her love for heavy music, with some hard times in her personal life being a source of inspiration for her music and lyrics.

In regards to her career with Angel Nation, as aforementioned it all started in November 2011 when she formed the band under the name EnkElination, with the band’s name being a play on words featuring “enkeli”, which is the Finnish word for “angel”, and also her own name “Elina” in the middle, changing the name to Angel Nation in 2016. Elina was initially joined by guitarist Shadow (Empyreal Destroyer, Stand Aside, Shadow Venger), playing the local London scene and developing the band as a live act while going through several lineup changes during the band’s first few years. Angel Nation also played a few important European festivals such as Bloodstock Open Air, Lankafest and The Dames of Darkness Festival, having released so far in their career the three-track, download-only EP titled Never Ending in 2012, and the albums Tears of Lust, in 2014, and Aeon, in 2017, as well as a couple of singles. Currently comprised of Elina on vocals and keyboards, Sonny Antoniou on the guitar, Julia B Cadau on bass, and Lucas Williamson on drums, Angel Nation play classic, straightforward Symphonic Metal, and you can enjoy their stylish music on their official YouTube channel, having the pleasure of listening to Elina’s powerful vocals in songs like Last Time Together (also available as an acoustic live version), Do It Anyway, and Tears Of Lust, as well as other live videos and special announcements.

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During one of the concerts where Angel Nation worked as a supporting act, Elina came up to the attention of Leaves’ Eyes, being invited in 2016 to join the band to replace their departing singer Liv Kristine. And she started touring and recording with Leaves’ Eyes immediately after joining the band, including a tour with Leaves’ Eyes alongside Sabaton in the United States in 2016 (while at the same time still managing and fronting Angel Nation), and some very unique concerts like the one in Indonesia where she sang in front of 21,000 people despite the heavy tropical storm that hit the venue before the gig, and a small but fully packed venue in Belgium that she considers one of the hottest shows she’s ever done, feeling like a sauna on stage. Since Elina became the new frontwoman for Leaves’ Eyes, the band has already released a handful of singles; an EP titled Fires in the North, in 2016, which includes an original song (also presented in acoustic format) and three re-recorded songs from the band’s 2015 album King Of Kings; and now in 2018 their first full-length album with Elina on vocals, entitled Sign of the Dragonhead. You can have a very good time together with Elina and Leaves’ Eyes by listening to excellent songs such as Edge of Steel, Across The SeaFires in the North, Jomsborg, and Sign Of The Dragonhead. When asked about her favorite songs by Leaves’ Eyes, our dauntless Valkyrie mentioned Take the Devil in Me (from the band’s 2010 album Njord) and Sacred Vow (originally from King Of Kings, but re-recorded with Elina on vocals for their EP Fires in the North) as two songs she would definitely add to her personal playlist, while Edge Of Steel and Swords In Rock (both also from King Of Kings and re-recorded with Elina on vocals for their EP Fires in the North) might be the ones she has the most fun playing live.

As previously mentioned, our Finnish diva has also been a vocal coach and teacher since she was 19, as during her years studying classical singing there was a a large variety of subjects such as music history, music theory and also music teaching, giving classes and lessons about breathing technique, vocal exercises (vocal placement and projection), stylistic awareness, repertoire, and stage and performance technique. Elina mentioned that she really loves teaching and that it’s been a pleasure for her to have already had many different students over the years, saying it’s at the same time challenging and rewarding. Of course, having to balance between Angel Nation and Leaves’ Eyes together with her vocal coach and teaching activities is not an easy task, with very little free time left, something she has to manage by scheduling and planning well in advance. Furthermore, she mentioned in one of her interviews that whenever she has some free time, she likes seeing her friends, watching movies and relaxing, also saying she doesn’t really have any time for hobbies. And to stay in shape on and off tours, Elina said she has an active lifestyle, practicing all kinds of sports to keep her fitness up, and while she’s on tour she said that being on stage is already a good workout for her, always resulting in her losing some weight.

Lastly, when asked about her biggest idols in music, and singers she admires and that inspired her in any way, Elina said that she really likes female singers such as Dutch goddess Sharon den Adel (from Within Temptation) and Whitney Houston, as she enjoys all kinds of styles, while her favorite male singers are Spanish tenor, conductor and arts administrator Placido Domingo, who she used to idolize when she was a teenager, and the one and only British icon Freddie Mercury, her all-time inspiration as a singer. Anyone who admires Mr. Freddie Mercury already deserves our utmost respect, and when that person is as talented, energetic and hardworking as our unstoppable Finnish banshee Elina Siirala, things get even better and more epic.

Elina Siirala’s Official Facebook page
Elina Siirala’s Official Twitter
Elina Siirala’s Official Instagram
Angel Nation’s Official Facebook page
Angel Nation’s Official Twitter
Angel Nation’s Official Instagram
Angel Nation’s Official YouTube channel
Leaves’ Eyes’ Official Facebook page
Leaves’ Eyes’ Official Twitter
Leaves’ Eyes’ Official Instagram
Leaves’ Eyes’ Official YouTube channel

“I think it’s amazing how much emotions music can awaken in people, how it can change your mood and bring back memories. It’s the perfect way of expressing myself as an artist and sometimes writing songs is almost like therapy that helps you through hard times. Compared to other instruments I’ve played, singing is definitely the most personal for me as I’m actually the instrument and I get to express everything through my own voice and of course lyrics.” – Elina Siirala

Metal Chick of the Month – Ceira Mahoney

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Save us, Ceira!

A couple of months ago, I had the pleasure to review the excellent EP The Way I Feel Pt. 2, by British Electronic Rock band SouLost and, of course, couldn’t help noticing the talent and awesome voice from their gorgeous lead singer Ceira Mahoney. Although SouLost is a brand new band, why not showing the world how promising Ceira’s career is with the band and how lucky Stef G, Lux and Law (the other members of the band) are?

Born on Februrary 7, 1992, Ceira (a tricky name for people who don’t know her, that’s actually pronounced “Kira”) began her music and acting career really early in her life. She started singing when she was only four years old, and began training at the Sylvia Young Theatre School in the UK on weekends. Once she turned seven, Ceira joined the Ravenscourt Theatre School full time, where she did a few acting roles such as extra work in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and About a Boy. Our stunning Brit-girl also had some experience overseas during her childhood, as she also played the part of a young goth aged 9 for a company called Malabar, in South Africa.

Then at the age of 14 Ceira got into the BRIT School of Performing Arts and Technology and went on to join a few bands. However, according to Ceira herself, up until SouLost she had not found any band she had a real passion for like the one she has developed for her current London-based rock group. Based on her two EP’s with SouLost (The Way I Feel Pt. 1 and The Way I Feel Pt. 2, both released now in 2014), it’s easy to understand why she loves her current job so much: the music by SouLost is powerful, captivating and modern, and it can be easily enjoyed by any type of person, from those regular “Top 40 Mainstream” guys and girls to the most diehard Heavy Metal fan you can think of.

If you don’t believe me, take a listen at some of the songs by SouLost, such as The Way I Feel and Save Me, and also watch their official video for the amazing song Without Me. You’ll see that not only her voice is perfect for this type of contemporary rock music, but also her performance as a frontwoman is really above average, truly boosting the quality of the music by SouLost.

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But how can such a young girl like Ceira look and sound so professional with so little time on the road with SouLost? Well, her origins and early start explain part of that, as previously mentioned, but I strongly believe all the inspiration she got from the legend, the unique, the immortal singer Freddie Mercury was the actual spark that ignited her love for music. She has loved British Rock icons Queen and their theatrical side since she was very young (who hasn’t, right?), especially Freddie’s unparalleled performance and voice, of course.

Besides Queen, she grew up listening to bands such as My Chemical Romance and Bullet For My Valentine, and the dramatic quality of their music has been instilled in her forever. Moreover, in regards to her top vocalists of all time, she also draws a lot of inspiration from artists like Alanis Morissette, Amy Lee, Gerard Way and Idina Menzel, among others. I should say this is a very eclectic list of performers, by the way.

Last but not least, as for hobbies our beautiful singer mentioned that, if she wasn’t devoted to music, she would definitely want to train as a tattoo artist, as she has always had a passion for art and body modification.

If you want to know more about this remarkable girl and her cool band SouLost, you can visit the band’s official website, Facebook page and Twitter, buy their music at their official online store, check where you can see them playing live, and also join the uprising #SouLostArmy. And let’s face it: with an “army captain” like Ceira, it will always be a pleasure to follow all her orders.

Ceira Mahoney’s Official Facebook page
Ceira Mahoney’s Official Twitter

“Every moment I’m able to perform is my favourite moment.” – Ceira Mahoney

Attraction Review – Rock Legends Wax Museum (Niagara Falls, Canada)

This “Rock N’ Roll version” of Madame Tussauds is an excellent option for all headbangers visiting the Canadian side of the falls.

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dsc02909So you decided to visit Niagara Falls, either because you’re a tourist or to spend a weekend or a holiday there with your family. Not only that, you’re also a true metalhead. How about instead of the boring routine of seeing the falls/playing at the casino/eating at Boston Pizza/etc. you do something different and unique, something dedicated to your passion for Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal? If you like the idea, you’ll enjoy visiting the ROCK LEGENDS WAX MUSEUM at Niagara Falls, Ontario. Of course nothing there is going to be as perfect as the attractions you can see at the renowned Madame Tussauds,  but this is the only place where you can see Angus Young, Geddy Lee, Slipknot or Metallica, which are way better options than garbage such as the cast from Twilight or Katy Perry.

dsc02845Located at the top of Clifton Hill and Victoria Ave, the access to the museum is extremely easy, and just by passing in front of it you can already see some of their attractions: when I was there they had one of the guys from Slipknot on display, as well as Gene Simmons, Slash and Ozzy right at the entrance. However, you can only take pictures of those if you actually buy a ticket to the museum. If you choose to visit the museum, you’ll be able to see not only some Heavy Metal icons (located at the entertaining Heavy Metal Chamber), but also many important musicians from the early days of Rock N’ Roll like Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown and Freddie Mercury; more contemporary musicians like Kurt Cobain and Bono Vox; and even some Pop artists such as Madonna and Snoop Dogg (or however he’s called nowadays). All these attractions were sculpted by local Niagara Falls artist Pasquale Ramunno, who did a pretty good job in almost all cases in my opinion. One of my favorites, of course, is a giant Eddie based on the Killers album, but with some chains like the Eddie from the World Slavery Tour.

dsc02868As soon as your tour through the museum is over, you’ll find yourself inside their store, called Rockworld. I was quite impressed with their huge selection of shirts, hats, belts, action figures and even some baby clothes for the future headbangers of Canada. The prices are not bad, and everything seemed to be made of good quality material. You can buy a new AC/DC or Pantera T-shirt to give you good luck for your time at the casino right after the visit to the museum, how about that? And as I’m talking about money now, don’t forget to print their online coupon to get a $1 discount per person for the museum admission. If you’re a group of 5 friends, for example, you’re saving the money of a beer.

imag0596There are some legends missing from the museum, of course: Ronnie James Dio and Rob Halford are two examples (at least as far as I know), but their current collection of over 60 figures is pretty decent and, as I mentioned before, totally different from any other wax museum in the world. I doubt you’ll find an Eddie in any of the Madame Tussauds unless of course it’s Eddie Murphy, but that’s not what we’re looking for, right?

Opening hours
Their website doesn’t say anything about the opening hours of the museum or the store, but I know it stays open until late on weekends and holidays, just as any other attraction in the city. You can give them a call anytime, just in case you’re planning to visit the museum.

Contact info & location
Rock Legends Wax Museum
5020 Centre Street
Niagara Falls, Ontario L2G 3N7
(905) 354-6255
info@rocklegendswaxmuseum.com
http://www.rocklegendswaxmuseum.com/

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