Album Review – Crossbones / WWIII (2017)

The most longstanding and influential metal act from Albania returns with a brand new opus, combining American Thrash Metal influences with a dark sound and typical Eastern European sonorities.

When vocalist Olsi Ballta grabbed an Albanian-English dictionary in 1996 and picked the first word on the page he randomly opened, he had no idea he would be founding the most recognized metal act in Albania and the only band from the mid 90’s that kept going. That’s how everything started for Tirana-based Heavy/Thrash Metal band Crossbones, the first Albanian rock band to have released a genuine full-length album on CD (their debut album called Days Of Rage, from 1997), who led them to play several concerts and festivals in the local scene, as well as within the region comprised of Macedonia, Montenegro, Greece and Kosovo, and to perform alongside major names such as Ian Paice (Deep Purple’s legendary drummer) and Rotting Christ.

After the release of a few singles, demos, a live album, a compilation and a stylish box set in the following years, Crossbones are finally back with new material, the full-length record entitled WWIII, combining American Thrash Metal influences with a dark sound and typical Eastern European sonorities in order to provide the listener a full-bodied metal attack that effectively represents not only the name and the artwork of the album, but also the core essence of the band. Perhaps due to the fact that Crossbones have been active through a couple of decades already, the music found in WWIII will provide you a voyage through old school and modern metal music, which only brings more flavor to the entire album. And let’s be honest, for a band that comes from a country where metal has absolutely (and unfortunately) zero support, what these guys do with their music is beyond fantastic.

The high amount of heaviness and groove emanating from all instruments from the very first second in I’m God, a potent mid-tempo Groove Metal composition with blazing guitar solos and neck-breaking riffs, will punch you in the face mercilessly, with lead singer Olsi Ballta delivering classic and melodious Thrash Metal vocal lines. And that’s only the beginning, as the straightforward tune Gates of Hell, led by guitarist Ben Turku and his slashing riffs, will please all fans of heavy music, with drummer Theo Napoloni and bassist Klejd Guza adding tons of groove to the musicality with their pounding beats and thunderous notes, respectively. In the slightly more atmospheric (but still as heavy as hell) Gjallë, or “alive” from Albanian, Theo and Klejd once again become the dynamic duo of fierceness, setting the perfect tone for Olsi to growl the song’s lyrics (which by the way are in Albanian).

The interesting WTF, which obviously means “what the fuck”, is more alternative than all previous tracks, focusing on the cutting strings by both Ben and Klejd while Olsi fires anguished and acid vocals, therefore increasing the song’s obscurity, with its ending being a sheer Groove Metal feast; whereas Messing with the Masses is a lot more introspective and somber, albeit not as exciting as the rest of the album. The dissonant and macabre guitar solo by Ben halfway through it is very effective though, while its second half sounds like a completely different song, being a mix of Alternative and Nu Metal. Schizo gets back to a more direct metal sonority thanks to the high dosage of harmony coming from the guitars by Ben, with Olsi also singing in his mother tongue and sounding more aggressive and demented, in sync with the theme proposed by the song’s name.

Rise offers thrilling Heavy Metal the way we headbanging bastards like it, also bringing elements from Sludge and Stoner Metal (therefore showing the band’s versatility) while Klejd simply kicks ass with his bass lines, supporting the song’s old school metallic lyrics (“I’m taking my chances / Roaming the streets / A wild stab in the dark / And over the fences / A million of thoughts / And fresh blood in the heart”). After a short eerie intro, the band delivers a dark version of Groove Metal with elements from Gothic Rock and Metal in You Fool, where Olsi steals the spotlight with his melancholic growls, supported by the heavy, obscure sounds blasted by all other bands members; followed by That Kind of Feeling, a dark semi-ballad by Crossbones featuring melodic elements from contemporary metal music blended with traditional vocal lines and the punch of Groove Metal, adding more taste to the album. And the second installment of the opening track, simply titled I’m God, Pt. 2, closes WWIII, beginning in a very sorrowful and pensive manner and being a lot more atmospheric than any other song of the album. In other words, a beautiful ending for WWIII, with Olsi having a truly passionate performance on vocals.

If you want to show your support to Crossbones and Albanian metal, simply visit their Facebook page, YouTube channel, SoundCloud and ReverbNation, and buy your copy of WWIII on iTunes, Amazon, Target, CD Universe, Walmart, hbdirect.com and several other retailers. We might not be ready for a real-life World War III, but we should all be more than happy with the music presented by this longstanding Albanian squad in WWIII, an album that will certainly cement the legacy of such important band for metal in Albania, in Eastern Europe and anywhere else where good music is appreciated.

Best moments of the album: Gates of Hell, Gjallë and Rise.

Worst moments of the album: Messing with the Masses.

Released in 2017 Nadir Music

Track listing
1. I’m God 6:55
2. Gates of Hell 5:52
3. Gjallë 4:39
4. WTF 6:32
5. Messing with the Masses 5:23
6. Schizo 6:05
7. Rise 4:41
8. You Fool 4:38
9. That Kind of Feeling 5:58
10. I’m God, Pt. 2 3:39

Band members
Olsi Ballta – vocals
Ben Turku – guitars
Klejd Guza – bass
Theo Napoloni – drums

Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio Promo Hour Of The Day – From Monday To Friday @ 8pm GMT

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http://midnight-madness.is-a-rockstar.com/Great news for all of you metalheads!

FROM MONDAY TO FRIDAY @ 8pm GMT, one of our kick-ass partners, Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio, broadcasting directly from London, England, will blast the best of underground metal music reviewed here at The Headbanging Moose during the PROMO HOUR OF THE DAY!

So remember, FROM MONDAY TO FRIDAY @ 8PM GMT tune into Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio to get your daily shot of the cream of the underground metal music crop, from Hard Rock to Black Metal, from Folk Metal to Thrash Metal, from Doom Metal to Metalcore, and so on! You’ll have the unique pleasure of listening to the superb music by bands like Charm Designer, Neverworld, Majesty Of Revival, Nervosa, False Coda, Atonismen, Diabolizer, The Silent Rage, Terrifier, Gaerea, and tons of other amazing metal acts from all over the world!

Here are all the options where can blow your speakers with Midnight Madness:

Official website
Twitter
Online Radio Box
Tunein
Streema
Listen2MyRadio
Radio Garden

And if you want to have your new album reviewed at The Headbanging Moose AND played at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio, simply get in touch with us through our CONTACT US page.

Album Review – Dommin / Beautiful Crutch (2016)

Not only another step forward in the musical growth of this passionate Alternative Rock band from the United States, but also a highly recommended album for admirers of dark, lovesick music.

Rating4

dommin-beautiful-crutch-artworkTouching hearts and minds by making music that matters since their inception in Los Angeles, California in 1999, American Alternative/Gothic Rock quartet Dommin are releasing today their brand new full-length album Beautiful Crutch, following the great success achieved with their previous releases, the pain-ridden Love Is Gone (2010) and especially the darker Rise (2015). Overflowing romance, lust and hope, Beautiful Crutch is highly recommended for fans of the dark, lovesick music by renowned acts such as Type O Negative, Depeche Mode, Danzig, The Cure and HIM, among others, as well as the heavier Rock N’ Roll played by Volbeat and Bullet For My Valentine.

“Beautiful Crutch is another step forward in the band’s musical growth. While this is an expansion of the band’s soundscape, some of the moods will be familiar to those that fell in love with our first album”, stated the band’s enigmatic frontman and guitarist Kristofer Dommin. In Beautiful Crutch, Kristofer and his bandmates Billy James on bass, Konstantine on keyboards and Cameron Morris on drums deliver 11 beautiful, classy compositions blending elements from all the aforementioned bands with their own twist and personal experiences, making this a very personal and special album for them, and consequently a great addition to the collection of lovers of heartwarming rock music.

Dommin are ready to melt the hearts of the ladies with their Blues-ish Alternative Rock in Desire, a fiery declaration of love from Kristofer to a very special woman in his life (“I hunger and thirst / Naturally cursed / Never satisfied / Until the day I die / It’s you I desire / Whether it’s lose or win / It’s you I desire / And I can’t help but give in / It’s you I desire”), with drummer Cameron Morris keeping the passion flowing in the music through his slow and steady Goth beats. Show Me is an upbeat Rock N’ Roll tune with hints of Rockabilly, reminding me of some songs by Volbeat, where Kristofer and Billy do a great job with their respective guitar and bass, in special during the song’s kick-ass guitar solo; whereas The Scene is a radio-friendly rock song with the keyboards by Konstantine adding melancholy to the sonority. Furthermore, Kristofer might have a soft voice compared to almost all singers reviewed here at The Headbanging Moose, but he truly knows how to exhale strong emotions with his passionate performance.

Highly inspired by the pleasant sounding crafted by The Smiths, the soft rock chant This World blends an 80’s atmosphere with modern rock elements, showcasing a precise connection between the heavy bass sounds by Billy and the rhythmic drumming by Cameron. The next song, the title-track Beautiful Crutch, is a feast of opposite emotions, alternating between calm and introspective passages and electrified peaks, with the guitar lines by Kristofer leading all those beautiful changes; followed by I Die, where smooth piano notes and the mellow voice by Kristofer make this serene and pensive ballad an amazing listen to anyone. In addition , elements from Gothic Rock from the 80’s and its dark ambience set the perfect stage for another soulful guitar solo by Mr. Dommin. And in Vulnerable, another ballad offered by the  quartet to the Rock N’ Roll ladies all over the world, albeit there’s a strong focus on vocals and lyrics, all instruments end up bringing their share of passion to the overall result.

domminThen Dommin deliver what can be called alternative rockin’ Waltz in the excellent The Flame, with the Volbeat-like vocals by Kristofer and the enchanting keyboards by Konstantine being the song’s main ingredients. In my humble opinion, this is by far the song with the highest amount of creativity in the album, with its rhythm getting more and more addictive the more you listen to it. Madly sounds like a fusion of Smiths, Danzig and Depeche Mode (which could only result in music excellence), with its guitar solos being exactly what the song needed to be even more gripping. To be fair, why songs like this one are not getting played nonstop at rock stations everywhere is beyond my knowledge. Anyway, The Saddest Dream is a somber and modern creation by Kristofer and his crew where Billy and Konstantine generate a fantastic ambience with their instruments, flowing to a very alternative and peculiar form in the end. And lastly, the band offers us Van Halen-like keyboards and a strong feeling of hope in Outer Space, where Alternative Rock and Blues are nicely combined by all instruments. Cameron and Billy once again provide Kristofer all the support he needs for another emotional vocal performance, a constant throughout the entire album.

You can get a sneak peek of each song in Beautiful Crutch by clicking HERE, but of course I suggest you go grab your copy of the album at different online stores such as iTunes and Amazon. I’m sure that, after Beautiful Crutch, the realm of meaningful and passionate music created by Dommin will only get stronger, giving even more stamina and inspiration for the band to keep writing all those love rockin’ songs, keeping the hearts of their fans warm even during the coldest nights of winter.

Best moments of the album: Desire, This World, The Flame and Madly.

Worst moments of the album: Vulnerable.

Released in 2016 DNRecords

Track listing
1. Desire 3:32
2. Show Me 3:31
3. The Scene 4:14
4. This World 3:47
5. Beautiful Crutch 4:07
6. I Die 5:25
7. Vulnerable 3:36
8. The Flame 3:55
9. Madly 3:25
10. The Saddest Dream 6:36
11. Outer Space 5:23

Band members
Kristofer Dommin – vocals, guitars
Billy James – bass
Konstantine – keyboards
Cameron Morris – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Esthibaliz Rojas

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Oh mother night put thy arms around me…

Fans of Symphonic Metal with operatic vocals, rejoice! Let me introduce you to one of the most promising and accomplished female singers in the entire Latin America, a woman who, despite being really young at age, has already built a respectful career and a more than solid background in music, which obviously translates into pure delight when she hits the stage and treats us with her potent and delicate vocals. Her real full name is Rebeca Estibaliz Ramos Rojas, but you might already know her by Esthibaliz RojasEstibaliz Ramos or even by her artistic nickname Esthibaliz Bathory, a stylish wordplay with her own name and the name of Countess Elizabeth Bathory. Well, let’s say that this vampirical moniker totally suits our charming and metallic diva, and I’ll show you why.

Born on October 4, 1983 in Mexico City, capital of the always fun country of Mexico, and raised in a small family by her mother, grandmother and older brother, our talented Mexican lyric-coloratura soprano (who’s also an actress, composer and teacher) has nurtured a profound passion for performing arts since she was a little girl, taking part in school choirs and “estudiantinas” (or student music groups), studying classical dance and watching musical plays with great interest, especially the ones from English composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. At the age of 15 she was advised by her friends and family that she should take singing lessons and pursue a professional career in music, and that’s exactly what she did by studying for two years at the Escuela Superior de Composición y Arreglo Musical (ESCAM), and by getting a bachelor’s degree in singing at the Escuela Superior de Música (CNA). In addition, Esthibaliz has also taken private singing classes with Mexican soprano Guadalupe Pérez Arias and with Mexican-Italian mezzo-soprano Eugenia Sutti. During her studies, she already started her career in music by joining the Sociedad Coral Cantus Hominum, a symphonic choir led by Mexican tenor Leonardo Villeda.

However, if there’s one type of music that truly touches her heart, it’s our beloved Heavy Metal, especially its subgenres Symphonic and Progressive Metal as they represent the perfect fusion of opera and metal music, with bands such as Rhapsody (or Rhapsody of Fire), Dream Theater and Nightwish becoming an important part of her life and the biggest inspiration for her career. It was then in 2006 when she replied to an ad requesting a female singer for a Gothic Rock band that she met guitarist Christian García, who invited her to join Mexican Gothic Metal band Erszebeth, leading to the recording of the album La Condesa Inmortal (or “The Immortal Countess”, in English) in 2007, and the album Equilibrio in 2013. By the way, all lyrics and vocal melodies found in Equilibrio were written by Esthibaliz. If you want to take a listen at the music by Erszebeth, simply go to YouTube where you’ll find excellent songs such as Equilibrio.

In 2008, Esthibaliz started a relationship with singer and composer Mario del Rio, founder and leader of the bands Oblivion Requiem and Rip Rapunzel, consequently becoming the female singer for Rip Rapunzel and releasing in 2010 their first album entitled Broken Tales. For instance, you can listen to her beautiful voice with Rip Rapunzel in the song Corazon de Plomo, and with Oblivion Requiem she recorded the song Time to Say Goodbye, for the 2008 album Sampler Carpe Noctem Vol. 1. As a matter of fact, there are so many other bands, projects and live performances where we can admire the gentle vocals by Esthibaliz it’s hard to name all of them without forgetting a few, but I’ll try my best. Our Mexican diva has already lent her voice to the eccentric project Dueto Amaterasu, as you can see in the song Terra (Wanderer of Time), from Final Fantasy VI; doing vocals and choirs in a Mexican project focused on cover songs named Los Abortos De Tu Jefa; singing the song In Dreams live in 2008 with Mexican Heavy Metal band Exsecror Vecordia, and recording the studio song Soledad, from the 2009 album Escapulario by Mexican Gothic Rock band Vía Dolorosa; as well as participating in the personal project by Oswaldo de León, guitarist for Mexican group La Castañeda.

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Perhaps the most promising project/band in heavy music featuring Esthibaliz nowadays is Mexican/Argentine Symphonic Metal band Melphomene, and this one deserves a more detailed explanation so distinct it is. In Greek mythology, Melpomene (without the “h”) is one of the two theater Muses, initially being the Muse of singing and musical harmony but later being recognized as the Muse of Tragedy. A myth says that Melpomene had all the riches that a woman could have, such as beauty, money and men, but even having it all she could not be happy, leading to the true drama of life. This is the perfect depiction of the music played by Melphomene, which can be testified in songs such as Mother Night and Maiden & Death, and many others in their official YouTube channel.

Apart from all those metal and non-metal bands, our Mexican beauty has also taken part in several plays and musicals, only showcasing how limitless her talent and passion for music and arts are. In 2010, she played a role in “Alicia Más Allá Del Espejo” by Adrian Gallardo, and adaptation of the 1865 novel Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll; and in 2012, Philip von Reutter, director and founder of  “Canto en Movimiento”, invites her to be part of their cast for a series of presentations in Florence, Italy, becoming part of their coaching team (one of her favorite duties, by the way) in 2013 and getting ready to perform the plays “Verdi Ritrovato” and “Future Sound” in London, England that same year.

And in case you thought she would simply settle down after all that, you might be surprised with everything else she’s also engaged in. In 2011, Esthibaliz becomes interested in the Speech Level Singing technique, learning its vocal technique, style, scenic expression and contemporary interpretation at the International Vocal Training school founded by Seth Riggs and Michael Jackson. In addition to that, she also joined the Centro Cultural Virginia Fábregas to begin a career in Musical Comedy, taking theatrical dancing, Jazz, tap, ballet, acting, vocal and speech classes. Well, it looks like there isn’t a limit for our tenacious “mamacita” when it comes to expanding her boundaries in music and arts.

Lastly, if you know Spanish or if you’re studying it and already have a relatively good understanding of the language, there is a 20-minute interview Esthibaliz gave to a program called CINECAFÉ & + in 2015 where she talks about her personal life and career in a nice and relaxed way. Although I could have translated everything she’s talking about and made your lives a little easier, I won’t do that because I consider this a great motivation for you all to learn one of the top languages in the world. I guess watching the gorgeous Esthibaliz talking about heavy music and arts in her mother tongue for 20 minutes beats any grammar book hands down, no matter how good the book might be, don’t you agree? And as today, November 2, is the popular Mexican holiday named “Día de los Muertos” (or “Day of the Dead” in English), why not enjoying Esthibaliz providing her own medley for Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist and The Omen themes as part of the celebrations? Or maybe you prefer watching our screaming diva unleashing hell in her cover version for the unparalleled classic Nemesis, by Arch Enemy, or even Chop Suey, by System Of A Down? There’s a lot more to relish at her official YouTube channel, in case you’re interested in seeing more of our Mexican babe in action. I’m sure you’ll have a very good time enjoying Esthibaliz and her unique voice, no doubt about that.

Esthibaliz Rojas’ Official Facebook page
Esthibaliz Rojas’ Official YouTube channel
Esthibaliz Rojas’ Official Twitter
Esthibaliz Rojas’ Official Instagram
Erszebeth’s Official Facebook page
Melphomene’s Official Facebook page

Album Review – Slitherum / Godbox Suicide (2016)

A Dark Metal album that beautifully represents all the diversity, radiance and finesse of the Greek culture, crafted by a power trio ready to conquer the world of heavy music.

Rating4

frontIn order to properly celebrate the 300th album review by The Headbanging Moose, let’s go back to a country that has always played a very important role in the history of immigration to Canada, especially during the early 20th century, building a healthy and flourishing relationship with “The Great White North”. Known for their incomparable history, rich cuisine and astonishing landscapes, Greece has always been a place where past, present and future meet, creating a distinct atmosphere not found anywhere else in the world, and the same can be said about their multilayered music as you’ll be able to see in Godbox Suicide, the debut full-length album by Gothic/Industrial Metal act Slitherum.

Amazing groups from the Hellenic Republic such as Diablery, Primeval Mass and Defision have already had their powerful music reviewed at The Headbanging Moose, not to mention the iconic Rotting Christ, all of them shaping their own style by blending elements from different genres and subgenres of rock and heavy music similarly to what Slitherum offer us in their new album. Formed in 2015 in the city of Athens, the power trio comprised of Nick Marinos on vocals, Giannis Kalamatas on guitars, bass and synths, and Antonis Kanaras on drums will take you on a journey through the realms of obscure and melodic music, showcasing all their skills and their passion for Dark Metal.

Godbox suicide starts with Λεχωνα (pronounced “Lechona”), which is Greek for a woman who has just given birth, an atmospheric intro that “gives birth” to the album and sets the tone for Feet, presenting a groovy sounding with the resonant bass lines by Giannis building the perfect ambience for the devilish growls by Nick. Not only it sounds like a hybrid of Moonspell and early In Flames, but it’s quite interesting how they add pure Hard Rock elements amidst the havoc generated by their Death and Black Metal vein, creating a fresh and solid sonority.

The title-track Godbox Suicide offers the listener slightly more melodic lines in a journey back to the 80’s, mainly due to the Type O Negative-inspired vocals by Nick. This is one of those top-notch Gothic Rock and Metal tunes tailored for lovers of the dark side who enjoy dancing facing the wall (if you know what I mean), with highlights to its powerful solos and extremely catchy chorus; whereas Vulnus, the Latin word for wound or injury, is another thrilling Gothic Metal composition with vocals leaning towards Black and Doom Metal, being melancholic, sorrowful and venomous. In addition, the spot-on Doom Metal beats by Antonis boost the song’s impact on the listener, making the whole experience of listening to Slitherum a lot more pleasant.

slitherumKeyboards bring forward an electronic vibe before Antonis smashes his drums in the awesome Industrial Metal chant Mother, with Nick going from the deepest low vocals to the harshest screeches while Giannis keeps kicking ass with his riffs and solos. After listening to this song, you’ll realize how much those Greek guys simply love all the alternative and obscure subgenres of heavy music and how elegantly and passionately they mix all their main influences into their musicality.

Before Godbox Suicide is over, Slitherum have another blast of their dark music entitled Child, a mesmerizing and atmospheric power ballad led by its strong bass lines and synths where Nick has a great performance declaiming the song’s cryptic lyrics, sometimes sounding like the weird creations by Faith No More (which just proves how versatile Slitherum are). And then the wicked composition Cure concludes the album in the darkest way possible, working almost as a regular outro but with extra layers added to it, including some eerie vocal lines in the background.

This up-and-coming Greek band can be found on Facebook and on YouTube, and Godbox Suicide can be purchased at Discogs as a CD or as a special vinyl version. Godbox Suicide is not only an album that beautifully represents all the diversity, radiance and finesse of the Greek culture, but also an album that will help this talented band go places and spread their peculiar metal music throughout the entire world.

Best moments of the album: Feet, Godbox Suicide and Mother.

Worst moments of the album: Cure.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1.Λεχωνα (“Lechona”) 3:31
2.Feet 3:13
3.Godbox Suicide 3:23
4.Vulnus 4:12
5.Mother 2:42
6.Child 5:00
7.Cure 4:35

Band members
Nick Marinos – vocals
Giannis Kalamatas – guitars, bass, synths
Antonis Kanaras – drums

Album Review – Witches Of Doom / Deadlights (2016)

The Italian coven of Doom and Gothic Metal returns in full force to put another electrifying Rock N’ Roll spell on you.

Rating4

WOD_DeadlightsAfter releasing their debut album Obey back in 2014, I knew it was just a matter of time until Italian Goth-Stoner-Doom Metal act Witches Of Doom returned with more of their mesmerizing Rock N’ Roll extravaganza. Two years have gone by since that amazing album, and here we have the Rome-based warlocks Danilo “Groova” Piludu on vocals, Federico “Fed” Venditti on the guitar, Jacopo Cartelli on bass, Graziano “Eric” Corrado on keyboards and Andrea “Budi” Budicin on drums offering all fans of old school dark music the likes of Type O Negative, Moonspell and The Cult their brand new album whimsically entitled Deadlights which, just like its predecessor, will put you to dance, drink and make love like there’s no tomorrow.

Although I’m not a professional musician, producer or anything similar to that, I must say the upward growth in the overall quality of the album in terms of its production and sound is one of those things that not only helped Witches Of Doom explore new horizons and add new elements to their music, but it also shows how professional those Italian metallers are and how much they are focused on what they do. Thus, due to the enhanced quality of their music and to the brand new songs added to their portfolio, I think the band is more than ready to reach new heights and start spreading their exciting music throughout the world by touring in places like the United States, Canada and South America, either by themselves or as one of the attractions of some music festivals held in those regions.

While we wait for their first world tour, let’s rock to the sound of the superb opening track in Deadlights, called Lizard Tongue, where after an alternative and electronic we are embraced by a modernized goth atmosphere and the band’s pure Rock N’ Roll attitude. These guys know how to bring that magic aura from the 80’s to our present days, with frontman Danilo being better than ever with his inebriate and dark vocals, perfectly declaiming the song’s catchy lyrics (“Daughter of a thousand sins / Angel praying for your last wish / The city crawls in the dead of night / A knife cuts deep flesh open wide / Trick or treat is the only law / Merchant on the killing floor / The city crawls in the dead of night / A knife cuts deep flesh open wide”). In Run with the Wolf, an eerie waltz mixed with symphonic elements in what’s probably their most obscure composition to date, keyboardist Andrea crafts the perfect doomed ambience, supported by the low-tuned bass lines by Jacopo; whereas in Deface (The Things That Made Me a Man), heavier and weirder than usual due to the rumbling bass by Jacopo and the always passionate guitar riffs and experimentations by the band’s mastermind Fed, the listener faces a solid blend of Gothic Rock with Alternative Rock and Metal.

WOD 2016Melancholy and sorrow flow from the beautiful Winter Coming, where Danilo once again provides an additional layer of emotion to the musicality with his vocal lines (not to mention the song’s sorrowful lyrics), followed by Homeless, another shot of wickedness provided by this talented band with the groovy bass lines by Jacopo and the progressive drumming by Andrea enhancing the song’s punch. In other words, this could become a radio hit anytime, anywhere. And get ready to be hypnotized by the Black Voodoo Girl, with its Gothic start getting heavier and darker until it becomes another one of the band’s “striptease” hymns. The keyboard passages by Graziano match perfectly with the heavy riffs by Fed and the somber vocals by Danilo, and you’ll surely have a good time singing its chorus along with the band.

In Mater Mortis, what begins as an epic chant quickly morphs into a futuristic tune, more specifically into an ode to the music from the 80’s with highlights to its awesome keyboards, and this instrumental voyage sets the tone for Gospel for War, a badass Gothic/Stoner Rock chant tailored for fans of Rock N’ Roll pub fights where Fed keeps blasting his excellent riffs while Andrea takes his drumming to a whole new and amazing level of intricacy. And last but not least, bringing elements from non-metal genres like Jazz and Blues to their sounding, the band offers us all the introspective and soulful I Don’t Want to Be a Star, showcasing smooth but fierce piano notes by Eric and strong performances by Danilo on vocals and by Fed with his fiery solos. If you love long and experimental songs with the energy and feeling of Rock N’ Roll, you might have found your new favorite song in rock music.

In summary, the music presented in Deadlights, which features a stunning artwork by Italian artist Carlo Muselli (who by the way is the big boss at Sliptrick Records) and is available on iTunes or on Amazon, has everything a true fan of heavy rock always looks for and more, and in order to know more about the Witches Of Doom, including their future plans and tour dates, don’t forget to go check their official Facebook page. This skilled coven of Doom and Gothic Metal is not among us to simply play some rock tunes, but in special to put an electrifying Rock N’ Roll spell on all of us, lovers of dark and rhythmic heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Lizard Tongue, Black Voodoo Girl and Gospel for War.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Sliptrick Records

Track listing
1. Lizard Tongue 4:13
2. Run with the Wolf 4:49
3. Deface (The Things That Made Me a Man) 5:45
4. Winter Coming 4:35
5. Homeless 5:32
6. Black Voodoo Girl 4:46
7. Mater Mortis 3:01
8. Gospel for War 4:35
9. I Don’t Want to Be a Star 6:59

Band members
Danilo “Groova” Piludu – vocals
Federico “Fed” Venditti – guitars
Jacopo Cartelli – bass
Graziano “Eric” Corrado – keyboards
Andrea “Budi” Budicin – drums

Album Review – Charm Designer / Everlasting (2016)

An everlasting feeling of heaviness and obscurity in over 50 minutes of beautiful Doom and Gothic Metal forged in the dark flames of Colombia.

Rating4

front_cover640Although it might have taken almost 10 years for Colombian Gothic/Doom Metal act Charm Designer to release their first full-length album, entitled Everlasting, the final result is so compelling, professional and melodious it looks like these dark metallers have been doing this for ages. In its over 50 minutes of melancholy, Everlasting offers us metalheads everything we look for in obscure music, definitely putting the city of Bogotá, Colombia in the map of Gothic and Doom Metal, and obviously paving Charm Designer’s path to stardom in the always exciting underworld of Heavy Metal.

Formed in the year of 2006 and having released a demo named Manifested in 2006 and an EP named Blood sounds in 2008, Charm Designer are finally back with a new opus, having recorded Everlasting with legendary German producer Waldemar Sorychta, known for his work with Samael, Lacuna Coil, Moonspell, among other renowned bands, being the first time for him to produce a Latin American band. Featuring a beautiful artwork by Costin Chioreanu (Twilight13media), who has provided his art to bands such as Arch Enemy, Paradise Lost and Opeth, Everlasting will fulfill your needs for heaviness and heartache through its nine powerful chants, and when it’s over you’ll certainly hit play again from the beginning, feeling completely embraced by the band’s gentle darkness.

The title-track Everlasting ignites the dark flames of the album, reminding me of the latest installments by Dark Metal masters Moonspell, being heavy, dense and alluring at the same time. Lead singer/guitarist Andrés Herrera does a great job with both his growls and clean vocals a la Niilo Sevänen (Insomnium), which is also the case in the even more doom-ish and obscure The Replicant. Furthermore, this tune gets closer to the traditional Doom Metal from the UK due to its deeper growling, with drummer Diego A. Morales smashing his drum set while the bass lines by Diego M. Giorgi sound as infernal as possible.

Presenting a strong Gothic Metal/Hard Rock vein, these Colombian metallers deliver a beautiful composition full of melancholy and passion entitled Never After, another song inspired by the unique music by Moonspell and the best of the entire album in my humble opinion. Andrés is on fire with his somber vocals and powerful guitar riffs and solos, and albeit I have absolutely no idea who’s the woman doing the female vocals, she surely adds an additional layer of awesomeness to the musicality. Then we have Disruption, a feast of the most downhearted form of Doom Metal enhanced by its background keyboards and mesmerizing rhythm, where even the smoother passages offer heaviness in the form of the bass lines by Diego M.; followed by Mentors, a solid Doom Metal chant with hints of Gothic Rock where Andrés leads the sounding with his excellent riffs, thus inspiring Diego A. to increase his fierceness on drums.

CharmDesigner_03In Inertial Drain, an acoustic start grows into modern Symphonic Gothic Metal, with the Paradise Lost-inspired drumming by Diego A. and the song’s magnetic riffs enfolding the listener in an ode to grief and misery. In addition, no matter if its comfortless lyrics are screamed or darkly declaimed by Andrés, the final result is simply amazing. The next tune, Endowar, is a lot faster and more violent than most songs despite its symphonic keyboards, showcasing a great job done by Andrés who sounds like a hellish beast without exaggerating on his harsh screams.

However, it doesn’t take too long for Charm Designer to get back to what they do best, in other words, stunning Doom Metal as in the occult hymn By The Unmasked, where the whole band delivers what can be called “dark music under a starless night” (and what a beautiful guitar solo by Andrés, making this excellent tune even more enjoyable). Policy of Truth, , another tribute to the most melancholic form of heavy music, is the icing on the cake in Everlasting, bringing forward an exciting rhythm perfect for the vocal lines by Andrés, as well as more of those gorgeous (and mysterious) female vocals.

In order to truly experience the everlasting feeling of heaviness, sorrow and obscurity brought forth by Charm Designer in their brand new album, go visit their Facebook page, YouTube channel, SoundCloud and ReverbNation, and grab your copy of Everlasting at the Inverse Records webshop, on Amazon and several other locations. Your heart and soul will never be the same after tasting the puissant Doom and Gothic Metal by this talented Colombian band, I must warn you.

Best moments of the album: Never After, Disruption and By The Unmasked.

Worst moments of the album: Mentors.

Released in 2016 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Everlasting 5:00
2. The Replicant 5:12
3. Never After 6:52
4. Disruption 6:37
5. Mentors 4:51
6. Inertial Drain 7:04
7. Endowar 4:33
8. By The Unmasked 7:41
9. Policy of Truth 4:17

Band members
Andrés Herrera – vocals, guitars
Diego M. Giorgi – bass
Diego A. Morales – drums

Additional musician
Diego A. Hernández – guitars (live)

Album Review – Velvet Six / Demons Los Divas (2015)

Are you ready to find out how many demons and divas surround your life? This Finnish band is willing to show you they are everywhere.

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velvet_six_album_coverHailing from the city of Kokkola, in Finland – the Holy Land of all-kinds-of-metal – Velvet Six were formed in 2010. Although still young, this band has been through a lot and have a lot more to show yet. They released their debut album Dark City Nightlife in 2011, saw two of their original band members leaving the group, found competent musicians to fill the gaps and had the opportunity to open a concert for The 69 Eyes, the vampires of Helsinki – all of this in two years.

Now, with a strong line-up and batteries recharged, Velvet Six are ready to release their second album, Demons Los Divas, via Inverse Records. Instead of trying to define their music, it is better to let the band define their own style: “Velvet Six’s music can be described as Gothic Rock that combines the atmosphere of HIM, the arrogance of Billy Idol and the multi-dimension of Muse”, and along the 10 tracks of Demons Los Divas you can find those pieces that make Velvet Six sound so familiar and yet so new.

Demons Los Divas is a story about demons and divas that affect our everyday life. They crawl deep into our feelings leaving scars. The damaged feelings have to be confronted and processed, so that life can go on. But how is it done? Answers can be found in the nightlife, love and death, as those come out in each song of the album. Twist opens the album and puts everybody to dance since the beginning. As a good Gothic band, the keyboard plays a very important role in this album. Combined with heavy guitars and melodies, the result is no different than awesome, dancing and deep songs. The title-track Demons Los Divas comes next and sounds like a great Hard Rock song, with an outstanding riff, an awesome guitar solo and guess what? A chorus that will stick to your mind all day long (”Demons los divas they all taste the same, cold and so heartless, they want the world, and they want it now”).

Velvet_Six_promopic1Something Evil keeps the feeling of the beginning of the album, although it is possible to see things are getting heavier and darker and they prove it with the next song, Back to Black. It starts with a beautiful keyboard solo then the drums and bass join to make it more complex. In this song, particularly, Olle Wallenius’ voice sounds a lot like HIM’s Ville Valo – and it contributes to bring the mysterious feeling in this track. Lightkeeper brings the DNA of Depeche Mode, being really atmospheric with Olle showing how versatile he can be, singing from smooth to aggressive tones.

After a deserved rest with calmer songs, the Hard Rock is back with Loves Like. It’s quite easy to imagine some of these songs being played at a Hard Rock/Gothic party and to see all people enjoying what is going on. Underneath is the next song and, once again, the keyboards are the strongest feature of the melody, just like as in The Family, which sounds a little bit heavier and it would be unfair not to mention the amazing work of base and solo guitars throughout the song. Blood Rain also has that dancing feeling and sounds more like a Love Metal song that reminds me of HIM. This song also has some mysterious female backing vocals that make all the difference, resulting in a pure Goth feeling. The last track, I Saw, is the deepest song of all and, following the timeline of the facts, it closes the album with loneliness and death.

In summary, if you are a Gothic Rock, Hard Rock and Love Metal fan, this is definitely a must-have album. Additionally, but unfortunately not present in the album, Velvet Six recorded a cover to Call Me Anything, by Swedish band Weeping Willows. It is completely different than the original version released in 2004 in the album Presence, and the band found a whole new groove to this amazing song – watch the video below. If you like what you see, do not forget to check their music and show your support on the band’s official Facebook page, as well as purchase Demons Los Divas at the Inverse Records official webstore. They cannot wait to show the world that Gothic music is still alive and kicking.

Best moments of the album: Twist, Demons Los Divas and Back to Black.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Twist 3:26
2. Demons Los Divas 3:54
3. Something Evil 3:36
4. Back to Black 5:16
5. Lightkeeper 3:47
6. Loves Like 3:54
7. Underneath 3:52
8. The Family 5:32
9. Blood Rain 4:43
10. I Saw 4:15

Band members
Olle Wallenius – vocals
Richard Vikman – guitar
Christoffer Solborg – guitar
Matias Muotio – bass
Miro Kronqvist – keyboards
Henrik Björkgård – drums

Album Review – Moonspell / Extinct (2015)

While this distinguished Portuguese Dark Metal band is among us, we can rest assured good and meaningful music is far from being extinct.

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moonspell_extinctIt’s definitely not an overstatement to say Portuguese Dark Metal pioneers Moonspell are the best music group in the history of Portugal, and of course, the best Dark/Gothic Metal band of all times. They’re not just a Heavy Metal band exploring the darkest and deepest emotions with their matchless music, but over the course of their more than 20 years of career they reshaped and redefined Gothic Rock/Metal worldwide, taking it to a whole new level. And even after so many years on the road they still have a lot of creativity and electricity flowing through their veins, culminating in the Goth masterpiece Extinct, their eleventh full-length album and undoubtedly one of their best to date.

With beautifully disturbing cover artworks designed by Greek artist Seth Siro Anton (also known as Spiros Antoniou, leader of Greek Symphonic Death Metal band Septicflesh), a different one per album version by the way, Extinct has an impeccable overall production that only increases its magnitude. Furthermore, the album feels like it’s purposely split in two distinct parts, the first leaning to a more Heavy Metal sounding whilst the second pays homage to pure Gothic Rock. And it doesn’t matter which “part” you prefer, it’s impossible not to enjoy Extinct in its entirety.

moonspellWhen Breathe (Until We Are No More) starts, you can already feel Extinct is going to be a great album. With the keyboard notes by Pedro Paixão providing that ominous atmosphere we love in Gothic music and its progressive riffs blended with a very ferocious chorus due to the harsh vocals by lead singer Fernando Ribeiro, you’ll feel embraced by the band’s unique musicality for sure. The title-track, Extinct, is a work of art of darkness and passion, offering the listener powerful headbanging riffs, beautiful guitar solos and keyboard passages, an incredible job done by Fernando on vocals, as well as a chorus that is beyond phenomenal  (“Before the lights go out / Before our time is gone / A taste of your lips / Before we go extinct”). In addition, the official video to the song, which you can see below, perfectly depicts its musicality, and if it doesn’t give you a thrill maybe you should go listen to Justin Bieber or One Direction, because you’re not worthy.

Medusalem is not only the fastest and the most metallic of all songs, but the addition of Middle-Eastern elements electrified it even more. I would love to listen to this more-than-perfect epitome of Gothic Metal live, with highlights to Fernando kicking ass on vocals once again. Following that amazing dark attack we have the touching rock/metal ballad Domina, with its thoughtful lyrics enhanced by a mesmerizing atmosphere and more soulful guitar solos, and a brilliant song entitled The Last of Us: with lyrics tailored to drive any girl crazy (“Let me touch you where’s forbidden / And test the limits of your sanctity”), this song kind of kicks of the Gothic Rock extravaganza in the album, focusing on the same musicality that elevated bands like H.I.M. to stardom.

moonspell_extinct02

Extinct Limited Mediabook Edition

The next track, the beautiful Malignia, is even darker than all previous songs, with its name, keyboards, background effects, the depth of the vocal lines and everything else in this Goth anthem being as somber as possible, while Funeral Bloom is a song that could easily be played on any radio station so catchy it is. Besides, the way drummer Miguel Gaspar, bassist Aires Pereira and keyboardist Pedro Paixão are in sync is remarkable. A Dying Breed is another exciting Gothic Rock song where Fernando varies between his clean vocals and deep growls perfectly, with the rhythm flawlessly following his vocal lines from smoother passages to heavier moments thanks to the excellent job done by Ricardo Amorim and Pedro Paixão on guitars.

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Extinct 2-LP Gatefold

There’s so much beauty found in The Future Is Dark it’s hard to explain it in just a few words: it has another very passionate and melancholic chorus that will get stuck in your head for days (“Gotta breathe in, gotta breathe out / Up on your feet, gotta think twice / The future is dark, the future is vile / Without you there’s no tomorrow”), and what can I say about the blackened ambience the band brings forth in this song, mainly due to its guitar lines and solos? That’s simply amazing. And lastly we have the weird French song La Baphomette, which despite not being a disaster it doesn’t keep up with the awesomeness of the rest of the album. It’s important to say the deluxe edition of Extinct also brings four high-quality bonus tracks, and unless you’ve just waken up from a coma you might not have noticed yet they’re alternate versions for four of the songs of the regular album. In my opinion, the best of those tracks is the passionate semi-acoustic Doomina, which is a word play of “Doom” and the original song “Domina”, got it?

To sum up, calling Extinct the best album of 2015 even if we’re still in March, with many months to go until the year is over, is not an overstatement either. An awe-inspiring album like this one truly deserves to be appreciated by all music lovers, it doesn’t matter if you’re a metalhead or not. In other words, go listen to Extinct with the person you love the most, or simply close your eyes and savor it by yourself, resting assured that while Moonspell are among us dark and meaningful music will never be extinct.

Best moments of the album: Extinct, Medusalem, Malignia, The Future Is Dark and the bonus track Doomina.

Worst moments of the album: La Baphomette.

Released in 2015 Napalm Records

Track listing
1.Breathe (Until We Are No More) 5:33
2.Extinct 4:42
3.Medusalem 5:06
4.Domina 5:09
5.The Last of Us 3:26
6.Malignia 5:06
7.Funeral Bloom 4:10
8.A Dying Breed 4:29
9.The Future Is Dark 5:09
10.La Baphomette 2:48

Deluxe Edition bonus tracks
11.Until We Are No Less 7:02
12.Doomina 4:49
13.Last of Them 5:24
14.The Past Is Darker 5:43

Band members
Fernando Ribeiro – vocals
Ricardo Amorim – guitars
Pedro Paixão – keyboards, guitars
Aires Pereira – bass
Miguel Gaspar – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Lahannya

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Justice ravaged by pain… I surrended my innocence in vain.

Our Heavy Metal diva this month is a tribute to Gothic Rock & Metal, a “love it or hate it” type of music that always divides the opinion of the more traditional metalheads. Fans of Iron Maiden, Slayer, Judas Priest and Metallica, for example, usually tend to despise almost everything from bands such as Rammstein, The Prodigy or Disturbed, mainly because “those bands are not true Heavy Metal”. However, they all have a lot of very interesting, creative and especially heavy material, which is also the case for the dark alternative music by our blue-haired gothic goddess Lahannya.

Lahannya was born in the United Kingdom, and although I’m not 100% sure, I believe her birthday is on January 20. Don’t ask me her full name or the year and city she was born (which by the way might be London), though, as it seems she’s one of those girls that doesn’t enjoy sharing her age nor many other details about her personal life with the rest of the world. Well, that doesn’t affect the quality of her work by any means, as what really matters here are her music, vocal performance and, of course, her stunning dark alternative looks.

Let’s say that Lahannya is not a regular singer, songwriter and performer: she’s a lot more than that, we should say a one-of-a-kind frontwoman, and her talent and skills can be enjoyed not only in the music from her own band, Lahannya, but also in the compositions from many other different bands and artists. Although she’s never made it to the mainstream, it’s in the underground world of heavy music where she has established her pillars and it’s also where she keeps influencing the newest generations of gothic and heavy musicians with her unique approach.

To begin with, it was back in 2004 when she met bassist Lutz Demmler, from German Gothic Metal band Umbra et Imago, at the M’Era Luna Festival where things really started to happen for Lahannya. After several projects since the beginning of her career in 1998, including the song Drowning for the compilation album Amduscias (1998) and her first EP entitled Drowning (2000), she finally formed the band Lahannya together with her then (and still) good friend Lutz in 2005, which is nowadays complemented live by German guitarist Christopher Milden and Italian drummer Luca Mazzucconi.

Lahannya’s Gothic Metal music is a complex and rich blend of the sonority from bands and artists such as The Prodigy, Disturbed, Loreena McKennitt, among many others. Actually, it’s kind of hard to truly define their music or compare it to other artists, although their lyrical themes are similar to what some of those artists also sing about, like darkness, pain, agony and relationships. The band has already released a good amount of material besides the EP Drowning: three full-length albums entitled Shotgun Reality (2007), Defiance (2009) and Dystopia ( 2011); another EP named Welcome to the Underground (2008); the live album Scavenger (2010); and the live DVD Sojourn (2013). You can take a listen at her mesmerizing voice in songs like Cocoon and Save Me, both from the album Dystopia.

The band has been touring a lot since its inception, especially in the UK and Germany, as for example in the Wave Gotik Treffen music festival, in Leipzig, in 2009, as well as many other dates in countries such as Austria, Netherlands, Poland and Switzerland, among others, with highlights to their exceptional performance during the Metal Female Voices Fest VII that happened in Wieze, Belgium, in 2009. There are some high quality videos on YouTube with Lahannya’s concert at that festival, like the ones for the songs Open Your Eyes and Burn, where it’s quite impossible to take your eyes out of her moves while her voice “invades” our ears with greatness. Another excellent live moments are the heavy and modern Inside the Machine, filmed at the X-Tra Club in Switzerland in 2008, and  the metallic Never Enough, during the band’s performance at the the M’Era Luna Festival 2012. There’s also a really nice interview with her during that same festival, which can be seen HERE, where she talks about her career and other stuff. It’s totally worth the time spent, especially because she’s a fun and humble woman, and her British accent is beyond beautiful.

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Among her infinite number of partnerships, projects and special guest appearances, the most important or famous ones are certainly her collaborations with English Electronic band Greenhaus, German Power Noise/Techno act Soman, Norwegian Aggrotech band Combichrist, German Industrial project Xotox, German Goth Rock band ASP, and German Gothic Electro band Dracul. None of these are close to Heavy or even Gothic Metal, but that doesn’t make the final results less enjoyable.

With Greenhaus, she was part of the songwriting and the vocalist for almost all tracks of their album Another life, from 2003, while with Soman she was the co-songwriter and vocalist for the following tracks: Tears, from the album Revenge (2004); Antique, from a compilation album with various artists entitled Machineries of Joy (2004); Mask and Eye to Eye, from the album Mask (2007); and Skin Deep, from the album Soman Noistyle (2010).

Our goth diva’s collaboration with Combichrist happened in the form of a spoken sample for the Soman remix of the title-track from their second EP Sex, Drogen Und Industrial (2004), while with Xotox she recorded a spoken intro for the video of the track [psi], from the album [psi] (2005), and was the vocalist on the song Habitat, from the album In Den Zehn Morgen (2008). Finally, she was featured in the remix of the song Nie Mehr, from the album Nie Mehr (2007) by ASP, and was the co-songwriter and vocalist for the tracks Vampiras Dream and Deathwish, from the album Like an Animal (2006) by Dracul.

There are a few other projects she’s involved which unfortunately I cannot list here, otherwise I would never be able finish this document. However, there’s one more interesting detail about Lahannya in regards to her career that you should know: if you’re in London and you are that type of person that likes to party, you might have a chance to see our blue-haired beauty in person doing something very different from singing with her band, which is being a DJ at the London alternative club Slimelight once in a while. Do you want to know where Lahannya finds all that energy to do everything she does? “I think it’s my purpose for living. I don’t really want to find a family or whatever. For me it’s my passion, it’s the legacy I want to leave behind, it’s how I express myself. If I didn’t do it, I would feel like I’m not actually living or breathing.”, she said. That explains a lot.

In regards to her idols in music, the pretty Lahannya mentioned she enjoys listening to and is constantly inspired by many distinct and excellent artists such as Kidneythieves, Dimmu Borgir, The Prodigy, Tori Amos, Celldweller, Bush, Disturbed, Mankind Is Obsolete, Loreena McKennitt, The Cranes etc. However, her inspiration in terms of lyrics comes from what is happening around her life and from her own emotions. Moreover, Lahannya mentioned a couple of times her “dream tour” would be with Industrial Metal icons Rammstein or English Electronic group The Prodigy, which in my opinion are outsdaning options for a full professional and exciting tour, don’t you agree?

Lastly, this nonstop frontwoman said she hasn’t had any free time for hobbies, but when she did she used to go scuba diving and climbing, which in my opinion are “not-so-common” activities for people who live in the gothic world, but each person does what they feel like doing, right? And in order to chill out, Lahannya’s choices often include a good DVD and a glass of wine, especially after a long day of hard work. That’s something even people like us, mere mortals who are not famous masterminds behind a successful band, can relate to, and maybe one of us is lucky enough to enjoy those rare free moments Lahannya has together with her. In the meantime, let’s keep on appreciating her dark and beautiful music.

Lahannya’s Official Facebook page
Lahannya’s Official YouTube channel
Lahannya’s Official Twitter

“The best piece of advice I can give is, don’t waste your time waiting for a manager, booking agent or record label to make things happen for you. If you are prepared to work hard, not just on the music but also on the business side, and you don’t give up, you can achieve an awful lot. No one will work as hard for you as you do yourself and no one will invest more money into your band than you are prepared to do yourself. If you don’t put the work in, why should anyone else?” – Lahannya