Metal Chick of the Month – Elena Vladi

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I’m coming down to feel you, to touch you, to be you, to kill…

Ladies and gentlemen, the heavy music scene in Hollywood, one of the most famous neighborhoods in the world located in the central region of Los Angeles, California in the United States, has recently crowned a new queen, and we all shall bow to her beauty, to her loveliness, and in special to her kick-ass music. Hailing from Mother Russia, here comes the multi-talented artist Elena Vladimirova, better known as Elena Vladi, the lead singer of Nu-Metal act Red Queen and a woman that knows better than anyone else how to provide a fiery fusion of stunning looks and electrifying music, making the work from such distinguished woman even more delectable. The Russian Red Queen is among us, and your life will never be the same again after being infected by her scrumptious venom.

Like any true queen of darkness and lust, there’s little to none information available online about the personal life of Elena, which makes perfect sense for a woman that wants to keep mystery as one of the main ingredients in her promising career. All we know is that she relocated from Russia to the United States in a not-so-distant past and joined her partner in crime Patrick Crisci in order to form what used to be known as Experimental Hybrid Black Metal project Demona Mortiss, but that gradually morphed to Nu-Metal band Red Queen. Let’s say that the band, which used to play a dark fusion containing elements from Gothic, Doom and Death Metal the likes of Tristania and Dimmu Borgir, is now highly recommended for fans of Slipknot, Korn, Deftones and Lacuna Coil, just to give you a better idea of the remarkable change in their sonority through time.

Before we talk about Elena Vladi in more detail, let’s take a quick look at the history of Red Queen. Previously known as Demona Mortiss, the project was created by Elena in 2009 as an Experimental Hybrid Black Metal project as already mentioned, obtaining a significant amount of followers in a short span of time, especially in Europe, before officially changing the name in 2013 to Red Queen. Demona Mortiis were Elena on vocals and synths, Patrick on guitars and Trent Gouveia on drums, and although there are no official albums under the name Demona Mortiis you can still enjoy some of their blackened compositions on YouTube like Lost, Inverted Heaven and Phasmophobia, this one live at the Viper Room in Los Angeles in January 2013.

Not only the name of the project and music direction changed in Red Queen, but the lineup also suffered a few changes. Red Queen are now only Elena on vocals synths and lyrics, and Patrick on guitars, synths, bass and drums, also being responsible for the overall production of the band, with guest musician Grey Soto playing some guitar parts in a couple of songs. This dynamic duo released back in April 2016 their debut EP entitled Star Blood, containing five classy and sexy songs (Asyphyx, Naked, Star Ruby, Insidious and Alchemy), as well as an amazing cover version for Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me, the classic 1995 single by Irish Rock icons U2 from the Batman Forever soundtrack album. If you want to take a better listen to Star Blood and purchase it, you can go to Red Queen’s official webstore or BandCamp page, and also find it on iTunes. When asked about what inspired her to write the music found in Star Blood, Elena said she gets her inspiration from movies and books, from the cosmos and a variety of “conspiracy theories”, and from her own emotions, always aiming at intriguing people. Well, let’s say she succeeded in that hands down, and if you want to know more details about Red Queen you can check this short and sweet 2015 Q&A interview with Elena Vladi and Patrick Crisci, and also listen to their music at their YouTube channel and ReverbNation page.

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Apart from her career with Demona Mortiis and Red Queen, our Russian bombshell can be seen as a guest musician in distinct projects that have almost nothing to do with the musicality bred by Red Queen, showcasing her versatility as an artist and her will to go beyond any boundaries that she might face in terms of creativity and experimentation. For instance, her stunning voice embellishes the chaos found in the song You Can’t Save Me, So Stop Fucking Trying, from the 2012 album Vanitas by British Industrial Black Metal/Grindcore band Anaal Nathrakh, as well as in two composition from the 2012 albums Evolution and (R)Evolution, by American Electronic duo Blood on the Dance Floor, those being Love Conquers All and La Petite Morte (The Little Death), respectively.

Albeit music might be the primary focus in her life, our Gothic diva also extends all her talent to fashion modeling and graphic and web designing for living, also being proficient at tarot, rune and aura reading, as well as other forms of divination, chakra balancing and necromancy. In addition to all that, Elena lets her geek side flourish through her admiration for Astronomy, String Theory and Quantum Physics, not to mention she also excels in guidance to Spiritual Ascension. And as many other female metallers such as Angela Gossow and Alissa White-Gluz, our voluptuous queen doesn’t eat meat and considers veganism a part of human evolution. In case you’re curious to see Elena modeling instead of singing, click HERE to watch a short clip of when Elena was invited to participate in a cover shoot for volume 34, issue #33 of LA Weekly (released on July 5, 2012), for a special article entitled “Everything You Wanted to Know About Metal” (which is obviously not true, but as that’s not our main goal in this essay let’s simply ignore that). Pay attention to the music in this video, as it’s Elena and her Demona Mortiis playing a beautiful cover version for Confide in Me, by Australian singer Kylie Minogue. The great success achieved by the cover with Elena translated into this specific issue being the best-selling one of 2012. You can enjoy the read by clicking HERE and going directly to page 55, titled ALL HAIL “Metal subgenres explained, from thrash to pornogrind”.

Her passion for modeling can also be seen in the underground publication Gothic Beauty, as for example in their issue #42 when Elena was the cover girl of the magazine, and in tons of pictures modeling for Heavy Red, a Los Angeles-based fashion company established in 1999 by lead designer Tyler Ondine specialized in Gothic fashion and sexually sophisticated clothing, always aiming at being the cutting edge of Gothic clothing including corsets, dresses, gowns, shirts, skirts, coats, hoodies, club wear, lingerie and jewelry. Elena has been one of the faces of the company since relocating to the United States, helping Heavy Red achieve a new level of elegance and darkness in line with the company’s vision of Couture Noir.

The “Russian Queen of Nu-Metal” also focuses her efforts in improving the merch store at the official Red Queen website, working on getting more skirt and other clothing designs for the fans of the band. Furthermore, Elena is also planning on opening her own jewelry shop, named Vladi Fashion Jewelry, where she’ll sell her trial collection of royal necklaces and will expand into rings and more jewelry options later. She thinks every woman (including herself) loves jewelry, and therefore she wants to share her vision of beautiful designs with other women through her new store. And if you think that’s already a lot coming from only one woman, let me tell you that she is also trying to find time for her side project under her name, which according to Elena would be quite mellow and electronic, and fully written and produced by herself. I guess we can never get enough of our stunning queen, don’t you agree? And sorry to say that, Elena, but it looks like the less free time you have for yourself, the better it is for us fans.

Elena Vladi’s Official Facebook page
Elena Vladi’s Official Twitter
Elena Vladi’s Official Instagram
Red Queen’s Official Facebook page
Red Queen’s Official Twitter
Red Queen’s Official VKontakte page

“I am a full blooded Russian… Russians are crazy, we all know that, I expect respect and you shall receive the same in return…” – Elena Vladi

Album Review – Death Angel / The Evil Divide (2016)

Fast and furious anthems, dark mid-tempo songs, austere lyrics and endless stamina. This is how high-quality Thrash Metal should always be done.

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/THraSH/

verb
1. beat (a person or animal) repeatedly and violently with a stick or whip.
“she thrashed him across the head and shoulders” 

noun
1. 
a violent or noisy movement, typically involving hitting something repeatedly.
“the thrash of the waves”
2. a style of fast, loud, harsh-sounding rock music, combining elements of punk and heavy metal.

In case you didn’t know the meaning of the word “thrash”, this is the official definition of both the verb and the noun for you to memorize anytime someone asks you why Thrash Metal has such a peculiar name. However, if this is too much for you to remember during a conversation (or if you’re too drunk to make long and complex sentences), simply keep two words in mind, those being Death Angel, and it will be extremely easy for you to explain exactly what Thrash Metal is all about. Those thrash metallers from Daly City, the largest city in San Mateo County, California, in the United States, might have gone through several line-up changes and a huge hiatus during the 90’s, but after their resurrection in 2001 they have been delivering nothing but top-notch heavy music to the world.

After the release of the excellent The Dream Calls for Blood, in 2013, one of the key bands in the Bay Area Thrash movement of the 80’s returns at full force in 2016 with their eighth studio album, the also amazing The Evil Divide. Featuring a distinct artwork by American tattoo artist Bob Tyrrell, The Evil Divide is a feast of fast and furious Thrash Metal anthems, dark mid-tempo songs, austere lyrics and, of course, flawless performances by all band members, especially frontman Mark Osegueda who displays a wider-than-usual vocal range throughout the entire album, providing a special taste to each one of the ten songs masterfully played by the band, turning The Evil Divide into one of the best albums of the year and a must-have for lovers of old school Thrash Metal.

Get yourself ready for a high-octane onslaught, because the opening track, named The Moth, offers those piercing riffs and overpowering drums we truly love in this type of music, being melodic and polished but keeping the overall violence at a high level. Moreover, as already mentioned, Mark Osegueda is getting more demonic (and consequently more awesome) through the years, bringing more dynamism to Death Angel’s musicality. Right after that solid start, the sick bass lines by Damien Sisson kick off the circle pit-generator Cause for Alarm, where guest guitarist Jason Suecof (Charred Walls of the Damned) fires an amazing solo while drummer Will Carroll paves a path of devastation behind his drum kit. Honestly, there’s no way a real metalhead can stand still to this hurricane of Thrash Metal.

Then it’s time to slow things down a bit in Lost, a powerful heavy ballad by Death Angel with Mark stealing the spotlight with his passionate performance on vocals, while guitarists Rob Cavestany and Ted Aguilar make sure the band’s aggression keeps burning nonstop through their riffs and solos; followed by Father of Lies, a belligerent Thrash Metal tune that reminds me of the golden years of Bay Area Thrash. All you have to do is grab a beer, slam into the pit and enjoy this excellent song, paying good attention to the outstanding job done on guitars and singing along with the band its catchy and vicious chorus.

death angelIn Hell to Pay, not only its lyrics and chorus couldn’t be any thrashier (“Lurid speaker, you toxic feeder / There’s no damage on the way / Selfish user, trust abuser / There will be hell to pay”), but the overall performance of the entire band is superb. Mark leads this sonic havoc with his sharp screams, while the rest of the band keeps “feeding the beast” with all their strength. Holy fuckin’ shit, what an amazing Thrash Metal anthem! And Death Angel keep blasting their fantastic music in It Can’t Be This, another tune to sing along with the band with highlights to the amazing riffs by Rob and Ted, as well as the rumbling bass lines by Damien, which increase the song’s impact on the listener. And there’s still a lot more to come, as Hatred United/United Hate is yet another song born to be a Thrash Metal classic of modern times. Guest guitarist Andreas Kisser (Sepultura) provides an excellent guitar solo that sounds like some of his classic creations from the early days of Sepultura, whereas Mark effectively follows the lines crafted by guitars and drums with his enraged screams.

In Breakaway, an intro keeps growing until the music explodes into cataclysmic Thrash Metal, with pure electricity flowing through all instruments in one of the best tracks of the album. This is an ode to everything we admire in the music by Exodus, Testament, Slayer and so many other icons, bringing forward the speed, melody and heaviness of most classic Thrash Metal anthems.  The Electric Cell, with its old school lyrics (“A cold deathly grip on the shovel of greed / You dig a mass unmarked grave / Just know your bones will be the first to lie / At the bottom of the masses betrayed”), is a good exhibit of the endless stamina present in all band members, especially Will who doesn’t seem to know the meaning of the word “soft” while playing drums, before the cutting tune Let the Pieces Fall closes this superb album. It’s heavy and thrilling just like the rest of the album, with the vocal lines by Mark transpiring hatred. Thus, when it’s over you’ll go back to the beginning of the album and start listening to it all over again, and probably repeat that a few (or even a lot) more times until your body collapses due to unstoppable moshing and slamming.

In a nutshell, what Death Angel (or maybe I should call them “Thrash Angel”) offer us in The Evil Divide might not be a revolution in music, but it is exactly how high-quality Thrash Metal should always be done. And that seems to be an easy task for them due to the refined skills of each band member, a good sign of the bright future that lies ahead for the band and also for traditional Thrash Metal without a shadow of a doubt. No one knows if they’ll be able to top what they have achieved with The Dream Calls for Blood and The Evil Divide in recent years, and while we wait for their next release there’s plenty of awe-inspiring metal music from this iconic band in The Evil Divide to keep us banging our heads and raising our horns to the unparalleled and unrelenting sound of Thrash Metal for a good while.

Best moments of the album: Cause for Alarm, Hell to Pay, Hatred United/United Hate and Breakaway.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. The Moth 4:38
2. Cause for Alarm (feat. Jason Succof) 3:22
3. Lost 4:57
4. Father of Lies 5:05
5. Hell to Pay 3:12
6. It Can’t Be This 4:16
7. Hatred United/United Hate (feat. Andreas Kisser) 5:17
8. Breakaway 4:01
9. The Electric Cell 4:38
10. Let the Pieces Fall 5:47

CD/DVD Digipak bonus track
11. Wasteland 5:18

Band members
Mark Osegueda – vocals
Rob Cavestany – guitar
Ted Aguilar – guitar
Damien Sisson – bass
Will Carroll – drums

Guest musicians
Jason Suecof – guitar solo on “Cause for Alarm”
Andreas Kisser – guitar solo on “Hatred United/United Hate”