Metal Chick of the Month – Kobra Paige

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I am, I am all that’s inside you… I am, I am evil burning through!

Have you ever been bitten by a cobra? If not, this is probably the best opportunity you will ever have in your life to finally feel the powerful venom of a spellbinding snake flowing through your veins in the form of old school Heavy Metal, and I’m sure you’ll just love the experience. I’m talking about the stunning Canadian metaller Brittany Paige, better known for her onstage moniker Kobra Paige, the fiery frontwoman of Canadian Heavy Metal band Kobra And The Lotus. Are you ready for a metallic snake bite?

Born and raised in Calgary, Canada, Kobra is a classically trained singer and pianist, having completed Grade 8 in vocals and Grade 6 in piano with The Royal Conservatory of Music, before forming Kobra And The Lotus in 2008 together with guitarist Chris Swenson and drummer Griffin Kissack. She said she was doing classical training from when she was very young until she lost interest in it, getting into Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll during her high school years especially because there was something in heavy music with a strong connection to what she loved the most in classical music, allowing her to explore her true voice. “I felt it was an extremely natural progression because metal allows for that chest voice to be used”, she explained. In addition, she mentioned she was going to university without a real intention of doing music seriously, although she truly wanted to start her own metal band anyway. After starting singing and writing music she felt so passionate and alive she decided to go ahead with her music career, which also meant the end of university for her.

Despite not pursuing a career in classical music, the classical training was essential for our blonde bombshell to learn the art of singing and how to properly take good care of her voice. “I’m so scared of that because I can’t just buy a new guitar. I only have this one instrument and you don’t want to blow it, so absolutely the breath exercises and the tools that I learned from it have very much helped, made me more knowledgeable”, she said in one of her interviews. Well, she said she was blown away at a Judas Priest concert after the band played their thunderous classic Painkiller, and she also fell in love for the powerful multi-layered voice by Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant, so it makes total sense for her to be so worried about her voice as we all know how demanding singing like Rob Halford and Robert Plant can be to any mortal person, right?

Still under the name Brittany Paige, she released with Kobra And The Lotus their debut album Out of the Pit, in 2009, before adopting the name Kobra Paige and releasing two more albums with the band, the self-titled Kobra and the Lotus in 2012 and their most recent full-length album High Priestess in 2014, as well as an EP with cover versions for renowned Canadian rock bands entitled Words of the Prophets in 2015, and a 7″ vinyl EP named Zombie also in 2015, released as a Halloween treat and containing the songs Zombie and Remember Me. She also took part in the Heavy Metal/Hard Rock project Tony Gabriele’s Orbynot, recording vocals for their 2012 album Try to Stop Me, and is constantly lending her voice to the metal army known as Metal All Stars, sharing the stage with iconic musicians such as Tim “Ripper” Owens, Ross the Boss, Vinny Appice and Paul Di’Anno, and more recently to the cult Melodic Power Metal act Kamelot during their latest world tour. And you better get ready, because Kobra And The Lotus announced back in November 2015 they are gearing up for their fourth full-length album, a double disc entitled Prevail, to be released in a not-so-distant future (you can pre-order it HERE).

There are several videos on YouTube where you can enjoy her electrifying vocals and looks, and more important than that, feel the remarkable shift in her voice through the years. As a “few” suggestions, I believe you can take a listen at the old school thrashy tunes Snake Pit, Ride Like Sugar and Cynical Wasteland, the thunderous Welcome To My Funeral and I Am, I Am, the sexy heavy ballad Black Velvet, the Power Metal epicness of 50 Shades Of Evil and Forever One, the band’s thrilling cover versions for Motörhead’s all-time classic Ace of Spades and Rush’s groovy anthem The Spirit Of Radio, and their awesome performance at the famous festival Bloodstock Open Air in 2012. When asked about that change, Kobra said it happened mainly from their first to their second album, when she started following a direction where she felt more comfortable with her voice, sounding more organic, honest and authentic, and also evolving with the other band members in terms of skills and songwriting.

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Based on her vocal style and the music played by Kobra and The Lotus, you might think her biggest influences come only from traditional Heavy Metal, like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, who obviously had a huge impact on her life and who she would simply love to tour with. However, our gorgeous Kobra is a fan of all types of music, from old school metal the likes of Ronnie James Dio (R.I.P.) and Iced Earth, to Folk/Viking Metal such as Eluveitie and Amon Amarth, to obviously classical music, in special German composer and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven. As pretty much all successful musicians, she doesn’t stick to only one music genre, which helps her evolve as a singer and songwriter by expanding her horizons and bringing to her mind huge amounts of creativity and passion.

As expected for such a charismatic persona like Kobra, she was invited to take part on an interesting documentary called Soaring Highs and Brutal Lows: The Voices of Women in Metal after her performance at the famous Metal Female Voices Fest in 2013, touring then with other female vocalists in different festivals and telling their own stories in the world of heavy music. Talking about the life on the road, Kobra said once that “any person obviously has to be really into heavy metal, living and breathing for it, in order to be on the road constantly”, and in regards to being a beautiful woman among so many male metalheads, she said that one of the funniest things that ever happened to her on tour was when Kobra and The Lotus were touring around Canada the first time and she got a lot of questions like “are you the merch girl?”, surprising them all the minute she got onstage.

Her hobbies and interests are also very common for most of us, especially if you enjoy more physical stuff such as kickboxing and hiking on a mountain. Moreover, as she’s so focused on her music career and loves all things music so much, she has also nurtured an interest in musical theater, something she used to do at a younger age, looking into some Broadway scoring to improve her skills and capacity for innovation. One curious detail about her is that, even after spending so much time on the road with the band, she’s an avid traveler, always searching for exotic destinations to visit and new cultures to learn about.

Lastly, in case you haven’t noticed yet, our metal viper has the tattoo of a dream catcher on her arm, something very meaningful to her since she was a little girl. Her mom used to take her to sun dances, increasing Native American influences on her while she was growing up. Besides, she used to have constant nightmares until she was 13, when her parents put a dream catcher over her bed as a protective symbol, which ended up working really well for her. I’m pretty sure her nightmares are long gone by now, not due to the dream catcher but mainly because of her badass attitude and inner strength. In other words, I can’t think of any entity brave enough to disturb the peace of our headbanging cobra, and if anyone or anything dares to do so, they will mercilessly have their asses kicked pretty bad.

Kobra Paige’s Official Facebook page
Kobra Paige’s Official Twitter
Kobra Paige’s Official Instagram

Kobra And The Lotus’ Official Facebook page
Kobra And The Lotus’ Official Twitter

“I am who I am and this is my voice; if it’s not bad-ass enough for some people, that’s just too bad.” – Kobra Paige

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Metal Chick of the Month – Shiori Vitus

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Breathe life into the essence…

As Japan seems to be an unlimited source of kick-ass metal girls, first with Dr. Mikannibal at the end of 2015 and then with Lena Abé starting off the year of 2016 here at The Headbanging Moose, let’s travel back to the Land of the Rising Sun to pay one more humble tribute to another incredible Nipponese woman that has been not only promoting Heavy Metal in her homeland but, even more important than that, creating stirring and innovative music that transcend all geographical boundaries and reaching the hearts of different types of people all over the world. If you love melancholic and sorrowful sounds, and if you nurture a true passion for Dark Metal, you’ll simply feel amazed by the charisma and talent of Shiori Vitus, lead singer and lyricist of Japanese Gothic Metal band Eleanor.

Born in Osaka, Japan on November 17 (of an undisclosed year), Shiori seems to be a very persistent woman who doesn’t give up and keeps fighting for what she believes is right, which is the main reason why she’s the frontwoman for Eleanor today. Although there aren’t many details about her background in music and her career prior to Eleanor, she mentioned in one of her interviews that she decided to pursue a career in singing even being a “terrible singer” at first, one who couldn’t reach the right tones or provide the necessary power and balance to her voice. However, as I said she didn’t relinquish her dream as she felt from the bottom of her heart that was the right path to follow, and with a lot of experience gained due to intensive training and live performances she was able to overcome all barriers, frustrations and failures, becoming the stunning singer we know today.

It was in 2005 when Shiori, together with Japanese guitarist Ippei Shimada (or “Ippei J. Malmsteen”), founded Eleanor, also spelled “eleanor” in lower case or if you prefer エレノア in Japanese, impacting significantly the music scene in Osaka. Featuring melodic and atmospheric passages, thoughtful lyrics and ennui vocals, the band’s Gothic Metal has evolved in the past few years to a more experimental sounding, especially with their 2013 album, entitled Breathe Life into the Essence, offering something deeply distinct to their fans. Needless to say how important Shiori has been to the band, helping them keep their essence while at the same time always adding new elements to their music. So far, she has released with Eleanor a self-titled demo in 2006, a demo called The Second Dawn in 2007, their first full-length album A Circle of Lament in 2008, a demo entitled Fragments / Rise Above (Revive) in 2009, and more recently the aforementioned full-length album Breathe Life into the Essence in 2013, and the special single In Gloom… in 2014. In regards to this single, it’s a new version of one of their songs from their debut album A Circle Of Lament, re-recorded after changing the lyrics into Japanese and rearranging the song so as to fit their more recent musical tastes. And get ready, because Eleanor are about to release a brand new album now in 2016, which is always an exciting milestone due to their constant musical evolution.

You can relish her idiosyncratic vocals (always singing in Japanese, to make things even more interesting) on many distinct studio songs by Eleanor, such as Mourning and In Gloom…, and several others at their SoundCloud page. In case you fancy live music you can take a listen at her awesome performance in the songs Blue Moon, Sorrow and Eleanor’s cover version for the song Summer by Nuclear Valdez (you can compare it to the 1989 original song by clicking HERE). Or maybe a live version for the excellent Fatal Movement would suit you better? Anyway, I personally consider Shiori’s live performance a crucial component of Eleanor’s music, mainly due to her theatrical moves and gestures, enhancing the ambience already generated by their musicality. Apart from her life with Eleanor, she lent her voice to the song Caged… from the 2006 album Construction of Despair, by Japanese Melodic Death Metal/Metalcore band Smash the Brain, which by the way was a project led by her bandmate Ippei Shimada.

Perhaps one of the biggest achievements of Shiori and Eleanor to date was their performance at the 11th edition of the famous Belgian festival Metal Female Voices Fest in Wieze, Belgium on October 20, 2013, playing along with names such as Tarja, Lacuna Coil, Liv Kristine, Cadaveria and many others, as you can see HERE. You can see more about Shiori and the other members of Eleanor’s journey to Europe HERE and HERE, as well as check their excellent performance in the festival with the songs Blue Moon and Mourning.

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Regarding the uniqueness of the culture and styles found in Osaka, when asked about how different the music scene in the city is from Tokyo and the rest of Japan, Shiori commented about the fact that it’s a lot easier to go against the flow in Osaka than in Tokyo, which opens the doors for endless creativity and originality as opposed to the more “strict” market in the capital city. She even mentioned the names of a few important bands hailing from Osaka, like the unstoppable Heavy Metal band Loudness and Grindcore/Hardcore band S.O.B., as examples of how fruitful the city can be for heavy music or any other type of music. Tokyo obviously has also a lot to offer to fans of Heavy Metal, but I totally agree with Shiori with the fact that huge metropolitan areas are not the best places for bands who put creativity above money, or in other words, if you don’t want to be just another name in the music scene, run away from the big city.

I bet you also want to know about Shiori’s biggest influences in music, her favorite artists and albums, as well as her hobbies, correct? Let’s start talking about her main influences, or I should say artists that helped Shiori shape up her vocal style, and of course the list wouldn’t make any sense without Anneke van Giersbergen and the early days of Dutch Progressive Rock/Metal band The Gathering. Our Asian diva mentioned she was completely stunned by the expressiveness and quality of their music, pointing out Anneke is indeed unique if compared to most Gothic Metal divas, as she’s not a soprano nor has a symphonic style, which was something Shiori connected to instantly. In addition, Shiori was also influenced by renowned artists such as Janis Joplin and Ronnie James Dio, as well as non-metal/rock Japanese singers like Miyuki Nakajima and Junko Ohashi. However, she made clear she has never tried to copy anyone, but to be able to sing on average level and find her own style, advancing more and more as a musician both in terms of her technique and her emotions.

Her list of favorite bands and albums is simply amazing, showing how much she is a lover of Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll above all things. You’ll find bands like AC/DC, The Gathering and Electric Wizard as part of her playlist (which shouldn’t be a surprise at all to you at this point of this essay), with some of her favorite albums of all time being Let There Be Rock (AC/DC), Nighttime Birds (The Gathering), The Cold White Light (Sentenced), Eclipse (Amorphis) and The Best Of The Wildhearts (The Wildhearts). As a true Gothic metaller/rocker, Shiori is also a big fan of literature, with names such as Haruki Murakami and Kōbō Abe being part of her list of top writers. In addition, among her hobbies we can find usual activities like cooking, but at the same time some slightly more unconventional pastimes such as watching figure skating.

Furthermore, when asked to recommend a few bands and albums that perfectly represent what we call “Melancholic Gothic Metal”, Shiori put together another powerful list of darkly ethereal names, including The Gathering’s Mandylion (1995), Sentenced’s The Cold White Light (2002), Eternal Tears Of Sorrow’s Chaotic Beauty (2000), Entwine’s Diversity (2004) and my favorite one of her list (which was already mentioned in this essay), Amorphis’ Eclipse (2006). When you listen to an incredible song such as Leaves Scar and its beautiful lyrics (“Out from the frozen lake / She finally grew into her full might / She grew from a tiny thing / On this lake as I drove there to meet her”), not only it becomes extremely easy to understand why this is one of Shiori’s top albums and also part of her recommendations, but it’s also a very good example of how much our Japanese princess values passion and depth in heavy music.

Shiori Vitus’ Official Instagram
Shiori Vitus’ Official Twitter
Eleanor’s Official Facebook page
Eleanor’s Official Twitter

“We believe that the darkness we hold inside, and depressive thoughts become the drive and essence of a work of art, and by creating music of that kind, we glimpse ourselves and are able to confront the grief in the world surrounding us. Therefore for us to be fascinated by melancholic sounds is a completely natural reaction.” – Shiori Vitus

Metal Chick of the Month – Vibeke Stene

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You make my tired heart sing, Vibeke…

I guess I don’t need to say that lots and lots of Gothic/Doom Metal fans got extremely excited back in June 2013, when our metal chick this month announced through her official Facebook page that she was finally coming out of her retirement to reignite her brilliant music career in Heavy Metal. I’m talking about one of the most beloved female singers of all time in heavy music, Norwegian soprano Vibeke Stene, known for her unparalleled contribution to making Norwegian Symphonic Gothic Metal band Tristania a true reference in Gothic Metal history.

Daughter of Steinar Stene and Sissel Bø Stene, Vibeke was born on August 17, 1978, in the municipality of Sokndal in Rogaland county, Norway, about 450km from the capital Oslo. Her personal life and her career seem to walk hand in hand, becoming even the same entity sometimes, as she’s been fully involved with music and singing since she was a little girl. For instance, at the age of three, our diva already performed for people that were not part of her family, evidencing how much she loved music and starting to build her successful career as a singer.

It was at the age of thirteen, when she started taking singing lessons after she moved to Stavanger (about 100km from Sokndal), that she got interested in classical singing, taking lessons until the age of 23 in order to become her own teacher. By the way, not only Vibeke is the owner of a unique vocal range and an incredible charisma when she’s performing live, but she also became a teacher, studying music and giving singing lessons in Stavanger, Kristiansand and Oslo.

In regards to her professional career as a singer, it’s more than obvious that she left her deepest mark and became a huge heavy music idol during her years with Tristania, which was actually the very first band she joined in her life. Speaking of which, when she was 18 years old Vibeke was invited to join Tristania after attending a live concert of the band, and although she was initially supposed to be only a guest musician in their first demo, she ended up becoming a permanent member due to her incredible performance. The other members of Tristania mentioned in some interviews that Vibeke wasn’t into Gothic Metal before joining the band, but a lot more into Classic Rock and Heavy Metal, which of course didn’t prevent her at all from perfectly blending her voice with the band’s musicality. Furthermore, her performances with Tristania were so good and so powerful it’s quite impossible not to associate the band with her name even today, and it’s hard to imagine Vibeke singing in a band that’s not Gothic or Doom Metal.

Her awesome career as Tristania’s female singer includes the demo Tristania (1997), the full-length albums Widow’s Weeds (1998), Beyond the Veil (1999), World of Glass (2001), Ashes (2005) and Illumination (2007), as well as the singles Angina (1999) and Sanguine Sky (2007), two live albums, two compilations and three music videos, including the eerie official video for the excellent song Libre and the more than pleasant Equilibrium (which can be seen at the end of this text). All those albums are really good and sound very professional, but in my humble opinion the best one by far is Widow’s Weeds, where Vibeke’s smooth voice and Morten Veland’s harsh vocals, together with a very melancholic and obscure sonority, make this album a must-have in the collection of any fan of high-quality music. Songs like Evenfall, Pale Enchantress and My Lost Lenore are those things that deserve to be included in the “never before, never again” music category.

Vibeke and Tristania always had an outstanding live performance together. For instance, they were the headliners of the 4th edition of the Metal Female Voices Fest, which happened in Wieze, Belgium, in 2006, where they shared the stage with other great bands such as Theatre of Tragedy, Delain and Xandria. I had the pleasure to see them live twice with the goddess Vibeke on vocals during their World of Glass tour in January 2002, and in March 2005 during their Ashes tour, and in both occasions it was impossible not to be impressed by her voice and moves during the entire concert.

Unfortunately for all the fans of Tristania, Vibeke left the band in February 2007 first to finish her university degree, and also because she didn’t like the music direction the band was taking. And despite all the rumors about her replacing the one and only Tarja Turunen when she left Symphonic Power Metal band Nightwish, as both left their former bands almost at the same time, Vibeke was the first one to publicly confirm she was not going to be the new singer for Nightwish nor would ever be. However, we can say Tristania was not the only band in Vibeke’s life: she was also a guest vocalist in three tracks (In the Realm of the Midnight Sun, My Dark Reflections of Life and Death and Under Eternal Stars) from the 2000 album Journey to the End of the Night,  by Norwegian Gothic Metal band Green Carnation; guest vocalist in the interesting song Suspended Time, from the 2007 album Solar Soul by Swiss Industrial Metal band Samael; and more recently, Norwegian Electronic band Plutho released the song Queen of Broken Hearts, from their 2011 album Bob, You Don’t Wanna Go There!, which features Vibeke’s guest vocals. However, according to the group, this was recorded back in 1999, which means Vibeke was still officially “retired” when the song was released.

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Although Vibeke still owes all her loyal and passionate fans her once promised solo album, at least we’re glad she’s back to the world of heavy music with her unique voice in the Extreme Metal project God of Atheists, by Norwegian musician Asgeir Mickelson, including musicians from Dimmu Borgir, Emperor, Zyklon, among others. This project is still in the making, but should be available sometime in the second half of 2015. In addition, we’ll also be able to see her acting really soon, as she’s making her theatre debut on stage at Kilden in Kristiansand in October, playing the title role in a play entitled “Skammens Gissel” (or “Hostage of Shame” in English).

Vibeke has mentioned more than once that her biggest influences in music do not only come from the bands and artists she enjoys listening to, but also from all the people she’s been doing music together with since the beginning of her career. Besides that, among some of the greatest voices in her own opinion, we have many exceptional artists such as American diva Tori Amos, Icelandic singer and actress Björk, the unparalleled English “chameleon” David Bowie, American singer Tom Waits and American avant-garde artist Diamanda Galás. Our Gothic Metal countess also said in her interviews that she’s extremely critical to whatever she’s doing and she’s never satisfied if the final result is not the best she can provide, and I believe this is something we can always expect from Vibeke due to her strong character and all the perfectionism that emanates from her it doesn’t matter which band or project she’s involved with.

Talking about her personal life, our beautiful soprano loves doing what pretty much every normal person does too, which includes reading a book, travelling, spending time with her family and friends, and enjoying a good beer. Nonetheless, despite loving doing opera, mainly because she can sing and act at the same time, she said she just hates listening to it in her free time. Maybe that’s because while she’s listening to opera that means she’s not singing. Add to that her perfectionism, and it ends up making total sense: who can offer us a better operatic performance onstage than Vibeke, right?

If you’re one of those people who have always thought Vibeke had dark brown or black hair, you might be surprised to know that she’s actually a natural blond. She has however dyed her hair throughout the years, probably because dark hair has more to do with Gothic and Extreme Metal, and also because it looks like almost all blond Scandinavian girls simply love to have black hair. Finally, just as a complement to her personal profile, Vibeke is already a mother of two: she had a son in the summer of 2007, and a daughter a few years later. It’s still too early to know if both kids will follow their mother’s steps in life, but if they inherit at least 1% of her talent and charisma we can rest assured Norway will keep providing the world some dark and melancholic high-end heavy music.

Vibeke Stene’s Official Facebook page
God of Atheists’ Official Facebook page

“To sing is to be able to use and take control of your whole body to make the right sound, and not only one kind of sound, to dare to use all your weird thoughts and be able to tell something while you are singing. It’s art.” – Vibeke Stene

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

Metal Chick of the Month – Agnieszka “Nera” Górecka

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Nera, prawdziwa polska księżniczka!

Our Heavy Metal goddess this month is the perfect representation of all the beauty and finesse of her home country:  Agnieszka “Nera” Górecka, or simply Nera, is a gorgeous Polish singer and songwriter from the city of Katowice (Silesia), known for her potent vocals in the Polish Symphonic Black Metal band Darzamat, and more recently for her own solo project called NeraNature.

Nera started her career in 1997 with the Gothic Metal band MidnightDate, from the city of Gliwice, about 30 minutes from Katowice. Then after a few years she finally joined Darzamat, in 2003, with whom she has recorded so far three studio albums: Semidevilish (2004), Transkarpatia (2005), and their latest one Solfernus’ Path (2009), as well as a live DVD called Live Profanity (Visiting the Graves of Heretics). In one of her interviews, she explained the meaning of the band’s name, saying it comes from the Latvian mythology and it denotes garden goddess ( dārzs = garden and māte = mother, in Latvian). In her own words, “I really like it as it seems to me very “organic”, close to the nature and paganism”, showing her passion for everything related to Mother Nature.

Due to Nera’s powerful voice, astonishing looks and sexy onstage moves (and of course, the overall quality of their music), Darzamat reached then some status, gaining respect from Heavy Metal fans all over the world, being invited to play in festivals with exceptional bands such as Arch Enemy, Carcass and Stratovarius, and even in a special Heavy Metal festival in India, which is something rare to see in heavy music today. Besides that, the band also featured in the 2009 edition of the amazing Metal Female Voices Fest. Nera’s mesmerizing performance with Darzamat can be seen in the videos In Red Iris, from the album Semidevilish, and The Burning Times, from the album Transkarpatia.

In 2009, Nera founded her own solo project called NeraNature, completely different from Darzamat. The music is more like some Gothic Rock, with Nera using her voice in a smooth and charming way, and according to Nera herself, “this project is more intimate, private and sometimes bizarre and freakish.” The name of the band is a combination of her own nickname and the word “Nature”, as a reflection of her deep connection with the environment. This connection can be easily seen in the lyrics, which are all about Nature itself, life, and a more feminist outlook of the world. She released a full-length album in 2011 called Foresting Wounds, which includes a pretty cool cover version of Garbage’s The World Is Not Enough, and has recently released a new single entitled Drifting (available on iTunes and Amazon.co.uk), which probably means there will be a new NeraNature album pretty soon.

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Apart from her career with Darzamat and NeraNature, she appeared as a guest singer in the albums Arcane (2010), by the Portuguese Gothic Metal band Dark Wings Syndrome, and Ordo Bellictum Satanas (2010), by the Ukrainian ex-Black Metal band Semargl.

Regarding her musical influences, Nera said the most important bands and artists in her life, which helped define her singing style, were The Gathering, Tiamat, Samael, Ulver, Bathory, Arcturus and Opeth. Furthermore, it seems she has a very eclectic taste for music, as she usually listens not only to Heavy Metal, but also to several kinds of rock, ambient, smooth jazz and some classical music. In her free time, Nera enjoys listening to music from the bands Peccatum, Emperor, Ulver, Opeth, Pink Floyd, Leszek Mozdzer, Satyricon and some soundtracks such as Twin Peaks, Requiem for a Dream, and Dracula. She also mentioned she has a special admiration for the music of the Norwegian Black Metal band Emperor, and that she would love to perform live one day with them.

And finally, when talking about her voice and technique, Nera said that your emotions, experiences and own interpretations are much more important than any singing classes you might take in your life (by the way, she has never taken any), and that the most exciting thing for her is that your voice is unique, it’s like your fingerprint, and it helps define each person in the world, not only singers. We have to agree with her, but let’s be honest and also admit that the voice of this gothic polska księżniczka, as well as her beauty and charm, are way above the average.

NeraNature Official Facebook page

“Nature is life, truth, beauty and power.” – Agnieszka “Nera” Górecka