Metal Chick of the Month – Federica Lanna

While angels are turning into grace… Demons languish because of their pains…

It’s time to be embraced by the beautiful voice of the stunning Italian singer Federica Lanna, frontwoman for Modena-based Symphonic Metal act Sleeping Romance, here on The Headbanging Moose, and let me tell you that once you are touched by the mesmerizing, delicate and passionate vocals by our metal chick of the month of March, you’ll become addicted to her voice and music. That’s what first-class Symphonic Metal with female vocals is all about, and Federica is here to show us all the metallic scene in Italy is alive and on fire and that her band is one of the most interesting names we should be paying attention to when it comes to symphonic music.

Born on April 26, 1986 in Modena, a city in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region known for its balsamic vinegar, opera heritage, Ferrari and Lamborghini sports cars, Federica lives up to the legacy and culture of her hometown, having studied opera singing for around three or four years in her career. She had to stop her course, though, due to the high cost for her at that time, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t resumed her studies in recent years, when she began studying with a speech therapist as well as started working with Italian singer, keyboardist, producer, bassist and vocal coach Michele Luppi (Vision Divine, Secret Sphere, Whitesnake). Federica said in one of her interviews that unfortunately she doesn’t play any other instruments like guitar or keyboards, but who said she needs more than her voice to embellish the airwaves, right?

In regards to her career with Sleeping Romance, when she joined the crew in 2012 the band was at that time still called Hybrid Resolution, playing a style closer to Gothic Metal instead of their current Symphonic Metal. Federica didn’t release anything under the name Hybrid Resolution, though, with the band’s only release since their inception in 2009 being their 2011 five-track self-titled debut EP. The original idea of the band’s mastermind, guitarist Federico Truzzi, was about combining orchestral and symphonic music to rock and metal, which is why it was originally named Hybrid Resolution, but they decided to change the name to Sleeping Romance in 2013, already with Federica as their lead singer, to give the band a darker, more evocative and more romantic touch. Owner of a delicate but at the same time very powerful voice, Federica’s approach when developing her vocals for the music by Sleeping Romance is quite straightforward, as she works together with Federico in order to create vocal lines that not only value her voice, but the entire song. The duo tries different solutions and ranges together until they reach a desired shape and form, with Federico always providing her keyboard drafts to help her with the vocal melodies.

Drawing influences from movie soundtracks and classical music, and playing what can be labeled as “Mediterranean Symphonic Metal”, the band currently comprised of our diva Federica Lanna on vocals, the aforementioned Federico Truzzi on the guitar and orchestrations, Fabrizio Incao also on the guitar, Lorenzo Costi on bass and Francesco Zanarelli on drums have already released two full-length albums, those being Enlighten, in 2013, and Alba, in 2017, as well as a few singles through the years. Since the release of their debut opus, the band has toured quite extensively in Europe, playing mini-tours and one-off festival shows around the continent, including Brainstorm Festival and FemME in the Netherlands, Christmas Rock Night in Germany and many others. There are several videos on YouTube where you can enjoy Federica’s voice (and obviously her beauty), such as Lost In My Eyes, Where The Light Is Bleeding, My Temptation, December Flower, The Promise Inside, and an acoustic version of Finding My Way.

Also, although Federica hadn’t been in any band of certain significance before joining Sleeping Romance, you can still enjoy her gorgeous voice as a guest singer in the song The Final Crusade, released in 2017 by Austrian Symphonic/Progressive Power Metal band Serenity in the album Lionheart. Besides that special appearance, Federica also updates her own YouTube channel on a regular basis with her personal versions for metal and even non-metal songs from an array of bands and musicians, such as Within Temptation’s Somewhere (in partnership with Angela Di Vincenzo, from Secret Rule), Epica’s Storm the Sorrow (together with Alex Lady Owl), and Tesseract’s Tourniquet.

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As Federica started singing when she was still a child, growing up among Disney soundtracks and her father’s albums (which included classics like Pink Floyd, Queen, Enigma and Enya), her range of influences in music can be considered quite wide. For instance, she loved singing both Bohemian Rhapsody and The Sleeping Beauty, two very distinct but obviously very impactful and multi-layered songs. Apart from Freddie Mercury, Disney movies like The Little Mermaid and her father’s influence, Federica said in one of her interviews that it was when she discovered the music by Within Temptation that she began developing her taste for Symphonic Metal, falling in love with the genre. Among her favorite bands, she always mentions Within Temptation, Nightwish, Evanescence, Rhapsody and so on, also including other bands and styles on her list in recent years, such as Shoegaze, Djent and Progressive Metal.

When asked about the metal environment in her homeland Italy, specially the Symphonic Metal scene, Federica said that, due to the increasing number of amazing bands, the biggest challenge not only for Sleeping Romance but for any band is to be unique, to stand out and not be just a copy of a band which already exists like Nightwish and Within Temptation. She complemented by saying that despite the fact Sleeping Romance is a fairly young band and that it’s an honor for them to be compared to renowned names in the scene, they’re always trying to create something unique and recognizable, always aiming at generating their own sound. Federica also said that metal in Italy is undervalued in spite of all those excellent new bands appearing in the scene, and that’s one of the reasons why she doesn’t usually have a lot of chances to meet other musicians and play with other metal bands in her homeland.

Federica is obviously passionate about touring with Sleeping Romance and playing live, saying that during her first ever tour with the band she hadn’t eaten anything for two days before their first gig in Holland so excited she was then, also saying that tour was one of the best experiences of their lives. When asked about the most important aspects while preparing for a live show, our talented metalhead said that it’s essential for all band members to work, move and look on stage as one single entity, focusing on the songs instead of on their individual performances, complementing her thought by saying that they truly enjoy involving the audience by stimulating their senses and imagination during their concerts. In addition, as a tip to anyone who’s going on a tour with a band, she said touring is not always easy despite all the satisfaction it might give you, and that it’s really important to take care of yourself, bringing with you things like medicine and blankets, as well as being very patient with everyone and everything and be ready for whatever comes during the tour.

Last but not least, Federica said in one of her interviews that finding the perfect lineup before getting into the studio to record a new album is more than essential (which is why by the way she ended up playing with Sleeping Romance, as they changed singers), and that recording an album that truly represents the musicians involved and show the listener the band in their very nature is something Sleeping Romance is always in pursuit of. Furthermore, as the only woman in Sleeping Romance, Federica said she feels like “the princess among the ogres”, saying that the guys can be quite rude sometimes, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t like spending time with them; quite the contrary, that’s one of the main reasons why she enjoys being with them so much as it’s never boring or tiresome. Personally, I believe it’s Federico, Lorenzo, Francesco and Fabrizio who truly benefit from having such talented, beautiful and fun metal woman among them all the time, don’t you agree? That certainly brings a very welcome balance to their lives in the studio and on the road with Sleeping Romance.

Federica Lanna’s Official Facebook page
Federica Lanna’s Official Instagram
Federica Lanna’s Official YouTube channel
Sleeping Romance’s Official Facebook page
Sleeping Romance’s Official Instagram

“I have never thought to be so good to deserve a musical career and then Sleeping Romance came into my life and I experienced a constancy and a love that I ‘ve never felt for anything, and a couple of years ago I also started to teach singing; music gave me my place in the world when I didn’t know what to do with myself.” – Federica Lanna

Album Review – Karmian / Surgere et Cadere (2018)

Enjoy this flammable concept album of Swedish Death Metal made in Italy, taking us on a journey through forgotten times on which thousands of men died for freedom.

Born in 2005 in the Italian city of Modena under the name When the Storm Broke, a destructive Melodic Death Metal force currently known as Karmian is among us to spread violence and fury with a good amount of melody, playing what we fans of heavy music usually call Swedish Death Metal (or in the case of Karmian, we can call it “Swedish Death Metal from Italy”), culminating now in 2018 with the release of their first full-length opus, titled Surgere et Cadere (Latin for “rise and fall”), a concept album on the history of the Boii, a proud Celtic tribe who invaded northern Italy in 390 BC, conquering the city of Bologna. All the story told in the lyrics, even if they are dramatized, are based on true accounts of Romans historian, taking us on a journey through forgotten times on which thousands of men died for freedom.

Comprised of Andrea Bertolazzi on vocals, Andrea Baraldi on lead guitar (and who also played bass on the album), Mauro Leone on the guitar, Claudio Nasi on bass (although he didn’t record the album) and Nicholas Badiali on drums, Karmian are one of those bands who go straight to the point with their austere and visceral music, without adding any artificial elements nor other shenanigans to their sonority. Featuring a flammable artwork by Italian artist Lorenzo Paltrinieri, Surgere et Cadere narrates the rise and fall of the Boii in the best Melodic Death Metal style you can think of, translating all of the happenings to that given time in history into crushing metal music and, therefore, enhancing all aspects (especially the violent ones) of such distinct tribe.

In the amazing opening track titled They Burn the quartet wastes no time and begin blasting metallic and strident lines that penetrate deep inside our ears, before Andrea Bertolazzi begins growling like an enraged beast, making it impossible not to scream the chorus together with the band, followed by Conquering The Plain, a crushing tune led by the unstoppable Nicholas behind his drum kit that sounds a lot more Death Metal than Melodic Death Metal, with its lyrics perfectly telling the proposed story (“Bononia was the start / There’s a plain ahead to loot / Etruscans are divided / The league is weak / Belonos blesses our raid / In this land of the sun / The cities fear the tribe / They fall one by one”). And Shadow of the Eagles is a true headbanging chant by Karmian where the band’s guitar duo slashes their strings ferociously, inviting us to break our necks and slam into the circle pit like true metal maniacs.

The Gaul is another demolishing creation with highlights to the lancinating shredding and guitar solos by Andrea Baraldi and Mauro, sounding very technical and gripping while Andrea Bertolazzi goes on with his growling attack, and the band continues to hammer our heads with another Melodic Death Metal onrush named The Alliance, showcasing austere, harsh vocals, smashing drums and cutting riffs, keeping the album at a high level of violence. Then flirting with Black Metal thanks to the demonic riffs by both guitarists and the blast beats by Nicholas we have Total War, another visceral tune proving how amazing their lyrics are (“Placentia attacked for carthago / Padania freed again / Rebellion / Taranis on our hearts / Beside the blessed river / We have no fear of death / Rome bleeds, rome suffers / Entangled in total war”).

Be ready to snap your neck headbanging once again to their berserk music in the mid-tempo, hellish tune named Druids in the Forest, where all band members are on absolute fire, led by the visceral guitars by Andrea Baraldi and Mauro, once again presenting a demented but very precise Nicholas on drums, whereas their second to last explosion of Melodic Death Metal infused with old school Death and Black Metal comes in the form of Sacred Selva, a solid and violent tune where Andrea Bertolazzi fires some deep, enraged gnarls in sync with the song’s razor-edged riffs. Lastly, the gentle piano by guest Enrico Dolcetto kicks off the somber and introspective Mutina Capta Est (or “Modena is captured” from Latin), a dark power-ballad very distinct from the rest of the album, closing Surgere et Cadere as if it was the aftermath narrated in an anguished way by Andrea Bertolazzi.

In order to join Karmian in their quest for metal and learn more about the Boii as narrated in Surgere et Cadere, simply follow the band on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, listen to more of their music on Spotify, and grab your copy of the album from their own BandCamp page, from iTunes, from Amazon or from CD Baby. Now, after all is said and done, it’s just a matter of waiting for the next chapter in the career of such promising band, making us all eager to see if they’ll keep drawing inspiration from the rich and vibrant historical facts of their homeland, therefore adding an extra touch of epicness to their already potent Melodic Death Metal.

Best moments of the album: They Burn, Shadow of the Eagles and Total War.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing 
1. They Burn 3:24
2. Conquering The Plain 4:05
3. Shadow of the Eagles 3:53
4. The Gaul 4:09
5. The Alliance 4:30
6. Total War 4:31
7. Druids in the Forest 5:13
8. Sacred Selva 5:29
9. Mutina Capta Est 6:04

Band members
Andrea Bertolazzi – vocals
Andrea Baraldi – lead guitar, bass
Mauro Leone – guitar
Nicholas Badiali – drums

Guest musicians
Marco Bocchi – bass
Enrico Dolcetto – piano

Album Review – Valgrind / Seal Of Phobos EP (2017)

Behold the brand new blood-claiming opus by this long-established Italian act, highly recommended for fans of the crushing sounds of old school Death Metal.

Valgrind is not only the main entrance to Valhalla in Norse mythology, but also the name of a four-piece Italian Death Metal brigade (born from the ashes of the ultra-underground act Necrospell in 1993, in the city of Modena) who, one year after the release of their widely acclaimed full-length album Speech Of The Flame, are back with a new blood-claiming EP titled Seal Of Phobos, a great option for fans of the crushing music by Morbid Angel, Monstrosity and Cruciamentum, and a sound message to the world of heavy music by a band that has been on a very positive roll since being reborn from the ashes back in 2008.

Featuring a stylish artwork by the band’s own vocalist and bassist Daniele Lupidi, who’s not only a talented musician but an accomplished artist as well, Seal Of Phobos sounds simply pulverizing from start to finish, with each song of the EP presenting a high level of dexterity, aggression and feeling in the form of Technical Death Metal. “This is probably our most aggressive material to date. All of the four tracks are extremely intense and we decided to go with a different vocal approach for every tune to give each one its own strong identity. We’re also extremely happy to have Jonny Petterson (Wombbath, Ashcloud, Henry Kane) doing some guest vocals on ‘Ekphora’s Day’. Last but not least, this is the first studio appearance for our new guitarist Umberto Poncina, who also engineered and mixed the EP”, said Daniele about how Seal Of Phobos was created and his expectations with it.

The truly bestial drumming by Gianmarco Agosti arises from the pits of hell to hit us in the face before the other band members begin their demolishing feast of Death Metal in the opening track, the amazing The Endless Circle, where Daniele delivers traditional growls à la Cannibal Corpse while the guitar duo Massimiliano Elia and Umberto Poncina are spot-on with their shredding and solos. And their sonic carnage goes on with an even more violent and blackened composition, New Born Deceit, where Daniele and Gianmarco are on their most infernal mode delivering enraged growls and insanely aggressive beats and fills respectively. Moreover, fans of old school Death Metal will crack their skulls into the circle pit to this hostile tune during their live performances without a shadow of a doubt.

Epic sounds in Prelude to Downfall (Interlude) warm up our ears for another Death Metal attack by Valgrind, this time titled Traitors Will Bleed, with Massimiliano and Umberto incinerating our skins with their metallic riffs. The whole song sounds very technical and rhythmic, with the intricate beats by Gianmarco building the perfect ambience for Daniele and his guttural vocals, ending with a nice Slayer-inspired guitar solo. And lastly, featuring guest vocalist Jonny Pettersson, we have Ekphora’s Day, a devastating chant showcasing a vile drumming, a neck-breaking main riff and beyond aggressive growls, not to mention its lyrics which can be considered the epitome of Death Metal (“Sacrifices, spill the blood / Those who died need final offers / Walking nightmares gathered around the flock / Ekphora’s day / Everything in this rotten earth is terminal / Lamentations guide mankind to the final resting place”), with all those elements being thoroughly connected until the sonic madness generated by the band fades away into a cryptic conclusion.

In case you want to take an initial full-listen at Seal Of Phobos before buying the album, you can find it in its entirety on YouTube, but I’m sure after the first song you’ll already run to the band’s own Big Cartel to grab either the regular version of the album or the special CD + T-shirt bundle, which you can also find at the Everlasting Spew Record’s webshop by clicking HERE or HERE, as well as at the Everlasting Spew Records’ BandCamp or at Discogs. I’m sure that after listening to Seal Of Phobos you’ll also go after the previous releases by Valgrind, a band that knows how to deliver to us avid metalheads high-quality old school Technical Death Metal with tons of aggressiveness and rawness added to the mix.

Best moments of the album: The Endless Circle and New Born Deceit.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Everlasting Spew Records

Track listing
1. The Endless Circle 4:07
2. New Born Deceit 4:09
3. Prelude to Downfall (Interlude) 0:47
4. Traitors Will Bleed 3:24
5. Ekphora’s Day 5:03

Band members
Daniele Lupidi – Vocals, bass
Massimiliano Elia – lead and rhythm guitars, keyboards
Umberto Poncina – rhythm and lead guitars, keyboards
Gianmarco Agosti – drums

Guest musician
Jonny Pettersson – additional vocals on “Ekphora’s Day”