Metal Chick of the Month – Heidi Shepherd & Carla Harvey

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Ladies and Gentlemen, children of all ages… Step right up and get your tickets to the greatest show on earth!

Love them or hate them, we all must admit that the two female metallers chosen to celebrate the third anniversary of The Headbanging Moose have a strong influence on contemporary Heavy Metal due to their unique (and aggressive) attitude, which obviously includes their sexy looks and fiery and chaotic music. They deal with their sexuality more naturally than we prepare a simple orange juice, and although some people might consider their work futile or even too obscene, let’s not forget that heavy music is above all things a form of art where artists can freely express their thoughts, ideals and beliefs through their compositions and, in many cases like for example in Black Metal, through their image. Besides, their music is a billion times better than anything Lady Gaga does, a woman who calls herself a true metal fan but in reality keeps playing second-class meaningless pop stuff. With that said, let’s raise our horns to frontwomen Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey, the dynamic duo responsible for the amusing blend of violence and rebelliousness bred by American Metalcore/Groove Metal band Butcher Babies.

Before we talk about each “butcher baby” in more details, let me provide you a short and sweet overview of this Alternative Metal band from Los Angeles, California in case you have never heard of them in your life. Formed in 2010, Butcher Babies probably have one of the most solid lineups in the history of heavy music despite being just a few years old. Apart from Heidi and Carla, the band is also made up by guitarist Henry Flury, bassist Jason Klein and drummer Chris Warner, all still playing together since the band’s inception and, based on how healthy their relationship is, that’s the way things are going to be for many years to come. The name of the band came from the song Butcher Baby by American Punk Rock band Plasmatics, spearheaded by the iconic singer, songwriter and actress Wendy O. Williams. Both Heidi and Carla acknowledge how important Wendy O. Williams was (and still is) for the increasing acceptance of women in heavy music, which is one of the reasons why they wear such eccentric attire during their live performances including wearing nothing but black tape over their nipples (albeit they’ve ditched it in recent years).

Despite their short period of existence so far, the band has already released the single Blonde Girls All Look The Same in 2011, the EP Butcher Babies in 2012, their first full-length album Goliath in 2013, another EP entitled Uncovered in 2014 and finally their most recent full-length album, Take It Like a Man, in 2015. You can have lots of fun with their music and sexiness in songs such as They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!, Igniter, Magnolia Blvd, Mr. Slowdeath, Dead Man Walking, I Smell a Massacre, Gravemaker and The Butcher, or you can simply enjoy their entire 40-minute performance at the always superb Graspop Metal Meeting in Dessel, Belguim in 2015. There are also tons of cool interviews with Heidi and Carla on YouTube, such as backstage interviews at Knotfest in 2014 and at Rockstar Mayhem Tour in 2013; their explanation for abandoning the nipple tape and covering up; a nice interview for Metal Hammer at Soundwave 2015 where they talk about hugging koala bears, fighting kangaroos and their adventures in Australia; an interview to German channel BunchTV in 2011 still with the nipple tapes; and a very relaxed interview to FeMetalTV in 2015.

HEIDI SHEPHERD

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Enough said already, now it’s all about the girls. Let’s begin with the sometimes blonde, sometimes red-headed hurricane Heidi Shepherd, the woman accountable for the high-pitched screams and growls for Butcher Babies. Born on April 17, 1985 in Utah, United States, Heidi is more than “just” a metal singer, being also a radio DJ, actress and casting director best known for the 2008 thriller Animals and the TV series MANswers, as well as minor parts and uncredited appearances in different shows such as My Name Is Earl, Ghots Whisperer and CSI: NY.

Heidi, who by the way is the oldest of 6 kids, grew up in Provo, Utah, the third largest city in the state and located around 43 miles south of Salt Lake City, where she attended Provo High School, graduating in 2003. Still in high school, believe it or not Heidi was an accomplished track and field athlete, even traveling to Russia to participate in the Junior Olympics. She also graduated from Southern Utah University, where once again she showcased all her athleticism participating in competitions such as high jump and long jump. Also, as a girl raised in the Mormon religion, Heidi has a very interesting view of the concept of Heaven and Hell, stating those are things the human being made up to make ourselves feel comfortable about the afterlife, something to give people a purpose and life goals.

In regards to her passion for music and how it helped her become a better person, our unrestrained vocalist said music was basically the only thing she could relate to in her childhood, having as her personal heroes distinct names such as Slipknot, Wendy O. Williams, Gwen Stefani and Joan Jett, most of them being females that defy the male dominance in music as you can see. However, it’s Slipknot, a top to bottom male band, who had the strongest influence on her vocal style and stage performance, saying when she saw a picture of them for the first time (she was around 12 or 13 only) it really scared her but intrigued her at the same time. Once a girl who developed an intense fear of the dark, Heidi learned to embrace fear and use it in her creative process through the years, something we can definitely connect to what Slipknot aim with their unique approach.

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If you think she’s a party girl who doesn’t sleep at all and drinks every alcoholic beverage in sight, you’re absolutely wrong. Well, of course she always has her share of fun, but Heidi mentioned already in different interviews that if she doesn’t get enough sleep every night her live performances suffer a truly negative impact. On top of that, Heidi said that despite loving whiskey she can’t drink it on the road anymore, as the effect of the alcohol hurts her vocal chords, so she saves it for when she gets back home. If you’re a singer I’m sure you can relate to that, because you can be tired and drunk and still play a guitar, for example, but the impact alcohol can have on your vocals can be devastating without any doubt.

Lastly, as a lover of horror flicks and a believer of supernatural and paranormal forces, which in my opinion is an excellent source of inspiration for the type of music played by Butcher Babies, Heidi mentioned that among her favorite recent movies we can find titles like the new Evil Dead, V/H/S and V/H/S/2, You’re Next and The Purge, all pretty decent films with interesting storylines, don’t you think? And who knows, maybe it’s time for a slasher movie with a main female character named “Heidi the Butcher”, who not only chops and dismembers her victims, but does that screaming like a maniac while listening to some vicious heavy music. Or maybe it should be a sanguinary duo of Heidi and Carla? Read the rest of this essay and take your own conclusions.

Heidi Shepherd’s Official Facebook page
Heidi Shepherd’s Official Twitter
Heidi Shepherd’s Official Instagram

“There’s no reason why girls can’t get up there and rock just as hard as, if not harder than, the boys. And I’m so happy to say that I’m seeing a movement.” – Heidi Shepherd

CARLA HARVEY

carla01Of course Butcher Babies wouldn’t be complete without the charisma of the daredevil vocalist, author and actress Carla Harvey. Born on October 4, 1976 in Detroit, Michigan, United States, Carla is what we can call a very successful “experiment” as she is of Ethiopian, Finnish, Irish and Italian background, and her contribution to Butcher Babies comes in the form of hellish growls deeper than the screams by Heidi, endless energy on stage and some of the weirdest faces you can think of. Put differently, when Carla is performing with the band, she becomes a true female demon like Lilith, for example.

Carla attended Glenn Levey Middle School in Southfield, Michigan, before going to Mercy High School (an all-girl private Catholic school) and Harrison High School, both in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Her first job in Hollywood was as an Entertainment Reporter for the Playboy Channel, also taking part in several movies such as Frankenstein vs. the Creature from Blood Cove (2005), Happy in the Valley (2009) and Dry Run (2010), and other TV shows like Root of All Evil, Sex Chronicles and, just like her partner Heidi, MANswers. In addition, she took a break from the entertainment world to earn a degree in Mortuary Science from Cypress College in California, and worked as an embalmer and funeral director before forming Butcher Babies.

Our raven-haired (with some blue nuances) brawler said she’s been into music since she was a little kid, playing instruments like guitar and bass but always knowing she was born to be a singer. Her first appearance in a band happened when she was around 17 years old, but it wasn’t until Butcher Babies were born that she reached true stardom. Among her main influences, we can find kick-ass names like Slayer and Slipknot, with Slash and Jimi Hendrix being her personal heroes especially due to their roots. As a biracial girl growing in Detroit, seeing musicians that were also of African-American descent playing the music she loved was essential for her to keep pursuing her dreams and overcoming the odds imposed by society on her. Another huge influence on her vocal style and onstage performance in the one and only Phil Anselmo, the iconic frontman from Pantera and Down, who she has admired since she was a kid, highlighting how humble and easy-going he is as a person after finally being able to meet him on the road.

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Heavily influenced by horror movies such as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects (these two directed by another one of her idols, Rob Zombie), Carla is also passionate about writing, drawing and reading comic books since she was a kid, something that helped her cope with loneliness as an introverted child, and from that fusion of horror flicks, comics and Heavy Metal she became a “comic book mastermind” according to Hustler Magazine. Her first comic book, entitled Butcher Babies (illustrated by Anthony Winn from Deepcut Productions), was released at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2011, followed by her first full-length novel Death and Other Dances in 2014, and more recently the comic series Soul Sucka, the story about an African-American vampire, in 2015. Carla is always drawing “naked girls” and other stuff, and if you’re interested in taking a look at her work you can visit her Big Cartel page.

And finally, just like what was written about Heidi in terms of drinking and partying while on tour, Carla also said drinking lots of water and hot tea is what truly helps keep her vocal chords moist, together with the obvious and necessary amount of sleep per night. However, she mentioned she also enjoys drinking Jägermeister as it coats her throat rather than drying it out. Although I’m a beer guy, I’m an admirer of Jäger too and I understand perfectly what she’s trying to say about the effect of this exquisite German digestif on your throat. If your job requires you to cut off alcohol, all you have to do is improvise and find other alternatives. And it looks like being creative and always trying new stuff doesn’t scare our roaring metal babe at all.

Carla Harvey’s Official Facebook page
Carla Harvey’s Official Twitter
Carla Harvey’s Official Instagram

“I wish, some day people stop using the female fronted this, female fronted that, because it always takes the focus away from the band itself, because you know, we are all just Heavy Metal bands, we are all doing the same thing.” – Carla Harvey

Butcher Babies’ Official Facebook page
Butcher Babies’ Official Twitter
Butcher Babies’ Official Instagram

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Concert Review – Cradle of Filth (Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, ON, 03/06/2016)

As Toronto turned 182 years old yesterday, nothing better than celebrating the anniversary of our beautiful city with a gargantuan amount of fuckin’ “filth”.

OPENING ACTS: Ne Obliviscaris and Butcher Babies

COF_Inquisitional Torture 2016What a lovely day in our stunning, charming and multi-cultural city of Toronto. It might not be Summer (and not even Spring) yet, but sunny Winter days with temperatures above the freezing mark like this Sunday are such a thing of beauty they make us completely forget how harsh Winter can be sometimes. Perhaps that was Mother Nature giving her “birthday gift” to all Torontonians who were celebrating the 182nd anniversary of their beloved city. And what could have been better than hosting one of the most influential Extreme Metal bands of all time at the Phoenix Concert Theatre to properly commemorate the date? Finally, after five long years, the iconic Cradle of Filth returned to the “Land of the Moose”, as Dani Filth himself stated during the show.

This metallic feast started at around 7pm, when Australian Extreme Progressive Metal band NE OBLIVISCARIS hit the stage with their fusion of Symphonic Metal, Black Metal, Heavy Metal, Folk Metal and several other subgenres of heavy music blended in their sound. It took a few minutes for those guys from Melbourne, Australia to actually warm up and start entertaining the crowd, but once their concert took off it was indeed a nice experience, especially due to the amazing performances by Tim Charles with his violin and left-handed guitarist Benjamin Baret with his wicked riffs and solos. I confess I didn’t know much about the band before this gig, which means I’ll obviously go after their music to truly understand what they’re all about. And, of course, it’s good to know there’s more high-quality metal music coming from Down Under.

Setlist
Devour Me, Colossus (Part I): Blackholes
Of Petrichor Weaves Black Noise
Xenoflux
Painters of the Tempest (Part II): Triptych Lux
Pyrrhic
And Plague Flowers the Kaleidoscope

Band members
Xen – harsh vocals
Tim Charles – clean vocals, violin
Benjamin Baret – lead guitar
Matt Klavins – guitar
Cygnus – bass
Dan Presland – drums

When their concert was over and we all had a few minutes to rest and have a beer before the next attraction, I have to say it’s always nice when people come to talk to you about anything without being too wasted or high. That happened to me when a guy from Oshawa wearing a Bad Religion T-shirt approached me to say he liked my Pantera T-shirt, and from then we started chatting about music in general, focusing on bands such as Anthrax, Megadeth, Iron Maiden and Volbeat. So kids, next time you go to a concert try not to be so wasted, falling like a bag of potatoes on everyone around you, or too “Justin Bieber-ish” that no one else can touch you or talk to you. There’s always somewhere in between that works a lot better for everybody, got it?

IMG_1117Getting back to the concert, it was then time for the dynamic duo comprised of Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey, known as the BUTCHER BABIES, to kick some serious ass on stage and make everyone in the audience go absolutely mental before the main attraction of the night. It was also my first time seeing them live, and I must say those girls know how to put up an entertaining show. Armed with their demonic voices and supported by very competent musicians, especially bassist Jason Klein, those two girls from Los Angeles, California (dressed like an evil version of Babymetal) didn’t stop banging their heads and screaming for a single second, showcasing their deep passion for heavy music while playing every song of their setlist, which was mostly based on their 2015 album Take It Like a Man. There were a few technical issues with their sound, but no one seemed to care about that. All people wanted were more “excuses” to slam into the pit and do some stage diving, and both Heidi and Carla knew exactly how to ignite that fire with their Alternative Metal, playing some high-octane songs such as National Bloody Anthem, The Butcher and, my favorite of the night, Monster’s Ball. Girls, Toronto loves you and we can’t wait to have you back in the city!

Setlist
National Bloody Anthem
Blonde Girls All Look the Same
The Butcher
Gravemaker
Igniter
Jesus Needs More Babies for His War Machine
Monster’s Ball
Magnolia Blvd.
The Deathsurround/Goliath/I Smell a Massacre
Axe Wound

Band members
Heidi Shepherd – vocals
Carla Harvey – vocals
Henry Flury – guitar
Jason Klein – bass
Chris Warner – drums

CRADLE OF FILTH

IMG_1144It was around 9pm when the diabolical intro Humana Inspired to Nightmare announced the gates of Hades were open wide, therefore releasing the devil’s favorite dark angels to spread hell on earth with their unparalleled Extreme Metal. Promoting their latest opus Hammer Of The Witches under their current tour entitled Inquisitional Torture 2016, British titans CRADLE OF FILTH began to mercilessly discharge a flawless mix of classics with brand new chants, driving all fans at the venue utterly crazy. When a concert starts with Heaven Torn Asunder and Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids, you know it’s going to be a fuckin’ massacre.

The most interesting fact for me about their setlist was that it was divided in two “acts”, like a theatre play. There was an intro for each act, followed by a sequence of blasting classics (covering almost all of their albums) that put a huge smile on the face of this guy here, a longtime fan of Dani and his crew. I simply love songs like Lord Abortion, Honey and Sulphur, Her Ghost in the Fog and my top Cradle of Filth song of all time, the insane From the Cradle to Enslave, but their newer stuff such as Right Wing of the Garden Triptych and Deflowering the Maidenhead, Displeasuring the Goddess work so well when played live I’m sure they’ll become a constant part of their future tours. In addition, Dani (who was the demon himself last night), as a treat to all fans for waiting patiently for the band’s return to Toronto, dedicated to all of us For Your Vulgar Delectation, from their previous album (which unfortunately could not have a Canadian tour due to visa issues).

dani_toronto2016_02The whole band was on fire and Dani’s performance was epic, screaming like a rabid demon and wearing his Stygian attire and corpsepaint the way we all love, but I have to say last night belonged to the adorable keyboardist and singer Lindsay Schoolcraft. Although she’s not exactly from Toronto (technically, she’s from Oshawa), she was so excited and pleased to play together with Dani and his crew in her hometown she couldn’t stop smiling, waving to the fans and headbanging like a maniac during the entire concert. I guess I don’t need to say how memorable the night was for our talented Canadian girl, right? The only band member I couldn’t really watch well was drummer Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka, who was “hiding” not only behind his drums, but also behind some kind of aquarium/glass cell to the left of the stage. That was a weird stage setup, by the way, as if they were keeping Marthus caged before he could escape and kill someone, but nothing that would make the whole concert less memorable.

dani_toronto2016And can you guess why Dani, Lindsay, Marthus and the other band members played so well and were so electrified last night? That’s exactly it, because of us, loyal and demented Cradle of Filth fans. I don’t remember seeing a crowd so insane and in sync with the band like that. What the fans did during Gilded Cunt, growling the lyrics together with Dani, and the furious mosh pits during Nymphetamine (Fix), which is in fact a heavy ballad and not a sick blasting tune, was truly outstanding. Even Gimli, the brave dwarf from Lord of the Rings, was among us weating a Testament T-shirt! If you were there, you know who I’m talking about. Anyway, Cradle of Filth provided us fans another memorable metal night at the Phoenix Concert Theatre, and I’m pretty sure we also made the night memorable to the band as well, especially to Lindsay. I just hope Mr. Dani Filth and his horde of darkness do not take another five years to return to the Land of the (Headbanging) Moose. Actually, how about celebrating each and every anniversary of this distinct city together with the band? That’s the type of “filth” I’m sure no one would complain to have around all the time.

Setlist
ACT I
Humana Inspired to Nightmare (Intro)
Heaven Torn Asunder
Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids
Blackest Magick in Practice
Lord Abortion
Right Wing of the Garden Triptych
Malice Through the Looking Glass
Deflowering the Maidenhead, Displeasuring the Goddess
Gilded Cunt

ACT II
Walpurgis Eve (Intro)
Yours Immortally…
Nymphetamine (Fix)
Honey and Sulphur
For Your Vulgar Delectation
Her Ghost in the Fog
From the Cradle to Enslave
The Principle of Evil Made Flesh
Born in a Burial Gown
Blooding the Hounds of Hell (Outro)

Band members
Dani Filth – lead vocals
Richard Shaw – guitars
Marek “Ashok” Šmerda – guitars
Daniel Firth – bass
Lindsay Schoolcraft – female vocals, keyboards
Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka – drums