Interview – Bastiën Baron (Shuulak)

How about an “alchemical” talk with Mr. Bastiën Baron, one of the founders of Dutch metal act Shuulak, talking about their brand new album Citrinitas and their passion for the occult?

Bastiën Baron (Shuulak)

The Headbanging Moose: Can you please begin by introducing the band to our readers? Who are Shuulak, when was the band formed, and what is your main goal in the world of heavy music?

Bastiën Baron: At heart we’re a heavy metal band, but we’ve given it a modern spin and drenched it in occultism. Our goal is to have a street named after us. Or a small town. Preferably the latter.

THM: Although your 2019 EP Citrinitas might be short in duration, there’s a lot of good stuff in each one of its four tracks. Why did you decide to release such a short album instead of a full-length one, and are you satisfied with the final result of the EP?

BB: Thanks for the compliments! There are many reasons for this. But foremostly, releasing a full-length album is a long and costly process. By keeping our releases short, we’re able to do them more frequently, which I think, people will appreciate. Especially in this day and age. That said, as our audience grows, so does demand for a physical release. We’ll relieve the itch soon.

THM: Can you explain in more details the concept behind Citrinitas and its connection to your previous EP’s Nigredo, released in 2017, and Albedo, from 2018?

BB: The EP’s are connected and are named after the steps towards the alchemist’s Magnum Opus; the goal of which is immortality and ultimate knowledge. It’s an ongoing story we’re not finished telling yet.

THM: What’s the main reason why you guys decided to explore such distinct topic in your albums? And can we expect more of this alchemical side of Shuulak in your future releases, or is it time for the band to venture through different lands and concepts?

BB: Alchemy is an exciting journey into the depths of the soul. There are, however, many more paths to take in the world of mysticism and the occult. So, we definitely won’t stop here.

Album Review – Shuulak / Citrinitas EP (2019)

THM: It’s simply fantastic to see more and more bands all over the world with women in their formation who are not only their lead singers, but also guitarists, bassists and drummers, which is exactly the case with Shuulak. How is it to have two girls on the band, Eve Laetitia and Puck Wildschut, taking care of the guitar and bass duties respectively?

BB: To us it’s quite.. normal. We don’t really think about it, to be honest. Though, Eve is really happy about it. She’s been the only girl for a long time, so it’s refreshing to have Puck around.

THM: How does your creative process work, I mean, do you all work together on the music and the lyrics, or are there any duties that are performed by only one or two of the band members? The process seems to be working well, as the music found in your albums sounds great, but is there anything the band thinks that could be done in a different or better way in the future?

BB: Angelo and Eve write the music, Bastiën handles the lyrics and vocals. Though it’s not set in stone, the process is quite fluid and ever changing. There’s a lot of back and forth. I don’t think there’s a ‘best’ or ‘better’ way to do things. Every song is different, and so is the way we write them. We’re constantly refining.

THM: Who are your biggest influences in music and in life in general, and how much do those influences impact the way Shuulak compose music?

BB: Musically we’re inspired by a great many artists but we don’t copy anyone. We’re all big horror fans and this definitely shines through in our music. Stuff like the books of Clive Barker or Dario Argento’s movies definitely inspire us as well as books on the real life history of the occult and ritual magic.

Shuulak

THM: What’s your opinion about the current metal scene in the Netherlands? Do you think this is a good time for bands like Shuulak to release more and more music and to tour around the country? And apart from the big names like Epica, Within Temptation and Delain, what other Dutch metal or even non-metal bands would you recommend to our readers?

BB: The Netherlands are very small, and so is the metal scene here. It’s very cozy and a good place to be. As for us, we’ve got our eyes set further. We frequently visit our southern neighbors in Belgium, as well as our friends in Germany.

It’s true The Netherlands is known for a blossoming female-fronted scene and you’ll find many wonderful bands here, but I would recommend a German band: Crownfall. We played our very first concert in Germany with them and not only are they amazingly talented musicians, they’re wonderful people too. So check them out!

THM: What does the future hold for Shuulak? And when would fans from other parts of Europe, from Asia and from North and South America be able to witness the band playing live in their countries?

BB: We’re focused on Europe right now, but we’re not dismissing the idea of an intercontinental tour. When demand is high enough, we’ll definitely visit those places.

THM: Thank you very much for your time. Please feel free to send your final considerations, goodbyes and anything else you would like to say to our readers.

BB: We’d like to thank The Headbanging Moose for this interview! To all of you reading this: you’re awesome for making it this far. If you’re curious, check us out on Bandcamp or find us on Spotify. We hope to see you at a show in the near future and are looking forward to finding new friends and disciples.

Links
Shuulak Official Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Spotify | BandCamp | Apple Music

Metal Chick of the Month – Nadja Peulen

Say it, Nadja! We’re out for blood!

As part of our annual tradition here at The Headbanging Moose, the first metal chick of the year must be a badass bass player to properly kick things off with a lot of thunder and heaviness just the way we like it in Heavy Metal, and in 2020 that couldn’t be any different than that, of course. Having said that, get ready to venture through the realms of Alternative and Nu Metal with the one and only Nadja Peulen, a German-born bassist and backing vocalist currently based in Los Angeles, California, in the United States known for bringing tons of groove to our avid ears as the bassist for American metallers Coal Chamber from 1999 to 2000, again between 2002 and 2003, and one last time after a huge band hiatus from 2013 until 2016 when the group disbanded once and for all.

Born on January 10, 1975 somewhere in the always beautiful Germany, our 1.73m-tall blue-eyed, red-haired bassist started her life in music at a very early age due to her family travelling a lot and staying at several different places, always on the road in the name of Rock N’ Roll, always surrounded by distinct people, and always attending music concerts. Of Polish and German descent, Nadja grew up in the Netherlands and listened to a lot of 70’s music such as Motown, disco and classic rock at home because of her parents, being highly influenced by those styles in her current way of playing bass. Originally starting out studying art with aspirations to be a painter, Nadja naturally decided to switch to music, playing drums before becoming a bassist and continuing her career as a drummer after moving to Los Angeles when she was only 18, learning from renowned drummers and jamming with several different musicians (while at the same time working in different jobs such as tiling bathrooms and working as a waitress in a strip bar).

After a while, when Nadja decided she wanted to get more into songwriting, she was given a bass guitar (a cheap $100 one, by the way) and started playing with one finger only, gradually evolving to a couple more fingers and never having a single lesson in her life. Three months later, she was already in an all-girl band named Tail, playing around Hollywood for a couple of years at Whisky a Go Go, The Viper Room and whatever clubs were there at the time. After a couple of years, Nadja was invited to join Los Angeles-based Nu Metal outfit Coal Chamber in 1999 while bassist Rayna Foss-Rose was on maternity leave, and again after the recording of the 2002 album Dark Days when Rayna left the band for good, playing live with the band in several domestic and international tours with bands like Drowning Pool co-headlining the tours. Despite not having recorded the bass lines in Dark Days, Nadja is featured in the official video for Fiend, one of the band’s most well known songs which is thought to be about how the band and the Nu Metal genre were getting heavily criticized at the time. In addition, Nadja was also featured as the band’s bass player in the excellent concert Live at the Maritime Hall, San Francisco, CA, 1999 in the bonus DVD from the 2005 special re-release of their 1997 debut album Coal Chamber.

Then after a long period of silence from 2003 until 2011, Coal Chamber reunited for a short run of international shows with bassist Chela Rhea Harper instead of Nadja, but our talented red-haired bassist officially returned to the band in October 2013 shortly before the band signed to Napalm Records to record a new album. “Beyond happy and excited today to announce my return on bass with Coal Chamber,” Nadja wrote on the day of her official return to the band. “I’ve missed my brothers and can’t wait to rock the stage with them again and see all of you!” It was in May 2015 that Coal Chamber released their fourth album in thirteen years and their only studio album with Nadja on bass, entitled Rivals, adding a touch of Groove Metal to their musicality while at the same time distancing themselves from their previous Gothic Metal style. From Rivals, you can enjoy Nadja’s rumbling bass punching you in the face in songs like Another Nail In The Coffin, Suffer In Silence (featuring Ministry’s driving force Al Jourgensen on guest vocals), and I.O.U. Nothing.

Apart from her awesome stints with Coal Chamber, Nadja was also the bass player and backing vocalist for a Los Angeles-based Theatrical/Alternative Avantgarde Rock duo known as Vera Mesmer, together with vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist Christopher Mesmer, formerly of Reveille, as well as guest drummer Bones Elias (Julien K, formerly of Dead by Sunrise), from 2010 until 2013. Vera Mesmer left two very interesting releases to the world before the duo parted ways in 2013, those being the 2012 EP Orphans and the 2013 single Down the Hole, showing a different and very theatrical storytelling side of both Chris and Nadja, as you can see for example in the official video for the song Back from the Dead. “We’re constantly brainstorming and creating. We’ve completely let go of templates and we don’t stick to the genre game,” said Nadja about the artistic freedom she found with Vera Mesmer while the band was still active. “We encompass all music styles while still undeniably retaining that Vera Mesmer sound.”

You can also find Nadja lending her thunderous bass lines to a project entitled Roadrunner United from 2005 to 2008, having recorded the excellent single and video The End together with Dino Cazares (Fear Factory), Roy Mayorga (Stone Sour) and Matt Heafy (Trivium), among others, for the 2005 album The All-Star Sessions, as well as the 2008 DVD featuring a making of and a live concert with several artists such as Ville Valo (HIM), Scott Ian (Anthrax) and Tim “Ripper” Owens, with Nadja kicking some serious ass in songs like Type O Negative’s all-time classic Black No. 1 together with Ville Valo on vocals, Andreas Kisser on lead guitar, Dino Cazares on rhythm guitar, Joey Jordison on drums and Rob Caggiano on keyboards, and Tired ‘n Lonely together with Mina Caputo on vocals, Matt Baumbach on lead guitar, Acey Slade on rhythm guitar, Joey Jordison on drums and Rob Caggiano on keyboards. Furthermore, between 2004 and 2006, Nadja was also featured in the music videos for the songs (Rock) Superstar and What’s Your Number? as part of the backup band with Tim Armstrong (Rancid) and Christian Olde Wobbers (Fear Factory), both by American Hip-Hop group Cypress Hill.

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As already mentioned, Nadja has a wide and eclectic taste for music, with her primary influences lying along the Trip Hop, Industrial and Alternative Rock and Metal vein the likes of Massive Attack, Killing Joke, The Cult, Faith No More, Jane’s Addiction, Ministry, Iggy Pop and The Stooges, David Bowie, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Grand Funk Railroad and Stevie Wonder, with the one and only Iggy Pop being part of one of the most exciting moments in her career. A friend of hers called Whitney, who used to play guitar for Iggy Pop, invited Nadja for a jamming session one day, but she initially said no. “Why don’t you come down to the Swinghouse and jam with me and a couple of friends?”, said Whitney, and she promptly answered “Well I’m in bed. My bass is dusty and I’m watching TV. I really don’t feel like jamming with you right now.” Whitey called back a couple of times and finally said, “Well, it’s Iggy and he wants to jam with you.” Nadja didn’t believe her friend, saying “Yeah you’re fucking with me. You just want me to come down there and hang out.” Then she got another phone call from Iggy’s manager, which turned out to be his son Eric. He said, “Yeah, Iggy Pop is down here and he really, really wants to jam with you.” She still thought it was a prank, when she finally got a phone call from Iggy himself where she recognized his voice and nearly pissed her pants. Iggy said, “Nadja, I have heard a lot of really good things about you. I want to jam with you. Come down here – can you be here in 10 minutes?” Needless to say, Nadja joined her idol and they jammed for a few hours, with Nadja later saying in one of her interviews that she was always afraid to meet someone like Iggy Pop because she believed a person like that would probably be an asshole and she would never be able to listen to his music the same way. However, he was really nice to her, a humble guy exactly how anyone would expect.

Regarding her life on the road with Coal Chamber, Nadja mentioned in one of her interviews that she really loved playing the songs Another Nail In The Coffin and Bad Blood Between Us live with the band, both from the album Rivals, and that she would have loved to be in a tour co-headlined by Coal Chamber, System Of A Down and Korn, the latter with whom Coal Chamber only played at the same festivals such as Heavy Montreal in 2015 and Graspop Metal Meeting in 2013. When questioned about the fact she was the only female on the tours with Coal Chamber, she said that it was indeed challenging as she had for example to get dressed in the bathroom of the bus, which was a very small space. However, Nadja also said she was fine being the only girl in a “boy’s club”, complementing by saying that being utterly professional was what kept everything working well. Also, on a side note, Nadja mentioned being on stage, being in that moment, is when her mind stops and she can achieve some peace of mind, having also achieved that peace by doing yoga, more specifically Kundalini Yoga, a school of yoga influenced by Shaktism and Tantra schools of Hinduism.

Nadja also launched in 2003 her own T-shirt and apparel company called CruelTees, selling her products not only online but also through stores such as Hot Topic. Owner and head designer of CruelTees, Nadja has always loved painting and sketching, having even been in Art Academy before quitting it to move to Los Angeles, with her designs fusing dark Gothic and wild Rock N’ Roll images with clever slogans. However, if you click on the official website for CruelTees, it will redirect you to her website Sonic Dominion without any products available. There are a few items in her webshop, though, but nothing related to CruelTees. Perhaps Nadja is working on a new collection for the future? If you’re curious to know more about CruelTees and ask Nadja for any updates on the brand, you can message her directly through her official website contact form, and who knows, maybe you’ll be one of the first to receive news on a new series of CruelTees shirts and apparel.

Endorsed by Schecter Guitars, Mesa Boogie, Dean Markley Strings, Monster Energy Drink and Monster Cable, our skillful bassist, who by the way thinks labeling a music style is not really that relevant, commented in one of her interviews that she’s happy to see an increasing number of female bass players (as well as guitarists and drummers) out in the market playing with their bands, which is always a good thing in heavy music, also saying she likes the fact that several of those bassists are adopting the finger style when playing their instruments, something that was a taboo in the past. Nadja herself is a finger bass player, as mentioned before, and the fact this old school technique is becoming popular again brings a lot of joy to her heart. And last but not least, Nadja’s relationship with her fans is quite healthy, with some of her fans even becoming her personal friends. She said that she can’t obviously answer everything to everyone due to her busy schedule, as she doesn’t consider herself an Internet person with enough time for social media. She actually doesn’t enjoy engaging on social media on a personal level, focusing on her work as a musician and as a designer instead. We have to agree with Nadja on that, and if you want to know more about her professional career you can either follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or watch some of her interviews and other videos on YouTube like the BIAS FX demo, an interview during Heavy Montreal in 2015, an interview to INDIEPOWER TV! in 2015, or an interview she gave to Dean Markley at NAMM also in 2015. What are you waiting for to let one of the most badass female bassists of all time show you all she got? Nadja kicks some serious ass, and she will crush you like an insect with her thunderous bass, no doubt about that.

Nadja Peulen’s Official Facebook page
Nadja Peulen’s Official Instagram
Nadja Peulen’s Official Twitter
Nadja Peulen’s Official YouTube channel
Coal Chamber’s Official Facebook page
Coal Chamber’s Official Instagram
Coal Chamber’s Official Twitter

“To me being on stage and playing music is one of the best things because I have a very busy mind – I’m always thinking.” – Nadja Peulen

Album Review – Shuulak / Citrinitas EP (2019)

Five skillful Dutch “alchemists” of Heavy Metal continue their pursuit of alchemical enlightenment with their brand new EP.

In 2014 in Breda, a city and municipality in the southern part of the Netherlands, located in the province of North Brabant, a friendship formed during previous musical collaborations laid the foundation for what’s to become Dutch Heavy Metal act Shuulak, whose otherworldly songs, deeply rooted in alchemy and the occult, explore man’s obsession with things that would only  destroy him. Constantly challenging themselves through the years, the band comprised of Bastiën Baron on vocals, Eve Laetitia and Ricardo Kroon on the guitars, Puck Wildschut on bass and Angelo Tower on drums has already released three EP’s since their inception, those being Nigredo, in 2017, a concept signifying the first step in the alchemist’s magnum opus with its songs being a collection of tales telling of humanity’s desire for greatness inevitably ending in madness and depravity, Albedo, in 2018, and finally Citrinitas, now in 2019, where the band continues their pursuit of alchemical enlightenment. Not only that, the band does their own recording, photography, video editing and visual design, with their music standing as a testament to the undying power of our good old Heavy Metal, especially in the underground and independent scene.

And Shuulak don’t waste a single second and start blasting sheer awesomeness to our avid ears in the opening track, entitled The Chosen, where Eve and Ricardo cut our skin deep with their scorching riffs while Puck and Angelo generate a rumbling atmosphere in the background, spearheaded by Bastiën and his soaring vocals. Then blending the epicness of bands like Primal Fear with the Melodic and Progressive Metal of Dream Theater and Mastodon we have Altar of Gods, another solid and captivating tune by Shuulak where Puck’s bass punches will make your head tremble, while Eve spits fire from her excellent riffs and solos. In Chaosborn this talented five-piece act brings thunder and groove to their classic Heavy Metal, with Bastiën sounding truly obstinate and enraged on vocals as if he’s marching into battle, while the band’s guitar duo keeps embellishing the airwaves with their old school riffage and Angelo doesn’t stop pounding his drums in great fashion, before we’re treated to the title-track Citrinitas, an eerie, atmospheric composition where the sound of the organs and delicate female voices will hypnotize your senses, as if the band is warming up our souls for their upcoming release.

Hence, while we wait for Shuulak’s next step in their promising career, we can all enjoy Citrinitas, which by the way is a term given by alchemists to “yellowness” (being one of the four major stages of the alchemical magnum opus, and literally referred to “transmutation of silver into gold” or “yellowing of the lunar consciousness”), in full on YouTube and on Spotify, and purchase it directly from the band’s own BandCamp page or from Apple Music. In addition, don’t forget to follow such distinct band on Facebook, showing all your support to Bastiën, Eve, Ricardo, Puck and Angelo, five Dutch “alchemists” that definitely know how to transform their wicked ideas and thoughts into top-of-the-line Heavy Metal.

Best moments of the album: Chaosborn.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. The Chosen 3:52
2. Altar of Gods 4:39
3. Chaosborn 3:58
4. Citrinitas 1:08

Band members
Bastiën Baron – vocals
Eve Laetitia – lead guitar
Ricardo Kroon – rhythm guitar
Puck Wildschut – bass
Angelo Tower – drums

Interview – Anthony Kaoteon

In this exclusive interview, Lebanese vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Anthony Kaoteon talks about his brand new project Death Tribe, his already established band Kaoteon, and his always delicate connection to the Middle-East.

Anthony Kaoteon (Kaoteon, Death Tribe)

The Headbanging Moose: Let’s begin with a very simple question, and that is who’s Anthony Kaoteon? When did you begin your life in metal music, and who influenced you the most to follow that path?

Anthony Kaoteon: I am a Lebanese kid who grew up at the end of Civil War, witnessed the Syrian occupation, the religious hatred of my countrymen, the bombs in the streets of Beirut, the Israeli mass airplane attacks on the country to mention a few big events that scarred me as a child and made me realize that the world is blind and needs someone loud enough to hear the truth.

THM: What’s your goal with Death Tribe, and what’s the main difference from your already established band Kaoteon? Can you tell us more about the story behind Death Tribe and the reason for the band’s name?

AK: Death Tribe is more of a personal project where I am experimenting with Metal genres. It is not a side project but it has no restrictions or limitations as it has no genres, not one vocalist or one sound. The only restriction is me as the only fixed member in the band but working with new musicians opens my mind and allows me to explore areas I would have never explored otherwise. If I was a polyamorous guy, then KAOTEON would be my lover and Death Tribe my date.

Album Review – Death Tribe / Beyond Pain And Pleasure: A Desert Experiment (2019)

THM: Regarding your brand new album Beyond Pain and Pleasure: A Desert Experiment, how was the recording process of the album? Did everything go as planned, and do you think the final result sends the message you had in mind to the listener?

AK: The recording process was very lengthy, expensive and time consuming especially that it was recorded in several regions and studios around the world. The biggest impact on sound were the mixing engineer – namely Karim Sinno from The Audioloft in Lebanon. He brought everything together and kept it crystal clear.

THM: Beyond Pain and Pleasure features an array of excellent guest vocalists such as Walid Wolflust, Serge the Slave, Adnan Mryhij, Youmni Abou el Zahab and JM Elias. Apart from Walid Wolflust, who sings for your other band Kaoteon, are they all your personal friends? How did you invite each one of them to sing in the album?

AK: They are all personal and close friends of mine who have their great bands and I wanted to promote their sound through mine while promoting my sound through theirs. We come from a very talented region that is undiscovered and deserves much more support.

THM: My favorite songs from Beyond Pain and Pleasure are the title-track Beyond Pain and Pleasure, Neurotic Breakdown and Nuclear Hate. I personally think they’re very powerful and rebellious, which I believe is what you want the listener to feel while listening to the album. Having said that, what song from the album better represents yourself and your never-ending fight for freedom?

AK: That is the beauty of an album like BP&P, every person will have a different favorite. I enjoy Hollow, BP&P and Implode Explode a lot but this varies every now and then. The overall sound of the album is rebellious so I surely wanted that but what I really wanted is to deliver an eclectic album that brings all genres together under one record.

Anthony Kaoteon (Kaoteon, Death Tribe)

THM: I’m pretty sure the metal scene in the Netherlands, your current home, is a lot more developed than in your homeland Lebanon. Are there any bands you would recommend from the Dutch underground scene?

AK: I am still not very active in the scene due to a lot of shit happening in my personal life that I will not discuss but the bands here are very talented. I see a huge stoner metal movement. I cannot chose one band top of mind as it wouldn’t be just but there is definitely a lot of bands to check that won’t disappoint.

THM: Now talking about your connection to Lebanon and the Middle-East, how harmful do you think the combination of religion and politics is in that region not only to metal and non-metal music, but to all forms of art? And do you see an end to that in the future?

AK: It is detrimental and I am afraid I don’t see an end to it anytime soon. It is a deeply rooted plague that is still being nourished by the west to control its masses and use it when and where needed.

THM: Do you think one day you’ll be able to return to Lebanon and start making metal music again there? And what do your family and friends that are still in Lebanon think of the type of music you play?

AK: Most people don’t know what is metal unless they like it and play it. We live parallel lives so that we don’t get judged. I don’t see myself returning to Lebanon to play music any time soon.

Album Review – Kaoteon / Damnatio Memoriae (2018)

THM: What’s next for Anthony Kaoteon? Can we expect a new Kaoteon or Death Tribe album in a not-so-distant future, and do you have any plans for touring with any of your bands around Europe or in North America? I would love to see either Kaoteon or Death Tribe performing in Canada.

AK: For touring, KAOTEON is the horse of choice and we are releasing the 3rd album soon hopefully as we finished the recording with Adrian (Erlandsson) from At the Gates on drums and Linus (Klausenitzer) from Obscura on bass again. The mixing and mastering were finalized by Tue Madsen in Denmark at Antfarm Studios and the artwork is getting ready with Vincent Fouquet in France.

THM: Thanks a lot for your time, Anthony! It’s always a pleasure interviewing relentless musicians like you who keep the underground metal scene alive and kicking. Please feel free to send a final message to our readers, and anything else you would like to say to all fans of heavy music out there.

AK: Thanks a million for the opportunity to speak and promote the music Gustavo. People like you keep the dream alive and I hope you will keep it up. As for the readers and music lovers, if you want bands to keep making music – support them!

Links
Kaoteon Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | BandCamp
Death Tribe Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | BandCamp

Album Review – Death Tribe / Beyond Pain And Pleasure: A Desert Experiment (2019)

Inspired by the suffering of warfare, spirit breaking oppression and the refusal to submit to either, behold the debut album by Anthony Kaoteon’s newborn spawn of Extreme Metal.

“Come confess your mortal sins,
Sadistic violence, the trademark of kings”

Inspired by the suffering of warfare, spirit breaking oppression and the refusal to submit to either, Extreme Metal project Death Tribe is the sound of vociferous rebellion and defiant resistance spearheaded by Anthony Kaoteon, the mastermind behind Death/Black Metal band Kaoteon, who released in 2018 the excellent Damnatio Memoriae. And if you’re already familiar with Kaoteon’s insurgent music, you’ll certainly have a blast with Death Tribe’s first installment, entitled Beyond Pain And Pleasure: A Desert Experiment, Anthony’s personal monument to independence and his eternal tribute to every man, woman and child that refuses to bend the knee and submit.

Born into the chaos and conflict of Beirut, Lebanon, but currently residing in Utrecht, Netherlands, Anthony refuses to accept the strictures of others in his day-to-day life as well as in music, always determined to shape his own destiny. Conceived over a few years and drawing on sounds from different periods of metal’s development, Beyond Pain And Pleasure: A Desert Experiment features an array of guest vocalists such as Serge the Slave (Aramaic) and Youmni Abou el Zahab (Ascendant), who together with Anthony and his henchmen Linus Klausenitzer (Obscura, Alkaloid, Kaoteon) on bass and Mattias Landes (Dark Fortress, ReVamp) on drums generate a massive wall of violent and austere sounds recommended for fans of renowned acts like Revocation, Gojira and Skeletonwitch.  “I dedicate this album to those who keep chasing their dreams, to every person that was born with a tag on his forehead and defied the world to make his own statement heard – I will die soon but the music stays to remind those who listen of a man who didn’t obey,” said Anthony about his newborn spawn, inviting us all to join him in his musical rebellion.

Featuring Anthony himself on lead vocals, the opening track Hollow offers the listener an explosion of Groove Metal from the very first second, with Anthony barking like a beast while Mattias smashes his drums manically, or in other words, a straightforward, in-your-face tune tailored for admirers of rabid and pulverizing music. Following such demented start, Walid Wolflust (Kaoteon) lends his visceral roars to Beyond Pain and Pleasure, giving life (or I should say death) to its acid lyrics (“Are you delighted from others pain? / Are you distressed by another’s pleasure? / Come confess your mortal sins, / Sadistic violence, the trademark of kings”) in a brutal fusion of Black and Death Metal where Linus and Mattias are in an infernal sync; whereas in Implode Explode Anthony not only vociferates manically, but his scorching riffs add an extra touch of dementia to the overall musicality, inspiring us to slam into the circle pit to Death Tribe’s frantic fusion of Groove, Death and Thrash Metal.

It’s time for Death Tribe to go full Death Metal in Neurotic Breakdown, sounding gory, virulent and putrid from start to finish, with guest vocalist Serge the Slave (Aramaic) doing an amazing job by almost vomiting the song’s lyrics. Needless to say, the violence and hatred flowing from Anthony’s riffs and Mattias’ darkened beats is simply outstanding. Adnan Mryhij (Svengali) is the designated guest growler in Psychopathetic, a hybrid of Groove and Progressive Metal infused with the violence of Thrash Metal, sounding like a more demented version of Mastodon and also presenting a beyond infuriated Linus with his intricate bass punches; followed by Death Blues, where Youmni Abou el Zahab (Ascendant) brings a Hard Rock and Power Metal twist to the band’s crushing sonority with his high-pitched screams, with the overall result sounding as if classic 80’s metal has met the insanity and rage of modern-day extreme music.

Walid is back on vocals in the demolishing Narcissist Bastard Nation, where Linus and Mattias make the earth tremble with their respective instruments, sounding closer to Kaoteon’s sound from their 2018 album, also carrying obscure lyrics that are nothing but a sad reflection of our reality (“Money and Power is what they seek / Blinded by Hatred and their love of creed, / Sinners as saints covered by shame, / Killing each other’s and no justice to blame, / Narcissist Nation – Clueless bastard marionettes”). Then JM Elias (Damage Rite, Svengali) brings sheer hate and violence to the onrush of demented sounds titled Nuclear Hate, with Anthony slashing his strings in a very melodic but fierce manner while Linus keeps extracting thunderous tones from his bass nonstop. And Anthony and Serge bark and scream together in the closing tune named Face the Facts, a groovy extravaganza spiced up by elements from Southern Metal delivering lots of shredding and deranged growls for your avid ears, ending the album in an absolutely berserk way.

If you want to know more about this newborn beast known as Death Tribe, their music, their goals, principles and tour dates, simply go check what they’re up to on Facebook, and don’t forget to grab your copy of the flammable Beyond Pain And Pleasure: A Desert Experiment from the project’s own BandCamp page, from iTunes, from Amazon or from CD Baby. Because, in the end, it doesn’t really matter if Anthony incarnates his Kaoteon or his Death Tribe form, as he will keep being the voice of the voiceless until his final breath. Having said that, it’s time for all of us to join Anthony’s newly founded tribe of extreme music, always fighting for freedom of speech, and never kneeling to anyone.

Best moments of the album: Beyond Pain and Pleasure, Neurotic Breakdown and Nuclear Hate.

Worst moments of the album: Psychopathetic.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Hollow 4:10
2. Beyond Pain and Pleasure 3:41
3. Implode Explode 4:25
4. Neurotic Breakdown 5:25
5. Psychopathetic 3:09
6. Death Blues 3:41
7. Narcissist Bastard Nation 4:14
8. Nuclear Hate 3:52
9. Face the Facts 3:35

Band members
Anthony Kaoteon – guitars, lead vocals on “Hollow”, “Implode Explode” and “Face the Facts”
Linus Klausenitzer – bass
Mattias Landes – drums

Guest musicians
Walid Wolflust – vocals on “Beyond Pain and Pleasure” and “Narcissist Bastard Nation”
Serge the Slave – vocals on “Neurotic Breakdown” and “Face the Facts”
Adnan Mryhij – vocals on “Psychopathetic”
Youmni Abou el Zahab – vocals on “Death Blues”
JM Elias – vocals on “Nuclear Hate”

Album Review – Tragacanth / The Journey of a Man (2018)

Follow the tale of a young man’s downward spiral into the abyss to the sound of the symphonic and progressive devastation blasted by this excellent Dutch quintet.

If you’re familiar with the work by Dutch Symphonic/Progressive Black/Death Metal act Tragacanth, having already listened to their 2015 debut full-length album Anthology of the East, you know how those five skilled metallers love to blend their entrancing melodies and symphonic sections with lyrical themes ranging from spiritual wars to mythical creatures, telling the tales of ancient Babylonian times. Now in 2018 it’s time for the band comprised of Terry Stooker on vocals, Erik Brouwer and Adrian Neagoe on the guitars, Mark Oosterbaan on bass and Jasper van Minnen on drums to strike once again with their sophomore opus entitled The Journey of a Man, this time showcasing a lyrical mix between mythological and purely personal topics, being recommended for fans of cult acts such as Nile, Carach Angren, Dimmu Borgir and Behemoth.

Formed in 2014 in Utrecht, a city in the central Netherlands that has been a religious center for centuries, Tragacanth are one of those bands that do not just create music, spicing up their creations with a fantastic storytelling, and their new album is the perfect depiction of their highly-developed musical and lyrical skills. “From the mystical, enigmatic Far East covered in Anthology of the East, this time we travel to Ancient Greek times where a young man finds out he is to perish soon. Wandering the complex maze of emotions and disease running through his veins, The Journey of a Man tells the tale of his downward spiral into the abyss,” commented the band about their newborn spawn, inviting us all to join this young man in his personal and very obscure journey.

Enter the ominous realm of Tragacanth to the sound of the eerie opening track Survival: Stagnate Reality, a lot more progressive than symphonic I might say, with the band’s guitarists Erik and Adrian giving a lecture in Progressive Death Metal, sounding utterly insane, heavy and intricate. And their creepy guitars and bass lines dictate the rhythm in Denial: They are Mistaken, where Terry sounds diabolical with his gnarling in a brilliant fusion of the Symphonic Black Metal by Dimmu Borgir with the Progressive Death Metal by bands like Augury and Virulent Depravity; followed by Anger: Kitrine Chole, a beautiful devastation blasted by Tragacanth where its bass lines will tremble inside your head while Jasper smashes your skull with his complex and powerful beats, not to mention how demonically Terry vociferates the song’s insane lyrics (“A black haze thwarts / My vision’s blurred / Sever the chains / Composure can’t hold / This pent up energy / The rage breaking free / The walls imploding destroying all what once was”).

Their demented feast of Progressive Death Metal and Symphonic Black Metal goes on in the pulverizing Depression: Waning Light, featuring the angelical voice of Romanian vocalist Manuela Marchis, and where the drums by Jasper sound heavier than hell while Terry keeps growling and screaming rabidly, turning it into my favorite song of the album by far.  Then not ready to accept his fate, the man turns to the gods, with the path leading him to Hades, god of the underworld, Thanatos, the personification of death, and eventually to those cruel sisters of fate, the Moirai, resulting in the vibrant Bargaining: Will You Answer Me?, featuring guest vocalist Rik van Schaaik in the role of Hades and Thanatos, among other additional vocal lines, with the music being as infernal and complex as its predecessors thanks to the impressive job done by Erik, Adrian and Mark with their stringed weapons. And a cryptic, Middle-Eastern beginning evolves into a dense and impactful display of Progressive Metal in Nightmare: The Vision, with highlights to its mesmerizing bass punches and ass-kicking drums, ending in a very symphonic and captivating manner.

Once again drinking form the fountain of modern-day Progressive Death Metal, get ready to have your spinal cord broken in half to the brutal headbanging tune Acceptance: My Destiny Awaits, with the guitars by Erik and Adrian bringing a touch of delicacy to this sonic demolition, and their onrush of berserk and intricate sounds goes on in Suffering: The Essence Implodes, where Terry roars like a demon while Jasper shows no mercy for his drums (nor for our necks), also bringing the most pulverizing elements from Death and Black Metal thoroughly added to the musicality. Lastly, darker and more introspective than all previous songs we have Death: Journey’s End, closing the album on a Stygian note, with Erik and Adrian stealing the spotlight with their slashing riffs and soulful solos, not to mention all the poetry flowing form the song’s lyrics (“Let go / Enclaved by the river Styx / Lies a tomb for me / My celestial sanctuary / Let go / An eternal resting place / All alone and forgotten /The Asphodel Meadows”).

As already mentioned, Tragacanth are not your average metal band, being true masters in blending heavy music with a deep and detailed background story, always keeping in mind the band has only a couple of years of existence (which means they still have a lot to grow in the coming years). Hence, The Journey of a Man, available for a full listen on YouTube and on sale from several different locations such as their own BandCamp, the Pest Records’ BandCamp, the Loud Rage Music webstore, iTunes, Amazon and Discogs, is a fantastic materialization of that impressive ability by those four Dutch metallers, beautifully taking us down into the abyss together with the  album’s main character.

Best moments of the album: Anger: Kitrine Chole, Depression: Waning Light and Acceptance: My Destiny Awaits.

Worst moments of the album: Suffering: The Essence Implodes.

Released in 2018 Pest Records

Track listing  
1. Survival: Stagnate Reality 5:24
2. Denial: They are Mistaken 7:21
3. Anger: Kitrine Chole 4:25
4. Depression: Waning Light (feat. Manuela Marchis) 8:40
5. Bargaining: Will You Answer Me? (feat. Rik van Schaaik) 4:36
6. Nightmare: The Vision 4:54
7. Acceptance: My Destiny Awaits 5:18
8. Suffering: The Essence Implodes 4:55
9. Death: Journey’s End 6:34

Band members
Terry Stooker – vocals
Erik Brouwer – guitars
Adrian Neagoe – guitars
Mark Oosterbaan – bass
Jasper van Minnen – drums

Guest musicians
Manuela Marchis – vocals on “Depression: Waning Light”
Rik van Schaaik – vocals on “Bargaining: Will You Answer Me”

Album Review – Kaoteon / Damnatio Memoriae (2018)

Blending a dark atmosphere with Middle-Eastern riffs and incendiary lyrics, here comes a fearless Lebanese horde armed with their brand new album of skull-crushing Black Metal.

Brought into being as a one-man project in 1998 by Anthony Kaoteon (Death Drive) in the scorching fires of Ashrafieh, one of the oldest districts of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, under the name Chaotaeon (from the merger of Chaotic and Aeon), Black/Death Metal act Kaoteon is one of those bands that keep fighting for metal and for freedom of speech no matter how hideous the consequences might be for them. For instance, in 2001 the band was forced to change their name to Kaoteon after an incident with the authorities in which they got arrested, where the police though that Chaotaeon was the translation of “devils” from Arabic, leading to false accusations that the band is satanic. In addition, on December 20, 2003 while the band was playing live, a handful of undercover police entered the club with automatic rifles, took the band hostage, locked them in the trunks of unmarked cars, and interrogated them for days, shuttling them from one location to another.

Blending a brutally dark atmosphere with riffs that range from anthemic post-rock to Middle-Eastern folklore and incendiary lyrics driven by the band’s background in their turbulent homeland, Kaoteon (now based in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands) return once again to darken our souls with their brand new opus titled Damnatio Memoriae, the ancient Latin punishment of eradicating a person or figure from all memory and mention. Featuring a somber artwork by Mexican musician and artist Néstor Ávalos (Black Arts) as well as bass wizard Linus Klausenitzer of Obscura and drum master Fredrik Widigs of Marduk as session musicians, joining full-time members Anthony Kaoteon on guitar and Walid Wolflust (Ordum) on vocals, Damnatio Memoriae brings nine skull-crushing, unrelenting and explosive Black Metal hymns that will undoubtedly leave you feeling ravaged and raw after all is said and done.

The title-track Damnatio Memoriae is a modern and vibrant Black Metal composition that will fulminate your senses, bringing forward sheer aggression from the very first second. Furthermore, Fredrik as we all know is a demonic beast on drums, generating the perfect demolishing vibe for Walid to declaim the song’s controversial lyrics through his enraged roars (“My heaven differs from yours. / Where is the loving light? Where is the eternal peace? / Desolate, grey, tyrannic, lonesome / Lit with my passion to burn”). If that start wasn’t demented enough for you, Kaoteon keep burning our souls with their blackened music in Barren Lands, where Anthony is absolutely on fire with his guitar accompanied by Linus and his menacing bass, sounding devastating from start to finish, whereas in Raging HellFire they managed to sound even more visceral and disturbing, with Walid barking and screaming like a rabid beast in a flammable display of brutal (and therefore fantastic) Black Metal (and don’t forget to check the song’s guitar playthrough by Anthony HERE).

In the pulverizing Venom of Exalt, be prepared to be completely crushed by the nonstrop blast beats by Fredrik, while Anthony delivers more of his always insane riffs. In addition, Walid is in his most hellish mode, growling harsher and harsher as the music evolves in this tune highly recommended for lovers of true extreme music. Taking their sonority to the extreme, Kaoteon deliver another explosion of devilish growls, intricate beats and endless hatred flowing from Anthony’s stringed ax in The Will, with the desperate screams by Walid increasing the impact of this already boisterous song. And a soulful guitar solo by Anthony ignites a feast of darkened sounds entitled Non Serviam, blending old school Black Metal with contemporary Blackened Death Metal in a dense and menacing ambience. Needless to say, that powerful combination turns it into one of the top songs of the entire album.

In Light of Compassion their sounding keeps growing darker and darker, showcasing a fierce neck-breaking riff supported by the pounding drums by Fredrik, with Walid firing some deep enraged gnarls. Moreover, the last part of this chant is a thrilling Black Metal demolition with hints of old school Death Metal, piercing our minds mercilessly. The second to last tune in Damnatio Memoriae, the incredible sonic onrush of Black and Death Metal named Into the Mouth of Kaos, presents a high level of dementia bursting from Walid’s screams, with the riffs by Anthony exhaling pure Black Metal while Fredrik doesn’t stop detonating our ears with his crushing performance. And last but not least, it’s time for A Breath, a slightly different version of Kaoteon bringing forward more progressiveness than their usual destruction thanks to the intricate guitar lines by Anthony, and the final result couldn’t sound more compelling and vibrant, ending this sensational album of Extreme Metal in the best way possible.

While online, I suggest you go check out this interesting article about Kaoteon and their fascinating origin story via Revolver Magazine, giving you a much better idea of how hard it is to be a metal fan in the Middle-East. As a matter of fact, Kaoteon said in a group statement that “Lebanese metalheads are some of the friendliest and most amazing people to hang out with. It is sad to see great potential in this world gone to waste because someone somewhere decided to label people at birth and imprison them into their borders. The scene itself is thirsty for metal, so international bands should expect amazing interaction from the crowd. The Dutch scene – where we exist now – shows strong support for local talent, unlike the Lebanese scene. The Dutch scene loves their bands above all, while we feel that the Lebanese metal scene favors the international bands.” Hence, why not showing your support to true Lebanese metal by liking Kaoteon’s official Facebook page, subscribing to their YouTube channel and, above all that, purchasing the awesome Damnatio Memoriae from their BandCamp page, from CD Baby, from iTunes or from Amazon? Bands like Kaoteon are the reason why we all know from the bottom of our hearts that heavy music will never die, proving the passion for metal and for freedom of speech can beat any type of adversity, even if that means you’re putting your life at risk.

Best moments of the album: Damnatio Memoriae, Raging HellFire, Non Serviam and Into the Mouth of Kaos.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Damnatio Memoriae 4:33
2. Barren Lands 5:26
3. Raging HellFire 4:26
4. Venom of Exalt 4:35
5. The Will 5:41
6. Non Serviam 4:46
7. Light of Compassion 4:29
8. Into the Mouth of Kaos 4:18
9. A Breath 4:57

Band members
Walid WolfLust – vocals
Anthony Kaoteon – guitars

Guest musicians
Linus Klausenitzer – bass (session)
Fredrik Widigs – drums (session)

Album Review – Funeral Winds / Sinister Creed (2018)

A blasphemous and extremely austere album of old school Black Metal by a cult Dutch entity, offering us all endless fury, hate, rage and scorn, all spiced up by a bit of good old black magic.

Twenty seven years after their foundation, Dutch Black Metal horde Funeral Winds are more than ready to spread darkness upon the earth with the release of their fourth full-length album, titled Sinister Creed. Definitely not a prolific band, the Rotterdam-based offspring of multi-instrumentalist Hellchrist XUL won’t offer you anything that hasn’t been there since their beginning back in 1991, those being fury, hate, rage and scorn, all spiced up by a bit of good old black magic, allowing you to summon demons while listening to this blasphemous and extremely austere album of old school Black Metal. Written and recorded between 2014 and 2017 at Necromanteion Studio, in Belgium, Sinister Creed will please all fans of the darkest forms of extreme music without a shadow of a doubt, making your hearts and souls even darker than they already are.

Do not look for any fine music craftsmanship, as Funeral Winds are devoted to master the black arts, not some hip fine tune; therefore, there is only one thing you can expect from this infernal Dutch duo, and that’s total devastation. If you are into music evolutions, new genres and refined, subtle post-production gimmicks you are very welcome to look elsewhere, as Sinister Creed is an album for those whose thirst for blood was never satisfied, whose love for the early 90’s is still alive and kicking, and whose black flame never extinguished. It might have taken over 10 years for Funeral Winds to return with new material, with their previous installment, named Nexion Xul – The Cursed Bloodline, being released in the already distant year of 2007, but the duo is back in full force to destroy the silence that took place during their hiatus with endless dosages of hellspawn Black Metal.

Sinister noises ignite the ode to darkness entitled The Road to Perdition, before Hellchrist XUL comes crushing our souls mercilessly with his demented gnarls and pulverizing riffs, giving life (or I should say death) to the song’s darkly poetic lyrics (“The angles slowly align themselves / With every step I take / on this unpaved road to perdition / A path full of rocks with sharp edges / That cut strips of flesh / with each incautious step taken”). In Cursed is this Pantheon of Flesh we’re treated to absolute chaos and devastation in the form of Black Metal, with session drummer M.Z. Inversus sounding like an unstoppable bulldozer. Furthermore, the song has a hardcore feel that only makes it more flammable and therefore more enjoyable, setting the tone for another onslaught of aggressive, old school Black Metal named The Arrival, showcasing the always demented screams by Hellchrist XUL, powerfully boosted by the song’s sick drumming, insane guitar lines and endless obscurity.

The title-track Sinister Creed maintains the album’s acidity and rage at an extremely high level, With pure sulphur flowing from all instruments, in special from its blast beats and flammable guitars which will rip your heart out in a gruesome way. Then featuring Amon XUL on guest vocals, Funeral Winds manage to get even more frantic and demented than before in Blood, a fantastic display of visceral Black Metal that’s utterly loyal to the foundations of the genre; followed by Black Moon over Saturn: featuring Hekte Zaren on guest vocals, this insane tune presents an operatic, choir-like intro to a feast of blackened sounds and roars, resulting in a beautiful blend of raw Black Metal with Doom Metal and symphonic elements.

Never slowing down, never softening their music, Funeral Winds continue their path to the underworld by offering the listener an explosion of metallic riffs and bestial drums named Seven Arrows, Knife and Flame (Sekhmet), where Hellchrist XUL sounds truly possessed on vocals (which in Black Metal is always a very positive addition to the musicality, of course). And as the closing act of such demonic album we have Nunc et in Hora Mortis Nostrae, which means “now and at the hour of our death” in English, with its over seven minutes of first-class Black Metal that will disturb your peace and exterminate your mind, also presenting some insanely dark words vociferated by Hellchrist XUL (“I have crawled from the womb of eternal darkness / Out of the void into the light I abhor / I have crawled from the womb of emptiness / Out of the abyss into this world / I am here not to please, I am here not to bring joy”), with the music flowing flawlessly until its ungodly, transcendental ending.

You can take a full, detailed listen at Sinister Creed on YouTube or on Spotify, and in case you’re already a loyal member of the dark side you can purchase the album at the Funeral Winds’ BandCamp, at the Avantgarde Music’s BandCamp or Big Cartel, at the Season of Mist webshop, at Record Shop X, on iTunes or on Amazon. Also, don’t forget to follow Funeral Winds on Facebook and to keep an eye on their YouTube channel for more music and videos by such distinct Black Metal act, and may the pitch black darkness bred by Funeral Winds in their Mephistophelian career keep haunting our souls for decades to come.

Best moments of the album: Cursed is this Pantheon of Flesh, Blood and Nunc et in Hora Mortis Nostrae.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Avantgarde Music

Track listing  
1. The Road to Perdition 4:47
2. Cursed is this Pantheon of Flesh 3:59
3. The Arrival 3:30
4. Sinister Creed 2:44
5. Blood 3:05
6. Black Moon over Saturn 5:26
7. Seven Arrows, Knife and Flame (Sekhmet) 4:27
8. Nunc et in Hora Mortis Nostrae 7:37

Band members
Hellchrist XUL – vocals, all instruments
M.Z. Inversus – drums (session)

Guest musicians
Amon XUL – additional vocals on “Blood”
Hekte Zaren – additional vocals on ‘Black Moon over Saturn”

Metal Chick of the Month – Amanda Somerville

I hide you, I find you, I catch your fall…  I’ll be there when the lights go out…

She has already been involved with so many distinct bands and projects it feels like she’s a 100-year old veteran in heavy music, when in fact she’s just about to turn 39 years old. I’m talking about the unstoppable American vocalist Amanda Somerville, our metal chick of the month who’s not only a singer and songwriter, but also a vocal coach, being known primarily for her work with several renowned European Symphonic Metal bands such as Edguy, Avantasia, Epica, Kamelot and After Forever, and having also produced two solos albums and two solo EP’s so far, as well as a wide range of more underground acts like Aina, Trillium and Exit Eden. also, there are countless albums and songs from other artists in the world of heavy music where you can find the stunning Amanda delivering her beautiful vocal notes, only proving how professional she is and how much other musicians admire her talent and skills as a vocalist. Having said that, are you ready to get delightfully “lost” in the world of Amanda Somerville?

Born on March 7, 1979 in Flushing, a city in Genesee County in the U.S. state of Michigan, Amanda Somerville, whose full name is Amanda Somerville-Scharf, attended Flushing Senior High School, graduating a full year early and winning a scholarship for graduating with high honors to the University of Michigan in Flint, Michigan, where she majored in psychology. In 1999 she moved from the United States to Wolfsburg, Germany, working mainly in Germany and in the Netherlands. Her voice has a wide range, but she has said herself that her tessitura is in the alto range, and if you have no idea of what that means you can take a quick look at this short and sweet explanatory video HERE. On August 19, 2013, she announced that she was engaged to be married to After Forever’s former guitarist Sander Gommans, and the pair were married in July 2014; less than one year after their marriage, on January 8, 2015, the couple announced they were expecting their first child, who was born on July 17, 2015 and named Lana Elise Gommans, and now in January the couple and little Lana were joined by the identical twins Anya Jayne and Juliet Marlies (and you can expect to hear more from Amanda and her new babies through her official blog).

Amanda has started singing from a very early age in her life, having grown up in a very musical family where music was a very basic and essential part of life. Furthermore, not only she had that influence and inspiration at home, but she mentioned she also had very good music mentors at elementary school, learning how to read music and play the piano at a rather young age. In addition, she said she has always dreamed about becoming a musician, and that’s all she ever wanted to do. For instance, throughout her life she has always performed in talent shows, competitions and concerts, hosting karaoke, singing in cover bands and jazz combos to earn money while she was in university, and even doing some appearances as a DJ. However, albeit being famous worldwide for her participation in several metal bands and projects, Amanda said that when she started her career she was a solo artist directed to the Pop Rock genre with some American folk elements. It was only when she decided to record a single with her bass player and drummer years ago that she met German guitarist, bassist and musical producer Sascha Paeth, who at that time was related to her bass player and owned a recording studio. Both Sascha and German keyboard player and musical producer Michael “Miro” Rodenberg were at the spot, helped them set up everything and listened to them performing, until they asked Amanda if she wanted to do something together with them, opening the doors of heavy music for our stunning diva. And regarding her education in music and arts in general, she said she never really studied music in a formal way, nor was she classically trained in singing. Amanda mentioned that it was her grandmother who taught her how to read music and gave her the basic foundation that she still uses for composing until today. Furthermore, as a vocal coach she was able to work with several distinguished musicians, always being open to learn from her students and to face new challenges they might bring her, therefore growing as a musician and as a person.

Trying to list every single band and project Amanda was or is still involved in Heavy Metal might be one of the toughest tasks one can try to accomplish, as she has already written and recorded with several renowned acts like the ones mentioned in the beginning of this essay about our gorgeous American vocalist, as well as her solos releases (which by the way were primarily soft and elegant Pop Rock with some Hard Rock, folk and soul music influences) and a rock opera, among other distinct endeavors. Let’s start with her solo career, with the releases of the albums In the Beginning There Was… (2000) and Windows (2008), and the EP’s Blue Nothing (2000) and Never Alone (2003), with her upcoming album Conformity Challenged to be announced soon. You can have a listen at her softer and more graceful side in songs like I Miss America and Puzzling Rapunzel, from her debut album, and Inner Whore and Sometimes, from Windows, but that’s the lightest music you’ll find in this tribute to Amanda, as from now on it’s going to be pure heavy music flowing through her veins and vocals.

Her first venture in metal was her collaboration with German multi-instrumentalist Robert Hunecke-Rizzo (Heavens Gate, Luca Turilli, Kamelot, Rhapsody of Fire), co-writing the rock opera Aina, a Symphonic and Progressive Heavy/Power Metal project featuring a number of guest appearances including Glenn Hughes, Michael Kiske and Candice Night, where the concept and lyrics were written by Amanda herself. There was only one album released under the project, the 2003 opus Days of Rising Doom (which you can listen in its entirety HERE), and don’t expect to see anything new from Aina in the short or even long-term. After Aina, she made a similar collaboration with her husband-to-be Sander Gommans, providing vocals and lyrical concept for HDK (the acronym for Hate Death Kill), a Melodic Death/Gothic Metal project with whom she released the albums System Overload, in 2009, and Serenades of the Netherworld, in 2014. Do you want to bang your head to the music by HDK? Try the songs System Overload and Mortal Zombie, one from each release by the project, and see if you like this more ferocious side of Amanda.

Perhaps her most remarkable project to date is her partnership with the iconic German vocalist Michael Kiske (Helloween, Unisonic) on a musical project entitled Kiske/Somerville, also featuring Primal Fear’s own Mat Sinner on bass and Magnus Karlsson on guitars (who by the way are the two main songwriters of the project), and Czech drummer Veronika Lukešová. In 2010, the project released their debut self-titled album, followed by another full-length release named City of Heroes, in 2015. From their debut installment, you can enjoy on YouTube songs such as Silence and If I Had A Wish, and from City of Heroes you should take a listen at Walk on Water.

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Another very interesting project by Amanda goes by the name of Trillium, a Symphonic Metal band formed in 2011 in the Netherlands (where she currently resides), featuring some of her longtime fellow musicians Sander Gommans, Sascha Paeth and Michael “Miro” Rodenberg, having released in 2011 the full-length album Alloy. She described the music by Trillium as “more like an expedition with my musical family to explore and celebrate the metamorphosis I’ve gone through as an artist over the past several years”, while the name of the band “symbolizes a trinity because things are always showing up in 3s in my environment and there are a number of triads occurring in this project, as well”. And she went on saying that “the name of the album, Alloy, is symbolic and metaphorical. An alloy is a substance composed of two or more metals, or of a metal or metals combined with a non-metal, intimately mixed. It also means standard; quality; fineness and is an admixture, as of good with evil. I’m a Pisces, so I’m all about duality and combining known elements – sometimes opposing each other – to create something different. Though I’ve been working myself further and further into the metal scene, I still always feel the need to add an extra element to make it shine, bling, stand out”. From Alloy, you should check the song Coward, and if you like what you hear you can enjoy the full album HERE.

In 2017, Amanda joined a new project entitled Exit Eden, featuring four female singers from the rock and metal scene from four different countries, those being Clémentine Delauney (Visions of Atlantis, Serenity) from France, Marina La Torraca (Highlight Kenosis, Phantom Elite) from Brazil, newcomer Anna Brunner from Germany, and obviously Amanda Somerville. The band was conceived with the plan “to show the world that almost every classic song can be transformed into a solid metal-rock song”, a concept similar to Finland’s Northern Kings, releasing in 2017 the album Rhapsodies In Black, comprised of 11 metallic versions for some of the biggest pop and rock classics like Rihanna’s Unfaithful, Depeche Mode’s A Question Of Time, Shontelle’s Impossible, Lady Gaga’s Paparazzi, Backstreet Boys’ Incomplete, and Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse Of The Heart, with the stunning Dutch goddess Simone Simons also appearing in two songs of the album, Madonna’s Frozen, Adele’s Skyfall.

Apart from all those bands and projects, Amanda has also been involved with several iconic acts either live or as a guest musician in some of their studio albums. For instance, in 2008, she toured America with Dutch Symphonic Metal icons Epica, while Simone Simons recovered from a staph infection; she was also one of the live guest vocalists for Tobias Sammet’s metal opera Avantasia world tours in 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2016, where she performed both backing vocals and lead vocals for a few songs; she was featured on Douglas R. Docker’s space metal opera Docker’s Guild in 2012 in a duet with Goran Edman on the debut album The Mystic Technocracy – Season 1: The Age of Ignorance, and again in 2016 in the Flash Gordon Suite on the album The Heisenberg Diaries – Book A: Sounds of Future Past; and also played the part of the “Queen of the Nile” in an album titled The Book of Gates, by a metal opera project from the Middle-East named EON, produced by Lebanese guitarist Amadeus Awad. And the list goes on and on with Amanda lending her beautiful voice to several interesting songs recorded by bands like After Forever, Edguy, Lunatica, Serenity, Wolfpakk, Shaman, DesDemon, Hollow Haze, Sebastien, Soulspell, and many, many others.

When asked about her experience working with several renowned artists such as Alice Cooper, Ian Gillan and Eric Martin due to her role in projects like Rock Meets Classic and Avantasia, Amanda answered that working with all those metal icons is always a pleasure for her, as she always enters a new situation or project with a very open mind and loves to be surprised by those artists, not to mention she also said most of them are amazing human beings. In addition, when asked which musician or artist she would love to work with in the future, Amanda mentioned some important names in music such as John Fogerty, the mastermind behind Creedence Clearwater Revival; Grace Slick, an American musician and former model, widely known in Rock N’ Roll history for her role in San Francisco’s burgeoning psychedelic music scene in the 60’s, being the voice of bands like Jefferson Airplane and Starship; and as a solo artist she would also love to work with Paul Simon and Tori Amos. As you can see although those musicians listed by Amanda are not your regular metal icons, they do have a huge influence on countless metal artists and bands from different styles, proving once again heavy music is not and can never be isolated from the rest of the world of music.

Regarding her inspirations for her music and lyrics and her full creative process, Amanda said she doesn’t really have a “normal process” as far as songwriting goes, with her songs beginning sometimes as a chorus or a verse, sometimes as just the lyrics with the body of the composition coming later, and sometimes the song will come to her from start to finish in its entirety. She complemented by saying that as a songwriter, the lyrics are of extreme importance to her, and that her songs are always very emotional because she doesn’t believe in writing or performing anything that can’t make people feel along with her. All her songs are personal-based, talking about human struggles and relationships, whether it was something she went through, a dream, or inspired by someone or something, and all being “little windows” into the innermost workings of Amanda Somerville.

Last but not least, apart from all her projects and adventures in music in general, Amanda still found some time in June 2014 to be part of a German television show named Keep Your Light Shining, which aired from the end of May to June 2014 by ProSieben, singing the song Addicted To You by Avicii (and you can also see her personal message about the show HERE). She said she accepted the challenge because she enjoys getting out of her comfort zone, pushing herself to her own limits. However, the show had to make some special arrangements for her due to her touring schedule and other details, as she was only able to join their third show. Many people asked her why she was doing that, because she didn’t need it, but she said she actually wanted to participate on the show as a new experience for her. Moreover, despite the final result not being very positive for her, she said she wasn’t sad or anything like that as in the end she was the only member with a career while some of the others went backstage and cried their hearts out. What’s next for Amanda Somerville? Now with the twins she will probably take some time off from all her endeavors in heavy music, but I’m sure it won’t take long for us metalheads to have the pleasure of listening to her beautiful voice once again accompanied by some flammable guitar riffs and headbanging beats in another ass-kicking song, band or project.

Amanda Somerville’s Official Facebook page
Amanda Somerville’s Official Twitter
Amanda Somerville’s Official Instagram
Amanda Somerville’s Official YouTube channel

“I’ve never really been able to force a song. I don’t believe in doing anything contrived, especially when it comes to songwriting. I think it’s a blasphemy to one’s art. Music is my emotional outlet and I let it take me wherever it leads.” – Amanda Somerville

Metal Chick of the Month – Fallon Bowman

Then we lay there… Embracing our last stare… On a moonlit afternoon…

As The Headbanging Moose is based in Toronto, Canada, probably the most multi-cultural city in the world, there’s nothing better than having as our last metal chick of the year of 2017 a woman of Dutch and Indonesian descent that was born in Cape Town, South Africa, but that currently resides here in Toronto, playing an also diverse range of musical styles such as Alternative Metal, Nu Metal, Rock, Industrial and even Electronica. This woman, who’s a skillful vocalist and guitarist, goes by the name of Fallon Bowman, known for her involvement with the bands Kittie, Pigface and Amphibious Assault, as well as a solo career which she’s been pursuing since around 2011. Having said that, are you ready to bang your head to the electrifying music by the exotic Fallon?

Born on November 16, 1983 in Cape Town, a port city on South Africa’s southwest coast, on a peninsula beneath the imposing Table Mountain, Fallon has been active in the world of alternative and heavy music since 1996, when at the age of fourteen years old she helped to form Canadian Alternative Metal act Kittie with classmate Mercedes Lander and Mercedes’ sister, Morgan Lander, playing guitar and performing backing vocals for the band from their inception in 1996 until August 2001, when she left the band. As a matter of fact, her passion for music actually started a few years before Kittie, when she was around 10 years old, when she was fascinated with a guitar her grandfather had at his home in South Africa. However, she mentioned the guitar was not her first choice, as at first she wanted to be a drummer when she was around 12, but her parents were against it and she ended up getting a guitar from them after they saw her performance playing the song Violet, by Hole, at a school assembly with a friend using a friend’s guitar. Getting back to Kittie, Fallon has already explained several times in different interviews why she left the band, saying she was unhappy with some things in the band so she felt that maybe it was time for her to depart. Our dauntless guitarist recorded two albums with Kittie, those being the full-length Spit, in 1999, and the EP Paperdoll, in 2000, comprised of a remix of Spit’s song Paperdoll and five songs from Spit recorded live on June 15, 2000 at the Hultsfred Festival in Sweden.

Regarding the writing and meaning of the song Choke in Spit, Fallon said that it is “about someone telling you that they love you so much, and they put you up on a pedestal and make you feel great, then they turn around and say “screw you”, and you can sense that feeling while listening to the song (which you can do HERE). Furthermore, just to give you an idea of the impact of the release of Spit, right after that Kittie went on tours with bands such as Chevelle, Slipknot, Suicidal Tendencies, and Shuvel, also performing at Ozzfest and at the 2001 SnoCore festival. Hence, if you want to listen to Fallon playing her flammable guitar with Kittie, I recommend the songs Brackish and Charlotte, both taken from Spit.

Right after her departure from Kittie, Fallon experienced a period of stress due to splitting up with her friends from the band, but she managed to overcome that difficult situation after a while and got involved with her two next endeavors, the distinct bands Pigface and Amphibious Assault. Pigface is an industrial music supergroup formed in 1990 by Martin Atkins (Ministry, Killing Joke) and William Rieflin (Ministry, KMFDM, R.E.M., King Crimson), featuring tons of guest musicians such as our metal babe Fallon. She ended up recording several tracks with Pigface for their 2003 album Easy Listening…, which led her to begin writing music again due to the enjoyment she had during the recording process. She then purchased a sequencer and began exploring the industrial music genre that she admired but had never actively pursued, also filling her basement in the following months with drum machines and synthesizers, which in the end led to the writing of the songs for District Six, the debut album by her upcoming industrial project Amphibious Assault, mixing lots of heavy elements and aspects with her passion for industrial music. The name of the project was chosen during a flight from Toronto to New Jersey, when Bowman, at the age of seventeen, was skimming through a Tom Clancy novel when she came upon the term “amphibious assault”, with the whole project being, according to our talented musician herself, her personal “homage” to her KMFDM days, when she was obsessed with them. Amphibious Assault went on for a few years, from 2003 until 2007, with two full-length albums released, the aforementioned District Six in 2003 and On Better Days and Sin-Eating in 2006. If you want to take a listen at this more electronic side of Fallon, I recommend you check the songs Tears In Rain, District 6, The Importance Of Finding Narcissism, Mistakes, Breaks, Way Too Lates, and Benedictine, among many others.

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After the end of Amphibious Assault, Fallon mentioned that a new project was about to become a reality, tentatively named “Oh No, Torpedo!”, but that in the end became her solo project Fallon Bowman & The Grace Dynasty (with The Grace Dynasty being a five-piece band that included Rhim of The Birthday Massacre on drums), playing a series of live shows before announcing their forthcoming debut album, titled Human, Conditional, from 2011. However, right after the recording of the album was done, it was decided that the project would drop “The Grace Dynasty” from its name, being then just known as Fallon Bowman. You can take a detailed listen at Human, Conditional at Bowman’s own BandCamp page, with songs like the title-track Human, Conditional and Rio de Janeiro being a good sample of how her latest project sounds like.

Regarding her vocal range and her skills as a musician, Fallon mentioned in one of her interviews she’s highly influenced by R&B (thanks to her sister and parents), which allows her to do more than “just” scream and yell while singing, and that she hadn’t taken any singing lesson until she left Kittie. She said that her vocal teacher taught her all sorts of essential lessons about maintaining pitch while moving, and that she incorporated those into her performances to give it a more theatrical vibe. In addition, she also mentioned the emotion she transpires during her live performances is something that just happens, it’s very organic and it arises from the same place her lyrics and pain come from. And even in the middle of that sea of emotions, Fallon has time to sharpen her playing skills, being able to play guitar, keyboards, bass and sing (and getting there in regards to the piano), all helping her become a better composer. And did you know she has a degree in archeology? Well, that’s something almost no one actually knew until she was the subject of a prank for an episode of the short-lived Animal Planet series Freak Encounters a few years ago.

Fallon’s influences in music are just as diverse as her own background, with our talented multi-instrumentalist being highly influenced by R&B when it comes to her vocal style, but of course she also draws a lot of inspiration from electronic and rock music, saying that she loves the contrast between angelic singing and harder music. In terms of names, she said her taste for music varies from Whitney Houston to Deftones, from Calvin Harris to VNV Nation to Nirvana, and so on, mentioning that there’s beauty in all types of music. When asked about a band that she would have loved to tour with from the past, she promptly mentioned Nirvana, saying that meeting Kurt Cobain would have been a mind-blowing experience and that Nirvana, alongside with Hole, were the bands that made her want to be a musician. Furthermore, Fallon still had time to create her own dream band, that being David Gahan from Depeche Mode on vocals, Danny Carey from Tool on drums, Ryan from Mudvayne on bass, and Jimi Hendrix on guitar. How awesome do you think that supergroup would sound?

When asked about all changes that have impacted the music industry since she started her career back in 1996, she said when Kittie started they had almost no focus on the internet, as there wasn’t Facebook or anything like that at that time, saying it was all about street teams made up of fans that would spread the word about each band, something that doesn’t happen anymore nowadays. Fallon has been trying to learn about new apps and platforms to promote her music, and you can find her in several places, as for example you can buy her music on BandCamp, something that didn’t exist at all in the 90’s. Well, she’s also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, so let’s say she has adapted to this new reality in the music business as much as her taste in music has changed and evolved, right? Well, now let’s wait and see what the future holds for this young and restless musician, hoping that she keeps “invading” all current and new types of social media sites and music apps with her uniqueness and electricity.

Fallon Bowman’s Official Facebook page
Fallon Bowman’s Official Twitter
Fallon Bowman’s Official Instagram
Fallon Bowman’s Official YouTube channel
Fallon Bowman’s Official BandCamp

“I didn’t consciously think of what I was doing as a step for me as a woman of colour – it was more simple than that – being a teenager wanting to be a rockstar. In retrospect however, no one besides maybe Skin was doing that style of music and was also a woman of colour. It’s a bit mind blowing really. There was really no one else doing that at that level.” – Fallon Bowman