Metal Chick of the Month – Lahannya

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Justice ravaged by pain… I surrended my innocence in vain.

Our Heavy Metal diva this month is a tribute to Gothic Rock & Metal, a “love it or hate it” type of music that always divides the opinion of the more traditional metalheads. Fans of Iron Maiden, Slayer, Judas Priest and Metallica, for example, usually tend to despise almost everything from bands such as Rammstein, The Prodigy or Disturbed, mainly because “those bands are not true Heavy Metal”. However, they all have a lot of very interesting, creative and especially heavy material, which is also the case for the dark alternative music by our blue-haired gothic goddess Lahannya.

Lahannya was born in the United Kingdom, and although I’m not 100% sure, I believe her birthday is on January 20. Don’t ask me her full name or the year and city she was born (which by the way might be London), though, as it seems she’s one of those girls that doesn’t enjoy sharing her age nor many other details about her personal life with the rest of the world. Well, that doesn’t affect the quality of her work by any means, as what really matters here are her music, vocal performance and, of course, her stunning dark alternative looks.

Let’s say that Lahannya is not a regular singer, songwriter and performer: she’s a lot more than that, we should say a one-of-a-kind frontwoman, and her talent and skills can be enjoyed not only in the music from her own band, Lahannya, but also in the compositions from many other different bands and artists. Although she’s never made it to the mainstream, it’s in the underground world of heavy music where she has established her pillars and it’s also where she keeps influencing the newest generations of gothic and heavy musicians with her unique approach.

To begin with, it was back in 2004 when she met bassist Lutz Demmler, from German Gothic Metal band Umbra et Imago, at the M’Era Luna Festival where things really started to happen for Lahannya. After several projects since the beginning of her career in 1998, including the song Drowning for the compilation album Amduscias (1998) and her first EP entitled Drowning (2000), she finally formed the band Lahannya together with her then (and still) good friend Lutz in 2005, which is nowadays complemented live by German guitarist Christopher Milden and Italian drummer Luca Mazzucconi.

Lahannya’s Gothic Metal music is a complex and rich blend of the sonority from bands and artists such as The Prodigy, Disturbed, Loreena McKennitt, among many others. Actually, it’s kind of hard to truly define their music or compare it to other artists, although their lyrical themes are similar to what some of those artists also sing about, like darkness, pain, agony and relationships. The band has already released a good amount of material besides the EP Drowning: three full-length albums entitled Shotgun Reality (2007), Defiance (2009) and Dystopia ( 2011); another EP named Welcome to the Underground (2008); the live album Scavenger (2010); and the live DVD Sojourn (2013). You can take a listen at her mesmerizing voice in songs like Cocoon and Save Me, both from the album Dystopia.

The band has been touring a lot since its inception, especially in the UK and Germany, as for example in the Wave Gotik Treffen music festival, in Leipzig, in 2009, as well as many other dates in countries such as Austria, Netherlands, Poland and Switzerland, among others, with highlights to their exceptional performance during the Metal Female Voices Fest VII that happened in Wieze, Belgium, in 2009. There are some high quality videos on YouTube with Lahannya’s concert at that festival, like the ones for the songs Open Your Eyes and Burn, where it’s quite impossible to take your eyes out of her moves while her voice “invades” our ears with greatness. Another excellent live moments are the heavy and modern Inside the Machine, filmed at the X-Tra Club in Switzerland in 2008, and  the metallic Never Enough, during the band’s performance at the the M’Era Luna Festival 2012. There’s also a really nice interview with her during that same festival, which can be seen HERE, where she talks about her career and other stuff. It’s totally worth the time spent, especially because she’s a fun and humble woman, and her British accent is beyond beautiful.

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Among her infinite number of partnerships, projects and special guest appearances, the most important or famous ones are certainly her collaborations with English Electronic band Greenhaus, German Power Noise/Techno act Soman, Norwegian Aggrotech band Combichrist, German Industrial project Xotox, German Goth Rock band ASP, and German Gothic Electro band Dracul. None of these are close to Heavy or even Gothic Metal, but that doesn’t make the final results less enjoyable.

With Greenhaus, she was part of the songwriting and the vocalist for almost all tracks of their album Another life, from 2003, while with Soman she was the co-songwriter and vocalist for the following tracks: Tears, from the album Revenge (2004); Antique, from a compilation album with various artists entitled Machineries of Joy (2004); Mask and Eye to Eye, from the album Mask (2007); and Skin Deep, from the album Soman Noistyle (2010).

Our goth diva’s collaboration with Combichrist happened in the form of a spoken sample for the Soman remix of the title-track from their second EP Sex, Drogen Und Industrial (2004), while with Xotox she recorded a spoken intro for the video of the track [psi], from the album [psi] (2005), and was the vocalist on the song Habitat, from the album In Den Zehn Morgen (2008). Finally, she was featured in the remix of the song Nie Mehr, from the album Nie Mehr (2007) by ASP, and was the co-songwriter and vocalist for the tracks Vampiras Dream and Deathwish, from the album Like an Animal (2006) by Dracul.

There are a few other projects she’s involved which unfortunately I cannot list here, otherwise I would never be able finish this document. However, there’s one more interesting detail about Lahannya in regards to her career that you should know: if you’re in London and you are that type of person that likes to party, you might have a chance to see our blue-haired beauty in person doing something very different from singing with her band, which is being a DJ at the London alternative club Slimelight once in a while. Do you want to know where Lahannya finds all that energy to do everything she does? “I think it’s my purpose for living. I don’t really want to find a family or whatever. For me it’s my passion, it’s the legacy I want to leave behind, it’s how I express myself. If I didn’t do it, I would feel like I’m not actually living or breathing.”, she said. That explains a lot.

In regards to her idols in music, the pretty Lahannya mentioned she enjoys listening to and is constantly inspired by many distinct and excellent artists such as Kidneythieves, Dimmu Borgir, The Prodigy, Tori Amos, Celldweller, Bush, Disturbed, Mankind Is Obsolete, Loreena McKennitt, The Cranes etc. However, her inspiration in terms of lyrics comes from what is happening around her life and from her own emotions. Moreover, Lahannya mentioned a couple of times her “dream tour” would be with Industrial Metal icons Rammstein or English Electronic group The Prodigy, which in my opinion are outsdaning options for a full professional and exciting tour, don’t you agree?

Lastly, this nonstop frontwoman said she hasn’t had any free time for hobbies, but when she did she used to go scuba diving and climbing, which in my opinion are “not-so-common” activities for people who live in the gothic world, but each person does what they feel like doing, right? And in order to chill out, Lahannya’s choices often include a good DVD and a glass of wine, especially after a long day of hard work. That’s something even people like us, mere mortals who are not famous masterminds behind a successful band, can relate to, and maybe one of us is lucky enough to enjoy those rare free moments Lahannya has together with her. In the meantime, let’s keep on appreciating her dark and beautiful music.

Lahannya’s Official Facebook page
Lahannya’s Official YouTube channel
Lahannya’s Official Twitter

“The best piece of advice I can give is, don’t waste your time waiting for a manager, booking agent or record label to make things happen for you. If you are prepared to work hard, not just on the music but also on the business side, and you don’t give up, you can achieve an awful lot. No one will work as hard for you as you do yourself and no one will invest more money into your band than you are prepared to do yourself. If you don’t put the work in, why should anyone else?” – Lahannya

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Album Review – Tarja / Colours in the Dark (2013)

While Nightwish unfortunately perishes day after day without a decent singer, Tarja keeps providing us some excellent heavy music with her strong solo career.

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Tarja_Colours-In-The-Dark_StandardWhen Tarja Turunen (the prettiest female singer in the world!) left Nightwish a few years ago, everybody thought she was over in the world of heavy music (she even said so in some interviews). Tuomas Holopainen is a very talented and creative musician, and without him nobody knew how she would be able to survive. Well, today I guess it’s the exact opposite: Tarja has a very solid solo career, while Tuomas is completely lost with his band due to his gigantic ego. And now once again Tarja releases a very good album full of melody, consolidating her as one of the most important female voices in Heavy Metal of all time.

Victim of Ritual, the opening track, is a kind of “Metal Opera” that joins Tarja’s beautiful voice, a nice rhythm, and an interesting mix of different sounds. I love the chorus when she sings victim of rrrrrrrrrritual! Then comes 500 Letters, a regular song from Tarja with nothing new to show us. The next song, Lucid Dreamer, is a good example of what she can do with her voice, while in Never Enough she gives her special Nordic ingredient to it by starting with the words y, ka, ko, ne! This is our famous one, two, three, four, but in Finnish, and I must say a nice start to one of the best songs of the album, followed by a track called Mystique Voyage, a good ballad totally focused on her unique voice.

Tarja_Colours-In-The-DarkThe next track is a cover song: I listened to the original version from Peter Gabriel for the song Darkness, and I think Tarja’s version is very similar to it. It’s good, but not even close to the quality of her version for Alice Cooper’s Poison. Anyway, I would really enjoy seeing Peter and Tarja doing a duet for Darkness live someday! Deliverance is just another one of Tarja’s typical ballads, while Neverlight has that type of heavy riff I was expecting to find more in the rest of the songs. The album ends with another nice ballad, Until Silence, and the song Medusa, which in my opinion is the most beautiful song from Colours in the Dark.

Regarding the musicians, it’s always good to listen to Mike Terrana. He is amazing on drums even when he’s not playing at full speed. The other band members do a good job too: nothing extraordinary, though, but enough for what Tarja needs. The front cover is beautiful, of course, as it has Tarja on it! and not only that, it has a psychedelic touch that makes it very interesting for album art lovers.

To sum up, Colours in the Dark is not as original as My Winter Storm, which is my favorite Tarja album, but it’s a good work worth buying if you enjoy heavy music with a female voice, just not so heavy as Arch Enemy or The Agonist. And did anybody notice how Tarja is getting more and more beautiful year after year? I hope she comes to Canada for a full tour soon.

Best moments of the album: The songs Victim of Ritual, Never Enough, Neverlight and Medusa.

Worst moments of the album: The keyboards and piano seem to be more important than the guitar, which is not that bad, but I feel there’s a lack of good riffs and solos in the whole album that could have given more punch to it.

Released in 2013 earMUSIC

Track listing
1. Victim of Ritual 5:54
2. 500 Letters 4:22
3. Lucid Dreamer 7:28
4. Never Enough 5:20
5. Mystique Voyage 7:14
6. Darkness 5:38
7. Deliverance 7:27
8. Neverlight 4:33
9. Until Silence 5:03
10. Medusa (feat. Justin Furstenfeld) 8:12

iTunes edition bonus tracks
11. Neverlight (Full Orchestral Version)
12. Until Silence (Orchestral Version)

Band members
Tarja Turunen – Lead vocals and piano
Alex Scholpp, Julian Barrett – Guitar
Kevin Chown, Doug Wimbish – Bass guitar
Christian Kretschmar – Keyboards
Mike Terrana – Drums
Max Lilja – Cello