Metal Chick of the Month – Patricia Pons

I am a mecha, eternal live. Everything dies while I’m still alive.

The summer might be almost over on the Northern Hemisphere, but here at The Headbanging Moose we’ll help you keep things warm with the fiery and multi-talented Spanish singer Patricia Pons, the frontwoman of Valencia-based Melodic Death Metal squad SynlakrosS, and obviously the chosen metaller to be our Metal Chick of the Month. Owner of a powerful voice and displaying a wild and flammable look by blending several styles such as Gothic and cyberpunk in her attire, Patricia is ready to conquer the world of Heavy Metal together with her bandmates through the uniqueness of their music, and I’m sure you’ll love to read about how she does that, how she prepares for the band’s live performances, among other fun topics. Are you ready to enter the cyberworld of Patricia and her SynlakrosS?

Born on December 10, 1984 in Valencia, a port city located on Spain’s southeastern coast and the third-largest Spanish city after Madrid and Barcelona, Patricia loves metal music, anime and arts from the bottom of her heart, and if possible she wants to have them all at the same time, just to give you an idea of how creative and talented our multi-colored hair growler is. Also a proud vegan, Patricia makes sure she spreads the word of veganism and its benefits anywhere she goes, again connecting that philosophy to her music and arts whenever possible. First, let’s talk about her career as the frontwoman of Spanish act Synlakross, which basically represents her life in heavy music since she entered the band in 2010. Actually, before SynlakrosS, she was part of a band named Kakuseisha, a project that didn’t last long (due to the departure of its Italian guitar player) where she played keyboards and was also responsible for the melodic and guttural backing vocals.

According to the band itself, SynlakrosS (stylishly spelled with capital S at the end) is a “storytelling” Melodic Death Metal band formed in 2008 in Valencia, Spain “whose proposal seeks to inject a good dose of energy through songs that transport your mind to a world of adventure with a good deal of rebellion.” Although the band was conceived in 2008 by bassist Pablo “Roro” and drummer Tiko Martinez (who by the way played together with Patricia in Kakuseisha), it was only after 2010 when the band reached its desired shape and form that things started to take off for those Spanish metallers, having already released a self-titled demo in 2011, their first full-length album Melodichrome in 2013 and more recently the full-length Death Bullets for a Forajido, in 2016. In 2015, SynlakrosS won the metal award at the Granitorock Festival, receiving national recognition and opening the doors for the band to share the stage in 2016 with Canadian metallers The Agonist. Patricia herself describes the music by SynlakrosS as “Passionate Metal”, or even “Killer Metal Music”, because they simply love what they do. If you want to see and listen to Patricia kicking ass with SynlakrosS, there are several official videos and fan-filmed footage from their live performances. For instance, you can enjoy the official videos for the songs Billy The Kid and Paper In A History, the audio for their excellent cover version for Nightwish’s classic Wish I Had An Angel, the playthrough video of the song Beauty From The Deep, as well as excerpts from their amazing live performance at Granitorock Festival in 2015 with the songs On The Bridge TV and Dragon Egg.

Apart from SynlakrosS, Patricia has already lent her powerful voice to a song named The Great Heresy, featured on the 2015 album Fuck Your God by Canadian Black Metal one-man army Episcopal Holocaust, sounding very different from her regular work with SynlakrosS, as Melodic Death Metal and Black Metal, despite being both part of the overall concept of extreme music, are not usually associated and have very little in common musically speaking. And, by the way, it’s amazing for The Headbanging Moose to see she has some sort of connection with Canada. In addition to that, she’s also more-than-ready to join Spanish Melodic Thrash Metal band Keldark as a guest vocalist on the song Fear the Fear, which will be part of their upcoming album The Brotherhood, to be released later this year.

Patricia’s main influences in music might sound very different from one another, but if you pay good attention to the details of each one of her favorite artists you’ll see her own voice is some sort of amalgamation of all their styles with her own personal twist. Among her biggest influences, we’ll find names such as Floor Jansen (After Forever, Nightwish), Dani Filth (Cradle of Filth), Kate Bush, Tori Amos, Anders Friden (In Flames), Dez Fafara (DevilDriver, Coal Chamber), Jonathan Davis (Korn), Sandra Nasic (Guano Apes), Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil) and Liv Kristine (Theatre of Tragedy, Leaves’ Eyes), and their respective bands, as well as other bands like Nobuo Uematsu, Koji Kondo and Dream Theater. For instance, the first album she bought with her own money was the classic Fallen, by Evanescence, and the first concert she’s ever attended as a fan was In Flames. In one of her interviews, Patricia made sure she explained a little about her main influences, saying she never listened to them singing just as men or women, she focused on the voice itself and enjoyed every part from their performances.

She’s also influenced and inspired by a ton of other non-music stuff, including books, videogames, films, anime and manga, with her favorite movie being The Matrix, her favorite book being Clive Barker’s 1988 horror novel Cabal, and her favorite writers being Edgar Allan Poe, E. T. A. Hoffmann, H. P. Lovecraft and Mary Shelley, among others, all present not only in her music but also in her stunning looks. In addition, Patricia mentioned in one of her interviews that her personal visual trademark is also highly influenced by the fact that she’s a woman proud of being in Heavy Metal (and proud of being a woman, of course), and she wants people to see that when looking at her. That’s also visible in her hair style, always showcasing unique, vibrant colors by Manic Panic España, the iconic hair coloring company that works with 100% vegan dyes with zero ammonia, such as Siren’s Song and Psychedelic Sunset, two of her favorite colors.

Regarding her live performances with SynlakrosS, as aforementioned they had the pleasure of opening for Canadian metallers The Agonist during their Spanish dates in Sevilla, Madrid and Bilbao in 2016, but they’ve also played in several other locations in Spain like Avilés, Barcelona, Valencia, A Coruña, and so on. However, Patricia wants the music by SynlakrosS to reach new heights, allowing them to play all over Europe as well as in many other parts of the world. In order to provide the audience the best experience possible with the music by SynlakrosS, Patricia said she not only does a series of vocals warm-ups, just like any other vocalist, but she also works on all types of physical warm-ups and stretching, as she’s a very dynamic musician with a flammable stage performance.

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When asked about the metal scene in Spain, Patricia believes that, although Spanish Metal is underrated, the only thing musicians and bands like SynlakrosS can do to change this situation is to work hard, creating high-quality music and touring as much as possible until people see the true value of their music, as well as understand the importance of learning English, as in Spain that’s their pending subject. In addition, she mentioned that the support underground bands have from the media is almost nonexistent, as big magazines and radio stations only talk about international (and sometimes national) big old bands, also saying that unfortunately if you’re a small band and you want promotion, you have to pay for it no matter how amazing and well-done your music is. When specifically asked about the Valencian Metal scene, Patricia said that although they have some amazing bands in the region, the scene is not a popular one. In her opinion, bands and metalheads in Valencia aren’t united and there’s some sort of competition between them. Lastly, when asked where the music style by SynlakrosS is more accepted, if it’s in the north or south of Spain, she said the reception from metal fans has always been great in both regions, mentioning cities like Bilbao and the whole region of Galicia as good examples of places where their experience was very positive in the north, and Seville in the south as having a very warmth and welcome attitude from the fans towards the band.

One topic that’s always discussed in heavy music is the growing presence and importance of women in heavy music, and of course Patricia has been doing her part in opening more space for women in a style usually dominated by men. She thinks that, although most women in metal are vocalists, there are more and more excellent female guitarists, bassists, drummers and other instrumentalists appearing in the scene every single day, all linked to the increasing interest of the society for metal music. However, one of the biggest problems for her is that, no matter how talented a female musician might be, there’s always an unsuitable question or comment from a sexist male fan directed to that female artist, such as “take off your shirt!” or “do you have a boyfriend?”, things that are completely off topic and add nothing to the music being presented. Even when she’s facing that type of situation, she keeps the atmosphere light by saying that when a man screams she’s beautiful, it’s because he hasn’t seen her at 8am with no makeup. That’s a very polite way to say “fuck off” to those inconvenient guys, don’t you think?

Patricia also said that instead of pointless questions like that, she would love to be asked why she became a vegan and why she doesn’t drink or smoke. She said that becoming a vegan was a spiritual change for her, while stopping drinking, smoking and using drugs started when she decided to focus on her voice and on being more professional as a musician. She said there was a case in her family where a person had issues with drugs, and that made her think about it, that it wasn’t what she wanted for her life. Regarding alcohol, she said no one in the band drinks before going out or playing live, being an example to other metalheads that you can still be crazy and have a great time without being drunk or high.

If you’re already a fan of SynlakrosS, what I’m about to say won’t be a surprise to you, but if you’re a newcomer to their world of Alternative Metal I’m sure you’ll be impressed by the fact that Patricia is a professional illustrator and designer, having graduated from EASD Valencia (or Escola d’Art i Superior de Disseny de València) in 2009 in Fashion Design, and doing merch for different metal bands and her own art with manga style with macabre, Gothic and fantastic inspiration. She’s, for instance, the designer responsible for all the graphic art found in SynlakrosS’ 2016 album Death Bullets for a Forajido, including the cover art, inspired by the Wild West concept mixed with the band’s metal essence. You can check a few pieces designed by Patricia on her own DeviantArt page, such as this amazing “Demon Girl”, and who knows, maybe if you have a band she can be the next artist to provide her lines and colors to represent your music.

Last but not least, it doesn’t matter if you understand Spanish or not, there are several interviews on YouTube with Patricia and the other guys from SynlakrosS where they talk about the band’s current status and future plans, their inspirations in music, the metal scene in Valencia and in Spain in general, the evolution of women in metal, among other topics. You can check for example the videos Keep Calm And Listen Synlakross con Entrevista!, 2 Rockeros Entrevista con SynlakrosS, and Tertulia con Synlakross, all showing a very relaxed and uncompromised side of the band, and all a good inspiration for lovers of rebellious and electrifying metal to learn one of the most important languages worldwide. In other words, wouldn’t you love to understand what the charming and skillful Patricia has to say about all kinds of topics?

Patricia Pons’ Official Facebook page
Patricia Pons’ Official Twitter
Patricia Pons’ Official Instagram
SynlakrosS’ Official Facebook page
SynlakrosS’ Official YouTube channel
SynlakrosS’ Official Instagram
SynlakrosS’ Official SoundCloud page

“In Spain, if you want promotion, in general, you have to pay, no matter how amazing and well done is your music.” – Patricia Pons

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Metal Chick of the Month – Marjolaine Bernard

Behind shivering drops of my soul… Dancing under a dry sky the void’s pouring inside…

Let’s take a flight to Paris, the capital and most populous city of France, where among several activities and attractions you can visit the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum and the Notre Dame Cathedral, or simply find a traditional French café on the famous Avenue des Champs-Élysées to enjoy a nice, traditional croissant. If you’re a metalhead, there are also some excellent metal pubs and venues for you to go, such as Le Black Dog, James Hetfeeld’s and Le Cavern, and if you’re lucky enough you might enjoy a live concert by Wildpath, a female-fronted Symphonic Power Metal band formed in Paris in 2001 where, since 2008, our metal chick of the month has been giving life to their lyrics. I’m talking about French vocalist Marjolaine Bernard, a very talented and young musician who will certainly attract the attention of fans of melodic female voices like Floor Jansen and Tarja Turunen.

Born on June 4, 1983, Marjolaine started in the world of music at a very young age, first with the piano, then by joining a choir after watching a children’s concert, and since then she has never stopped singing. Furthermore, our French girl has been singing metal for a long time, being part of different small independent bands as a teenager and being clearly inspired by names like Floor and Tarja. However, Marjolaine stated that, despite Floor and Tarja (among other renowned vocalists) still being a reference to her, they’re not necessarily what she listens to nowadays and she doesn’t see herself as a Symphonic Metal singer, but just as a musician among other musicians trying to work with her voice in the best way possible, always in line with the music being played.

Marjolaine and her bandmates from Wildpath draw inspiration to create their music from several distinct sources, from electro to reggae, from metal to ambient music, like a giant melting pot. Furthermore, she mentioned she loves movie scores and soundtracks, being highly influenced by amazing composers such as Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman, also getting ideas from music from video games. She said that metal is a style where you’re allowed to let go with musical expressions and experimentations, and that’s the path that’s being constantly explored by the band in recent years. Forging elements from rock, metal, electro, folk, symphonic and traditional music, always caring for harmony and energy, Wildpath are a band in continuous evolution, and Marjolaine’s voice is exactly what the music needs to become more lively and appealing, as you’ll see below when we talk about her career with the band.

However, before Wildpath, there was Ad Vitam Aeternam, which is Latin for “To (or Towards) Eternal Life”, a Melodic Gothic Metal band formed in 1999 in Paris with whom Marjolaine played until 2005. She recorded the album Abstract Senses with Ad Vitam Aeternam in 2004, that being the only official release by the band since their inception. You can take a listen at the entire album HERE, or also enjoy individual songs from the album such as Dementia and In The Throes of Apocalypse, always paying attention to how different the music style by Ad Vitam Aeternam was from Wildpath, which only shows how versatile Marjolaine is as a vocalist.

It was in the year of 2008 that she finally joined Wildpath, which as already mentioned was formed back in 2001 by keyboardist Alexis Garsault and guitarist Olivier Caron in Paris, having released their debut album Nyx Secrets in 2005 (without Marjolaine on vocals, obviously). After Marjolaine became the lead singer for Wildpath, the band released three full-length albums, Non Omnis Moriar in 2009 (which by the way had its name inspired by the Odes by Roman lyric poet Horace and means “I shall not all die” or “not all of me will die”), Underneath in 2011 and Disclosure in 2015, as well as a very special release featuring acoustic versions of tracks from previous albums in 2016, titled Still – Acoustic Live Experience. You can get a very good taste of how smooth and tuneful Marjolaine’s vocals are in songs such as Petrichor, The Raven, Absentia, Confined and Excinere, listen to the entire albums Disclosure and Underneath, enjoy the acoustic versions from Still for the songs Everlasting Wish and Unborn, or also have fun with Marjolaine and the others with two live “studio” versions for the songs Buried Moon and Secret’s Case.

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If you prefer Wildpath live in front of a bunch of metalheads, I recommend this 2012 version of Buried Moon and Dive live at Le Grand Rex in Paris during the IronSquid StarCraft 2 World Championship Finals, as well as Non Omnis Moriar live in Eloyes, France in 2010; Unborn and Ghost Memories live at Le Divan Du Monde in Paris in 2015; or even this full concert  in 2012 during a mini-festival named Metal Symphonic Quest II in Tours, a city located in the centre-west of France. The festival also had the bands Adrana, Lost Opera, Roman Rouzine The Tria and Eidon, but it was Wildpath who headlined the night. And if you think you need to go all the way to France to watch Wildpath live, you’re wrong, as in 2016 the band played their first gig in the UK at The Quinphonic Festival 2 at The Roadhouse Birmingham. How far do you think Marjolaine and Wildpath can go?

As a guest musician, Marjolaine was part of the only album released by French Melodic Heavy/Power Metal band Silent Fall, entitled Otherwise, from 2010, doing choir vocals in the whole album and main female vocals on the song This Could Have Been. If you’re curious to know how she was invited to be part of the album, the answer is quite simple. Olivier Caron, Wildpath’s own guitarist, was also the lead guitarist for Silent Fall, making it a lot easier for Marjolaine to add her vocals to their music in an effective and exciting way.

When asked about her favorite song of all time, including all types of music and eras, her answer was quite unique, citing the classic Sanvean: I Am Your Shadow (or simply Sanvean) by the iconic Australian musical project Dead Can Dance, featured on their first official live album Toward the Within, released in 1994, an album that contains 15 songs, of which only four appeared on their previous albums. Sanvean was later re-recorded by one of the masterminds behind Dead Can Dance, Lisa Gerrard, on her 1995 solo album The Mirror Pool. In regards to heavy music, her first rock album was the classic Angels Fall First, the debut studio album by Finnish Symphonic Metal band Nightwish. With cult songs such as Elvenpath, Beauty and the Beast and Astral Romance, it’s easy to understand why Marjolaine fell in love for Symphonic Metal, right?

Marjolaine was also questioned about her favorite or best moments as an artist, and albeit she said there have been already lots of amazing memories with Wildpath, one of her favorite experiences was a concert with a “quatour” (a special form of string quartet that developed in Paris around 1775 and became one of the leading genres of Parisian music until the French Revolution) and a choir at La Scène Bastille, saying that seeing a symphony coming alive was truly fantastic. In addition, she also listed as one of her favorite moments when the band played with French progressive guitarist Patrick Rondat, and lastly the band’s famous performance in 2015 at Le Divan du Monde.

As previously mentioned, among her main influences we’ll find names such as Floor and Tarja, with Floor in particular being a huge inspiration for Marjolaine as she’s one of the few contemporary female singers who can combine lyrical songs with very dynamic rock vocals in a precise manner. However, out of the metal and rock scene, her favorite singer is Lisa Gerrard, who apart from her work with Dead Can Dance was also responsible for several other renowned projects, including a Golden Globe Award for the music score to the film Gladiator, on which she collaborated with Hans Zimmer.

Another interesting fact about Marjolaine is that her stage outfit is created by one of her students, who proposed to create special clothes tailored for their live performances, working with the band’s colors and adding her own personal touch to the creations. That stylist is from a company called Le Paon, a new brand from the independent French scene. Marjolaine and the stylist collaborate with each other in the creation of the outfits, first discussing new ideas orally and then working together on drawings and other details, until the stylist begins working on the whole realization of the clothes. One of her first new looks debuted at the concert at Le Divan du Monde in 2015, and in her opinion it was already a great evolution from her previous costumes.

Lastly, when asked about places or regions she would like to play with Wildpath, Marjolaine answered she would love to go to Brittany (a cultural region in the north-west of France) because she has family there, or also other French cities such as Lyon. Outside of France, she mentioned Belgium, Switzerland and Luxemburg as countries she would love to visit with her band, as well as other more distant places like Japan and South America, but that the high cost of playing in those places make the trip almost impossible, at least for now. It’s interesting that she didn’t mention the United States or Canada on her list, two major markets for heavy music, in special our French-speaking province of Quebec here in Canada. Well, let’s hope she just “forgot” to mention Canada, and that one day we have the pleasure of seeing Wildpath kicking ass live in our home and native land.

Marjolaine Bernard’s Official Facebook page
Marjolaine Bernard’s Official Twitter
Wildpath’s Official Facebook page
Wildpath’s Official Twitter
Wildpath’s Official YouTube

Album Review – Sinners Moon / Atlantis (2015)

Directly from Slovakia, this young band shows that there is still plenty of room for creative Symphonic Metal in this world.

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Atlantis_CoverWhat started as a side project in 2010 has become the centre of all attentions of the promising Slovakian guitarist and composer LukeN. Back then, when he had another band in his hometown Sereď, he decided to form Sinners Moon along with his friend Derick to work on Symphonic Metal compositions – the kind of genre which was not easy to find in their country.

In 2011, LukeN started to write new songs while trying to find the best musicians to join them in the band. It was not an easy job: three drummers and two female vocalists had come and gone whether at recording sessions or during their first live concerts. It turns out 2014 was a great year for Sinners Moon as they shaped the line-up with Simona (female vocals), LukeN (guitars), Derick (growls), Jan (drums), Jarthuusen (keyboards) and Viktor (bass), and were finally ready to record their debut album, Atlantis. They could not have chosen a more heavy metal environment to do it: Grapow Studios, owned by the iconic guitarist Roland Grapow (Masterplan, ex-Helloween) was a perfect place to turn into good music all those themes that inspired LukeN and his bandmates such as life, death, dreams, mystery and hope.

In a recent interview, LukeN said how important  Finnish music was as his musical influences and that Atlantis is a personal tribute to Nightwish. So, for those who like Finnish bands like Nightwish and Sonata Arctica, or even Epica from the Netherlands, this album has what it takes to entertain the listener. Speaking of Sonata Arctica, Tony Kakko was a special guest of one of the tracks, My Servant.

With 11 tracks, Atlantis has everything a good Symphonic Metal album must have: charming female vocals in duos with strong guttural vocals, keyboards making amazing orchestrations, virtuous guitar riffs, and bass and drums working in harmony to shape all the rhythm. A good example is the opening track, Inner Demons, which brings together all those elements perfectly to become one of the highlights of the album, with Memento Mori following the same music style. In Buried, the band changes the deep orchestrations to heavy guitars with an aggressive melody that contrasts with the smooth voice of Simona.

sm_band_promoThe next three songs can be seen as perfect tributes to their inspirations: Pray for the Child calms down the tempers and is a nice ballad that, respecting all the differences, reminds of Nightwish’s “Sleeping Sun”, but at the same time with its own personality. The next song, Falls of the Neverland, also resembles some old Epica songs, with the highlight here being the work on guitars making a beautiful melody. As mentioned before, My Servant has the contribution of Sonata Arctica’s frontman Tony Kakko, and this song is completely different from the rest of the album – in a good way. Kakko, Simona and Derick make an awesome vocal trio and the result has the same vibe as some of the Finnish band’s classics like “My Land”, from the 1999 album Ecliptica.

With more than 8 minutes, Fly to the Moon is intense and brings the orchestrations to another level with the addition of other instruments such as flutes. It also has a beautiful solo full of feeling that prepares the listener to what comes next in the song: pure heaviness led by Derick. Dark Episode is another example of a powerful Symphonic Metal song, with choirs, an amazing work on keyboards and Simona showing a lot of drama and mixed deep feelings through her voice. The next song, Sinners Moon, sounds very Folk Metal-ish and also has a stunning work full of rhythm on drums and bass, especially in the beginning when Simona starts to sing. The title-track Atlantis is a complex song with 11 minutes and it could easily be in a Nightwish album – at least it is easy to notice the influence of Tuomas Holopainen’s style in this track full of ups and downs, heavy and smooth moments, layers and more layers of keyboards, choirs and so on. The journey through Atlantis ends with a beautiful piano, violin and voice song, Upon a Star, a simple and perfect way to close such a deep and complex album.

If Symphonic Metal is your kind of music, Atlantis is definitely a must-hear album, and if you like what you see, keep your eyes on Sinners Moon by checking their official websiteFacebook page and YouTube channel, showing your support to them, and of course by purchasing their music at the Inverse Records webstore or at many other available locations. LukeN and Co. are working now to promote Atlantis through Europe and, with this first album produced with such dedication and good quality, we are curious to see what the future will bring to this promising band.

Best moments of the album: Inner Demons, Buried and My Servant.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Inner Demons 5:21
2. Memento Mori 4:01
3. Buried 4:38
4. Pray for the Child 4:26
5. Falls of the Neverland 5:22
6. My Servant (feat. Tony Kakko) 3:55
7. Fly to the Moon 8:15
8. Dark Episode 6:19
9. Sinners Moon 5:08
10. Atlantis 11:04
11. Upon a Star 2:49

Band members
Simona – vocals
Derick – growls
LukeN – guitars
Viktor – bass
Jarthuusen – keyboards
Jan – drums

Guest musician
Tony Kakko – vocals on “My Servant”

Metal Chick of the Month – Alissa White-Gluz

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This is War Eternal, Alissa!

In order to properly celebrate the first awesome year of The Headbanging Moose, no one would have been a better choice for our Metal Chick of the Month than this Canadian girl. She’s at the same time the Beauty AND the Beast, an inspiration to many women all around the world, and her convictions and talent are truly taking her to stardom. From the beautiful city of Montreal, Quebec, here comes Alissa White-Gluz, founder and former lead singer of Canadian Metalcore band The Agonist, and currently the frontwoman of Swedish Melodic Death Metal icons Arch Enemy.

This vegan straight-edge kick-ass Québécois was born on July 31, 1985, and although she claims she has never taken any singing lessons her voice has become really powerful and versatile throughout the years, elevating her status as one of the most influential Heavy Metal female singers of the past decade, even leading to some comparisons with the one and only Angela Gossow. Well, those comparisons don’t seem to have been in vain, because on March 17, 2014, she was chosen to be the replacement for Angela herself and became the voice of Arch Enemy. In Alissa’s own words, “I am very honored and happy to announce a new chapter in my life and musical career beginning now; I have joined forces with one of my all-time favorite and globally respected bands, ARCH ENEMY. ‘Wages of Sin’ was the first metal album I ever bought, and it was love at first listen. It is not often that you get a phone call from your favorite band asking you to join! I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with such amazingly talented musicians whom I also consider great friends. I look forward to being able to write and perform at a whole new level now with ARCH ENEMY! Music is forever, metal is limitless and this is only the beginning!”

Arch Enemy have recently released their first album with Alissa on vocals, entitled War Eternal, but there was a lot more of our Heavy Metal diva prior to that. She founded The Agonist back in 2004 with guitarist Danny Marino and bassist Chris Kells (when the band was still known as The Tempest), and recorded three excellent full-length albums and one EP with them: Once Only Imagined (2007), Lullabies for the Dormant Mind (2009), The Escape EP (2011), and Prisoners (2012), with Lullabies for the Dormant Mind being in my opinion their best album in terms of musicality, lyrics and creativity. In regards to Alissa’s performance in all The Agonist albums, she was always so electrifying and full of energy that it’s impossible to not get completely mesmerized by her voice and moves, as you can easily see in their official videos for Thank You, Pain, …And Their Eulogies Sang Me to Sleep, and Panophobia. By the way, I consider the video for Thank You, Pain, with its outstanding production, good storyline and, of course, Alissa kickin’ ass, one of the most professional and beautiful videos I’ve seen in a long time.

Besides her work with The Agonist, Alissa has also been featured as a guest musician in the following albums: Canadian Folk/Melodic Death Metal band Blackguard’s Profugus Mortis,  Canadian Melodic Black/Death Metal band Erimha’s Irkalla, Canadian Industrial Death Metal band Synastry’s Blind Eyes Bleed, American Melodic Power Metal band Kamelot’s Silverthorn and also in the single Sacrimony (which the amazing official video can be seen here), and more recently in Dutch Symphonic Metal band Delain’s The Human Contradiction. She was also a live guest singer during Kamelot’s recent 2011/2012 tours, as well as, along with Swedish singer Elize Ryd (Amaranth), replaced Anette Olzon while she was sick for a one-time Nightwish concert in Denver on September 28, 2012. An interview with both artists talking about that experience can be seen here and on Nightwish’s Showtime, Storytime (DVD), on the documentary footage section.

Also, in 2006 Alissa appeared on Canadian Idol singing a cover of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, and in January 2012 she was featured as a coach on an episode of MTV’s Made. I don’t know if these can be considered part of her music career, as those TV shows are useless and do not bring any real benefits to real musicians, but anyway she was there and it was an alternative way for her to be exposed to different audiences that are not really into Heavy Metal.

While Alissa was with The Agonist, she toured the world with many different famous bands such as Epica, Kamelot, Sonata Arctica and Danzig, which is very demanding and time consuming, and now with Arch Enemy the frequency and intensity of world tours have just increased, making her eating habits and exercising more than essential for a professional and powerful onstage performance. That’s one of the reasons why she maintains a strong exercise routine, working out between 5 and 6 times a week, especially to strengthen her muscles. Alissa mentioned she loves working out, which is in her opinion the best remedy for anxiety, depression, self-esteem issues etc., and it’s one of the things that make her feel a happier and healthier person. I agree with her 100%, as I also love working out and feel the same results as she does, and also because The Agonist and Arch Enemy are always in my workout playlist.

Another important part of her life is her veganism, which according to Alissa herself is her most powerful source of energy and health. Although she was a vegetarian all her life, she decided to become a vegan when she was a teenager and carry that flag forever more, always mentioning that her family has been a huge inspiration for her. “My parents, along with my brother and sister, are vegetarians. I wasn’t raised in any way where I was forced to be a vegetarian too. I always had the choice. My mom would say, ‘I don’t eat the stuff, so I won’t cook it, but if you want to eat it, you can. Let me tell you why I don’t eat it.’ So she was open about it.”, she said. “From a young age, I learned what a non-vegetarian diet entails. I made the decision early on that I was going to stick to the lifestyle. It’s easier to stick with something like that than change it, if you’ve always done it. I’m grateful that my parents were open-minded with me.”

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In regards to her personal life, Alissa has mentioned during some interviews that among her favorite bands and musicians are Devin Townsend, Gwen Stefani, Muse, and, of course, Arch Enemy. Hence, it’s always interesting to see non-Metal bands or artists among the playlists of Heavy Metal icons (see other examples here and here), which makes us feel less “guilty” when singing any songs that are currently part of the top 40 list. Among her favorite places she has already traveled to, we have Japan, Peru and Austria, and in terms of movies she said her favorite one is still The Little Mermaid, which is by the way the reason why she started singing. I just don’t remember Ariel or Sebastian doing any guttural during the movie, but that’s just a minor detail, right? Moreover, our Heavy Metal goddess has been selected multiple times as one of “the hottest chicks in metal” by Revolver Magazine. Why am I not surprised at all with that?

Last but not least, Alissa is not only an animal lover (I believe she has two rescued kitties at home), but beyond that she’s an important animal rights activist just as her idol Angela Gossow, having already received an award from peta2 for her work in an international campaign advocating against the hunting of Canadian seals. Honestly, that’s for me her biggest achievement in life, even more important than her contribution to heavy music, and something she’s probably very proud of.

She mentioned in some interviews that she’s been active with a lot of different organizations helping kids, third world countries and animals, but that her true passion is in animal rights. She also said she started doing fundraising for peta2 and WWF when she was still in high school, and that the partnership between peta2 and her started when they used some stock footage in The Agonist’s first music video, Business Suits and Combat Boots. Since then the organization and Alissa have been working together to promote veganism and fight against animal cruelty as much as possible through different campaigns, protests, lectures, and many other activities. So don’t waste your time, go support peta2, get involved, do something good for this fuckin’ world, and you might end up meeting Alissa somewhere, an amazing person and one of the best frontwoman of the recent history of Heavy Metal. How about that?

Alissa White-Gluz’s Official Facebook page
Alissa White-Gluz’s Official Twitter

““The biggest thing for me is animal rights. That’s the number one factor that sort of means everything in my life, more than music or anything else. I think it’s a huge problem, and I think it’s refreshing to meet people, now and then, that actually do care about their impact on the planet, and not just care about themselves.” – Alissa White-Gluz

Metal Chick of the Month – Dani Nolden

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You know what I am… An angel with horns!

Brazil has a lot more to offer than just samba, caipirinha and half-naked mulatas dancing during Carnival. Especially in regards to women there, that stereotype really makes me sick: I guess not even 1% of the Brazilian girls are like that, and a very good example is the stunning Daniela Nolden, or simply Dani Nolden, lead singer of Brazilian Heavy Metal band Shadowside.

Dani Nolden was born on December 26, 1982 in the coastal city of Santos, Brazil, located about 70 km from the city of São Paulo and 500 km from the city of Rio de Janeiro. She started her life in music at the age of 8, taking piano lessons, but after she was introduced to bands such as Guns N’ Roses, Judas Priest and Skid Row, she took a completely different path of what their parents were expecting from her. She then became a Metal/Rock singer and songwriter, being with many independent bands until founding Shadowside back in 2001. The band then reached some success and status in the world of heavy music in its first year of existence, being one of the opening bands for the South American/Brazilian tours of Nightwish and Primal Fear.

In the following years, Dani Nolden and her band Shadowside literally “went places”: in 2006, Shadowside supported German Heavy Metal icons Helloween during their tour in Brazil; in 2007, the band won the AirPlay Direct‘s  “All Things Digital Hard Rock/Heavy Metal” among over 1,000 bands worldwide; and due to that exposure they signed a major worldwide deal and began touring the United States, Europe and South America, performing with bands such as Iron Maiden, W.A.S.P., Kittie, Sepultura and Temple of Brutality (feat. David Ellefson of Megadeth). One of Dani’s career highlights happened during Shadowside’s first US tour in 2008, at the Flight of the Valkyries festival in St. Paul, Minnesota, when she shared the stage with American heavy metal band Benedictum for a few Dio cover songs as part of an exclusive performance.

To date, Dani has recorded one EP and three full-length albums with Shadowside, being responsible for the vocals and keyboards in all recordings: Shadowside – Demo EP (2001), Theatre of Shadows (2005), Dare to Dream (2009), and Inner Monster Out (2011). By the way, the album Theatre of Shadows brings an awesome cover version for Dio’s unique classic Rainbow in the Dark, where Dani beautifully shows all her vocal range and potency. Besides Shadowside, Dani has also played with the symphonic band Sphaera Rock Orchestra, a project created by musician Alexey Kurkdjian that mixes Classical and Rock music, and appeared as a guest vocalist with the Brazilian Power Metal band Soulspell during their 2011 tour. She also works as a music consultant for the company The Ultimate Music when she’s not recording or on tour with her band.

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Her biggest influences in music include Heavy Metal legends Iron Maiden, Helloween, Nightwish and Sepultura, Hard Rock giants W.A.S.P., Skid Row and Guns N’ Roses, and more modern or contemporary bands like Disturbed, Soilwork and Rammstein. Moreover, she mentioned in an interview that if she had to choose only one band or artist for the “tour of her dreams”, that band would certainly be Iron Maiden. Up the Irons, Dani!

Last but not least, when this gorgeous metalhead is not doing anything related to her career with Shadowside, she enjoys playing videogames, reading books, watching movies, surfing, and practicing Kung Fu. She also loves soccer, which might be her biggest Brazilian characteristic, even being a teenage soccer player before having to abandon that potential career due to her increasing amount of work and tours with Shadowside. I know the world of heavy music is a lot better with Dani Nolden as a Heavy Metal singer rather than as a soccer player, but I guess no one would mind watching a simply stunning epic duel between our “Metal Chick of the Month” for Brazil and Hope Solo for the United States, don’t you agree? At least visually speaking, that would be a lot more pleasant to watch than any of the matches between Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Dani Nolden’s Official Facebook page
Dani Nolden’s Official Twitter

“Dare to dream, it just might come true!” – Dani Nolden

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