Beverage Review – Iron Maiden’s Sun and Steel

Sun, steel, Iron Maiden and a nice and cold saké-infused beer. What else do you need in life?

“Sunlight, falling on your steel,
Death in life is your ideal,
Life is like a wheel, rolling on and on.”

Let’s celebrate the news of another round of the superb Legacy of the Beast Tour by the one and only Iron Maiden, which will conquer pretty much the entire world except for the Americas in 2020, with a review of Sun and Steel, the sixth beer from the unstoppable Bruce Dickinson together with Robinsons Brewery. And let me tell you that after having tried the original Trooper Beer, the amazing Hallowed, and now Sun and Steel, I must admit this saké lager by Mr. Bruce Dickinson is in my opinion the one with the best taste, aftertaste, freshness and punch. I still have to try the other Iron Maiden beers I haven’t found yet such as Trooper Red ‘N’ Black, of course, but I doubt those will be as good as Sun and Steel. And do you want to know why?

Sun and Steel is the first lager in the Trooper range and is one of the most complex beers that Robinsons Brewery has ever produced, a double fermented lager created with authentic Japanese saké yeast. The idea for the beer, designed once again by the one and only Mr. Bruce Dickinson along with Robinsons’ Head Brewer Martyn Weeks, was first conceived during the autumn of 2016 following a meeting between Bruce and a friend of the band and long-time Iron Maiden fan George Yusa, owner of the 300-year old family run Okunomatsu Saké Brewery in Fukushima, Japan. Bruce became intrigued with the idea of putting the two flavor profiles together, and thus Sun and Steel was born. George was able to deliver a sample of the saké yeast to Iron Maiden’s 2017 concert at London’s O2 Arena, which Bruce took up to Robinsons Brewery. Having obtained permission from the Japanese government to brew with it, Martyn and the team had carefully cultivated the strain ever since. “This has been such an exciting project. I had a crazy idea to try and make a saké infused lager and over two and a half years later, here we are! I know Martyn and the team at Robinsons have had to become mad scientists to make this work but the end result is a really unique hybrid beer that tastes fantastic. Trooper fans have been asking for a lager, and here it is. I bet you would never have guessed we would do it like this though,” commented Bruce about his newborn “baby”.

Needless to say, if you’re a diehard Maidenmaniac you already know Sun and Steel takes its designation from the Iron Maiden song of the same name that appears on their 1983 masterpiece Piece Of Mind, which was in turn inspired by the life of Japanese Samurai Miyamoto Musashi, hence the idea of uniting a lager yeast, for the initial fermentation, with a saké yeast, as saké is Japan’s national beverage,  for a second fermentation. The result is a crisp and refreshing 4.8% double-fermented, saké-infused pilsner style lager with a flash of honey and fruit that will please from the most demanding beer connoisseur to the average social beer drinker, showing how much effort Bruce and Martyn put into brewing such delicious beer. Of pale yellow color, gooseberry and honey lychee smell, and smooth and delicate taste, Sun and Steel is not too sweet nor too bitter, being the perfect beer for the winter while we all wait for the Legacy of the Beast Tour to kick off in 2020, or for the hot and sunny days of summer when Bruce, Steve & Co. will take several cities and countries all over the world by storm with their unparalleled live performances. For instance, you can find Sun and Steel on sale at selected LCBO stores if you live in Canada for 2.85 Canadian Dollars each 500ml can, at several other importers from all over the world, or simply go to the Robinsons Brewery official website to grab 12 bottles of 330ml each for £20. Having said that, what are you waiting for to purchase a few cans or bottles of Sun and Steel and enjoy them while listening to the song Sun and Steel itself and all other Iron Maiden classics we all love so much? UP THE IRONS AND… KANPAI!

Beer details
Country: England
Brewer: Robinsons Brewery
Style: Saké Lager
Alcohol Content (ABV): 4.8%
Color: Pale yellow
Smell: Gooseberry, honey lychee
Taste: Smooth, complex and delicate
Sweetness: 3 out of 5
Bitterness: 2 out of 5
Contains: Malted barley and wheat

Metal Chick of the Month – Wanda Ortiz

I’ve been looking so long for you now… You won’t get away from my grasp…

As 2019 promises to be another memorable year for Maidenmaniacs from all over the world, especially for the ones that reside in the United States, Canada, Mexico and South America who will have the utmost pleasure of seeing Steve, Bruce & Co. live during their upcoming Legacy of the Beast Tour 2019, there’s nothing better than kicking off our Metal Chick of the Month section with an amazing bass player that truly understands what it means to be part of the legacy (and also continuing our tradition of starting the year with a badass girl on bass guitar, of course). I’m talking about Wanda Ortiz (or Wanda A. Ortiz), the skillful bass player for the all-female tribute band The Iron Maidens (billed as the “World’s Only Female Tribute to Iron Maiden”) under the brilliant stage name of Steph Harris, who’s ready to crush your skull in half to the sound of her thunderous, galloping bass allied to her endless stamina when performing live.

Born on March 27, 1968 in Huntington Beach, a California city southeast of Los Angeles, Wanda first learned to play bass at the early age of nine years old, when the elementary school she attended had a music program that enabled students to sign up and choose an instrument. When she arrived late on the first day of music class, she wound up with a junior-sized double bass, and from that moment on we can say it was “love at first gallop”. In addition to that, while she took lessons on the double bass, also known as an upright bass, Wanda also taught herself how to play electric bass when she was 11 years old in order to play in the school jazz band, and she continued playing bass throughout her school years, eventually earning a Bachelor of Music in Performance (BMus) degree from UCI – University of California, Irvine. One funny thing about Wanda and her relationship with the bass guitar is that, according to Wanda herself, she felt a little sad about her instrument when in high school because she could rarely play the melody, which were the fun parts for her, as she got stuck with simpler lines meant to hold down the beat (in other words, a typical bass line), which despite being very important could get really boring at times. Luckily, she had a friend who told her about bands like Iron Maiden and Rush that really featured bass in their music and, after listening to them, she felt a lot better.

Moving on to her career as a musician, our dauntless bassist, who plays a variety of styles such as Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Blues and classical music armed with her glitter blue G&L SB-2 bass guitar and her black SB-2 bass guitar on select shows, started playing in a more professional way in 1997, when she joined a California-based Punk Rock/Rock N’ Roll band named Rotten Rod & The Warheads. She was their bassist from 1997 to 2002, having recorded with the band a demo in 1998 titled Practice Bomb (under the eccentric moniker of “Wanda Smart Bomb”), containing songs like Germs and Cruel World. I don’t know about you, but I would love to listen to the music by this fun and electrifying band on any rock n’ roll radio out there. Anyway, while still playing for Rotten Rod & The Warheads, she was also the bassist for Heartache City from 1999 to 2001, with whom she recorded the band’s self-titled album in 2001. I couldn’t find anything online form this band, but if Wanda was their bass player I’m sure their music was at least fun to listen to, right? Furthermore, Wanda was also the bassist for a Huntington Beach-based Rock/Blues band named Field of Vision in 2004, having recorded with them the six-track album FOV that same year, highly influenced by renowned acts such as David Bowie, The Rolling Stones and Velvet Underground. Once again, there’s nothing online about this specific album, but as aforementioned we know from the bottom of our hearts it’s good music we’re talking about. As a matter of fact, in 1998 and 2004, she won the Best Female Bassist award at the Rock City News Awards and, in 2003, she also won the best bassist award at The All Access Music Magazine Awards, proving how talented and focused she has always been as a musician.

In addition to those previous acts and to The Iron Maidens, our ass-kicking bassist also works as a freelance musician in various groups and orchestras in the Southern California area, including The South Coast Symphony as principal bassist since 1996. When asked about how different it is playing for The South Coast Symphony and for The Iron Maidens, if that’s the type of diversity she needs in her playing style, Wanda said that she likes to play classical music just as much as metal, and after playing an upright bass she thinks it keeps her chops up, also saying that it’s like someone who enjoys playing basketball and baseball, two different sports but both fun, which is the same with classical music and metal for her. Moreover, her talent is also recognized by several important brands and companies, being endorsed by BBE Sound, Digitech, Dunlop Manufacturing, G&L Musical Instruments, RotoSound Strings, Schroeder Superior Sound Cabinets, Coffin Case and Monster Energy Drink, and she’s also been in a couple of interesting documentaries recently, those being Hair I Go Again (2016) and the upcoming Rock Is Dead? (2019).

It was in September 2002 when Wanda finally joined The Iron Maidens, remaining with the band ever since and adopting her stage name “Steph Harris” as an obvious reference to Iron Maiden’s iconic bassist and founder Mr. Steve Harris. So far, she has recorded with the band the albums World’s Only Female Tribute to Iron Maiden (2005), Route 666 (2007), The Root of All Evil (2008) and the video Metal Gathering Tour Live in Japan (2010), trying to be as loyal as possible to Iron Maiden’s original sound. In one of her interviews, Wanda said that when she joined the band everyone was just looking for a fun and original side project (there were already several all-female tribute acts for bands like AC/DC in the area), as they all had their own bands and projects, with a goal of playing maybe once or twice a month at some local pubs. However, after the first few shows a lot of people started calling them, with things really kicking off after the band had been together for about a year despite the fact they never took themselves too seriously at that time. As a matter of fact, if there’s one thing they always took very seriously was the music, always trying to replicate the original tones from Iron Maiden the best possible way even with the different instruments they use like Wanda’s bass, which is technically a Fender bass but not the same one used by Steve. If you want to take a good listen at how amazing Wanda and the girls from The Iron Maidens are, simply search for them on YouTube, as there are countless fantastic videos of their live performances such as The Trooper and Die With Your Boots On in California in 2014, or these two full concerts recorded in New York in 2018 and in California in 2013. Also, how about a nice and relaxed interview with the entire band conducted by Grasser Production in 2017 called “15 questions with The Iron Maidens”?

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Regarding the songs she likes to play the most from the Iron Maiden vast and rich discography, she said her all-time favorite are Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra), Phantom of the Opera, Powerslave and Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and when questioned if it’s hard for The Iron Maidens to come up with a setlist to please all fans she said it’s not difficult at all because it’s drummer Linda McDonald who keeps track of all places the band plays and what songs they played before, also taking into account her own endurance and the timing for their lead singer to do a costume change, for example, and always focusing on old songs not usually played by Iron Maiden during their current concerts and tours. She was also questioned if she ever struggles with identity, wanting to do her own original material and showcasing it, and she said she doesn’t really have any issues with that, stating that she actually enjoys playing music written by a wide variety of different composers, either metal or orchestral music, and that it doesn’t stop her from writing her own music which she has done before in original bands. Also, when asked if the band has ever had to deal with any issues related to artwork, royalties, cease-and-desists from lawyers or anything like that, she said the band does everything they can to avoid that, but that they were asked to change their logo many years ago (and they did). She complemented by saying that wasn’t a big deal, and she doesn’t think the guys from Iron Maiden were even aware of it; they simply have a good team of people who help look after everything.

Of course, it’s impossible not to talk about her “relationship” with Mr. Steve Harris and his two-fingered galloping bass method. In one of her interviews, Wanda talked about how much Steve Harris and his bass have influenced her taste for music and her playing style, talking about the aforementioned story of her playing only the basic notes while her friends would play the melodies with their violins and violas in high school, but that after listening to the all-time classic Piece of Mind she fell in love with her bass guitar again and never stopped listening to the music by Iron Maiden ever since. Apart from Steve Harris, she also cites Geddy Lee, lead vocalist, bassist, and keyboardist for Canadian Rock titans Rush, and Chris Squire, bassist and founding member of English Progressive Rock band Yes, among her influences, once again showing how much she loves the most intricate, unique and vibrant sounds anyone can extract from a bass guitar. There’s also a price to pay for having Steve Harris as her major influence, and especially for playing Iron Maiden’s music, which comes in the form of fans who believe they can offer her advice on how to perform that material beyond her considerable talent. “Every once in a while, there will be a bass player in the audience. There’s a couple songs that I’ve gotten used to playing it a certain way or maybe a different position, but they’re the same notes, but it’s not the same position (Harris) plays it in. Sometimes I’ll get that, or sometimes I’ll get like, ‘Well, Steve uses two fingers’. Well, okay. Sometimes I’ll hear that. Very rarely though,” said our talented bassist.

Wanda’s first ever Iron Maiden concert happened many years ago during the World Slavery Tour, when according to Wanda herself she didn’t drink anything to avoid having to leave to use the bathroom, as she didn’t want to miss any part of the show (well, it’s the same for me). Years later, Wanda was even able to get to know Iron Maiden in person when Michael Kenney, Steve’s long-time bass tech and the band’s onstage keyboard player, introduced the whole band to them at a concert in Irvine, California. Wanda and the other girls were obviously nervous at first for meeting their idols, but the guys were really friendly to them and down to earth, making the whole experience very pleasant. The only thing that didn’t go as planned was that they weren’t able to give them cookies that they baked specially for them, as their singer left them in her car. I’m pretty sure those cookies were delicious, but you know what was even better than that? The fact that The Iron Maidens were not only able to meet their icons in person for the first time ever, but also that the band led by Mr. Steve Harris supports them, acknowledging their undisputed talent, their passion for metal and their hard work, and that they can rest assured “Steph Harris” and the girls will always represent this more “feminine” and “delicate” side of Eddie with a lot of energy, respect and admiration. Having said that, don’t forget to check Wanda and the girls live whenever they take your city by storm, and of course, as usual… UP THE IRONS!

The Iron Maiden’s Official Facebook page
The Iron Maiden’s Official Instagram
The Iron Maiden’s Official Twitter

“As a bass player, of course, you’re going to be drawn to music more challenging, interesting and fun. I’ve always been an Iron Maiden fan since I was very young. When the band first formed everybody wanted to do something different, something more challenging. Since we all wanted something unique that nobody else was really doing, we thought Iron Maiden would be a good fit. We are all coincidentally huge Iron Maiden fans, so that made it better.” – Wanda Ortiz

Interview – Hateful Warfare

Take a shot at this fun interview with Hateful Warfare to have a very good depiction of the everyday life, experiences and dreams of a true underground Death Metal band from Brazil.

Hateful WarfareThe Headbanging Moose: As you’re a brand new Death Metal act, I guess we need to start by presenting you to our readers. In other words, who are Hateful Warfare? Can you please share with us some details on how the band got together, why and how you chose the name “Hateful Warfare”, where each band member comes from, and what your main goals are for the future?

Hateful Warfare: The band is comprised of Andrei (bass/vocals), Norba (guitar) and Denis (drums), a traditional Death Metal power trio. The band is a reformation of another project we had in the past, which didn’t end up working well and so the three of us decided to remain together and focus our common ideas on our songwriting and composing. The name of the band came in a moment of anger (laughs), as we were searching for a name that was impactful and that at the same time matched with our personalities on stage. Our goals for the future are recording our first full-length album, shooting a video clip, and then going on a tour of the album across Brazil.

THM: The band might be new, but there has already been a significant change to your music when one of the guitarists left and Hateful Warfare became a power trio. How has that influenced your music and the dynamism among the three band members left? What are the positive outcomes of this important change?

HW: His time with the band was short mainly due to his geographic location/distance to the rest of the band, which was a huge hassle for our rehearsals. It was decided that we would go on as a power trio, and our dynamism only tends to grow because when you’re a power trio you have more freedom in terms of composition, improvisation, harmony, acquaintanceship, among other positive points. In addition to that, Andrei and Norba are father and son, which already helps a lot. We are all comfortable in what we’ve been doing so far and this is very significant for a band to move on.

THM: I had the pleasure of reviewing your short but extremely heavy debut EP, entitled Scenarios Of Execution. If I had to describe the album in just a few words, I would say it’s old school Death Metal exactly the way it’s supposed to be. How was the songwriting and composition period of the album? How long did it take to finalize everything, and what were the highlights of the entire process to you?

HW: Thank you for your kind words, this is very gratifying for us.  The creative process was very demanding, rehearsing two or three times a week, always composing riffs and with focus on creating something new everyday. We all thought about something during the week, wrote something, created the riffs, recorded at home and then presented that during the rehearsal in order to always capitalize on something. The recording was done at the Audio Goblin studio with the local producer and musician Fábio Gorresen (Flesh Grinder/Zombie Cookbook). It took one month to finalize the recording, mixing and mastering, and after that we released a few physical copies of the EP. We believe that the impact of the EP has been very positive, making us even more excited to record our full-length album as soon as possible.

THM: I would like to know more details about my favorite songs of the EP, starting with the excellent Welcome to my Nightmare. As mentioned in our review for the EP, the vocals sound inspired by the early days of the iconic Max Cavalera. Is he one of your main influences in music? How do you prepare your voice for the thunderous Death Metal by Hateful Warfare? In addition, although the riffs are extremely dirty, the overall result of the song is very melodic. How did you manage to reach that amazing level of balance between brutality and harmony?

Hateful Warfare02HW: There is no secret, it’s just a matter of keeping the throat always moist and sing with hatred (laughs). Regarding you mentioning the song being dirty and melodic, I believe that actually comes from our influences, as this song was inspired by classic Death Metal the likes of Scream Bloody Gore (Death)  to the Thrash Metal from the album Extreme Aggression (Kreator). There’s always aggressiveness followed by something harmonious that matches perfectly with the style.

THM:  My other favorite tune, Bloody Night, brings lots of awesome elements from different subgenres of extreme music, such as Black and Doom Metal. Was that something you planned on doing, or did it come up naturally during the writing process? How does the audience react to songs that are not purely Death Metal like this one?

HW: It was something natural, we don’t write our music trying to remain 100% loyal to Death Metal. We have an infinitude of influences inside each of our heads and that was what best suited the music, lyrics thrown to the imaginary with an aggressive theme and several variations in the instrumental, stressing the heaviness and the speed at different times.

THM:  Brazil might not be considered the most metal country in the world, but there’s still a good share of incredible bands spread across the country, not to mention how crazy most Brazilian headbangers are. In your opinion, how is the current Heavy Metal scene in Brazil? Do you feel that there are enough bands, venues and concerts down there to keep the fire of metal burning bright for many years to come? What are the main issues for a heavy band in Brazil?

HW: There are excellent new bands rising month after month, incredible places spread throughout Brazil, high-skilled musicians and the utmost quality. The only disturbing things are the high costs to maintain a band, equipment with extremely high taxes, and if you do not have a studio yourself you have to pay a lot of money to rehearse every single week. What drives metal in Brazil is the underground, we have to be headbangers faithful to the art, because making a living from metal in Brazil is still a dream for all of us, some can do it but that’s just a minority.

THM: What are top 5 albums that influenced the band members the most, and how much do those albums still inspire you to craft your music? What about non-metal bands and artists, are there any you enjoy that also impact the way you write your music?

HW: The top 5 albums that are the most present in the playlists of each one of us are Piece of Mind (Iron Maiden), Leprosy (Death), Severed Survival (Autopsy), Hell Awaits (Slayer) and Arise (Sepultura). Our writing process involves the whole context of what’s going on through our heads. At the moment I don’t have any specific albums to mention, but I would like to stress out that the lyrics for the song Addiction to Kill were written based on the story of the TV series Dexter.

THM: What would be the “dream tour” for Hateful Warfare? I mean, which bands would you feel honored to play with, and what are the cities, venues or festivals you would love to visit together with those bands?

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Album Review – Hateful Warfare / Scenarios Of Execution EP (2015)

HW: There is an infinity of bands who we dream of playing together, such as Destruction, Gruesome, Cancer, Kreator, Obscura, Obituary, Sodom, Vader and so on (laughs). With every passing year high-quality festivals are born in several countries, but like any headbanger it would be a dream come true to step on the stage at Wacken Open Air, Hellfest, Monsters of Rock, Obscene Extreme, among others.

THM: In regards to your current tour dates, how are the concerts to promote Scenarios Of Execution going? Do you have any funny stories to share with us, or talk about something that went horribly wrong with the band? And do you have any plans for an international tour here in North America, in Europe or anywhere else?

HW: The shows have been taking place only in the state of Santa Catarina, Brazil, and they have been very positive so far for us. We have several good stories happening every night, the funniest being our first show. We were tuning the instruments to hit the stage and the intro was already going to start playing, when we lost sight of our drummer. We sought him all over the venue and no sign of him. We spent about 10 minutes looking for him and when we finally found him he was outside talking to some friends, while we were getting absolutely mad after him for a while (laughs).

THM: Muito obrigado pela entrevista! Please feel free to send a final message to all readers of The Headbanging Moose and to all fans of old school Death Metal all over the word.

HW: First of all, thanks for the compliments on our work, and also to the space provided for the interview. To all fans of old school Death Metal, always seek for novelties in the genre, there is a lot of good stuff emerging but that’s not getting recognized as it should. This genre has a lot to be unraveled yet, and that this Death Metal vein never runs out of blood!

Links
Hateful Warfare Facebook | YouTube
Sangue Frio Produções Facebook | Website

Collectibles Review – Iron Maiden Eddie Headknockers

A mandatory item in the collection of any Maidenmaniac in the world.

Rating1

eddie head knockers action figure necaWhen someone becomes “obsessed” by a band or artist, he or she is capable of spending unreasonable amounts of money in any stupid garbage that has the band’s name on it. Particularly these days where the illegal downloads are responsible for huge money losses for the record companies, selling concert tickets, exclusive clothing, memorabilia and other things you cannot download became the cash cows for all types of bands, including even giants such as Iron Maiden, Metallica and KISS.

headknocker_somewhereAlthough Metallica has a more commercial approach in their music and KISS has all that magic behind their face painting and stage performance, it is Iron Maiden that has the biggest advantage in selling stuff to their fans due to their unbeatable mascot Eddie. It’s almost impossible to find a Maiden fan that doesn’t have at least one simple T-shirt with Eddie’s face on it, and some fans like me enjoy collecting the weirdest and most exclusive items available (if those items do not “damage” my bank account too much, of course), making this market even more profitable for the band.

Among all the Iron Maiden and/or Eddie stuff I’ve seen in my life, the headknockers (or bobbleheads) produced by the company NECA (National Entertainment Collectibles Association) are the most interesting and detailed, and the price around 30 Canadian Dollars make them a very accessible item for all Maidenmaniacs to add to their collections. They’re very high-quality toys, made of a material that’s way better than any other plastic bobbleheads like the ones from Funko, and they’re bigger too, reaching around 8” tall.

headknocker_trooperNECA launched five Eddie headknockers a few years ago, all extremely well-crafted. I have two of those, The Trooper (which I used in my Trooper Beer review pics, as you can see here) and The Number of the Beast, and I’m still trying to find the other three. Well, when I was in Stockholm (Sweden) this year I saw the Live After Death one at a music store downtown, but it was over 60 Euros, which is too much and my bag was already full of stuff. Regarding the other two, I’ve never seen the Piece of Mind and Somewhere in Time bobbleheads for sale anywhere yet, only some pictures on the Internet. By the way, the Somewhere in Time one seems to be the most awesome of all, followed by The Trooper. I wonder if one day they’ll create new bobbleheads for some other classic Eddies, as for example Powerslave, Phantom of the Opera and Be Quick Or Be Dead (this one would be absolutely insane with Eddie grabbing that same politician by the neck).

headknocker_deathI bought mine at the Sunrise Records located at Yonge and Dundas in Toronto, but I’m not sure if they still have any left. Anyway, you can try their online shop, and there’s always something available on Amazon.ca. And if you find any of the three I’m still searching for, please let me know, because instead of “Iron Maiden’s gonna get ya, no matter how far”,  the motto in my case is “I’m gonna get the Eddie headknockers, no matter how far!”