Album Review – Graveyard Strippers / Crawling (2017)

This creepy Canadian quartet brings to you the perfect soundtrack to your next party, an experimental and never-ordinary crossbred of Industrial, Gothic and Punk Metal with elements from rock, pop and electronic music.

A phoenix reborn from its ashes. That’s how Canadian Industrial Metal critters Graveyard Strippers call themselves, being born in Montreal, Quebec in 2013 with guitarist Riff (Projekt F), vocalist Holy Decay (Gotherfall, Magnum Stallion) and bassist Carl Puzzle (Sade Slavey). Since their creation, Graveyard Strippers recorded three excellent EP’s, those being Burn My Soul in 2013, Free The Monsters in 2015, which was by the way when the band recruited Dany Burton (Projekt F) as their new permanent drummer, and Burn The Monsters in 2016, culminating with the release of their first ever full-length spawn, the idiosyncratic and rousing Crawling, now in 2017.

The music by Graveyard Strippers might be considered an experimental and never-ordinary crossbred of Industrial, Gothic and Punk Metal, spiced up by hints of Rock N’ Roll, Hard Rock and even electronic and pop music. And let me tell you that those four rockers do it almost to perfection, sounding at the same time sexy and gruesome, gentle and aggressive, straightforward and progressive. You’ll notice that each one of the twelve songs featured in Crawling, which by the way portrays a fantastic artwork by renowned Canadian illustrator Felix LaFlamme, are independent from each other, presenting a unique sonority, but that they need each other for the whole album to make sense to your ears. Well, as you can see it’s not an easy task to summarize the work by Graveyard Strippers in just a few lines, and that’s why I recommend you hit play and enjoy their industrialized and sensual sounds in your own way.

The eerie and dark intro Filth invites us to the demented world ruled by Graveyard Strippers, before an industrial and metallic feast begins in full force with Broken, a song highly recommended for fans of Rammstein and Ministry where Holy Decay bursts his lungs by screaming in an insane and rabid way. After that frantic hurricane of industrialized sounds the bands offers us a more melodic tune titled Pretty, blending Gothic and Industrial Rock with elements from Neue Deutsche Härte. Moreover, Riff lives up to his monicker by delivering truly catchy riffs, while Dany keeps the song’s pace and speed at a very pleasant level with his precise beats. And then we have the title-track Crawling, which begins in a dark 80’s Gothic Rock and Metal-inspired way, gradually evolving into an imposing musicality led by the deep and lunatic vocals by Holy Decay, remaining vibrant until its climatic ending.

Featuring the seductive Natasha Nebula as guest vocalist, Freak Show sounds a lot more mechanized and sexier than its predecessors, presenting the darkest and most depraved form of Industrial Metal you can think of. In addition to that, Riff and Dany do a great job with their samples and electronic sounds, turning it into the perfect soundtrack for a real-life freak show. And if you think that after such amazing song you’ll be free from Natasha’s devilish voice, you’re absolutely wrong, as she’s back with the band in Deadsex, an ominous blast of Neue Deutsche Härte with Gothic Rock where the deranged screams by Holy Decay create a gripping paradox with the smoother but still diabolical moans by Natasha, not to mention the song’s first-class official video which perfectly epitomizes what Graveyard Strippers are all about. The “piercing assembly line from hell” titled Apocalypse Now brings forward another eccentric intro that morphs into a fantastic Industrial Metal extravaganza, showcasing rabid growls mixed with heavy-as-hell riffs and tons of wicked elements in the background in what sounds as a hybrid of Marilyn Manson and Ministry; whereas their electronic vein arises stronger than ever in Walking Dead thanks to the excellent job done by Riff and Dany once again, while Carl Puzzle adds his share of heaviness to the song with his sick bass lines, keeping the album at a high level of eccentricity.

Savior is another modern Industrial Metal composition led by the somber vocals by Holy Decay, despite not feeling as crushing and vibrant as the rest of the album, sounding a bit repetitive at times. On the other hand, Krash This Up is one of the weirdest and most fun creations by this talented quartet that should work really well if played live. Dany is simply amazing with his beats, being flawlessly accompanied by the rest of the band during the song’s two minutes of insanity. Then in King Me the band gives a lesson in how to blend Industrial Metal with Punk Rock, offering the listener a neck-breaking, electrified tune where Riff steals the show with his sensational guitar lines. Needless to say, this is another serious candidate to be part of their live performances. And lastly, madness takes control of the band in the closing tune of the album, named Serial Killer, where symphonic elements from Gothic Metal are added to create an even crazier atmosphere. Furthermore, Holy Decay sounds like a demonic entity with his Stygian gnarls, while Riff and Carl keep bringing thunder to the musicality in this top-notch ending to such electrified album.

The somber and bewitching realm of Graveyard Strippers can be further explored through their Facebook page and YouTube channel, and you can listen to and buy Crawling on Spotify, at their own BandCamp page, on iTunes, on Amazon or at the Onkyo Music webstore. Let’s say that, if you were desperately looking for the best and darkest soundtrack to your next Halloween, Gothic, Dark Electro or any other type of party not recommended for the ordinary person, I believe your hunt is finally over, as Graveyard Strippers are more than ready to put you and your guests into a lustful and mechanized trance with the high-end music found in Crawling.

Best moments of the album: Broken, Freak Show, Apocalypse Now and Serial Killer.

Worst moments of the album: Savior.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Filth 1:04
2. Broken 3:09
3. Pretty 3:40
4. Crawling 4:08
5. Freak Show (feat. Natasha Nebula) 3:29
6. Deadsex (feat. Natasha Nebula) 3:51
7. Apocalypse Now 4:07
8. Walking Dead 3:50
9. Savior 4:02
10. Krash This Up 2:07
11. King Me 2:46
12. Serial Killer 4:48

Band members
Holy Decay – vocals
Riff – guitars, programming, backing vocals
Carl Puzzle – bass, backing vocals
Dany Burton – drums, programming, backing vocals

Guest musician
Natasha Nebula – female vocals on “Freak Show” and “Deadsex”

Album Review – Novallo / Novallo II EP (2015)

A wicked fusion of metal, rock, pop, electronic, jazz and tons of other contrasting genres, crafted by a talented and promising American band.

Rating4

cover artRanging from the delightful turmoil brought forth by Progressive Metal to the catchy tunes from modern Pop/Rock, the vibrant experimentations by American Alternative/Experimental Metal band Novallo will definitely hit you like a bullet train at full speed and put you to dance, bang your head or simply move your body in any unconventional way you might enjoy. And let me tell you that such a weird sounding ends up making the task of putting a label to Novallo extremely hard. I personally can’t say if they’re a pop version of Dream Theater or a heavier version of Justin Timberlake, if not both at the same time.

Founded in the city of Columbus, Ohio (the 15th largest city in the United States) in 2006, Novallo released their self-titled debut EP in 2012, earning them some considerable recognition and appreciation by a growing fan base, as well as a spot on the 2015 edition of the Rock on the Range festival (as the only unsigned band on the bill, by the way), playing on May 16 alongside renowned acts such as  Saxon, Ministry, Babymetal, Godsmack, In Flames and Judas Priest. Now, after beginning to solidify their path to stardom, they’re back with a brand new EP entitled Novallo II, another wicked fusion of unlike music genres crafted by these talented and professional musicians.

How crazy, electronic and innovative can an intro be? Take a listen at Wake and you’ll see, right before Betty Phage Goes to Bronxton offers you a  unique mix of Alternative and Progressive Metal with hints of Jazz and electronic music. Put differently, it’s a very fun tune that’s appealing and complex all at once, something not so common in music nowadays. Drummer Nick Salvatore kicks ass behind his drum set hands down, which is also the case in the even more electronic I AM, a well-crafted rock-ish version of dance music where it’s pretty easy to notice their influences from the King of Pop Michael Jackson.

novalloA lot heavier than all other tracks from the EP, Sideways Bird nicely blends elements from Groove Metal with Alternative Rock. Besides, I dare you to try to make any sense out of the song’s loco lyrics (“First ride hitched on a glitch – am I coming or going? / Insanity photographed consciousness flowing. / Discount tricks shaped like bits from the back corner store man. / Liquid crime – amplified to extract and delete even more.”). In contrast, Give Gravity a Choice is significantly smoother and more progressive, with its calm passages and stronger soundings creating together a relaxing environment enhanced by the solid vocals by Sam Gitiban, who provides the song all the necessary energy and balance.

Showcasing freakish electronic effects that sound like something you would find in a Mario Bros. videogame, White Phoenix keeps the madness rolling thanks to the sick riffs by Gino Bambino and the precise breaks by Nick Salvatore, not to mention the brilliant work done by Brandon Johnson with his metallic bass lines. And although the movie-ish outro Sleep might put an end to the album, we all know the band is just starting their promising journey through the world of eccentric music.

To sum up, what Novallo has to offer in Novallo II, available at their BandCamp page (or you can take a peek at what the band can do at their YouTube channel, if you prefer), is indeed unique, or maybe I should say substantially distinct when compared to almost any other band or artist you can think of. Their music will most probably suit you no matter if you’re one of those orthodox fans of Progressive Metal that looks down on anything that doesn’t contain a billion intricate notes and riffs, or if you don’t give a shit about complexity as long as you can feed your inner dancer with the music. In other words, whilst you have a craving for a special type of music, Novallo definitely have the righteous tunes to fulfill all your needs.

Best moments of the album: Betty Phage Goes to Bronxton and Sideways Bird.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Independent

Track listing
1. Wake 0:29
2. Betty Phage Goes to Bronxton 3:07
3. I AM 3:35
4. Sideways Bird 3:35
5. Give Gravity a Choice 5:18
6. White Phoenix 4:21
7. Sleep 1:05

Band members
Sam Gitiban – vocals
Gino Bambino – guitar
Brandon Johnson – bass
Nick Salvatore – drums, percussion

Metal Chick of the Month – Orianthi

orianthi01

Shut Up & Kiss Me!

She is a singer, a songwriter, and an amazing guitar player. Not only that, she has already shared the stage with worldwide renowned music icons such as Steve Vai, Alice Cooper, Richie Sambora, Carrie Underwood and even with the King of Pop, the unparalleled star Michael Jackson (R.I.P.). But if you think I’m talking about some old or classic guitarist, you’re absolutely wrong: our “Metal Chick” this month is the Australian beauty Orianthi Panagaris, or simply Orianthi.

Born in Adelaide, Australia on January 22, 1985 and of Greek and Australian descent (which explains her name), Orianthi started really early in the world of music at the age of three, when she began playing the piano, then moving to her true passion, the guitar, when she was around six. Besides the piano and the guitar, she can also sing and play bass and drums, showcasing her unquestionable talent as a multi-instrumentalist and already explaining why she reached success so early in her life.

Orianthi attended the Cabra Dominican College in Adelaide, Australia, and when she was about six or seven years old she wrote her first song and played it in front of the whole school. Thanks to her father, she grew up listening to many Rock N’ Roll classics like Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Santana, most of them from North America, which then became her biggest motivation to move to the United States to build her career there. Besides all those artists, she also mentions Darren Hayes and Keith Urban as two of her biggest influences in music.

She started playing with different bands when she was around 14 or 15 years old, which was when she left school, and kept playing with cover bands until she was 21, when she finally moved to America to pursue her dream as a musician. Since then, as a solo artist, Orianthi has already released three full-length albums and one EP (although none of her albums are really Heavy Metal or Hard Rock): Violet Journey, Believe, Fire EP, and Heaven in This Hell; her debut single According to You went to No. 3 in Japan, No. 8 in Australia and No. 17 in the US; in 2009 she was named one of the 12 Greatest Female Electric Guitarists by Elle magazine; and in 2010 she won the award as “Breakthrough Guitarist of the Year” by Guitar International magazine. Do I need to say that her dreams came true?

Furthermore, as already mentioned, her involvement with some music giants has just elevated her status as a successful artist. For example, Orianthi appeared at the 51st Annual Grammy Awards, which took place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles in February 2009, as the lead guitarist for American country music singer Carrie Underwood, and more recently toured the world as the lead guitarist for American Hard Rock master Alice Cooper. I had the pleasure to see Orianthi live three times in 2012 with Alice Cooper, as the opening act for Iron Maiden during their Maiden England North American Tour here in Canada in the cities of Toronto, Ottawa and Sarnia, and it was amazing to witness how she managed to fit in his band so smoothly and professionally, especially considering the abysmal difference of their years on the road. You can check lots of cool videos from Orianthi performing with different bands and artists at her official YouTube channel, like this live version of her 2013 single Frozen.

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However, being the lead guitarist for Michael Jackson’s This Is It concert series, which later became a documentary, was probably the most outstanding moment of her music career. In one of her interviews, Orianthi tried to explain how she was chosen by the King of Pop, and the impact that had on her life. “I don’t know exactly why he picked me, but he watched my YouTube videos and loved them. He had his choice of guitar players, but I came in and played the ‘Beat It’ solo for him. Afterward he was so happy he got up and grabbed my arm and started walking up and down the stage area with me. He said, ‘Can you play once for me?’ and hired me that night. I wish he was still around. He made me believe in myself more, and I learned so much. Going into it, I thought it would be all about playing guitar solos. But the majority of it was playing chords and funky rhythms.”, she said. After Michael’s death, she played and sang at his memorial, globally televised live on July 7, 2009.

Finally, being an artist always provides the person some good stories to tell the others, and it hasn’t been different with Orianthi. For example, the blonde guitarist said that during one of her concerts she got up on one of the speakers, and didn’t realize that right behind her there was a confetti canon that could shoot probably 20 feet right across the audience, which would have sent her to the hospital that night with a pretty bad injury in the butt. Fortunately for Orianthi (and for all of us), one of the sound guys warned her and she jumped off just a few seconds before the canon went off. I’m pretty sure Orianthi herself would agree with me that, although she has a great onstage performance and Rock N’ Roll actually demands some crazy stunts to be perfect, being blasted in the ass might not be the best way to please her fans.

Equipment
PRS Custom 22 (Manos)
PRS Custom 24 (Pepper)
PRS SE Custom 24
PRS SE Singlecut
SE signature model (SE Orianthi)
EVH 5150III
ENGL
Mesa Boogie
Marshall Amplifiers

Orianthi’s Official Facebook page
Orianthi’s Official Twitter

“You know just go and find your own voice, whether its playing guitar, singing, song writing, working hard, I love what I do, I love playing guitar, I love performing, you have to love it, there’s just so many hours you have to put into it, you can’t be in this industry if you don’t love it.” – Orianthi

Album Review – Orisonata / Orisonata (2014)

Beautiful vocals, superb saxophone solos, classical guitar, jazz, piano and many other elements make this Progressive Symphonic Metal album a very fresh and attractive alternative in the world of heavy music.

Rating4

orisonata-cover-artIf anyone asks you about Symphonic Metal, you automatically think of bands from countries like Finland, Netherlands, Italy, Germany or any other European country, but never of American bands, right? Well, that’s about to change with the self-titled debut album from American Progressive Symphonic Metal band Orisonata, a project by composer and guitarist, Jason Lee Greenberg, and his wife, vocalist Jennifer Grassman.

Orisonata can be compared not only to bands such as Nightwish, Within Temptation, Kamelot, Tarja Turunen and Blind Guardian, but also to the progressive musicality from Dream Theater and even to the Pop/Rock from Evanescence, Sarah Brightman and Muse. And the band was able to generate that high quality mix of classical guitar, jazz, and heavy music in a very solid and professional way, which in my opinion is the biggest strength of this project: being so diverse without losing their value proposition. In other words, Orisonata deliver what they promise, which is some very creative and unique heavy music.

And as the music is what really matters here, let’s get down to it. The album might have only 7 songs in total, but together they are responsible for over 50 minutes of music, highlighting the band’s progressive vein. The first track of the album is also the longest one: with almost 9 minutes, Journey to the Center of the Earth is a pleasant Heavy Metal voyage the likes of Nightwish, with amazing saxophone solos, changes in tempo, breaks and everything else you want to see in a progressive heavy song. Then come Once And Future King, a very progressive tune with interesting riffs and guitar solos, and The Great Baptism, a song that mixes the sonority of Dream Theater and Tarja Turunen in a way that would make both band and artist very proud of Orisonata.

The following track, Unholy Creation,  can be considered the most Heavy Metal one of the album with its fast drums, heavy riffs and many hints of Nightwish from their Oceanborn times, accompanied by the amazing piano from jazz artists Pamela York. Furthermore, the vocals and lyrics fit the song perfectly, making it the best track of the album in my opinion.

Oath Breaker keeps the energy level up with the great singing done by Jennifer, together with some awesome solos and music variations, while Robin Hood offers us more delightful saxophone solos amidst pure Symphonic Metal. The album ends with the beautiful ballad The Muses, a very “medieval” tune with highlights to the amazing contribution by Cynthia Butler on flutes.

orisonata-jennifer-grassman-photo-by-laughlin-photographyRegarding the lyrics, they’re all based on literature, legend and ancient mythology, and remind me of some old Nightwish songs such as “Sacrament of Wilderness” (you can check the lyrics from Onisonata’s “Unholy Creation” in the video at the bottom of this review), and in terms of the album art, it is also very well-done and matches with the album’s proposal and musicality.

And finally, all musicians involved in this project are extremely talented, but we have to salute the couple Jason and Jennifer for their brilliant work with all instruments and beautiful operatic vocals, respectively. Although they’ve been on the road for quite some time and won many awards for their previous music creations, it’s amazing to see the amount of passion they still have for composing new material. Besides the “dynamic duo”, I would say the most important piece of the music found in Orisonata are the stunning solos by world-renowned classical saxophonist Todd Oxford. What this guy does with his saxophone is unbelievable and adds so much value to the music that it’s hard to imagine any of the songs without it.

So far, the album as had a soft release on CD Baby and on Orisonata’s official website, but will shortly be available through Amazon, Spotify, and other major retailers, and you can also check more information about the band on their official Facebook page and on Twitter.

Of course, the band has yet a long way to go and only time will tell if they’ll succeed or not, but two lessons can already be learned from Orisonata: for all other independent bands in the world, this is the level of work, professionalism and creativity you need to put on your music in order for it to be successful, otherwise you’ll be just “one more band” in the market; and for heavy music lovers, Orisonata show how good the indie scene can be and that we should support it as much as we can if we want to keep the flame of Heavy Metal alive.

Best moments of the album: Journey to the Center of the Earth, Unholy Creation and Oath Breaker.

Worst moments of the album: Once And Future King.

Released in 2014 Independent

Track listing
1. Journey to the Center of the Earth 8:42
2. Once And Future King 6:35
3. The Great Baptism 8:04
4. Unholy Creation 7:18
5. Oath Breaker 5:01
6. Robin Hood 7:55
7. The Muses 5:07

Band members
Jason Lee Greenberg – all guitars & instruments
Jennifer Grassman – all vocals

Guest musicians
Todd Oxford – saxophone
Wade Vandesande – bass on “Oath Breaker”
Brad Shearhart – bass on “Robin Hood”
Pamela York – piano on “Unholy Creation”
Cynthia Butler – flutes on “The Muses”
Marco Bayarena – synth solo on “Journey to the Center of the Earth”