Album Review – NONE / Damp Chill of Life (2019)

Accept hopelessness and succumb to the brand new opus by this unknown entity from the Pacific Northwest, picking apart your psyche and destroying your seasonal optimism with their oppressively bleak atmosphere.

Since their introduction in the spring of 2017, the enigmatic and anonymous Atmospheric/Depressive Black Metal unity NONE, from Portland, Oregon, in the Pacific Northwest, has crafted disturbing and emotionally devastating music that have garnered the attention of many listeners of the genre. After having released their self-titled debut opus on April 11, 2017, a thick shroud of piercing guitar interwoven with haunting synth and tortured vocals marching in despair towards an empty void, followed by Life Has Gone On Long Enough exactly one year later, on April 11, 2018, developing its tortured personality further, NONE returned this spring like clockwork, once again on April 11, with their brand new effort entitled Damp Chill of Life, weaving visionary soundscapes with first-class Depressive Black Metal, picking apart your psyche and destroying your seasonal optimism with their oppressively bleak atmosphere.

As atmospheric and cold as possible, the intro Fade embraces our souls in darkness and sets the tone for the chilling and piercing sounds from the 10-minute aria The Damp Chill of Life, with its Doom Metal beats, melodic riffs and an ethereal background generating the perfect ambience for NONE’s desperate, raspy gnarls. In other words, this is a lesson in Depressive Black Metal, alternating between serene passages and aggressive and dense riffs and vociferations, and flowing majestically until its melancholic ending. Cease also begins as mournful as a lonely morning in the woods, with the music exploding into the most Stygian form of Atmospheric Black Metal you can think of after four minutes of pure serenity, all enfolded by beautiful piano notes and anguished vocals, once again showcasing a touching finale and building an instant connection with You Did a Good Thing, where the uncanny duo delivers more of their delicate but at the same time crushing music. Furthermore, eerie voices exhale anger, despair and the feeling of loss, matching flawlessly with the music to give the listener a true and deep melancholic taste.

It’s Painless To Let Go brings forward another visceral hybrid of Depressive and Atmospheric Black Metal, this time infused with Doom Metal and Blackened Doom nuances, with the duo delivering somber guitar lines, creepy vocals and endless obscurity for our total delectation; whereas I Yearn to Feel is a semi-acoustic composition by NONE that will penetrate deep inside your mind and take you on a journey through vast, gelid lands, always led by crystalline piano notes and showcasing an enfolding aura. And the music remains bold and inspiring, reverberating into A Chance I’d Never Have, beginning with acoustic guitar lines and growing in intensity and fear until an avalanche of dark and crisp sounds invades our ears. In my humble opinion, this is perhaps NONE’s record with the most introspective vocal lines, and this song is the perfect depiction of that, with its second half offering the listener sheer melancholy and rage in the form of top-of-the-line contemporary Depressive Black Metal.

I’ve already had the utmost pleasure of reviewing all albums released by NONE since the inception of such idiosyncratic and mysterious entity, and I must tell you NONE definitely know how to transform all the solitude, wilderness and bitterly cold winds of the Pacific Northwest into the best Depressive and Atmospheric Black Metal one can ever imagine, showing how connected they are with their homeland. Hence, you should take a good listen at Damp Chill of Life in full on YouTube (especially on your loneliest days), and grab your copy of such bitterly cold album of extreme music from the Hypnotic Dirge Records’ BandCamp or webstore (by the way, you can find all special bundles of the album and all of NONE’s previous releases by clicking HERE), as well as from Apple Music, Amazon, CD Baby or Discogs. Simply succumb to the music by NONE, accept hopelessness, and finally realize you are no one, nowhere, and nothing.

Best moments of the album: The Damp Chill of Life and It’s Painless To Let Go.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Hypnotic Dirge Records

Track listing
1. Fade 1:58
2. The Damp Chill of Life 10:30
3. Cease 8:50
4. You Did a Good Thing 5:08
5. It’s Painless To Let Go 5:56
6. I Yearn to Feel 3:45
7. A Chance I’d Never Have 7:57

Band members
Anonymous – vocals
Anonymous – all instruments

Advertisements

Metal Chick of the Month – Kayla Dixon

Death falls so heavy on my soul… Death falls so heavy, makes me moan…

Things are about to get doomed, heavy and extremely sexy here at The Headbanging Moose with our metal chick of the month of May. Trained in classical, jazz and musical theatre vocals, as well as acting and dance, the talented and stunning Kayla Dixon, frontwoman for Doom Metal institution Witch Mountain and for Alternative Metal outfit Dress the Dead, is among us to prove once again that black girls do have a place in the world of heavy music, and she has been doing that in great fashion with her beyond powerful vocals since joining Witch Mountain in 2015. Hence, after listening to Kayla singing for the very first time you’ll get absolutely addicted to her voice and performance, no doubt about that, therefore going after everything she has already recorded in her career, it doesn’t matter if it’s metal or not.

Born on March 20, 1995 in Glendale, California and raised between Lancaster, Pennsylvania, California, and Maryland (as you can see, she moved a lot when she was a kid), Kayla has been singing since the age of five, joining a Jazz band at the age of 13, when she began to hone her vocal skills and discovered her passion for performing. Having studied ballet, modern and contemporary techniques at the American Dance Institute, the Dance Theatre of Harlem and the Maryland Youth Ballet, among others, not to mention she’s a trained actor of Stanislavski and Meisner techniques (which contributed to her deep understanding of the importance of storytelling on stage), Kayla has already participated in several projects in her career, such as productions at the Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C., the Levine Music, and the Interlochen Center for the Arts, also making an appearance in in the Sundance award winning movie I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore, on Netflix, as well as in the TV series Portlandia, Grimm and Outlaw. In addition, she said in one of her interviews she doesn’t sit at a keyboard or think about intervals or scales, unless she’s writing harmonies. She usually writes the melody first, thinking about “what words match this melody and how can I put this melody into words?”

Kayla got her first contact with heavy music during her teens due to her sisters, who used to listen to bands like Marilyn Manson, Tool and Nine Inch Nails, and she fell in love for that type of music. After straying away from that for a while, she said it was when she was in the ninth grade that she rediscovered all those bands, later turning her attention to other heavier and more complex bands such as Meshuggah. She mentioned in one of her interviews that it was the intensity of metal music that really caught her attention at first, as she feels she can express all her emotions and feelings through metal. In addition, she also said that the energy coming from the audience while you’re on stage is also what makes heavy music so special for her.

Regarding her career with both Witch Mountain and Dress the Dead, everything started back in 2015 when Kayla, who had recently discovered the music by Witch Mountain, saw on their Facebook page they were auditioning for a new vocalist after the departure in 2014 of the amazing Uta Plotkin, prior to the release of the album Mobile of Angels. She then decided to take a shot at that by submitting a video audition, admitting she was a little nervous as she loved Uta’s lyrics and the vocal melodies, but fortunately for all of us fans of rock and metal Kayla became the band’s new frontwoman (and let’s not forget she was only 19 years old at the time). Four years later, this excellent Portland, Oregon-based band formed back in 1997 released their first full-length album with Kayla on vocals, self-titled Witch Mountain (which by the way she was responsible for all lyrics), not to mention their 2016 single Burn You Down, impressing not only the band’s diehard fans with her potent voice and her ability to easily switch between clean and harsh vocals,  but also her own band members. “When she laid down a scratch track in the studio and was going back and forth between the cleans and the dirties, our producer Billy and us were just sitting there laughing with joy,” recalls guitarist Rob Wrong. “For her that was just a scratch track, and we’re just like ‘most people in the world can’t do this.’ For Dixon, the possibility to cross styles and alternate between clean and screaming vocals is ‘a breath of fresh air.’”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Then in 2018, one year after parting ways with former The Haunted vocalist Peter Dolving, Dress the Dead announced a new lineup with our goddess Kayla on vocals in an unexpected move by many. “A mutual friend reached out to me about Dress the Dead.  One of my first thoughts was, ‘I don’t know if I’m ready or even at an appropriate talent level to be replacing someone like Peter Dolving for these guys.’  I’d battled with the idea in my head for several months before finally reaching out.  I had listened to and loved 1969, but what really hit me hard was when I heard the other songs that are still unreleased that they sent me.  I had no idea how musically diverse this band would turn out to be,” said Kayla about joining her second major band, but as what happened with Witch Mountain her vocals matched Dress the Dead’s music flawlessly, as you can enjoy in the excellent songs 1969, There Goes The Sun and Promises & Kisses. In addition to that, just to give you an idea of how healthy her relationship with her new bandmates is, take a look at this fun YouTube video titled “Dress The Dead – Crappy Comments”, where Kayla and the rest of the band read and discuss about the most ridiculous comments they received from fans via social media.

Our hardcore vegan (yes, she’s a vegan) had also been involved with several other bands and projects before joining Witch Mountain and Dress the Dead, each one offering Kayla a chance to showcase all her highly developed vocal skills. For instance, she was (apparently) the vocalist for a Cleveland, Ohio-based Groove/Death Metal band named Demons Within during an unknown period of time, and the lead singer for Sacramento, California-based Power Metal act Helion Prime from 2016 until 2017, with whom she recorded the sensational single Remnants of Stars, in 2017. Apart from that, she also started lending her unique voice now in 2019 to a British/Romanian Atmospheric Doom/Death Metal band named Clouds during some of their live performances, and she also appeared as a guest vocalist in the song Buried In Sand, from Clouds’ 2018 release Dor – Bonus Album;  in the electrifying title-track Terminal, from the 2017 album Terminal, by British Melodic Progressive Metal band Divinity Compromised; and more recently in Living Light, from the 2019 album Divided by Darkness, by Phoenix, Arizona-based Doom Metal act Spirit Adrift, to be released later this month.

Touring is always one of the most difficult and demanding tasks in the life of a musician, and as a talented vocalist that Kayla is she obviously warms up her voice (and mind) properly before going on stage, sometimes meditating for a few minutes to reach her desired state of mind prior to performing. As a matter of fact, Kayla mentioned that meditation was one of the main activities she discovered through the years to fight her childhood traumas, to work on her spirituality and to remain strong when facing any type of adversity. She also said that, to keep her body and mind healthy while touring with Witch Mountain, who by the way have a very aggressive touring agenda, she tries to eat well and work out whenever she can, avoiding things like partying and drinking. Even with all those precautions to stay in shape, Kayla said that due to her incendiary performances each show ends up being fairly exhausting for her but energizing at the same time, saying it’s another form of “meditation” for her. “Music is a way for me to express that negativity and get it out. There’s also a positivity about it. So, it’s very energizing. Music is what makes me happy and I believe it is my life’s purpose,” commented Kayla, and if you take into account the fact that when she’s not on tour she can be giving vocal lessons or acting (albeit she hasn’t being doing a lot of that lately due to her busy schedule), it’s the utmost proof she was born to be an artist.

As curious as this might sound, Kayla always mentions in her interviews that she considers herself an introvert, although she’s not actually afraid of talking to people. Despite having introverted tendencies, she confronts that inner fear by working really hard on it, saying that fear doesn’t have to be who she really is or her story. And even more curious than that, she mentioned that one thing she loves doing for relaxation and fun is watching horror movies, with her favorite one being the 1982 cult movie Poltergeist and also mentioning Suspiria as another movie she enjoyed a lot (I just don’t know if she’s talking about the 1977 original one or the 2018 version). She said Poltergeist really freaked her out, that it was extremely scary in her opinion, so how can this be a relaxing activity, right? Anyway, still talking about ghosts and paranormal activities, she said she had a few paranormal experiences in her life, as her mother was really into that kind of thing and would tell her about ghosts she saw. She mentioned that when she was seven years old she was sitting in the living room around Christmas time watching the classic TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and when she went to her room there was this white figure of an old man standing. In addition, her dad, who’s by the way a pastor, also claims he’s seen a ghost in his church, which used to be an old-fashioned one-room school house back in the 1900’s, describing the appearance of the ghost in great detail. If ghosts truly exist or not, no one knows for sure, but if Kayla channels those encounters and experiences into her music, and we all know the unknown has always been a magnificent inspiration for all genres and subgenres of heavy music, we can rest assured she’ll keep providing us first-class rock and metal for decades to come.

Kayla Dixon’s Official Facebook page
Kayla Dixon’s Official Instagram
Kayla Dixon’s Official Twitter
Kayla Dixon’s Official YouTube channel
Witch Mountain’s Official Facebook page
Witch Mountain’s Official Instagram
Witch Mountain’s Official Twitter
Witch Mountain’s Official BandCamp page
Dress the Dead’s Official Facebook page
Dress the Dead’s Official Instagram

“When I get on stage, I lose control and there’s not much I can do about that.” – Kayla Dixon

Album Review – Elegiac / Pagan Storm (2018)

Forging the New Wave of American Black Metal, behold this talented one-man army from Portland, Oregon and his brand new melodic, aggressive and bestial full-length opus.

Forging the New Wave of USBM (or American Black Metal), Portland, Oregon-based one-man army Elegiac is into this creative and productive overwhelming attitude that all the most influential bands of the 90’s were in at their very beginning, dwelling with the most typical references of the early Scandinavian heritage influenced by the more pragmatic synthesis of the USBM roughness in the project’s brand new opus entitled Pagan Storm. Since its inception in 2014 in San Diego, California by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Zane Young (from several underground acts such as Airengrav, Blitzgeist, Gormanudr, Lord Impotent and Tideless), Elegiac has released three EP’s and four full-length albums, as well as a demo and several split albums, but it’s with Pagan Storm, which features a classy and epic cover art by Joe McEvoy, that this Black Metal beast has reached its most melodic, aggressive and flammable shape and form.

Zane wastes no time and quickly darkens our minds with his sluggish Doom Metal-inspired beats and demonic gnarls in the opening track titled Rituals of War, evolving into a dissonant and Mephistophelian feast of Black Metal without a single empty space in its over eight minutes of obscurity. Then we have Allegiance and Honor, more brutal and piercing than its predecessor, presenting darkly poetic lyrics (“Calling to the gods of my blood / Deep within my memory / Return my mind to the patterns of old / And teach me the wisdom now tossed away / By the desert god of Abraham / A true plague of the mind and flesh / An empty shell… / An empty slave… / An empty shell… / An empty slave… / Molded for their every will…”) and leaning towards contemporary Melodic Black Metal, with Zane’s roars reaching a truly infernal level throughout the entire song; and dark clouds of Black and Doom Metal spread upon humanity in the 10-minute aria Somber Morning, where Zane delivers the most Stygian guitar lines and delicate but vile beats of the whole album in a demonic display of extreme music that will haunt the souls of the lighthearted. And strident guitar lines kick off the also blackened extravaganza named Through Ancient Eyes, where Zane keeps growling like a demonic entity while pounding his drums in a damned and somber manner. Put differently, if you love the rawest and most sulfurous form of underground Black and Doom Metal, this song is just perfect for you.

A lot more vibrant and electrified than its predecessors,  Purity of Winter brings forward a rumbling and dense sonority for our avid ears, or in other words, a lesson in visceral Black Metal with both guitar and bass lines sounding as crude as they can be, resulting in an enfolding fusion of melancholy, crushing sounds and tones, and the desolation of the winter. In Golden Fires of Victory we face the menacing, obscure gnarls by Zane accompanied by his blast beats and demented guitars, sending a sound message to the unbelievers that the gates of hell are open and darkness is upon us, feeling vile and crushing from start to finish; whereas in the title-track Pagan Storm the talented Zane takes his fury to a whole new level, growling and screaming in the most bestial way while unleashing demonic but at the same time very harmonious riffs from his guitar, once again adding a considerable dosage of modern-day Melodic Black Metal to his raw core sonority. And last but not least, how about 10 minutes of melodic and dynamic Black Metal to darken your metal heart even more? That’s what Zane offers in the closing tune Ancient Spirit, a fantastic “waltz of the damned” where his anguished lamentations add an extra layer of melancholy to the musicality, while his flammable riffs keep invading our ears until the music fades into pitch black darkness.

The somber and eccentric world of extreme music crafted by Zane and his Elegiac can be better explored by visiting the project’s official Facebook page, and of course if you have what it takes to dive deep into the crypts of Hades together with Zane you can purchase Pagan Storm from the ATMF’s BandCamp page or webstore. Hence, after listening to this potent and hellish opus by Elegiac, I bet USBM, our beloved American Black Metal, will be one of your favorite genres whenever straightforward and devilish extreme music is needed in your everyday life, with Pagan Storm becoming your personal reference in the underworld of heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Purity of Winter, Pagan Storm and Ancient Spirit.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 De Tenebrarum Principio

Track listing
1. Rituals of War 8:17
2. Allegiance and Honor 5:07
3. Somber Morning 10:20
4. Through Ancient Eyes 7:33
5. Purity of Winter 7:03
6. Golden Fires of Victory 6:49
7. Pagan Storm 7:16
8. Ancient Spirit 9:41

Band members
Zane Young – vocals, all instruments

Metal Chick of the Month – Jill Janus (September 2, 1975 – August 14, 2018)

“The dark, the dark… The darkness falls on you. The dark, the dark… The darkness swallows you.” – The Dark, by Huntress

It took me a while to think of a proper beginning to this posthumous tribute to the talented and gorgeous metal vocalist Jill Janus, frontwoman for one of the most promising metal acts of the past few years, California-based Heavy Metal squad Huntress, but as I mentioned HERE she was going to me our metal chick one day no matter what. Owner of an extremely powerful and captivating voice, delivering beautiful high-pitched screams that were capable of putting a huge and genuine smile on the face of the Metal God himself Rob Halford, Jill unfortunately committed suicide this past August 14, 2018 outside of Portland, Oregon at the age of 42, after years battling against her inner demons. In this humble tribute, let’s remember the life and career of Jill, her bands and projects, her contribution to heavy music, her fight against mental illness, and bang our heads and raise our horns to her flammable Heavy Metal, because she might be gone from this world, but her spirit undoubtedly lives on.

Born on September 2, 1975 in Catskill Mountains, a physiographic province of the larger Appalachian Mountains, located approximately 160 km north-northwest of New York City and 60 km southwest of Albany, Jill was always very reserved about her personal life, much to the impact her mental disorder had to her memories. All we know is that Jill, a huge fan of bands like Suicidal Tendencies and Lamb of God, started her musical journey as a child performing opera in Upstate New York, and that as a teenager she traveled to Europe taking on coloratura soprano roles and was awarded a scholarship to the American Musical Dramatic Academy in Manhattan. She was such an intense musician that even during her relatively short career she was able to make a significant impact on the scene, taking part of several amazing projects and bands since the beginning. For instance, Jill, who was a trained opera singer according to several sources, was not only the voice for Huntress, but also the singer for acts such as Chelsea Girls, Vexy Strut, Under the Covers and The Starbreakers, not to mention her future project that was going to be called Victory: The Rock Opera, and her time as a Playboy model and as a topless DJ, being known as either Penelope Tuesdae or simply Tuesdae in some of these endeavors.

In regards to her career with Huntress, and I might say that I personally consider Jill and Huntress to be one single entity, the band was “unofficially” founded in 2007 when Jill released two demo songs, those being Back from the Dead to Kill and Call of the Wild, to be used as “bait” for potential musicians for her band. It was in 2010 when Jill joined forces with underground Heavy Metal band Professor in Highland Park, California to finally form the Huntress we learned to admire, always true to the roots of Heavy Metal with hints of Thrash, Death and Black Metal and with Jill being responsible for the vocal duties with her breathtaking Amazonian-inspired 4-octave vocal range as well as for the lyrics, releasing right away a three-song EP titled Off with Her Head, containing the songs Off With Her Head, Hollow Hills and The Creeper. Singing about occult and obscure topics such as witchcraft, sorcery and witch hunters, Huntress then released three incendiary full-length albums in the span of four years, starting with their debut opus Spell Eater, in 2012, followed by Starbound Beast, in 2013, and finally Static, in 2015, leading the band to tour the world as a supporting act to several metal heavyweights like Lamb of God, Arch Enemy, Kreator, Amon Amarth, Killswitch Engage, Testament, Danzig, Trivium, Sabaton and Dragonforce. You can purchase all three albums directly from their BandCamp page, and remember Jill’s extraordinary voice on YouTube with the videos for the songs Sorrow, Zenith, Spell Eater and Flesh.

In an interview Jill gave to a metal webzine from Brazil called Portal do Inferno in 2014 (you can check the full interview HERE in both Brazilian Portuguese and English), she explained the band’s discography as her spiritual journey through three elements and a tribute to the Goddess in her three forms, the maiden, the mother, and the crone, with each one of her three albums representing one of those elements. Spell Eater was the maiden, sounding ferocious and raw; Starbound Beast was the mother, more thoughtful and showcasing better musicianship and songwriting; and Static was the crone, being vicious, brutal and consequently heavier and darker. During that same interview, Jill provided some details about her partnership with the one and only Lemmy Kilmister (R.I.P.), who wrote the lyrics for the excellent song I Want to Fuck You to Death from the album Starbound Beast. Jill said they were good friends, that they would meet at the Rainbow in Los Angeles for drinks, that one day she asked him to write a song for her and, voilà, Lemmy gave her two pieces of paper with the lyrics to the song, which according to Jill herself was at that time “the most romantic thing a man had ever done to her.”

Furthermore, if live performances are your cup of tea, or in other words, if you deeply need to see an artist or band playing live to know if they’re actually good, you can have a really good time watching some live footage from Jill and her Huntress on YouTube, such as their acoustic version for Blood Sisters in 2013 at the 100.3 the X studios, which by the way was the first time ever the band has done a live acoustic performance; a live version of the song Spell Eater in 2012; their performance of the song Senecide at the Tidal Wave Festival 2012 in San Francisco, California (courtesy of Capital Chaos TV); and the song The Tower live at First Avenue in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2012, on tour with Dragonforce. Hence, it’s ass-kicking performances like those that will keep the name of Jill Janus resonating in the air waves through the years.

Her contribution to other metal and rock bands and projects was also superb, with the most interesting one being the Los Angeles-based all-female supergroup The Starbreakers, comprised of Jill on vocals together with guitarists Nita Strauss (We Start Wars, Alice Cooper, Iron Maidens) and Courtney Cox (Iron Maidens, Femme Fatale), bassist Emily Ruvidich (Paradise Kitty, Misty Day), and drummer Lindsay Martin (We Start Wars, Wasi Wasi, The Aviators). Formed in 2017, the main goal of those five blonde metallers was simply to rock like there’s no tomorrow by playing songs from their metal heroes, and there are plenty of videos on YouTube for you to have a sonic blast with the girls. For example, you can check them kicking some serious ass by playing several classics such as Judas Priest’s all-time metal hymn Painkiller and Dio’s undisputed hit Holy Diver at The Viper Room, in West Hollywood on March 11, 2017, during their first ever live performance; Metallica’s roaring tune Master of Puppets also at The Viper Room in 2017; and Megadeth’s breathtaking classic Hangar 18 at Whisky A Go Go, in West Hollywood earlier this year.

All her other projects are just as fun and interesting, starting with the Chelsea Girls, an all-girl cover band formed by Jill together with Samantha Maloney (Hole, Motley Crüe), Allison Robertson (The Donnas), and Corey Parks (Nashville Pussy), with the band’s name referencing an Andy Warhol flick. She was also the vocalist (under the name Tuesdae) for Vexy Strut from 2003 to 2006, a New York-based Hard Rock band where all other band members were guys, playing music in the veins of Aerosmith and Guns N’ Roses with overtly sexual and cocky lyrics; she sang along with Dave Navarro (Jane’s Addiction) in an acoustic project called Under the Covers for a while (and you can check some photos of the duo HERE); and last but not least, Jill and Angus Clark of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra have recently announced a “Rock n’ Roll romance of innocence and lust” named Victory: The Rock Opera, telling the tale of Victory, an internet sensation and a social media superstar whose God-like reach has given hope to the desolate and deranged. There are some demos available on their official website, but no one knows for sure what will happen with the entire project after Jill’s death. Apart from her career as a singer, as aforementioned she was also a topless DJ under the pseudonym Penelope Tuesdae, and if you’re curious to see what she was like at that time you can check some NSFW photos HERE, as well as a behind the scenes photo shoot on Vimeo. If you think Jill was ashamed of her endeavor as a topless DJ, you’re absolutely wrong. “I was living in New York City and needed cash. So I learned how to DJ, but added a gimmick to make more money. I did it topless. A few years later, I have Playboy to thank for legitimizing topless DJ’ing as a lucrative business, although I quit when Vexy Strut was formed. That was my goal all along – to get your attention as a singer and songwriter. So what – I showed you my boobs. Mission accomplished!”, said our diva in one of her interviews.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Jill’s standpoint regarding her classical music and opera background is also very interesting, as she told Portal do inferno during the same interview mentioned  before that she was always listening to opera singers and classical music, especially Maria Callas due to her vocal richness and skills, that her classical training helped her support her metal voice, and that she was very strict separating metal from opera. The reason for that split was that she never liked Symphonic Metal, calling it “easy listening” metal, showing she was indeed a tough old school metalhead with great passion for the more straightforward, ass-kicking and no-shenanigans-nor-preservatives type of metal. As a matter of fact, just take a listen at any of the Huntress albums and you’ll notice there’s nothing there that’s not deeply rooted in old school metal and rock music, and that’s one of the reasons why she was so loved by several icons like Lemmy and Halford.

When asked about being a female artist in an environment mostly dominated by men, she said she loved being the only girl on tour, calling the rest of the band and all other bands as her brothers, who used to take good care of her. She was also asked to give some advice to any female metal singers starting their careers, and her answer to that was quite direct: she said any girl should go after her vocal coach Melissa Cross, who has already worked with tons of other amazing vocalists such as Randy Blythe (Lamb of God) and Angela Gossow, former singer for Arch Enemy, due to the exceptional job she does with singers, warming them up, training them, teaching them how to take good care of their voices, among other awesome tips and activities. She also said during that same interview she was never afraid of using her sexuality and sex appeal to draw her listeners “close to the flame”, as she considered herself a witch and a pagan, becoming very natural for her to be nude. I have to admit being naked was something so natural and easy for her it was far from being something dirty or porn, but simply the way she found to better connect to her inner self and to nature itself.

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to write a tribute to Jill now without talking about her recent death on August 14 this year (check this video summarizing this sad event HERE). She had always been very open over the years about her mental illness in the form of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, dissociative identity disorder and alcoholism, which resulted in several struggles throughout her life. Also diagnosed with uterine cancer in 2015 while the band was working on Static, she was able to win that personal battle after undergoing a hysterectomy, being declared cancer-free later. In an interview to Revolver, she described how the schizoaffective disorder evolved into full schizophrenia, which affected her in her 20’s and continued until her death. She said “I was suicidal constantly. I was very suicidal early on in my life. Then in my mid-20’s, it shifted to full-blown mania, where I can’t really remember much of my 20’s. I can’t remember anybody from high school, either. I lost my long-term memory and can’t remember names, faces, or even places. We’ll be at a venue on tour and Blake will be, like, ‘We’ve played here two times before,’ but I’ll have no recollection.” Jill told Psychology Today in a 2015 interview that she attempted suicide for the first time at the age of 16 “with a pair of scissors. I was getting mandatory counseling at school but didn’t see a psychiatrist until I was 20,” she said. “I was then diagnosed manic-depressive and participated in a medical study at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan.” She was eventually diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, telling Psychology Today “I’ve always seen and heard things others couldn’t. Many visions or dreams would manifest into reality, which my family and friends described as my ‘psychic ability.’ This caused more drama at school, being called a ‘freak’ and getting beaten up. When I was 17, the visions and encounters with ‘other-worldly creatures’ was almost a daily occurrence.”

Some of the most interesting and peculiar parts of her interview with Psychology Today are a very good depiction of how serious any type of mental illness can be, impacting not only the life of the person suffering from it but also everyone else living around this person. For instance, one of the ways that her mental illness manifested was that she created different “characters” or “identities” and was eventually diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder. Dissociative identity disorder is characterized as having two or more distinct personality states. People often forget parts of their life as they cannot recall experiences from one personality state when they are in a distinct, separate personality state. She described these different “characters” this way: “As a child, I had a very active imagination and would pretend to be characters I created. This seems normal for a kid, but then I started seeing these characters and they’d take over my body. It felt like being possessed like in the movies. I could shed it easily as a child, but when I hit my 20’s, it became very difficult to shake it.” She complemented by saying “I spent 10 years as ‘Penelope Tuesday,’ the persona I initially created to conceal my true identity as I worked the NYC nightlife scene. I cannot remember much of my life during those years, except through stories from my friends and family. I was manic, fiercely ambitious and slept very little. I was not drinking or abusing drugs during my time in New York. My family became very worried and moved me home to get help after discovering I had breast-augmentation surgery. But I wasn’t aware that I had done this until a few weeks later when I snapped back to reality and saw I had breast implants. It was terrifying. I spent time at Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown, New York, and was diagnosed with multiple personality disorder (dissociative identity disorder).”

She also explained how the bias manifested in her youth. “I was embarrassed about being perceived as ‘crazy.’ As a kid I was made to feel bad or was bullied for being different. As a child, I would make up things about myself to avoid seeming odd. This coping tactic got more intense after college and then I felt other personalities taking hold,” she said. “I used an alias for most of my life, keeping who I really was hidden. Only now am I capable of letting go of my various identities, but it’s still painful to feel vulnerable.” As time went on, she was able to find treatments that were effective in managing her mood and psychotic symptoms. She also said the combination of medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy was effective for her. Cognitive-behavioral therapy often includes examining how one’s thoughts and behaviors may influence emotions and well-being, and how modifying thoughts and behaviors can improve clinical outcomes. In addition to that, she also found that her music was influential in her coping. Her experience is supported by research that shows that music therapy improves clinical outcomes among individuals with mental illness, including schizophrenia and mood disorders. “Music saved my life. My mother says I was singing before I could speak. I knew my purpose as soon as I could talk. It was always music. I relate to the mathematics behind music, it soothes my brain and helps me cope with my various disorders,” she said. “By the time I was 10, I was performing in operas and musicals. My vocal range developed quickly. I was using four octaves by 13. The discipline and focus was beyond my years. But I’ve never had much patience for people. I was always one step ahead. Music is the only way I ever knew how to cope.”

And you can notice how much Jill loved her music and metal in general, and how open she always was about her mental condition, by watching several interviews with her on Youtube, such as her chat with Brittney Patton in 2016 where she talks about mental illness, artwork, sobriety and other topics; talking about touring and her childhood to Rock Hard Megazine in 2012; an interview to Yell! Magazine during Heavy MTL in 2013; a two-part interview filmed by JAM Magazine on tour backstage at the Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie, Texas on November 2, 2013 (check part one HERE and part two HERE); an interview to Jeanette LeBlanc from The Heavy Press after a Huntress show at The Kool Haus, in Toronto in 2013; or simply watch this EPK published by Huntress in 2012 where Jill talks about the band and their music.

After Jill’s passing this August, several renowned artists and bands from the rock and metal scene shared their shock and sadness on social media, such as Rob Halford, Lzzy Hale, Alex Skolnick, johan Hegg, Starkill, DragonForce, Otep, Randy Blythe, Cristina Scabbia, Alissa White-Gluz, and obviously her boyfriend, bandmate and partner in crime Blake Meahl, among many, many others as you can see HERE and HERE, showing how respected, loved and admired Jill was her entire life and career, and that she was never alone despite all her mental issues. Having said that, if you or someone you know and love might be at risk of suicide, please call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (or use the Lifeline Chat) if you’re in the United States, reach out to the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention if you live here in Canada, or any other support number or website from this international list of suicide crisis lines no matter where you are located in the world.

Jill Janus’ Official Instagram
Jill Janus’ Official Twitter
Huntress’ Official Facebook page
Huntress’ Official Twitter

“Once you decide to choose your purpose and live only for that purpose, that is when you will find success, and right now Huntress is it. I’m married to heavy metal and that is all that I have.” – Jill Janus

Album Review – NONE / Life Has Gone On Long Enough (2018)

Lose yourself on a journey through eight organic tracks of foggy mountainous atmosphere and bleak music by this unknown Atmospheric Black Metal entity, devouring and nourishing a hopeless life.

Written and recorded throughout the latter half of 2017, Life Has Gone On Long Enough, the brand new album by American Atmospheric/Depressive Black Metal entity NONE, takes its haunting shape through eight organic tracks of foggy mountainous atmosphere and bleak music. On this new chapter, NONE delves deeper into the blackest woods to find abandonment, and developing its tortured personality further. Moving in and out like the long shadows of an ancient forest, the harsh musical passages of Life Has Gone On Long Enough intertwine and die through forlorn atmospheres, devouring and nourishing a hopeless life.

Presented in a six-panel digipack with gorgeous panoramic photography, Life Has Gone On Long Enough represents a huge step forward in the career of this unknown, almost nameless creature, bringing all elements that made their 2017 debut self-titled EP so compelling and mesmerizing, but also showcasing new details and nuances that only make their music even more engaging than you can imagine, being highly recommended for admirers of the atmospheric creations by bands like Woods of Desolation, Coldworld, Shining, Gris and Sombres Forêts.

Ethereal sounds penetrate deep inside our minds in the intro Bleak, Damp, and Dead, transporting us to a different dimension and time titled A World, Dead and Gray, where the band’s melancholic and dark sonority fills every single empty space, with the song’s Doom Metal-inspired beats together with its lancinating riffs setting the perfect stage for the song’s uncanny gnarls coming from the unknown. In short, this is a superb exhibit of modern-day Atmospheric Black Metal, which can also be said about Bed the Cold Earth, where hopelessness and grief are the only two emotions crafted by NONE from start to finish, with their slow and steady beats and delicate guitar lines building a disquieting wall of Stygian sounds, flowing majestically until its somber finale. And in Hypoxic we face a gentle and introspective intro to another Depressive Black Metal feast, with the music remaining as lugubrious as possible with the deep, harsh laments complementing the overall obscurity. Put differently, this is one of those songs recommended for getting lost with your own deviant thoughts.

The somber Corroded creates an instant connection with the previous tune, where its mournful and gray background noises are thoroughly blended with the bitterly cold and melancholic sounds of guitars and keyboards, suddenly exploding into flammable Atmospheric Black Metal in Desiderate, with its crisp guitar melodies creating an interesting paradox with the song’s angelic keyboards. Moreover, also presenting a beyond obscure ambiance that will certainly blacken your heart and mind, the music flows into a desperate ending that lives up to the legacy of contemporary Ambient and Depressive Black Metal. Sluggish, creepy and macabre, Life is Long Enough showcases mysterious laughs intertwined with a pensive and heavy atmosphere, in a beautiful and captivating exhibit of the most outlandish and gloomy sounds you can think of, therefore dragging you to the palest and most ominous corner of life, and with its delicate, ethereal ending being the icing on the cake. And as a “bonus” to the listener we have a cover for Burzum’s Illa Tiðandi, an instrumental work-of-art by NONE presenting the cold winds of winter accompanied by a gentle piano just like the original by Mr. Varg Vikernes, which you can check HERE.

You can travel through the realms of Depressive and Atmospheric Black Metal ruled by NONE by taking a full listen at Life Has Gone On Long Enough on YouTube and on Spotify, and by purchasing the album from several locations such as the Hypnotic Dirge Record’s BandCamp or webstore in distinct formats (as a regular CD, as a Life Has Gone On Long Enough + their self-titled debut EP bundle, as a CD + shirt + sticker bundle, or as a Life Has Gone On Long Enough + self-titled EP + shirt + sticker mega bundle), as well as from CD Baby or from Discogs. Life might be long enough as masterfully depicted by NONE in their new album, but we can never get enough of their multi-layered, somber creations, proving Atmospheric Black Metal can be just as (if not more) exciting and vibrant than any of your regular metal genres.

Best moments of the album: A World, Dead and Gray, Desiderate and Life is Long Enough.

Worst moments of the album: Corroded.

Released in 2018 Hypnotic Dirge Records

Track listing
1. Bleak, Damp, and Dead 2:51
2. A World, Dead and Gray 7:46
3. Bed the Cold Earth 7:44
4. Hypoxic 6:59
5. Corroded 5:17
6. Desiderate 7:52
7. Life is Long Enough 7:56
8. Illa Tiðandi (Burzum cover) 6:03

Band members
*Information not available*

Album Review – NONE / NONE (2017)

Over 30 minutes of chilling and despondent Atmospheric Black Metal by an unknown entity from the Pacific Northwest that will darkly guide you on a one-way journey to emptiness.

“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Chilling and despondent music from the Pacific Northwest is what you’ll hear on the impressive self-titled debut album by Atmospheric/Depressive Black Metal entity NONE, a dark, full-bodied album comprised of three freakish and distinct arias interconnected by the howling winds of winter that will certainly appeal to fans of the Atmospheric Black Metal and DSBM (Depressive Suicidal Black Metal) crafted by groups such as Shining, ColdWorld and Woods of Desolation. Misery, grief, negativity and hopelessness are just a few elements you’ll find in the music by NONE, darkly guiding you on a one-way journey to emptiness.

Formed in 2015 in the city of Portland, Oregon, in the United States, NONE doesn’t carry its simple but enigmatic name in vain. NONE is precisely that, as they have no faces and they are no one, being solely represented by the depressive and obscure sounds emanating from each one of the three multi-layered compositions of the album. Drawing influences from the most melancholic and austere forms of atmospheric extreme music, NONE can quickly become the soundtrack to your most obscure moments, showing you that solitude might not be a bad solution at all in our lives.

In the opening track, simply titled Cold, the atmosphere couldn’t feel more sinister and disheartened, with its background noises and smooth piano notes quickly exploding into a puissant sonority. This is beautiful Depressive Black Metal perfect for closing your eyes and letting darkness embrace you, showcasing not only demonic gnarls and Stygian Black Metal guitars, but also presenting acoustic elements to bring some sort of false peace and hope to our hearts, before its climatic ending gets back to a somber and heavy sonority.

Also phantasmagorical and doomed, Wither is a direct sequel to its predecessor, with its Black Metal sounds invading our ears and souls while its hellish growls transpire hatred and despair. Furthermore, it brings forward a distressing aura found in the most sluggish and evil form of Blackened Doom, resulting in a delicate and at the same time powerful creation by NONE. And in Suffer we finally reach the stage where all songs together become one, displaying anguished screams and slow-paced Doom Metal beats complemented by the song’s serene piano notes. It’s a strong conclusion to the story being told by this arcane creature known as NONE, morphing into a desolated ending where it’s clear that darkness has taken full control of our souls.

You can purchase a digital copy of NONE at the Hypnotic Dirge Records’ BandCamp, but if you prefer to actually put your hands on such bitterly cold and mordant Depressive Black Metal work-of-art, the album is available in a 6-panel digipack (limited to 300 copies) at the Hypnotic Dirge Records’ webstore, where you can also find it as a T-shirt + CD bundle, or at Discogs. You already know that after following the dark path crafted by this unknown entity there’s no way back, but I guess you really don’t care about the consequences. Quite the contrary, that’s exactly where you want to be.

Best moments of the album: Wither.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Hypnotic Dirge Records

Track listing
1. Cold 11:57
2. Wither 8:45
3. Suffer 9:25

Band members
*Information not available*

Album Review – Falls of Rauros / Vigilance Perennial (2017)

Feel embraced by the Black and Folk Metal thoroughly crafted by this American quartet, ranging from a multilayered bout of aggression to beautiful moments of music that twist with a powerful and honest emotion.

Rating4

nvp055-coverTheir name comes from one of my favorite books of all time, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, inspired by the great falls of River Anduin beneath Nen Hithoel, where the river fell from Emyn Muil to the wetland of Nindalf. Their music, a fusion of Black and Folk Metal with several other elements from distinct genres of music, ranges from a multilayered bout of aggression to beautiful moments of music that twist with a powerful and honest emotion. I’m talking about Falls of Rauros, an extremely talented quartet hailing from the city of Portland, Maine, in the United States, who are releasing their fourth full-length album titled Vigilance Perennial, for the delight of fans of complex and atmospheric music.

Since their inception in 2005 the band has been in a constant state of evolution in their career, with their music flowing organically and increasing in intensity with each of their releases. Featuring an impactful artwork by Sólfjall Design, Vigilance Perennial offers the listener five unique compositions that not only represent the core essence of Falls of Rauros, but that will also take you on a journey of creativity and discovery together with the four members of this idiosyncratic band. If you truly open your mind to the music found in Vigilance Perennial, the entire album will probably become a constant part of your daily music playlist without a shadow of a doubt.

Smooth guitar lines by Jordan and Aaron kick off the opening track, White Granite, being gradually accompanied by Evan on bass and Ray on drums, before Jordan begins firing some hellish gnarls completing the band’s aforementioned fusion of Folk and Black Metal, in this case nicely complemented by subtle hints of Doom Metal. You’ll be travelling through serene fields and harsher landscapes with the band in this full-bodied composition, elevating your emotions and senses before the second aria of the album, Labyrinth Unfolding Echoes, continues to guide you through Falls of Rauros’ whimsical journey. Slow beats and soulful guitars dictate the rhythm in the song’s gentle beginning, but it’s after around three minutes that things get more flammable with their dark and melodic Folk Metal exploding once again, with Jordan growling in a very somber way while Evan and Ray add a lot of progressiveness and epicness to the sonority.

The instrumental piece Warm Quiet Centuries of Rains showcases two minutes of tranquil guitar lines and a pleasant atmosphere, preparing our ears and souls for the dense and multilayered composition that will certainly blast the minds of fans of the genre entitled Arrow & Kiln, where the band fires heavy and aggressive sounds from the very beginning, with Jordan sounding more menacing and demonic than before. Moreover, Ray has an amazing performance on drums with both his Black Metal blast beats and his more rhythmic and progressive beats, helping the other members to constantly alternate between calm instrumental passages and piercing folk sounds powerfully. And closing the album Falls of Rauros offer us all another extreme music extravaganza named Impermanence Streakt Through Marble, a very harmonious and exciting tune where all band members deliver top-notch Folk and Black Metal through their sharp instruments. The song gets remarkably heavy at times, especially halfway through it, with the riffs by Jordan and Aaron and the precise drumming by Ray creating a darkened ambience perfect for the harsh growls by Jordan to sound even stronger.

If you’re ready to tame the unrestrained waters of Falls of Rauros, simply go check their Facebook page for more details on their career, tour dates and future plans. And there are so many different places where you can grab your copy of Vigilance Perennial I might have missed one or two from my list, as you can buy the album at the Falls of Rauros’ BandCamp page, at the Nordvis Produktion’s BandCamp page or webstore (in CD or LP format), at the Bindrune Recordings’ webstore also in CD or LP format, as well as on iTunes or Amazon. Feel embraced by the beautiful extreme music crafted by Falls of Rauros, and let your emotions flow to the sound of their distinguished creations.

Best moments of the album: Labyrinth Unfolding Echoes and Arrow & Kiln.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Bindrune Recordings/Nordvis Produktion

Track listing
1. White Granite 10:11
2. Labyrinth Unfolding Echoes 9:30
3. Warm Quiet Centuries of Rains 2:17
4. Arrow & Kiln 12:02
5. Impermanence Streakt Through Marble 10:17

Band members
Jordan – vocals, guitar
Aaron – guitar, vocals
Evan – bass
Ray – drums