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.’”

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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

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Album Review – Answer With Metal / Centralia (2019)

The answer to all your problems in life in the form of nine songs filled with speed, melody, powerful vocals and ear piercing solos, courtesy of one of the best names of the underground Canadian scene.

It’s time to return to Stouffville, a municipality in the Greater Toronto Area of Ontario, Canada, approximately 50 kilometers north of downtown Toronto, to raise our horns once again to the classic and exciting Heavy Metal blasted by a five-piece group known as Answer With Metal, who are releasing now in 2019 their fourth full-length album, entitled Centralia, a fantastic follow-up to the band’s latest releases Handling the Blade (2015) and Return to the Gates (2016). Comprised of pretty much the same lineup from their previous installments, which is Dan Nielsen on vocals, Andrew Jarvis on the guitar, Jon Stallan on bass and Alejandro Gonzalez on drums (with the exception of rhythm guitarist Matt Hadaway, who left the band in 2018 for personal reasons), Answer With Metal are back to prove there’s no better answer to all problems in life than our good old Heavy Metal, having Centralia as their powerful weapon of persuasion.

Featuring a futuristic, eye-catching artwork by Brazilian graphic designer Caio Caldas from Cadies Art (who has already worked with DragonForce, Raven Lord, Soulspell, Hammerdrone and Xenosis, among several other bands), and mixed and mastered by the band’s own guitarist Andrew Jarvis, Centralia offers the listener nine songs filled with speed, melody, powerful vocals and ear piercing solos, delivering a blend of 80’s traditional metal with heavier thrashing elements in order to give it a rawer  sound. As a matter of fact, the title of the album is a reference to Centralia, a city in Pennsylvania, in the United States, which became a near ghost town due to the Centralia mine fire, which has been burning underground since 1962, giving you a very good idea of how hot and incendiary the music found throughout the entire album can be.

Slashing riffs a la Judas Priest kick off the frantic and very traditional No One’s to Own, a true headbanger where Andrew and Jon are in absolute sync with their stringed weapons, before Dan begins firing his high-pitched, metallic vocal lines for our total delight. In other words, the album couldn’t have started in a better way, and the band puts the pedal to the metal to make things even more thrilling in the fantastic Wild Hunt, exhaling old school Heavy Metal with an additional and very welcome Thrash Metal touch. I’m quite sure this is Alejandro’s favorite song to play due to its speed and fury, while Andrew and Jon keep crushing their strings beautifully, not to mention its absolutely catchy lyrics (“The huntsmen ride strong / The hunt goes on and on / The hounds of hell lead the way / Black as night you’ll die today”). And blending elements from the music by renowned acts such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Helloween and Primal Fear (which obviously translates into awesomeness), Answer With Metal fire the excellent Stand and Fight, proving they do not need to play at the speed of light to sound amazing, with Dan stealing the spotlight with his strong voice.

Again focusing on heaviness instead of speed, the band delivers a powerful performance in Jenova, especially Andrew with his soulful riffs and solos, followed by the title-track Centralia, a marching/headbanging tune also inspired by the NWOBHM showcasing those old school lyrics we all love so much (“Fear not our fate rebirthed / Enter the reset – flood out the earth / Altered in restless dreams / Rise from the ashes of Centralia”) and a precise Ale on drums, effectively dictating the song’s rhythm. Then it’s time to speed things up once again just the way we like it in Power Metal with Don’t Know Why, perfect for hitting the highway (and get a ticket for over-speeding, of course), with Jon and Ale blasting thunderous and intricate roars from their respective instruments throughout the entire song.

And the Heavy Metal party has no time to end, as we’re treated to more of their classic musicality in Cry Wolf, where the entire band does a great job in what’s in my opinion the best song of the album, blasting sheer rage, speed and electricity, not to mention Andrew’s awesome shredding form start to finish. In No Heights a Home the band ventures through the realms of Thrash Metal one more time, which becomes even clearer in the vocal lines and riffs as the music progresses, also presenting a great chorus for singing along with the band, intricate bass punches by Jon and rabid beats by Ale, adding to the whole song tons of potency and stamina. Lastly, closing the album we have the mid-tempo, semi-ballad Last of You, a very good song but slightly below the rest of the album in terms of impact, creativity and feeling. There’s still a lot to enjoy though, such as Dan’s excellent vocal lines.

It’s time to join Answer With Metal in their journey to the obscure Centralia, and in order to do that simply grab your copy of the album (also available for a full listen on Spotify) from the band’s own BandCamp page or from iTunes. Also, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their gripping music, showing your true support and admiration for this excellent Canadian band that has been proudly carrying the flag of traditional Heavy Metal since their inception, never giving up and always loyal to their foundations. And that’s how you make true heavy music, my friends.

Best moments of the album: Wild Hunt, Cry Wolf and No Heights a Home.

Worst moments of the album: Last of You.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. No One’s to Own 4:06
2. Wild Hunt 4:55
3. Stand and Fight 4:40
4. Jenova 4:36
5. Centralia 3:59
6. Don’t Know Why 4:06
7. Cry Wolf 3:34
8. No Heights a Home 3:56
9. Last of You 4:57

Band members
Dan Nielsen – vocals
Andrew Jarvis – guitars
Jon Stallan – bass
Alejandro Gonzalez – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Tanza Speed

No kisses, no games, don’t think I want love… Do not complain, it’s the speed metal way!

It’s time to put the pedal to the metal here on The Headbanging Moose by presenting to you one of the meanest, fastest and most ferocious ladies in the world of heavy music, a woman that loves Heavy and Speed Metal from the bottom of her heart and who takes no prisoners in her quest for underground music. Not only a talented musician, she’s also a model, a designer and an artist, always fighting for her dreams and never giving up or slowing down no matter what. I’m talking about Constanza Godoy Díaz, better known by her fast and furious moniker of Tanza Speed (or simply Tanza), the vocalist and multi-instrumentalist behind American Heavy/Speed Metal band Outline and the project’s previous incarnation, Chilean Speed Metal band Demona. With that said, are you ready to accelerate and bang your heads together with Tanza?

Born on August 13, 1990 in Quilpué, a city and capital of the Marga Province in central Chile’s Valparaíso Region, and living her entire childhood in Villa Alemana near her family and friends, Tanza is the daughter of two 80’s metalheads and has always been linked to the metal scene (by the way, her father Mauricio “Jackie” Godoy played guitar in two bands from Valparaíso, those being Distorsion and D.O.D.), with her passion for metal music starting when she was around 12 years old while searching for her own identity and exploring different styles. In 2007, at the age of 17, she created her own band Demona (a project without major expectations that didn’t release anything until 2008), only days after moving to Santiago to study English in university. She didn’t finish her career, though, because she realized it was not what she wanted and decided to change her major and study what she really wanted, photojournalism. However, that only lasted for one year, as she couldn’t continue her studies due to her move to Canada in 2011. Tanza actually said being a photographer was pretty exciting, especially in her home country due to all violence and riots happening at that time, and she still takes photos at her home studio and publishes those on her own website.

Our dauntless musician considers herself a person that likes to learn and study by observing things, always trying to notice the differences between cultures as she’s already lived in Chile, Canada and the United States, and traveled to countries like Brazil and Japan, enjoying seeing the contrasts in people. For instance, when she was a kid she enjoyed observing her mother and grandmother sew, always trying to replicate what they were doing, which ended up helping her develop her skills as a fashion designer. Regarding the time when she moved to Canada, in 2011, Tanza said that was necessary as she was being bullied a lot in her homeland Chile. The local scene didn’t really love her, and due to her lack of experience things got out of control and she couldn’t continue in the band she was at that time anymore. It was thanks to her Canadian friends that she decided to save some money and try a new life in Canada, opening up a whole new world of possibilities for her not only as a musician, but as an artist and a businesswoman.

Before Demona, Tanza was part of a couple of bands with some friends, but nothing that could be considered a serious or professional project, those being Chilean Thrash Metal band Corrosion, where she played guitars and with whom she played a few live concerts and recorded only one demo, and another band named Poisoned, where she was also the guitarist, but that lasted only for a few months. In addition, you can also find Tanza collaborating with American Power/Thrash Metal band Destructor in their 2016 album Back in Bondage, not as a musician but as their cover model, giving a touch of delicacy and sexiness to their crushing music. However, as aforementioned, after forming Demona in 2007 Tanza really started to build a career in heavy music, with the band either working as her solo project, where she took care of vocals and played all instruments, or as a regular band with other musicians involved. Since 2008, Tanza and her Demona have released a promo EP in 2008, followed by the demo Metal Is Me in 2009, the EP Die in Violence in 2010, the demo Nightmare in 2011, the EP MIM / The Assassin in 2012, the full-length albums Metal Through the Time, in 2012, and Speaking with the Devil (which she was also responsible for the layout), in 2013, and finally the EP 2015, obviously launched in 2015. The idea behind Demona was quite simple, as Tanza started playing the guitar at home on a regular boring day during her teens, wrote an original song and voilà, the project was born, with the name Demona being inspired by the word “demon”, but with the additional “a” giving it a more feminine touch. You can visit the band’s YouTube channel to get a good taste of their vicious music, like this video of the band playing the song The Apocalypse live in Sherbrook, Quebec, Canada on August 12, 2011, or also go to Tanza’s personal channel to watch her kicking some ass live in Osaka, Japan in 2014 with the songs Demona and Dirty Speed Metal.

In addition, as briefly mentioned in the beginning of this tribute to Tanza, Demona recently morphed in 2017 to a new entity entitled Outline, having released in 2017 their first demo named Fire Whiplash and, more recently, an expanded and more professional version of that demo, with the addition of a few new songs to it and, of course, a better overall production. Outline is not just a continuation of Demona, but an enhanced project where Tanza, together with J. Hammer, the mastermind behind American Black/Speed Metal/Punk one-man army Hammr, reveal to the diehard fans of Demona a newer and more traditional side of Tanza, and you can take a good listen at that metamorphosis directly at Outline’s BandCamp page or YouTube channel, like the title-track to their debut album Fire Whiplash. Under this new name, Tanza is known as “The Speed”, while J. Hammer is simply “The Hammer”, just to give you an idea of how raw, direct and metallic their music sounds.

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Not only an up-and-coming metalhead, Tanza is also the founder of her own clothing store named Speed Clothes, an idea that was originated as soon as Tanza moved to Canada in 2011, when she was broke and didn’t speak the language, and therefore felt the need and desire to start her own business inspired as mentioned by her mother and grandmother. In 2012, she made her first printed swimsuit on spandex and things started to change, but it was in 2015 when she relocated to the United States after getting married that her business really took off, investing all she had at that time to create a product that would fulfill every girl’s demands when it comes to metal clothing, empowering them to dress as they please and “looking hot without sacrificing brutality”, as frontman Mauro Gonzales from American Thrash Metal act Bonded by Blood said once. Furthermore, as Tanza herself stated, she’s not just selling clothes, but also taking care of all other business areas such as marketing, promotion, photography, customer service and website development, for example. You can get more information about Speed Clothes from their official website or from their Facebook page, getting in touch with Tanza and, if you’re a girl who loves metal above all things, maybe even purchase new clothes or accessories for your devilish wardrobe.

Still regarding Speed Clothes and fashion in general, Tanza said in one of her interviews that freedom and creativity are the key points in metal fashion, allowing people to express themselves and to innovate, which is something Tanza believes is a crucial part of metal music. “Metal wouldn’t be what it is now without innovation, and innovation comes with trying new things. Whether you want it or not, it implies that you have to mix and try and invent things. Mainstream artists wear a lot of leather with studs and stuff and, if that’s what you mean then, I think that’s great,” said our multi-talented metaller, complementing by saying why innovation is essential in her line of business. “You cannot pretend you are still in the ‘80s when you are using the internet, you know? Even in metal, we can’t keep it squarely in the ‘80s. I understand the tendency, but the 17-year-old girls of today simply do not care about the ‘80s anymore. They want cool things. And why shouldn’t there be cool things for metal, as there are for everything else in life?”

Tanza’s inspirations and idols in music and arts in general are pretty much everything we metalheads love, with underground bands like Living Death, Wardance, Desaster and Sentinel Beast being among her favorite ones alongside metal titans such as Judas Priest and the early days of Metallica. However, she mentioned in one of her interviews that she also takes lots of inspiration from other kinds of music like classic rock, such as Queen and Led Zeppelin, and also from 80’s synth pop like Yazoo, Depeche Mode and Trans X. As a matter of fact, Tanza and her Demona were originally inspired by her own personal experiences plus a wide range of styles, from national classic folklore to the most remote and underground bands that may exist, which is basically why her music sounds so raw, vibrant and honest, working as a representation of her own true self.

When asked about the metal scene in her homeland Chile, Tanza said that Chilean metal fans are extremely passionate, loving metal from the bottom of their hearts and with their souls, but that also means they can be very hateful as well to anyone who doesn’t have the same beliefs and ideas or to who’s too different from them. She said that, while she was living in Chile, women were not very accepted in the metal scene, not being taken seriously as they should as the scene was too sexist and elitist at that time which, as already mentioned, was one of the main reasons why she left her country and moved to Canada. However, even with all those hassles, Tanza loves metal from her homeland, with bands like Force of Darkness, Atomic Aggressor, Pentagram, Insanity and Invocations Spells being among the ones she personally recommends to anyone who’s interested in knowing more about Heavy Metal made in Chile.

It was in 2014 when Tanza had perhaps her biggest adventure in the world of heavy music, having visited and played in Japan, the “Land of the Rising Sun”, something not very common for several bands (especially if we’re talking about bands from Chile), with the story behind her trip to Japan being very curious to say the least. Before travelling to Japan, Tanza was going through a boring and depressed period in her life, almost ready not to play with Demona anymore. One day, out of nowhere, a Japanese label called Rock Stakk Records contacted her for playing her music in Japan alongside Japanese musicians, resulting in the first ever (and so far, the only) occasion Demona performed live in Japan. Furthermore, Tanza obviously has a strong connection now with the Japanese rock and metal scene, recommending countless local bands such as Sabbat, Metalucifer, Gastunk, X Japan and Loudness, among many, many others.

And last but not least, when asked about her hobbies and other activities, our alternative Chilean singer and model (or “trollmodel”, as her own uncle would say) answered that she actually doesn’t have much time for hobbies, although she loves doing some relaxing activities like taking pictures and recording videos once in a while. Overall, her time is divided between music, her clothing store and modeling (and of course her husband). There are several interesting interviews with Tanza Speed online, such as this one for The Noise Hour Radio Show on May 22, 2013, where she talks about the music by Demora and other nice-to-know details about her career. The only thing is that the full interview is in Spanish, her mother tongue, but as a true supporter of underground metal I guess it’s a very good opportunity for you to practice your Spanish, right? All in the name of our good, old, fast and furious Heavy Metal.

Tanza Speed’s Official Facebook page (Speed Clothes)
Tanza Speed’s Official Instagram (Speed Clothes)
Tanza Speed’s Official Twitter
Outline’s Official Facebook page
Outline’s Official Instagram
Outline’s Official YouTube channel

“Metal wouldn’t be what it is now without innovation, and innovation comes with trying new things. Whether you want it or not, it implies that you have to mix and try and invent things.” – Tanza Speed

Concert Review – Striker & Unleash The Archers (The Velvet Underground, Toronto, ON, 10/01/2018)

Do you want to know how to easily brave a cold and rainy Monday in Toronto? Striker and Unleash The Archers had the perfect recipe for that last night when they took our beloved city by storm.

OPENING ACT: Lutharö

Not only last night in Toronto was cold and rainy, but it was also a Monday, the day of the week all of us usually feel like doing absolutely nothing. However, when that same Monday offers us a night of pure Canadian Metal with the amazing bands Lutharö, Striker and Unleash The Archers at the small and very cozy The Velvet Underground, why not facing that shitty weather (I know it could have been a lot worse like what they’re having in Calgary now, but it’s still shitty) to meet some friends, enjoy a few beers and bang our fuckin’ heads to the best metal music you’ll find in the entire country? That, my friends, is the recipe for a packed (and hot) concert on what was supposed to be another boring Monday night, as simple as that.

Photos by Aline Cavalheiro – https://www.instagram.com/aline.cavalheiro81/

The first band of the night was Hamilton-based female-fronted squad LUTHARÖ, playing an extremely fun, crisp and pleasant fusion of 80’s Heavy Metal with modern-day Melodic Death Metal the likes of The Agonist and Arch Enemy. Spearheaded by the talented she-wolf Krista Shipperbottom, whose vocal style, hair and looks remind me of The Agonist’s stunning frontwoman Vicky Psarakis, the band delivered a solid performance for the fans at the venue who probably had zero knowledge of the band before the concert. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the names of all songs they played last night, but I do remember the names of my two favorite ones, I of the Axe and their newborn tune Unleash the Beast, and in both cases all band members kicked some serious ass. Having said that, don’t waste your time and go check their music out on YouTube and on BandCamp, and keep an eye on their Facebook page for news and tour dates, because you never know when Krista and her henchmen will mercilessly attack your hometown.

Band members
Krista Shipperbottom – lead vocals
Victor Bucur – lead guitars, backing vocals
John Raposo – guitar
Ruslan Lypovsky – bass
Cory Hofing – drums 

STRIKER

Photos by Aline Cavalheiro – https://www.instagram.com/aline.cavalheiro81/

After a short break, where fans either went to the washroom, got another beer or checked out the merch from the bands, it was time for my favorite Canadian band of the past decade to show everyone at the venue that Canada is indeed a land of first-class Heavy Metal. When award-winning Edmonto-based act STRIKER hit the stage, we all knew it was going to be a heavy, melodic and utterly entertaining performance, kicking things off with the opening track from their 2016 album Stand in the Fire, the electrifying Phoenix Lights, followed by two of my favorite tracks from their latest albums, Born to Lose, from their 2017 self-titled masterpiece Striker, and Heart of Lies, from their brand new opus Play To Win (to be officially released later this month). Needless to say, after such action-packed start, the game was already won by Striker.

And the quintet comprised of frontman Dan Cleary (what a voice, ladies and gentlemen!), guitarists Tim Brown and Chris Segger, bassist William Wallace and drummer Adam Brown kept blasting their fusion of old school Heavy Metal and Hard rock with contemporary Power Metal without giving a single second for us to breathe, impressing us all with their level of energy, professionalism and passion for what they do, with incendiary songs like Former Glory and Pass Me By (both from their 2017 self-titled album), and especially the high-octane Full Speed or No Speed (from their 2010 album Eyes in the Night) and the metal hymn Fight for Your Life (from their 2012 album Armed to the Teeth), representing to perfection what the music by Striker is all about. At a given moment of the show, when Dan was introducing us to the next song to be played (I don’t remember which one he was talking about, but it was of course amazing), he asked the crowd if there were any fans in the house of the music by metal giants like Iron Maiden, Saxon, and Anvil, complementing his joke by saying they were not going to play any of that, but “some old school Striker shit”. Well, who said we were expecting them to play any cover songs? When the band in question is a fantastic one like Striker, we want to listen to their own songs, and I can’t wait to do that again when they return to Toronto in a not-so-distant future.

Setlist
Phoenix Lights
Born to Lose
Heart of Lies
Lethal Force
Crossroads
Former Glory
Too Late
Out for Blood
Pass Me By
Locked In
Full Speed or No Speed
The White Knight
Fight for Your Life

Band members
Dan Cleary – lead vocals
Tim Brown – lead and rhythm guitar
Chris Segger – lead and rhythm guitar
William Wallace – bass
Adam Brown – drums

UNLEASH THE ARCHERS

Photos by Aline Cavalheiro – https://www.instagram.com/aline.cavalheiro81/

I was so entertained and electrified by the concert by Striker that I completely lost track of time, not knowing exactly what time their concert ended and what time the main attraction of the night, the unstoppable Vancouver-based metal warriors known as UNLEASH THE ARCHERS, hit the stage at The Velvet Underground. And keep in mind it was a Monday night, which means most people would be checking their watches all the time counting every minute to go home. Just like Striker delivered a flawless performance, the band led by the warrior princess Brittney Slayes was absolutely on fire on stage from start to finish, inspiring the fans to ignite some mosh pits (all pretty good except for a silly moron with a moustache that was either too drunk, too high or way too stupid to respect everyone else, to the point Brittney had to call his attention to stop acting like a jerk), to do some crowd surfing, to raise our fists in the air and to sing along every single song with them.

Still promoting their 2017 opus Apex, the quintet formed by the skillful, humble and sympathetic Brittney Slayes on vocals (sending hearts with her hands to the fans during the entire show), Grant Truesdell on the guitar, Andrew Kingsley on the  guitar and harsh growls, newcomer Nick Miller on bass and Scott Buchanan on drums returned to the city after three long years, proving how hard it is to travel and tour inside Canada, but that excruciating wait was definitely worth it. Firing the most awesome songs from Apex such as Awakening, The Matriarch and Cleanse the Bloodlines, mixed with battle hymns from their previous albums like Time Stands Still, Tonight We Ride and my favorite of all, Test Your Metal, from their 2015 opus Time Stands Still, Unleash The Archers fully captivated our senses during their whole concert, also showing their awe for the amount of fans that gathered at the venue on a rainy Monday night (and yes, I have to repeat that again) to celebrate metal with them (and to sing A-Ha’s Take On Me which was coming out of the speakers after all was said and done).

Today is Tuesday, most of us might have been really tired the entire day and probably bored at work (as Brittney herself said, fuck work!), but happy to have witnessed a true feast of the best Heavy Metal made in Canada you can think of. As already mentioned, let’s hope none of the bands take too long to return to the city, and that they play at a bigger venue so that a lot more metal maniacs from Toronto and from other parts of the province are able to enjoy the lesson in heavy music given by such distinct bands, even if they play on a snowy Monday night in the middle of the winter, with chilling temperatures and bitterly cold winds. Do you think you have what it takes to ride with Striker and Unleash The Archers under such adverse conditions? If you love metal music as much as I do, I’m sure you’ll be there with us.

Setlist
Intro
Awakening
The Matriarch
Cleanse the Bloodlines
Test Your Metal
Dreamcrusher
Time Stands Still
General of the Dark Army
Tonight We Ride

Encore:
Apex

Band members
Brittney Slayes – vocals
Grant Truesdell – guitar
Andrew Kingsley –  guitar, harsh growls
Nick Miller – bass
Scott Buchanan – drums

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Metal Chick of the Month – Brittney Slayes

There’s no hiding from her, she sees everything!

In order to properly celebrate nothing more, nothing less than FIVE years of The Headbanging Moose, there’s nothing better than paying a humble tribute to a true Warrior of the North as our metal chick of this month of October, a woman that perfectly represents all the passion, strength and perseverance from the people that make our beloved Canada one of the best places to live in the world. Born in 1985 in Vancouver, one of the most beautiful cities not only in the province of British Columbia but in the entire country, here comes the dauntless vocalist Brittney Slayes, whose real name is Brittney Hayes, frontwoman and founding member of Canadian Heavy Metal band Unleash The Archers, always ready to show you what metal music from the Great White North is all about.

The talented Brittney, who discovered her voice when she was five years old and began singing in her local community choir at the age of eight, traveled with several choirs during her school years, taking part in many musical theater productions and working with some of the best vocal coaches in Western Canada. In university, she attended the UVic School Of Music, but choosing instead to attain her undergraduate degree in History. Furthermore, during her time at the University of Victoria, she traveled the world as a member of the Juno Award-winning ensemble the Uvic Chamber Singers. As a UVic alumna and the lead singer of Victoria-born Unleash the Archers, Brittney gave a keynote talk on July 10, 2018 for UVic’s upcoming conference Boundaries and Ties: The Place of Metal Music in Communities, with her talk, entitled “View from the ‘Apex’: A Metal Musician’s Views on Metal and Community”, drawing on her firsthand experience with local, national, and international metal communities. And do you want to know what our metal warrior thinks about us, metalheads? “People are so open-minded. They’re not going to cast judgement and never give you a chance. From what I’ve seen, metalheads are very kind and caring and open-hearted. I just think that the metal community is uplifting, really,” said our wise vocalist.

Apart from her time singing with different choirs, our Canadian warrior had never been involved in any other bands or music projects before founding Unleash The Archers back in 2007 with her boyfriend and drummer Scott Buchanan, and according to Brittney herself starting the band was the best thing she could have ever done (and we all agree with that, of course), allowing her to use her background in classical music and her four octave range to provide a more dynamic approach to the band’s incendiary fusion of traditional Heavy Metal with Power and Melodic Metal. In late 2008, the band recorded a self-titled four-song demo, which featured two songs (Black Goat of the Woods and Destroyer) they would end up re-recording for their first studio album. In one of her interviews, Brittney explained a little more about the origins of the band, saying it all began when Scott, former guitarist Brayden Dyczkowski (who left the band in 2014) and herself were in university, when Scott and Brayden were playing in a Death Metal band together, and as the drummer’s girlfriend Brittney simply loved to go to their shows and rock out. When the band broke up, she called Brayden and asked him if he wanted to start a band with herself as the vocalist and Scott on drums, and from that day on Unleash The Archers became a reality, leading the band to grow and become a reference in Canadian metal music, winning the Best Metal Band and Best Vocalist awards during the 2015 Vancouver Whammy Awards, as well as being voted number 6 in Exclaim Magazine’s Readers Choice Awards for Best Metal Albums of 2009.

Apart from the aforementioned self-titled debut demo, Unleash The Archers have already released four full-length albums and one EP, those being their 2009 debut album Behold the Devastation (when she was still known as as B. Hayes), the 2011 album Demons of the AstroWaste, the 2012 EP Defy the Skies, the 2015 album Time Stands Still, and last year’s highly acclaimed opus Apex. Currently comprised of our Canadian Valkyrie of metal Brittney on vocals, Grant Truesdell and Andrew Kingsley on the guitars and harsh growls, and Scott Buchanan on drums, as well as Nick Miller taking care of the bass duties during their live performances, Unleash The Archers have a great selection of official videos, lyric videos and unofficial live footage for us to enjoy for hours on YouTube. For instance, you can join Unleash The Archers in their quest for metal with the songs Tonight We Ride, Ten Thousand Against One, Apex, General Of The Dark Army, Time Stands Still, Cleanse The Bloodlines, Awakening, The Matriarch and Dawn Of Ages. And if live concerts and performances are your cup of tea, you can enjoy Brittney and the guys kicking ass with the songs Dreamcrusher and Time Stands Still live in Montreal in 2015; General Of The Dark Army live at the Pont Rouge in Monthey, Switzerland  in 2016; an acoustic version of The Outlander recorded live at CHSR in New Brunswick with Matt Nightingale during the 2011 “Tour Through The AstroWaste”; and their full set during their 2015 appearance at ProgPower USA in 2015. When asked about her favorite Unleash The Archers songs, those she believes a newcomer to their metal world should definitely take a listen at, Brittney said she has always loved Battle In The Shadow (Of The Mountain), from their second album Demons of the AstroWaste, saying she has a strong emotional connection to that song, also including on the list Four In Hand, from their debut album Behold the Devastation, as it’s about sin becoming personified as a cloaked figure riding around in a chariot pulled by the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Interesting, isn’t it?

Brittney has also been featured in several other bands and projects as a guest musician, each one of them being very peculiar and showcasing all the talent and range of our metal warrior. For instance, she provided additional vocals to the song Leather Lord, featured on the 2013 EP Live at Mushroom: Vol. I, by Canadian Power/Heavy Metal band 3 Inches of Blood; guest vocals on the song Queen of the Galaxy, from the 2014 EP Queen of the Galaxy (and also featured on the 2018 album The Extraterrestrial Compendium), by American Power/Thrash Metal band Dire Peril (and you can also check a cool live version of it in 2016 at the Blue Lamp HERE); vocals on the song Lunar Sunrise, from the 2014 album The Age of Ether, by American Power/Progressive Metal band Disforia; vocals for the full 2018 album Terror of the Cybernetic Space Monster, by American Power Metal band Helion Prime, like in the song Spectrum; vocals for the excellent song Burn It Down (With Fire), from the 2018 album Shadows from the Past, by American Heavy Metal band Lords of the Trident; and last but not least, she was also a guest on the song Siren’s Song, from the 2016 album Lawful Evil, by The Dread Crew of Oddwood (an acoustic pirate band from San Diego, California).

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Regarding her career and life on the road, Brittney said that living life through music is every musician’s dream, living and breathing music every second of every day while on tour, and she wants to keep playing with Unleash The Archers everywhere, every corner of the globe, every continent and every type of venue, from Japan to Scotland, from Brazil to Antarctica (if they can find metalheads there, of course). When asked about the main difference between festivals and regular shows, she said that in the end they’re not that different, only that there are a lot more bands hanging out backstage waiting for their turn and the atmosphere seems quite a bit more laid back. Having already played with Unleash The Archers all over the world, from North America to China and Japan, Brittney has been collecting a lot of good memories and moments from each and every concert, such as their performance at Hell & Heaven Fest in Mexico City in 2014, where they played a side stage but were able to see the concerts by some of their favorite bands like Angra and KISS. Furthermore, all that passion for heavy music and her family had a very positive impact on her performance on stage. For instance, her brother used to play in a punk band and her father worked as a musician for a long time in the 60’s and 70’s. She used to play with his music equipment when she was a little kid, and there are many pictures of Brittney rocking out with an old SM57 in her hand standing on a table or any other stage-like apparatus. Also, as aforementioned, she was always involved in musical theater, drama, choir or any other sort of performing art, making her feel very comfortable when facing the crowd, it doesn’t matter if at a small venue or at a big renowned festival.

As it happens with any up-and-coming artist in metal music, Brittney has been asked several times through the years about who her biggest idols and influences are in music and in life in general, and her answers couldn’t be more classic, more inspiring and, of course, more metal. She said in one of her interviews that as a vocalist she has always been highly influenced by the one and only Bruce Dickinson, the metal god Rob Halford, Geoff Tate, Kai Hansen (Gamma Ray), Björn “Speed” Strid (Soilwork), Daniel Heiman (Lost Horizon), and Jonas Heidgert (Dragonland), among many others, with bands such as Iron Maiden, As I Lay Dying, All That Remains, Helloween and Septicflesh playing an important role in the development of her taste for music and her singing style. Furthermore, Brittney mentioned that the unparalleled Countdown To Extinction, released by Megadeth in 1992, was the first metal record she’s ever heard in her life, and that was basically the moment that would define her musical preferences for the rest of her life, but she also complemented her thought by saying Best Of The Beast, Iron Maiden’s first “best of” album, released in 1996, was the album that inspired her to use her vocal talents as a singer in a metal band. In addition, when questioned which bands she would choose if she could create her own festival, Brittney simply listed Iron Maiden, Lost Horizon, Iced Earth, Sabaton and Dragonland, all beyond formidable acts, also saying that she would love to tour with Iced Earth, one of her favorite bands of all time, as their music speaks to her on a whole other level.

And last but not least, When Brittney was asked how it feels to be in a Power Metal band from a country like Canada where the Power Metal scene is not as developed as in other places like Scandinavia and Japan, she admitted it’s a bit tough for bands that play metal the likes of Unleash The Archers due to the music culture in Canada being a lot more inclined to Death Metal and other more extreme styles, with Canadian metalheads growing up with bands like Kataklysm and Voivod,  even saying a Power Metal band can feel very “lonely” in the country. However, she also mentioned that even in that not-so-inspiring scenario there are still lots of traditional Power Metal acts all over the country, proving that as long as Power Metal bands keep playing music from their hearts and stay united and strong, the genre has all it takes to grow in popularity among Canadian fans. And there’s no one better than the warrior princess Brittney to lead that metal army and “unleash the archers” upon all of us.

Brittney Slayes’ Official Facebook page
Brittney Slayes’ Official Instagram
Brittney Slayes’ Official Twitter
Unleash The Archers’ Official Facebook page
Unleash The Archers’ Official Instagram
Unleash The Archers’ Official Twitter

“There’s always going to be those faces in the crowd that you have known since the beginning, and that you know will always be there for you; they were fans, and they’ve become friends. I think that there’s very much this foundation of fans that keep you standing. That will never change. The only thing that happens is that it just grows.” – Brittney Slayes

Album Review – Striker / Play To Win (2018)

Blending classic Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Power Metal and 80’s Hair Metal, one of the biggest exponents of contemporary Canadian metal music strikes once again with a brand new album, always playing to win.

Champions in blending classic Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Power Metal and 80’s Hair Metal, Canadian shredders Striker are back with another good album titled Play To Win, the sixth in their undisputed career and a follow-up to their two previous award nominated winning albums, their 2017 breathtaking self-titled opus Striker (nominated for a JUNO award, winner of an Edmonton Music Award and Western Canadian Award) and the WCMA + EMA award winning album Stand In The Fire, released in 2016. That means this Edmonton-based squad comprised of frontman Dan Cleary, guitarists Tim Brown and Chris Segger, bassist William Wallace and drummer Adam Brown has been on an absolute roll in the past few years, not only delivering first-class metal for our total delight, but also spreading their music live across Europe and North America with bands like Sonata Arctica, Dark Tranquility and Warbringer, along with festival appearances at 70,000 Tons of Metal and Bang Your Head Festival, proving why they’re already considered one of the biggest exponents in contemporary Canadian Heavy Metal.

Mixed and Mastered by Hendrik Udd at Hendrik Udd Recording Studios, and featuring not only an old school artwork by Elvis Amaral (HipnoFX Audiovisual), but also the fantastic Randy Black (Annihilator, Primal Fear, Destruction) as a session drummer, who by the way also recorded the album Stand in the Fire with the band, Play To Win will please all fans of traditional metal and rock, keeping the name of Striker relevant and strong in the scene. “Play to Win: if you want to win you have to play the game. Find the rules and break them. This is our 6th album and 3rd independent release. If we followed the rules and listened to the industry people we’d have gone absolutely nowhere. Play To Win is about listening to yourself, following your own path, and playing that 5th ace hidden in your sleeve. This album is designed to light a fire under your ass and get you moving, and we made sure to get the most modern, ear melting sounds possible. It’s all about where metal is going, not where it has been, and this is our soundtrack to success,” commented Tim about the album.

And Tim and Chris begin slashing and shredding their strings from the very first second in the opening tune Heart of Lies, where the band delivers their usual ass-kicking fusion of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock, with Dan declaiming the song’s chorus beautifully (“Another victim to a heart of lies / Can’t see the truth behind those venom eyes / Another victim to a heart of lies / On deaf ears will fall the eagle’s cry”). Then leaning towards pure 80’s Hard Rock and Glam Metal, in special the crisp and passionate vocal lines by Dan, we have Position of Power, with William and Randy maintaining a solid and rumbling background throughout the entire song; followed by Head First, a good song that gets a bit too commercial at times, but that obviously brings Striker’s old school punch, sounding very rhythmic, groovy and melodic. In addition, Tim and Chris are once again on fire with their riffs and solos, making it a highly recommended addition to your road trip playlist.

Blending the music by Iron Maiden with Motley Crüe, Stratovarius and Van Halen, which in the end resulted in sheer awesomeness, Striker offer us the thrilling On The Run, showcasing a brilliant vocal performance by Dan while William keeps extracting that metallic sound we all love form his bass, whereas The Front is another classic song by Striker, also feeling as it was taken from an 80’s Hair Metal album. It’s a bit too smooth compared to the sonic massacre from their previous albums, but the crisp sound of the guitars and the precise beats by Randy make it very enjoyable and fun. The title-track Play To Win, a mid-tempo feast of rockin’ sounds, sounds even more inspired by the golden years of Hard Rock than ever, with the guitar riffs and solos by both Tim and Chris getting sharper and groovier, and albeit its lyrics are extremely cheesy, the message the band wanted to send is there (and that’s what really matters in the end). Then despite the excellent vocals by Dan, its tuneful guitar solos and a pleasant vibe, the power ballad Standing Alone never really takes off, getting way too mellow compared to what Striker are capable of doing.

Back to a heavier and more epic sonority, those talented Canadian metallers fire an electrified Heavy Metal and Hard Rock tune entitled Summoner, inspired by many classics by Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and other behemoths from the NWOBHM, also presenting the best guitar work of the entire album in my opinion. In Heavy Is The Heart the band shows how to do a proper power ballad, bringing passion to the musicality without forgetting the always needed dosages of electricity and rage, again presenting an inspired Dan leading his bandmates from start to finish. However, the closing tune Hands Of Time is another generic song that sounds and feels extremely soft if you’re a longtime fan of Striker, lacking the same potency and kick from their already classic tunes. Put differently, it’s far from being a bad song, but as we all got used to a lot heavier riffs and faster beats by Striker it’s hard to truly relish it.

As a huge fan of their self-titled album released last year, which I personally considered one of the best metal albums of 2017, I felt slightly disappointed with the final result in Play To Win. Nothing to worry about, though, as I guess I’m being too harsh on the guys from Striker, almost “demanding” that they had released another Heavy Metal masterpiece instead of actually enjoying their new album. There’s still a lot of top-of-the-line music to savor in Play To Win, available from their official website as a digital download or as a special edition CD, as well as from iTunes and Amazon, and you can also follow the band on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel and listen to more of their music on Spotify (if you don’t do all that already). Striker are a band that keeps winning no matter what with each and every release (despite singing in their previous album that they were “born to lose”), and the flame of Canadian metal will remain alive and vibrant while we have those skillful metalheads from Edmonton among us, always playing to win.

Best moments of the album: Heart of Lies, On The Run and Summoner.

Worst moments of the album: Standing Alone and Hands Of Time.

Released in 2018 Record Breaking Records

Track listing
1. Heart of Lies 4:04
2. Position of Power 3:41
3. Head First 4:02
4. On The Run 3:52
5. The Front 4:02
6. Play To Win 3:49
7. Standing Alone 4:56
8. Summoner 4:04
9. Heavy Is The Heart 4:54
10. Hands Of Time 3:47

Band members
Dan Cleary – lead vocals
Tim Brown – lead and rhythm guitar
Chris Segger – lead and rhythm guitar
William Wallace – bass
Adam Brown – drums

Guest musician
Randy Black – drums (session)
Lindsay Robinson, John Kennedy and Nathan Schadeck – gang vocals

Album Review – Primal Fear / Apocalypse (2018)

The Teutonic eagles of Power Metal return with another sensational opus showcasing the perfect amount of creativity, teamwork, aggressiveness, melody and professionalism.

Whenever you feel the urge to bang your head until the end, enjoying some first-class Heavy Metal with a powerful and melodic European twist, you know you can count on German Power Metal masters Primal Fear to provide you the exact amount of electricity, stamina and epicness you’re looking for. Not only all of their albums are well-crafted and extremely entertaining, but the band comprised of frontman Ralf Scheepers, the iconic bassist Mat Sinner, the guitar trio Magnus Karlsson, Alex Beyrodt and Tom Naumann, and drummer Francesco Jovino are beyond professional and focused on their work, releasing a steady stream of albums through the years, such as their latest (and amazing) full-length installments Delivering the Black, in 2014, and Rulebreaker, in 2016, a very good sign that the band is a million light-years away from calling it quits (for our total delight).

Now in 2018 the Teutonic eagles of Power Metal return with another sensational opus titled Apocalypse, the twelfth studio album in their career and another solid statement that Heavy Metal will never die while bands like Primal Fear are out there. The main difference between Apocalypse and some of their previous albums is that, in their new album, the band experimented more with different styles, elements and nuances, making it a fresh listen from the opening track until its breathtaking conclusion. “My personal highlight of recording the album was the fantastic teamwork. Peaceful, focused and really creative,” says Mat Sinner. “No big discussion, no heated arguments. Everybody did a fantastic job and the performances were top notch. This was the key to improve every little detail of the songs, from old school to epic, from modern to symphonic, from fast to slow — you will hear it all on ‘Apocalypse’.” After such spot-on words by Mat, all we need to do to enjoy the music in Apocalypse to the fullest is spreading our metallic wings and flying together with the band. And after listening to Apocalypse, I’m sure you’ll go back to the start and repeat that adventure all over again.

In the intro Apocalypse, a heartbeat amidst epic sounds announces a Heavy Metal thunder is about to strike in New Rise, an old school, thrilling German Power Metal hymn the likes of Gamma Ray and Helloween (which obviously means it kicks fuckin’ ass) where Francesco takes the lead with his crushing beats together with the riffs fired by the band’s trio of fantastic guitarists, building the perfect atmosphere for Ralf to showcase his insanely potent voice. And if that wasn’t already a rip-roaring start to the album, the next tune, titled The Ritual, which in my humble opinion is the best of all songs in Apocalypse, will simply hit you hard straight in the face. This is one of those electrified, pounding tunes closer to their latest albums where the fusion of their neck-breaking riffs and beats with the enraged high-pitched vocals by Ralf sounds more than just amazing, supported by Mat’s always effective backing vocals, followed by the melodic and smooth King of Madness, an almost power ballad that will please fans of the lighter (but more obscure) side of the band, also displaying those traditional Primal Fear lyrics (“A battlefield filled with fools, / a thousand hearts lost in the dark. / Those who win are just tools, / a way for him to let the crazy rule.”).

Blood, Sweat & Fear is another straightforward tune where the band once again shows their interesting passion for wordplays with the word “fear” in their song names, with its rhythmic and vibrant pace being driven by Francesco’s precise drums while Magnus, Alex and Tom sound as slashing as Power Metal can be; followed by the power-ballad Supernova, a song with some good moments but that never really clicks due to the lack of that usual passion and vibe from their old ballads (and I do love pretty much all ballads by Primal Fear, I might say). Fortunately, that uninspired vibe is quickly replaced by a beautiful shredding that morphs into a dark, headbanging tune titled Hail to the Fear, with Mat and his rumbling bass together with Francesco’s beats generating a strong base for Ralf to thrive one more time on vocals, not to mention its exciting rush of classy guitar solos. And in Hounds of Justice we’re treated to the purest form of Primal Fear, which means scorching hot guitar riffs, a thunderous vibe and killer vocals, also presenting elements from some of their old songs from Seven Seals and New Religion as well as their trademark fighting lyrics (“Another warning without any trace / Another kick straight in your face / Another morning you’ll be on the run / Trouble is coming ’till the day is done / Another strike no more peace alive / Another hit nothing humanized / We want the truth broken and abused / The finger on the trigger is no excuse”). Needless to say, this song will sound simply fantastic when played live without any doubt.

Then get ready for more pounding drums and a classic and harmonious work done by the band’s guitar triumvirate in The Beast, delivering pure Heavy Metal from start to finish in a more-than-enjoyable mid-tempo composition, whereas Eye of the Storm presents a Heaven & Hell-inspired start led by the low-tuned, devilish bass by Mat, evolving into a gorgeous power-ballad showcasing crisp guitar lines and a superb performance by Ralf. Furthermore, the band blends several elements from Doom and Symphonic Metal into their core Power Metal in this powerful tune, flowing majestically until its climatic ending, before Cannonball presents Primal Fear’s final blast of pure metal music to crack your neck in half, with highlights to the merciless axes by Tom, Magnus and Alex. Hence, while you headbang to this rousing chant, it’s a very good idea to sing the chorus along with Ralf and the guys to make everything even more engaging. And last but not least, if you buy the special edition of the album you’ll be treated to some amazing bonus songs, with Into the Fire, my favorite of them, beinging forward the cream of the band’s classic Heavy Metal with hints of Hard Rock in four and a half minutes of sheer awesomeness.

If the end of the world is near or not (and Primal Fear already sung about that in their previous albums), no one knows for sure. However, we can rest assured that if the world finally comes to its end in a not-so-distant future, Ralf, Mat & Co. are building a respectful collection of metal anthems perfect for fighting to survive until our last breath with all of their releases, including the excellent Apocalypse (available in different formats and locations HERE), an album that will certainly keep all of the band’s diehard fans happy and the band itself more-than-active in the scene and ready to take your hometown by storm without any warning. And whenever that happens, you know exactly where you should be, raising your horns and saluting one of the most electrifying, hardworking and consistent metal acts of our generation armed with their apocalyptic, unrelenting and awe-inspiring Power Metal.

Best moments of the album: New Rise, The Ritual, Hounds of Justice, Eye of the Storm and Into the Fire.

Worst moments of the album: Supernova.

Released in 2018 Frontier Records

Track listing
1. Apocalypse 1:44
2. New Rise 4:13
3. The Ritual 4:05
4. King of Madness 4:25
5. Blood, Sweat & Fear 4:55
6. Supernova 5:21
7. Hail to the Fear 5:05
8. Hounds of Justice 3:51
9. The Beast 3:42
10. Eye of the Storm 8:00
11. Cannonball 4:43

Boxset/Deluxe/Japanese Edition Disc 1 (CD) bonus tracks
12.Fight Against Evil 4:25
13.Into the Fire 4:33
14.My War Is Over 4:41

Japanese Edition Disc 1 (CD) bonus track
15.Supernova (Orchestral version) 5:05

Boxset/Deluxe/Japanese Edition Disc 2 (DVD)
1.King of Madness (video) 4:23
2.The Ritual (video) 4:06
3.Making of “Apocalypse” (Mini-Documentary) 14:41

Band members
Ralf Scheepers – vocals
Mat Sinner – bass, backing vocals
Magnus Karlsson – guitars, keyboards
Alex Beyrodt – guitars
Tom Naumann – guitars
Francesco Jovino – drums

Album Review – Evil Hunter / Evil Hunter (2018)

A metallic warrior hailing from Spain is on the loose, ready to take the world of heavy music by storm with their debut album.

Spanish Heavy Metal band Evil Hunter, a newborn combo formed in 2017 by experienced musicians coming from renowned bands from the underground Spanish scene like WarCry, Lords of Black, Chicanos, Nova Era, Nightfear and Alien Rockin’ Explosion, among others, is more than ready to take the world by storm with their self-titled debut opus Evil Hunter, a stunning album of old school Heavy Metal spiced up by hints of Power Metal and Hard Rock, showcasing powerful vocal arrangements, an awesome guitar work and a catchy rhythm basis. In other words, not only Evil Hunter is going to be a total delight for any admirer of the genre, but it will also accredit the band to be one of the main flag bearers of Spanish metal in the coming years.

Vocalist Damián Chicano (Chicanos), guitarists José Rubio (WarCry, Nova Era) and Victor Durán (Lords of Black, Nightfear), bassist Alberto Garrido (Alien Rockin’ Explosion, Black Hat) and drummer Gustavo Segura (Nova Era, Vargas Blues Band) had been dreaming of forming a new band together for a while before forming Evil Hunter, all sharing the same passion for classic heavy music, and the top-tier quality of the music found throughout the entire album proves their efforts to concretize that dream were not in vain. Featuring a straightforward artwork by Bernat Masías (Brnix Art), where the listener has the pleasure to meet the metallic warrior that carries the name of the band (or maybe it should be the other way around, who knows), Evil Hunter will fill your ears with the purest form of metal music from start to finish, and I’m sure after the last track of the album ends you’ll go back to the start to listen to everything over and over again.

In the opening track, titled Surf the Waves, the band already fires frantic, electrifying metal music for our avid ears, with José and Victor together with Gustavo setting the stage for the Accept-inspired, flammable vocals by Damián. Put differently, this is 80’s classic Heavy Metal with no shenanigans nor any artificial elements, which can also be said about the headbanging tune Evil Hunter, where we’re all urged to raise our horns and bang our heads to a crushing fusion of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock by the quintet. Feeling like it was taken directly from the 80’s, the song showcases another precise performance by Gustavo on drums while the guitars keep spreading electricity and magic. Then leaning towards a galloping Iron Maiden/Helloween-like sonority, Evil Hunter keep mesmerizing us with their incendiary waves in Heartbeat, with Damián once again having a beyond awesome vocal performance, powerfully supported by the song’s effective backing vocals; followed by Hot Leather, a smooth and sexy rockin’ feast by Evil Hunter bringing lyrics à la AC/DC blended with Steel Panther (“I wanna feel you around / You shook me / You rode me like a horse / You made it slow and nice / Now tell me what you want / So nice / I’ll give you what you want”), therefore perfect for singing along with the band while Gustavo keeps kicking ass with his rhythmic beats.

In Hold Me Tight, the stringed trio José, Victor and Alberto fire spot-on melodious lines for Damián and his Saxon-inspired vocals, resulting in a modern-day depiction of NWOBHM with highlights to the precision which Gustavo delivers his beats and fills. Once again drinking from the fountain of classic Heavy Metal and Hard Rock the likes of Accept, Iron Maiden and Saxon, the band delivers the thrilling Go, with Alberto firing truly rumbling tones through his bass, while the album’s power ballad By Your Side offers us all cheesy but fun lyrics (“Would you find a reason / For falling in love with me again? / In my eyes, believe me / You’ll see all my halo of blame / I never thought that the night and the shadows / Could just even leave me so blind / Dreaming along with the times without sorrows / Can we please go back in time?”) and a classic pace, despite sounding too generic compared to the other songs. And lastly, closing the album we have an avalanche of modern and melodic Power Metal by Evil Hunter titled Open Up Your Eyes, a song recommended for breaking your neck headbanging inspired by German icons like Primal Fear, Gamma Ray and the early days of Helloween, with the music being led by Gustavo with his pounding beats and with a beyond electrified Damián on vocals.

The anti-hero, metalized warrior known as Evil Hunter is on the loose and ready to blow your ears with their undisputed metal music, and in order to keep track of what such dauntless powerhouse is up to you should check the band up on Facebook, and purchase your copy of the album from the Fighter Records’ BandCamp page or from the Xtreem Music webstore, as well as from iTunes, Amazon or Discogs. While Evil Hunter are on a crusade for Heavy Metal it’s our duty to show them all our support, proving once and for all while bands like them keep blasting sheer energy and passion through their instruments, heavy music will never cease to exist.

Best moments of the album: Evil Hunter, Heartbeat and Open Up Your Eyes.

Worst moments of the album: By Your Side.

Released in 2018 Fighter Records

Track listing 
1. Surf the Waves 4:31
2. Evil Hunter 4:05
3. Heartbeat 4:23
4. Hot Leather 5:17
5. Hold Me Tight 3:46
6. Go 4:37
7. By Your Side 4:16
8. Open Up Your Eyes 4:06

Band members
Damián Chicano – vocals
José Rubio – guitars
Victor Durán – guitars
Alberto Garrido – bass
Gustavo Segura – drums

Album Review – Garden of Sinners / Truthsayers (2018)

A classic metal album where sci-fi meets reality and where reality crosses the darkest theories of world domination, courtesy of a newcomer French act that loves traditional Heavy and Power Metal from the bottom of their hearts.

Formed in 2013 under a different name by guitarists Lizee Bauwens and Thierry Villard in La Rochelle, a coastal city in southwestern France, Heavy Metal warriors Garden of Sinners (whose name was by the way inspired by the beyond fantastic song “Gardens Of The Sinner”, by German Power Metal masters Gamma Ray) are releasing now in 2018 their debut full-length album entitled Truthsayers, a must-have for fans of renowned acts such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Halloween and Gamma Ray, who are always in pursuit of new bands from the independent scene who can be considered a nice “alternative” to those bigger names. Put differently, we all know those iconic bands we love so much cannot last forever, and those five French metallers are among us to keep the fires of traditional Heavy Metal burning bright and to proudly carry that flag as high as the sun wherever they go.

After a couple of years of writing new material and playing a few festivals and concerts, Garden of Sinners finally reached a stable lineup in 2018 with the arrivals of lead singer Guy Boutet and drummer Edgar Decrolière, who together with Lizee, Thierry and bassist Max Descubes are ready to take the world of heavy music by storm with their honest and electrifying heavy music. Featuring a stylish artwork by JP Fournier Illustration (Avantasia, Edguy), Truthsayers is a classic metal album where sci-fi meets reality, and where reality crosses the darkest theories of world domination, therefore bringing an extra dosage of epicness to each one of the 11 flammable tracks of the album and making the experience of listening to the music by Garden of Sinners much more fun than your regular metal album.

In the opening track Downfall the band starts firing sheer Power Metal in less than a second to your metallic ears, with Guy delivering high-pitched, tuneful vocal lines the likes of André Mattos, Tobias Sammet and Michael Kiske, while the “co-ed” guitar duo Lizee and Thierry brings tons of adrenaline to the music with their riffs and solos. Then we have the title-track Truthsayers, a mid-tempo, classic Heavy Metal tune led by the rhythmic beats by Edgar where once again Guy has an amazing vocal performance, boosting the song’s impact; and In Flames, another old school Heavy Metal hymn that will please fans of renowned German bands like Helloween, Gamma Ray, Edguy and so on, with the band’s stringed trio being in absolute sync, speeding up their pace and delivering thunderous and sharp riffs and punches from start to finish.

In the excellent New Dimension, an inspiring intro morphs into another fast and straight-to-the-face sonority, showcasing a great job done by Thierry and Lizee with their riffs and solos, as well as Edgar and his steady and powerful drums, with the music flowing powerfully until its gripping conclusion; whereas in Deliverance the quintet adds subtle hints of the classic Hard Rock by Van Halen into their Power Metal, but of course with their more galloping, epic vein taking the lead while Guy nicely tells the story proposed through his potent singing. Sounding like a hybrid between Gamma Ray and Helloween from their Walls of Jericho album, Savage is a highly recommended song for heading into the battlefield or simply savoring a beer while raising your fists and singing along with the band, with its second half being a fun Power Metal sonic masturbation, and drinking from the fountain of modern-day European Power Metal the band offers another fast-paced, electrifying tune entitled Inside The Mirror, with the awesome shredding delivered by the band’s guitar duo and the precision with which Edgar pounds his drums being the metallic catalysts of awesomeness found throughout the entire song.

Ignition is a classic and inspiring song perfect for hitting the highway, with Guy sounding fantastic on vocals while his bandmates blast the purest metal waves you can think of, creating an upbeat atmosphere for lovers of the genre and setting the stage for the also electrifying In This Land, bringing forward an old school sounding spearheaded by the thrilling drums by Edgar and the rumbling bass by Max, with Thierry and Lizee once again slashing their strings, keeping the album at a high level of awesomeness. Rise, the second to last Power Metal exhibit by Garden of Sinners, slows things down a bit, becoming a more rhythmic headbanging tune where the whole band is very precise with their instruments, albeit not as fun as the rest of the album, before an instrumental sonic voyage by this talented French act, named The Time Traveler, closes the album by bringing cutting riffs, epic drums, classic breaks and endless electricity, clearly inspired by traditional instrumental pieces by Iron Maiden like “Transylvania” and “Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra)”.

Do you want to take an invigorating stroll through the Garden of Sinners? If your answer is yes, simply go check what the band is up to on Facebook and on YouTube, listen to Truthsayers in full on Spotify, and obviously buy your copy of the album from the band’s own BandCamp page or from Amazon. As aforementioned, Garden of Sinners are not here to reinvent the wheel nor revolutionize the world of heavy music, but they do have a very clear and concise goal in mind, and that is to keep playing old school Heavy Metal until the end. And based on how awesome their music sounds in Truthsayers, that end is (fortunately) very far from happening.

Best moments of the album: Downfall, New Dimension and Inside The Mirror.

Worst moments of the album: Rise.

Released in 2018 Independent

Track listing
1. Downfall 4:32
2. Truthsayers 4:13
3. In Flames 5:05
4. New Dimension 5:48
5. Deliverance 5:15
6. Savage 4:26
7. Inside The Mirror 3:24
8. Ignition 4:33
9. In This Land 5:25
10. Rise 4:21
11. The Time Traveler (instrumental) 8:31

Band members
Guy Boutet – vocals
Lizee Bauwens – guitars
Thierry Villard – guitars
Max Descubes – bass
Edgar Decrolière – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Rie a.k.a. Suzaku

Shredding is her business… and business is good!

If you’re a fan of the enthralling art of shredding, I’m sure you’ll have an absolute blast with our metal chick of the month of July, because not only she kicks some serious ass with her unstoppable guitar, but her looks are also beyond eccentric, sexy and mesmerizing. Born on November 26, 1985 in Funabashi, a city located in Chiba, a prefecture of Japan located in the Kantō region and the Greater Tokyo Area, the stunning Rie a.k.a. Suzaku, whose real name is Rie Tomimatsu (or if you prefer, it’s 富松里恵 in Japanese), is among us to show how a guitar should be treated, always delivering beautiful and electrifying riffs and solos. Highly influenced by traditional Heavy Metal, Power Metal and Hard Rock, Rie doesn’t limit her musical range to only those classic styles, being extremely adaptable to all kinds of music and situations with her refined technique. Having said that, are you ready to explore top-notch, unique metal music from the Land of the Rising Sun with our unstoppable Japanese guitarist?

As already mentioned, our Asian solo Heavy Metal guitar player draws a lot of influence from old school heavy music, with some of her favorite bands being Children of Bodom, Dream Theater, Arch Enemy, Helloween, In This Moment, Labyrinth, In Flames, Killswitch Engage, Ozzy Osbourne, Sonata Arctica and Nevermore, among several others, as well as other artists like American rock guitarist Eric Johnson, Japanese composer, arranger and musician Yoko Kanno, and electronic/orchestral musical and performing group Juno Reactor. Although her style is sometimes compared to Australian vistuoso Orianthi, Rie stands out by herself, crafting her own sound and style in the world of heavy music. First and foremost, she doesn’t sing, and second of all, she is a billion times more metal than Orianthi, playing Melodic Metal similar to Japanese bands like Destrose, Mary’s Blood, Aldious and Cyntia.

Rie’s solo career might have started back in 2008, but it was only in 2010 that she released her debut album, an EP titled Messiah, where she was responsible not only for playing the guitars, but also keyboards, programming and bass (on the song “Suzaku”), not to mention all lyrics and songwriting. As Rie is not a singer, the vocal duties on the EP were shared by Japanese female musicians Ibuki, Kaoru, Dia and Sattin, with bassist Hiroyasu Watanabe and drummer Isamu Tamaru completing the lineup. On her second EP, titled Mother Earth, which was released in 2011, Rie is supported once again by Hiroyasu Watanabe and Isamu Tamaru on bass and drums, respectively, as well as the returning Dia on vocals and newcomer Shizuka. The year of 2012 saw the birth of another EP by Rie a.k.a. Suzaku, entitled Dreaming Eyes, with almost the same lineup, except for Shizuka on vocals, and with vocalists Ibuki and Akane sharing vocals with Dia. After three EP’s in a row it was time for Rie to release her frist full-length album in 2013, named Kingdom of the Sun, a full instrumental album where Rie’s incendiary guitar riffs and solos were accompanied by Taku Yabuki on the piano, Isamu Tamaru on drums, and an array of bassists (Yoshihiro Naruse, Kenji Jino Hino, Ikuo and Isamu Takita) playing each in a different set of songs.

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In 2015 Rie released her second full-length installment, titled Noah’s Ark, a very interesting blend of instrumental songs with tracks featuring a guest female vocalist named Aira, including some of her longest compositions to date, which together formed some sort of concept aria within the album totalizing over 20 minutes of music split into four tracks (those being Noah’s Ark Prologue, Genesis, Noah’s Ark, and Noah’s Ark Epilogue). And the year of 2016 saw her latest release as a solo artist, an instrumental EP titled Seven Seas, comprised of seven “ocean-summer-like-inspired” tracks, such as Dolphin Dance, Sunrise and Ocean Breeze. Apart from those EP’s and full-length albums, you can also find in her portfolio three live DVD’s, those being Legend of Messiah (released in 2011), Dreaming Eyes Tour 2012, and Kingdom of the Sun Live Tour 2013, and a four-track single released in 2014 named Sonic City. As you can see, Rie is an extremely active musician with tons of releases already in her up-and-coming career, and if you want to enjoy her mind-blowing music you can check her official videos on YouTube for the songs Dreaming Eyes, Southern Wind‪, Seven Seas, Kingdom of the Sun, Messiah, Across the Sky, and Cyber Moon, as well as several videos with her stunning live performances.

Apart from her solo career, Rie also played the guitar live for Japanese Melodic Heavy/Power Metal band Crying Machine in 2011, and in January 2017 she joined forces with Japanese musicians Nicky (vocals), Ami (bass) and ViVi (drums) to form what would become a brand new band named RiViNi, with its name, which is a wordplay with the names of three of the band members (as bassist Ami only joined the band later), being chosen by their fans. Blending several elements form the rock and pop universes, RiViNi released earlier this year their debut mini-album titled Resistance, containing six distinct and very interesting tracks (幻想プラトニック, Emerald, Eternal Truth, Resistance, Sunflower and I Wish), and if you want to have a taste of their music you can watch their official videos for 幻想プラトニック (which means something like “platonic illusion” in English) and the title-track Resistance.

Fan of common things that most people also enjoy such as chocolate, ramen and swimming, Rie is also involved in quite a few other distinct projects and initiatives, such as playing original instrumental songs on a DVD for Young Guitar Magazine, appearing in a program named Effector Love for Roland, and performing at a booth at the Tokyo Guitar Show in 2011. However, perhaps the most curious fact about Rie also involves her own sister, Emi Tomimatsu, who’s a professional mixed martial arts fighter. Emi is not only a daredevil in the ring, but she gets pumped up for doing that by using Rie’s songs as her entrance themes, as you can see for example in this video posted on Twitter. Well, we have to agree that when you have a sister like Rie, delivering top-notch, electrifying metal music through her incendiary guitar, that’s all you need to get more than ready to rumble inside the octagon.

Equipment
Jackson USA RR-1 Skulls
Jackson USACorey Beaulieu Signature USA KV 7
Jackson USA RR-1 Ferrari Red Black
MXR (ZW – 44) BOSS (DD – 6) ERNIE BALL (VPJR) Maxon (AD – 80) (effector)

Rie a.k.a. Suzaku’s Official Facebook page
Rie a.k.a. Suzaku’s Official Twitter
Rie a.k.a. Suzaku’s Official Instagram
Rie a.k.a. Suzaku’s Official YouTube channel