Interview – Silver Nightmares

It’s time to dive into the progressive dreams of Italian rockers Silver Nightmares in this exclusive interview where they talk about their debut EP The Wandering Angel, their biggest challenges as a band and their main influences in music.

Alessio Maddaloni and Gabriele Esposito (Silver Nightmares)

The Headbanging Moose: First of all, thank you guys for the interview. Let’s start with a very simple question, which is who is Silver Nightmares? Could you please talk a little about the band, your origins and your mission?

Alessio Maddaloni: It’s a real pleasure for us! Thank you for the interview and for your support!  The band was formed in Palermo in 2018 by bassist Gabriele Esposito, keyboardist Gabriele Taormina and me on drums. It was a “strange meeting” ’cause we were involved in another band! We had “different views” with the leader of the band, we were quite unsatisfied, so we decided to split and to create a new band. We know it’s impossible to make something “unique” in music but we wanted to mix our various influences to create a “recognizable trademarked sound”. This is our mission 😉

THM: Why has the band gone through so many lineup changes in such a short period of time, as Silver nightmares was just formed a couple of years ago? I mean, what was the main reason for having an unstable lineup until now?

AM: Here in Palermo there are a lot of great musicians but it’s difficult to meet someone interested in creating unreleased music. We, the founders, coexist harmoniously but we were searching for motivated and “enthusiastic people” to play with. We went through several configurations (that’s why we turned our first moniker from “Silver Dreams” to the new one “Silver Nightmares”) until arriving at our current line-up with Mimmo Garofalo (guitars), who some years ago played with Gabriele Taormina in a prog band called Bright Horizon, and Michele Vitrano (vocals) and Tody Nuzzo (guitars), who played with me and Gabriele Esposito in a heavy metal cover band (HM80).

THM: You’ve just released your debut album, entitled The Wandering Angel. Can you give us more details about the album? What’s the main idea or theme behind it, and how happy is the band with the final result?

Gabriele Esposito: Our concept album is about the loss of the human spirituality. Being spiritual to us is more than being religious. Whereas the word “religion” generally refers to organized forms of worship and a wider faith community, “spiritual” often describes people’s private individual beliefs. “Our wandering angel” is coming from a distant star, the star of life. He falls down from heaven and begins its path on earthly contamination. Between heroes of the past and shrewd characters nowadays the real meter of his research will be the journey into the universe. We’re really happy of the result we achieved! We would like to thank all the magazines, fanzines, radio broadcasting for their support.

THM: As a fully independent band, what were the main issues you faced during the recording of The Wandering Angel, and what went better than expected? I’m sure you have a ton of “lessons learned” to share with us.

GE: Well said! It’s not easy for fully independent artists to make the most of every recording session and it is very important to make the right choices. For the pre-production of the EP, we worked out as much as we could before stepping into the studio. Fortunately, we contacted some professionals for the recording, mixing and for the mastering of our work. We didn’t want a “prefabricated sound” (I mean no drum triggers). Of course, there were some mistakes too but as a first studio experience, we think our final result was pretty good.

THM: The entire album carries a very pleasant and cohesive vibe, with each song maintaining pretty much the same level of electricity and a polished yet raw sonority. How did you guys manage to reach such high level of quality and professionalism in your debut album?

Album Review – Silver Nightmares / The Wandering Angel EP (2020)

GE: Thanks indeed for your compliments! We tried to do our best. Well, as I said before, our EP is a concept album so all the songs are interconnected. For us this was achieved through our central lyrical theme. It was very natural to keep a cohesive vibe and quite the same level of electricity. I mean it was not a deliberate choice… Music guided our journey 🙂 I think this could be our trademark in the future: Let the music guide you and everything will be fine!

THM: One of the songs of the album, D.D. (Dick Dastardly), is obviously your personal tribute to one of the greatest villains in the history of cartoons. How did you come up with the idea of paying a tribute to such unique character, and when and how did you decide it was going to be an instrumental track?

AM: Such is my passion for this cartoon!! 🙂 As you said, Dick is one of the greatest villains in the history of cartoons. He is dishonest, selfish and unsportsmanlike. He definitely wants to win! In life there are a lot of people like him… who fail from the start… About the track… we decided it was going to be an instrument track following the advice of Mimmo Garofalo. We had already written the lyrics but we liked his suggestion and we changed our minds.

THM: How’s the current rock and metal scene in your hometown Palermo and in the entire Sicily? I’m pretty sure that now with all this COVID-19 situation not only the bands but also the venues all over Italy might be struggling to survive. Are you guys experiencing the same issues right now, and how are you dealing with that?

GE: Yep 😦 Fortunately the curve has started to descend and the death toll is also starting to drop. Here in Italy all the venues were closed and there was no chance to rehearse. We stand waiting for better times. During this period of lockdown we began writing new stuff for a full length album and we tried to promote our EP the best we could.

THM: What your main inspirations in music and in life in general? Also, which bands do you dream of sharing the stage one day in Italy, or which rock and metal festivals do you dream of playing anywhere in the world?

Gabriele Taormina: We are music addicted! We have a lot of different influences and tastes. Alessio likes a lot bands like Testament, Judas Priest, Savatage, Annihilator, Marillion, Transiberian Orchestra, Anvil, Jethro Tull. Gabriele Esposito loves fusion but also bands like Supertramp, Toto, Beatles, Iron Maiden, King Crimson, Triumph, Peter Gabriel. I’m mostly into the Prog/A.O.R scene I love Kansas, Queensryche, Ten, Asia, Anathema, Dream Theater, Katatonia, Rush, the Swedish prog etc… I think it could be interesting to share the stage with some of the Italian prog bands. As you know, there is a great “progressive rock” tradition here in Italy. It would be awesome too to play our music in ENGLAND. The homeland of progressive rock 😉 Well, about metal festivals…Progfest, Wacken, Hellfest? 🙂 Why not? 🙂 I have many things to say and write but I’ll stop here, even because dreaming doesn’t cost anything! 🙂

Gabriele Taormina (Silver Nightmares)

THM: How was your agenda before the lockdown began due to COVID-19? Was the band being scheduled to play all over Sicily, Italy and anywhere else? And what are your plans for after this crisis is over?

GT: We were starting to rehearse with a stable line-up in view of some dates/festivals here to play all over Sicily. We hope this crisis will be over soon! As Gabriele Esposito said, during the lockdown we also began writing songs for the new Cd. We already have some interesting stuff 🙂 We hope to rehearse soon. Time will tell 🙂

THM: Once again, thank you very much for spending some time with us. Please feel free to share anything you want with our readers, including where they can buy your music, and I hope to hear more from Silver Nightmares in a not-so-distant future!

GT: Thank you for the opportunity you have given us today to discuss and to introduce Silver Nightmares! Our EP is available on all the digital stores and CD format (but it’s a special limited edition, 300 copies). We’re also on Bandcamp. If some of your readers is interested in our EP. It’s quite simple to order it! You just need to contact us on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Bandcamp or to check the site of the italian label Artewiva. Prog on! 😉

Links
Silver Nightmares Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube | Spotify | Apple Music | BandCamp

Album Review – Abanoch / Buried And Left Behind EP (2020)

Dealing with the apocalyptic reality we live in, the debut EP by this Qatar-based quartet brings to our ears a classic fusion of Death, Black and Thrash Metal.

Blending traditional Death Metal with a myriad of sounds ranging from Thrash and Black Metal to classic Heavy Metal and even Progressive Rock since their inception in 2015, the up-and-coming Doha, Qatar-based hellraisers Abanoch are the sole Extreme Metal band hailing from their homeland playing original music, proudly carrying the flag of metal and defying all social and religious norms wherever they go. Now in 2020 the quartet comprised of Almarri on vocals and rhythm guitars, Sefiroth Ounane on lead guitars, Dahman Ouzzane on bass and Geoff Fontillas on drums aims at new heights with their debut EP Buried And Left Behind, an awesome warm-up for their first full-length opus which is currently scheduled to be released by the end of this year. Taking their name from ancient Middle-Eastern demonology, more specifically from a book titled The Sun of Major Knowledge (or The Sun Of Knowledge & Kindly Knowing) by Ahmed Bin Ali Al-Bonny, meaning a demon king who ruled the Sabbath, Abanoch deals with the apocalyptic and dark reality we live in in their new album, calling for Abanoch’s saving in all his glory to take us out of this reality.

The quartet begins hammering their instruments mercilessly in The Rise Of Abanoch, led by the electrifying riffs by Almarri and Sefiroth while Geoff smashes his drums in great Death Metal fashion, also presenting eerie, atmospheric passages and a huge amount of adrenaline and rage. Then another round of their solid and intricate Death Metal comes in the form of Five Spells, with Almarri’s demonic screeches and roars adding an extra touch of darkness to the music while Almarri himself together with Sefiroth and Dahman keep the ambience aggressive and sharp with their stringed weapons; whereas in End Of Times the band mixes the violence by bands such as Death and Cannibal Corpse with the obscurity and epicness of Cradle Of Filth, with its demonic growls, slashing riffage and nonstop blast beats turning it into an amazing option for slamming into the circle pit, all spiced up by a spot-on guitar solo by Sefiroth. The title-track Buried And Left Behind brings forward the most metallic and cutting riffs of the entire EP, resulting in a Death Metal feast tailored for admirers of the genre with Geoff dictating the pace with his rhythmic and berserk beats, and lastly, venturing through more thrashing and visceral lands, the band offers us all Treacherous Ways, highly inspired by 80’s Thrash and Speed Metal and showcasing an amazing job done by both Almari and Sefiroth with their scorching shredding, reminding me of the early days of Megadeth. In other words, get ready for over eight minutes of experimentations, epic riffs and fast beats, flowing smoothly until its climatic finale.

You can enjoy Buried And Left Behind in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course in order to show your true support to Abanoch you should follow them on Facebook and grab your copy of the album from their own BandCamp page. The metal scene in Qatar is making its baby steps, and with our support in spreading the word the guys from Abanoch hope they can encourage more bands to come out and create music in their homeland, elevating the importance of extreme music all over the country and, therefore, opening the minds of their young generation to the beauty of Death, Black and Thrash Metal. Just like in the aforementioned book, Abanoch are among us to save us all from our harsh reality with their first-class extreme music, with Buried And Left Behind representing only the first step in their promising career.

Best moments of the album: The Rise Of Abanoch and Treacherous Ways.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. The Rise Of Abanoch 4:20
2. Five Spells 3:29
3. End Of Times 4:33
4. Buried And Left Behind 4:17
5. Treacherous Ways 8:17

Band members
Almarri – vocals, rhythm guitars
Sefiroth Ounane – lead guitar
Dahman Ouzzane – bass
Geoff Fontillas – drums

Album Review – Katatonia / City Burials (2020)

The most free-spirited of modern metal bands returns with absorbing 58 minutes of meticulously crafted melodies and inspired, idiosyncratic arrangements.

“In days and nights of black and silver, the dead end king will come. From pieces of broken mirrors there will be a crown bestowed upon his head. In reflections of shattered glass not only the seasons will turn, but also the change disguised by the lapse of time. His mind will have to come to bear the weight of everything that was left behind and forgotten. Archiving the inaccessible. Celebrating the abandoned and mourning the destroyed. The city burials.” – Anders Nyström

Revered masters of melancholy for nearly 30 years, Swedish Progressive/Alternative Rock/Metal icons Katatonia have always pursued a profound emotional connection with their music and those who listen to it. Formed in Stockholm, Sweden in 1991 by now vocalist Jonas Renkse and guitarist Anders Nyström, the most free-spirited of modern metal bands has taken a slow and steady but at the same time endless fascinating journey from primitive beginnings in the extreme music underground to their current status as darlings of both the metal world and the Progressive Rock scene. Now in 2020, after a well-deserved break taken by Jonas and Anders together with their henchmen Roger Öjersson on the guitars, Niklas Sandin on bass and Daniel Moilanen on drums since the release of their last album The Fall Of Hearts in 2016, Katatonia return in full force with City Burials, the eleventh studio album in their unique career. From its grim album art by Beech (The Pineapple Thief, Godsticks, Jen Cloher) to the very last second of the closing song, City Burials is the ultimate proof of Jonas and Anders’ enduring artistic bond throughout the album’s absorbing 58 minutes of meticulously crafted melodies and inspired, idiosyncratic arrangements, perfectly representing the band’s ever-evolving sound.

And a beyond whimsical start led by Jonas’ serene clean vocals kicks off the opening track Heart Set to Divide before his bandmates come crushing with a harmonious fusion of Progressive Metal and Alternative Rock, with the bass by Niklas bringing sheer groove to their music, whereas in Behind the Blood the flammable guitars by Anders and Roger embellish the airwaves in a lesson in modern rock and metal music that lives up to the band’s own legacy, not to mention the song’s poetic lyrics (“Rivers rush, behind the blood / The cinder skies come alive with this drop of sunset / How far can we go? Along the elusive flood / I’ve been waiting all of my life to be with you”). Then slowing things down and adding a good amount of melancholy and grief to their musicality Katatonia offer us all Lacquer, with all instruments, including the programmed drums by guest Joakim Karlsson (from Swedish Black Metal act Craft), providing all Jonas needs to shine on vocals.

A futuristic and cinematic feel permeates the air in Rein, where the minimalist guitar sounds blasted by Anders and Roger walk hand in hand with Daniel’s intricate beats, culminating in a delicate sound that will certainly please all fans of this more contemporary version of the band, followed by The Winter of Our Passing, a HIM-inspired composition showcasing beautiful passages and an ethereal vibe led by the band’s sharp guitar duo and the always groovy bass by Niklas, leaning at time towards pure Progressive Rock. After such embracing song it’s time for Vanishers, an utterly experimental and atmospheric tune by Katatonia featuring the angelic vocals by Anni Bernhard (from Swedish rock band Full Of Keys) where we’re all inspired to close our eyes and savor each note while witnessing a beautiful sunrise. And displaying nuances from the music played by rock acts like Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam without forgetting their melancholic core essence, the band offers our avid ears the also progressive and gentle City Glaciers, presenting another great job done by Anders and Roger with their crisp riffs and solos.

The last batch of songs in City Burials couldn’t have sounded more experimental and ethereal, with gentle piano notes intertwined with rumbling bass punches igniting the cryptic Flicker, where Jonas beautifully declaims the song’s words (“So cruel your desire / It pulled me under / But the drapery of my eye won’t fall / I lie in wait for the night to find you / Sephia teeth and claw”) while its modernized and atmospheric vibe penetrates deep inside your soul. Once again investing in serene and somber sounds and tones instead of the heaviness of their early days, Jonas takes the lead with his enfolding vocals in Lachesis, a too-short song that could have been a lot more detailed than its final shape and form, while in Neon Epitaph they get back to a heavier and groovier sound, with the tribal, fierce beats by Daniel and the mesmerizing riffs by Anders and Roger resulting in a lesson in modern-day Progressive Rock and Metal. Finally, intricate and progressive sounds conclude the album in Untrodden, never getting too heavy nor too mellow, but reaching a very pleasant balance exhibiting the absolute synchronicity between Jonas’ vocals and Anders’ precise riffs and solos.

In summary, the experimental and multi-layered City Burials, which you can stream in its entirety on YouTube or on Spotify, continues to pave Katatonia’s path through the more serene and melancholic lands of Progressive Rock and Metal while also presenting to the band’s longtime fans an even more alternative side of Jonas, Anders & Co., positioning them as one of the most important bands of the genre (apart from their already important role in more extreme styles decades ago). Hence, go check what they’re up to on Facebook, on Instagram and on YouTube to know more about them and of course about their music, and grab your copy of City Burials from several distinct locations by clicking HERE. I’ve recently read somewhere that City Burials is the perfect album to listen to at dawn, and after taken a few good listens at it I must agree with such beautiful comment about it. Well, I’m sure you’ll also have the same feeling while listening to it, no doubt about that.

Best moments of the album: Behind the Blood, City Glaciers and Neon Epitaph.

Worst moments of the album: Lachesis.

Released in 2020 Peaceville Records

Track listing
1. Heart Set to Divide 5:29
2. Behind the Blood 4:37
3. Lacquer 4:42
4. Rein 4:28
5. The Winter of Our Passing 3:18
6. Vanishers 5:07
7. City Glaciers 5:42
8. Flicker 4:45
9. Lachesis 1:54
10. Neon Epitaph 4:32
11. Untrodden 4:29

Limited Edition bonus tracks
12. Closing of the Sky 5:24
13. Fighters (Enter The Hunt cover) 3:38

Band members
Jonas Renkse – vocals
Anders Nyström – guitars
Roger Öjersson – guitars
Niklas Sandin – bass
Daniel Moilanen – drums

Guest musicians
Anni Bernhard – vocals on “Vanishers”
Anders Eriksson – programming
Joakim Karlsson – drum programming on “Lacquer”

Album Review – Silver Nightmares / The Wandering Angel EP (2020)

The sounds of the angels of Progressive Rock and Metal in the form of an exciting six-track EP brought into being by five talented musicians from Italy.

Formed in 2018 in Palermo, the capital of the Italian island of Sicily, by bassist Gabriele Esposito, drummer Alessio Maddaloni and keyboardist Gabriele Taormina, Progressive Rock/Metal band Silver Nightmares went through several lineup changes until reaching their current shape and form with Mimmo Garofalo on the guitars, and as the band solidified their lineup it was just a matter of time until they released their debut opus, a very entertaining 26-minute EP entitled The Wandering Angel. Featuring guest appearances by vocalists Simone Bonomo and Michele Vitrano, guitarist Tody Nuzzo, flutist Giulio Maddaloni and trumpeter Davide Severino, The Wandering Angel brings an array of styles such as Progressive Rock, AOR, Heavy Metal and Classical Music, highly influenced by iconic names such as Asia, Genesis, Savatage, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Styx, Kansas, Toto, Iron Maiden, Jethro Tull, Foreigner, Dream Theater, Opeth, Ghost, Marillion, Anathema, Katatonia, Judas Priest and Ten, just to name a few.

And to properly kick things off in The Wandering Angel, an angelical intro morphs into a feast of progressiveness in the title-track The Wandering Angel, where the keys by Gabriele Taormina match perfectly with Simone’s HIM-like vocals, not to mention all the electricity flowing from their guitars and the song’s beautiful, poetic lyrics (“Falling down from the sky / I’m a body without colour / In a world without love / I’ve lost my broken wings / Looking up at earth and sea  / Plotting very distant sighs / The colour of the human skin / Is still an enigma”). Following such powerful start we’re treated to D.D. (Dick Dastardly), a tribute to one of the coolest villains in the history of cartoons (even bringing his trademark scream “Mutley, do something!”), where the band blends heavy and progressive elements with the ass-kicking trumpet and flute by guests Davide and Giulio, respectively, resulting in a fun and vibrant instrumental extravaganza; whereas futuristic elements permeate the air in Light Years Away, with Alessio being in total sync with the band’s guitars, therefore generating a dense ambience perfect for Michele and his Helloween-inspired vocals in a pure Progressive Metal feast with heavy and melodic nuances.

Simone returns in full force with his deeper vocals in David The King, narrating the epic story of a dauntless king while his bandmates keep embellishing the airwaves with their refined skills, with the guitar solos blasted by Mimmo being absolutely outstanding as well as the groovy and classy bass punches by Gabriele Esposito; followed by another epic musical journey titled Dame Nature, led by Mimmo’s electrified riffs and Gabriele Taormina’s whimsical keys while Alessio keeps pounding his drums nonstop, resulting in what’s by far the most progressive and melodic of all songs, full of breaks and variations and spiced up by crisp guitar solos and delicate key notes. And closing the EP we have The Wandering Angel (Radio Edit), a slightly different version of what’s in my opinion the most enfolding and captivating of all tracks, being shorter in duration (mainly due to the removal of its intro) but still presenting all of the amazing details of the original version.

The Wandering Angel is available for a full and deep listen on Spotify, but of course if you love underground metal with a huge focus on the progressive and storytelling side of the business you should definitely purchase the EP from Apple Music, or go to the ARTEWIVA website for all details about the band and where to buy and stream the album. Also, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and to subscribe to their YouTube channel, providing Silver Nightmares the fuel they need to keep on rockin’ and invading our senses with their stylish music for many years to come, bringing the sounds of the angels of rock music to our hearts and souls.

Best moments of the album: The Wandering Angel and Light Years Away.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. The Wandering Angel 4:33
2. D.D. (Dick Dastardly) 3:23
3. Light Years Away 4:00
4. David The King 3:54
5. Dame Nature 6:40
6. The Wandering Angel (Radio Edit) 3:38

Band members
Mimmo Garofalo – lead and rhythm guitars
Gabriele Esposito – bass
Gabriele Taormina – keyboards
Alessio Maddaloni – drums, percussion

Guest musicians
Simone Bonomo – lead and backing vocals
Michele Vitrano – lead and backing vocals
Tody Nuzzo – guitars
Giulio Maddaloni – flute
Davide Severino – trumpet

Album Review – High Priestess / Casting The Circle (2020)

Seasoning their psych-doom cauldron with tribal percussion and prog rock arrangements, this American trinity is ready to cast a spell on us with their excellent new album.

Convoking crushing riffs drenched with lush harmonies and hypnotic eastern themes, Los Angeles-based Doom Metal trinity High Priestess was formed in 2016 by bassist and vocalist Mariana Fiel when she recruited Katie Gilchrest on guitar and vocals and Megan Mullins on drums, crafting a sound that echoes both past and future incarnations of doom and psychedelia since then. After the release of their highly-acclaimed self-titled debut album in 2018, it’s time for High Priestess to captivate our senses once again with their sophomore opus Casting The Circle, featuring a dark and sexy artwork by Jill Colbert at Manfish Inc. and seasoning their psych-doom cauldron with keyboards, tribal percussion, signature harmonies and grandiose prog rock arrangements. “After playing these songs live for many months, we are pleased to have captured them in their definitive recorded versions for the whole world. We honor gods and goddesses, ancestors and spirits from the past, present and future and sing songs of misfortune,” commented Katie Gilchrest herself about the band’s amazing new album.

A tribal, dark mass is about to start in the deep and embracing Casting the Circle, led by Megan’s ritualistic beats while Katie and Mariana begin blasting their enthralling vocal lines in a true psychedelic and doomed manner. Put differently, it’s absolutely impossible not to get hypnotized by their music, which is also the case in the fabulous Erebus, where the trio leans towards the most obscure side of iconic acts like Black Sabbath and Candlemass, but with a delicious feminine touch added to the overall result. It’s almost ten minutes of enfolding passages, crisp riffs and the sluggish beats by Megan, all spiced up by Katie’s astounding, piercing guitar solos, whereas The Hourglass is a Psychedelic and Progressive Rock extravaganza blending the trademark sound from the 70’s with the band’s more contemporary doom, with Katie’s stunning riffs being complemented by the low-tuned bass by Mariana and the classic drums by Megan, not to mention the song’s fiery vocal lines.

Then it’s time to surrender to the most Stygian side of life in Invocation, offering our avid ears over 17 minutes of ethereal and somber passages led by Katie’s primeval, mesmerizing riffs while Mariana and Megan dictate the rhythm with their thunderous but delicate instruments, summoning the prince of darkness with their scorching Doom Metal. Flowing like an arrow on fire through the night and getting heavier and more imposing halfway through it, the song remains tribal and dense until its demolishing grand finale, with Katie heightening our senses with her cryptic organ keys. And lastly we have Ave Satanas, an ethereal and obscure outro by the trio where their somber vocalizations will drag you into their sinister lair in the name of Satan (which in the case of High Priestess is a beyond awesome opportunity for any metalhead, of course).

The circle of what the band itself likes to call “Heavy-Psych Doom” has been cast by Katie, Mariana and Megan in their newborn opus, and in order to join those three undeniably talented women in their quest for such unique style of heavy music simply follow them on Facebook and on Instagram, and grab your copy of Casting The Circle from Ripple Music’s BandCamp page or webstore (US and Europe), as well as from Amazon. The high priestesses of heavy and lustful Doom Metal are among us to stay, and as they conjure each and every one of us to become part of their devilish kingdom, there’s only one question left, and it’s indeed a very simple one. Who are we to say no to such distinguished and dexterous triumvirate of doom?

Best moments of the album: Erebus and The Hourglass.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Ripple Music

Track listing
1. Casting the Circle 5:10
2. Erebus 9:37
3. The Hourglass 6:46
4. Invocation 17:22
5. Ave Satanas 3:26

Band members
Katie Gilchrest – vocals, guitars, organ
Mariana Fiel – bass, vocals
Megan Mullins – drums, percussion

Album Review – R.U.S.T.X / Center Of The Universe (2019)

Deeply rooted into 70’s and 80’s rock and metal music, three brothers and one sister from Cyprus are unleashing upon us their sensational third full-length album.

Formed in Agioi Trimithias, a village located in the Nicosia District of Cyprus, in the year of 2003 under the name Flames In Ice, and known as R.U.S.T. from 2004 until 2014, Heavy Metal/Hard Rock four-piece act R.U.S.T.X is ready to take the world of rock and metal by storm once again with their third full-length album entitled Center Of The Universe, bringing to our avid ears truly from-the-heart and no bullshit melodic Heavy Metal with classic rocking passages highly inspired by renowned bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Warlord, Savatage, Stormwitch and Riot, their absolute passion as one can easily determine with just one listen. Comprised of three brothers and one sister, those being Peter Pan Xanthou on the guitars, George Xanthou on bass, Katerina Xanthou on keyboards and John Xanthou on drums, all four members share the vocal duties in the album, giving it an even more unique taste.

Enthusiastic and passionate about everything they do, their brand new opus will unquestionably convince old school lovers that they do mean serious business, with their outstanding positive energy and originality being accurately reflected by each of the album’s ten magnificent songs deeply rooted into 70’s and 80’s Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal. Featuring guest appearances by Paolo Nipa (Dark Quarterer) and Andrea Ramacciotti (Deadly Tide), recorded and mixed at Woodstock Recording Studio in Piombino, Italy by Andrea Ramacciotti, and displaying a magical artwork created by the amazing Chris Achilleos, known for his unique interpretation of stunning amazons, epic dragons and paintings inspired by ancient civilizations and mythology, Center Of The Universe will put you in a trance from start to finish, showing how powerful and gripping the music by R.U.S.T.X can be. “With this album we really pushed ourselves to the limit and the result is like something out of this planet. A comeback to the 70’s and 80’s era of Rock and Metal music that we so much adore,” commented the band, giving you a very good idea of the insane rock n’ roll party that’s about to begin as soon as you hit play.

Uniting the classic rock by AC/DC with the progressiveness of Rush, the Xanthou Brothers and Sister embellish the airwaves with the opening track Defendre Le Rock, showcasing a healthy and beautiful balance between the heavy riffs and piercing solos by Peter and the whimsical keys by Katerina, whereas in Running Man the quartet speeds things up and delivers sheer adrenaline in the form of music, with John taking the lead with his frantic drums while Katerina continues to blast her Deep Purple and Axel Rudi Pell-inspired keys, resulting in a true Cypriot Metal hymn. And in Black Heart the band takes us all to a journey back to the 70’s, blasting high-end Progressive Rock with George shaking the foundations of the earth with his bass. Not only that, it’s definitely very interesting how their vocal lines are always more enraged than the usual Progressive Rock and Metal acts throughout the entire song.

Then an eccentric intro grows in intensity until pure Rock N’ Roll hits us in the head in I Stand To Live, spearheaded by Katerina’s powerful vocals, and again it’s amazing how they can offer so many vocal styles in one album, not to mention their superb job on the guitars and bass (especially the flammable solos by Peter Pan); followed by Endless Skies, an upbeat composition by the band displaying classic Hard Rock infused with 80’s and 90’s elements, as well as numerous breaks and variations, presenting an amazing job done by both George and John with their rumbling instruments. And the sounds of nature and gentle voices ignite the title-track Center Of The Universe, feeling like the overture of a sonic ritual and sounding absolutely unique and experimental. Get ready for over ten minutes of complex guitar lines and classy keys, enfolding vocalizations and all of the band’s other magical sounds and tones until the song’s grand finale, turning it into a must-listen for admirers of the genre.

The electric guitars by Peter Pan dictate the rhythm in the dancing rock tune Widow’s Cry, sounding like a Hybrid between the early days of Nightwish with Doro where Katerina once again steals the spotlight with her gorgeous vocal lines, while Peter Pan’s slashing riffs and solos and George’s Iron Maiden-inspired bass lines are the icing on the cake. In Wake Up, an excellent Progressive Rock extravaganza, they sound like a younger and European version of Rush, bringing forward a fantastic work done by John with his intricate beats, and keys and riffs in total sync that will certainly warm up the listener’s heart and soul. And last but not least, the CD version of the album contains two awesome bonus tracks, starting with the headbanging rock tune Dirty Road, where the entire band breathes fire from their tuneful instruments, and Band On The Run, a sensational cover version of the song by Paul McCartney & Wings released in 1973 (check the original one HERE), where R.U.S.T.X give the song a more progressive and psychedelic vibe.

You can find Center Of The Universe available for a full and detailed listen on Spotify, but of course in order to show your utmost support to this talented family I recommend you purchase your desired version of the album from the band’s own webstore, from the Pitch Black Records’ BandCamp or webstore, and from several other locations such as Saturn.de, Apple Music, Amazon and Discogs. Also, why don’t you give them a shout on their Facebook page and also subscribe to their YouTube channel? Those are excellent ways to keep in touch with what’s certainly one of the best and most exciting bands hailing from Cyprus, and without any doubt the most united and passionate family from the underground Rock N’ Roll scene.

Best moments of the album: Running Man, I Stand To Live, Widow’s Cry and Band On The Run.

Worst moments of the album: Black Heart.

Released in 2019 Pitch Black Records

Track listing
1. Defendre Le Rock 4:51
2. Running Man 3:25
3. Black Heart 4:29
4. I Stand To Live 5:26
5. Endless Skies 4:32
6. Center Of The Universe 9:09
7. Widow’s Cry 5:38
8. Wake Up 4:45

CD bonus tracks
9. Dirty Road 4:17
10. Band On The Run (Paul McCartney & Wings cover) 5:18

Band members
Peter Pan Xanthou – guitars, vocals
George Xanthou – bass, vocals
Katerina Xanthou – keyboards, vocals
John Xanthou – drums, vocals

Guest musicians
Paolo “Nipa” Ninci – drums, percussion
Andrea Ramacciotti – guitars

Metal Chick of the Month – Romana Kalkuhl

I was born to burn! Maiden of steel!

After a short and sweet break, The Headbanging Moose returns in full force with our metal chick of the month of July, elevating the temperature in the always hot summer in the Northern Hemisphere. If you’re a diehard fan of old school Heavy and Power Metal the likes of Warlock, Judas Priest, Accept, Manowar and Grave Digger, I’m quite sure you already know our metal lady, but in case you’re still not familiar with her refined technique and deep passion for heavy music here’s a good chance for you to go after the music from her ass-kicking bands Burning Witches and Atlas & Axis. Hailing from the metallic lands of the charming and beautiful Switzerland, here comes the talented Swiss guitarist Romana Kalkuhl, ready to take the world of heavy music by storm armed with her inseparable stringed axe for our total delight.

Born in 1990 in Switzerland, Romana, whose full name is Romana Eskić-Kalkuhl (as she’s married to Swiss guitarist Damir Eskić, from the bands Destruction and Gomorra), comes from a family of musicians who have always supported her decision to become a professional guitar player. For instance, her father Meinolf Kalkuhl is an opera singer in Zurich, Switzerland, while her mother is a piano teacher. All that support resulted in the formation of her first professional band in 2009 while she was still in university. That band is Aargau-based Heavy Metal act Atlas & Axis, with whom Romana has already recorded two full-length albums, those being March of the Night, in 2011, and Confrontation, in 2014, not to mention all concerts the band has already played live. You can enjoy the Iced Earth-inspired sound of Atlas & Axis and Romana’s incendiary shredding on YouTube by listening to songs like Power and Might, Elements, To Violence and These Words, among many others, as well as the song Winter played live at the Dynamo in Zurich in 2014. Unfortunately, due to her current commitment to Burning Witches, our blonde warrior doesn’t have the necessary time to focus on Atlas & Axis at the moment, which means the band is on hold until further notice.

It was in the spring of 2015 in the city of Brugg, a municipality in the Swiss canton of Aargau, when Romana founded Heavy/Power Metal unity Burning Witches, following her personal dream of performing on stage with an all-female metal band. Earlier that year she started looking for talented women for her new project, with her longtime friend, bassist Jeanine Grob, becoming the band’s first official member. Then during a party at a festival she met vocalist Seraina Telli, from bands like Dead Venus, Rizon and Surrilium, starting a very healthy and productive partnership between them, with Seraina’s ideas and experience from her studies at the Music Academy and her bands being exactly what Romana wanted for Burning Witches. Having the one and only Schmier, vocalist and bassist for German Thrash Metal institution Destruction, as their producer and consultant (and a personal friend of Romana, by the way), and with drummer Lala Frischknecht and guitarist Alea Wyss completing the lineup after an intensive search and several auditions, Romana and her Burning Witches were finally ready to crush with their classic metal music.

Since the band’s inception, Romana and the girls have already released two full-length albums (their self-titled debut album in 2017, and Hexenhammer in 2018), one four-track live album named Burning Alive, recorded on September 30, 2017 at Z7 in Pratteln, Switzerland, and now in 2019 they re-released Burning Witches / Burning Alive as a combo under Nuclear Blast. If you want to feel the power of their metal sword, simply go to Spotify or to YouTube and enjoy some flammable Heavy Metal anthems such as Wings Of Steel, Black Widow, and Executed, or many other live footage from Romana and the girls slaying everything and everyone that crosses their path like their flammable performance at Sweden Rock Festival in 2019; their concert in 2018 in Mannheim, a city in southwest Germany; and their powerful pocket show at Salzhaus Brugg in 2018.

Sadly for all fans of the band, lead singer Seraina Telli left the band earlier this year for personal reasons, being replaced by Dutch vocalist Laura Guldemond, from bands like Shadowrise and Synergy Protocol, and of course Romana had a few words to say about that change to her band. “This is, of course, a very sad moment for all of us. We have been very close for the last years and have reached a lot together. With great sadness we have to accept that Seriana wants to move on and we wish her the best of luck for that! Your time with the Witches will never be forgotten! For us as a band, it is important now to look into the new challenges and the new record — the show must go on!”, complementing her thoughts by saying that “we are super thrilled that we have found Laura so quick over our Dutch connection Sonia. We know it is impossible to replace a great voice in exact the same way; that is why Laura is the perfect choice for us. She will bring in her own strength and personality into the Witches! We will not change the identity of the band; we will continue playing the music we love! Laura is an experienced and crisp vocalist with a big range and a crazy enough personality to be one of us! Please give her a warm welcome — she has already won many metalhearts at our first show with her at the Sweden Rock Festival! We will continue to spread the magic of the witches — thanks for all the support over the years!”

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Regarding the fact that the band has become more international with the addition of Laura to their lineup, the second Dutchwoman in the band, Romana said that the collaboration between them is quite dynamic, with the Dutch girls flying to Switzerland over the weekend for rehearsals and concerts, while the rest of the time everyone practices their music from home. She also mentioned in one of her interviews that her main goal when she started Burning Witches was to have fun with the band, not because of success itself, complementing by saying that if one day that pleasure of playing with Burning Witches is over, then the band will also be over. In addition, when asked about how she keeps the band as independent and feminine as possible even with the influences of Damir and Schmier, she said that their help is based on their experience, something the girls from Burning Witches don’t have enough yet, and that Damir’s support was crucial to make everything happen, always keeping in mind the band was going to be (and will always be) an all-female metal band.

Romana’s list of idols and influences can easily be felt in the music by Burning Witches, with her favorite styles ranging from Heavy, Thrash, Death and Black Metal to Hard Rock and even Progressive Rock. According to Romana herself, the bands that have influenced her the most (and the entire band, of course) are Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Manowar, Saxon, Accept, Dio and several other renowned acts from the NWOBHM. Also, in regards to her equipment, Romana has always played Charvel and Jackson USA guitars, since the beginning, saying those are the best ones in her opinion, and although she’s endorsed also by Fender (apart from Charvel and Jackson, of course) she doesn’t use it when playing live just because she has so many instruments of the other two manufacturers. And before I forget, did you know she also plays classical guitar? Our dauntless metalhead is not only a shredder, but as you can see she’s also a woman who adds a touch of finesse to her guitar lines.

When questioned about the differences and disparities between men and women not only in Heavy Metal, but in music in general, Romana said that it might look easier to be an all-female group at first, attracting a lot of attention form the media and the fans (especially when all band members are beautiful like the ladies from Burning Witches), but it only gets harder and harder as time goes by due to the systemic sexism found everywhere, complementing by saying that many people will see them as just “pretty faces” and think that it’s a man who’s doing all the job in the background. Romana also said that one of the very positive effects of her all-female band is serving as the inspiration for other women to attend their concerts and start their lives in metal, which in my opinion is indeed an amazing change to a music genre mostly dominated by men, whereas the more sexist metal fans ended up reacting very negatively to their music. Who on earth wouldn’t enjoy watching five talented women kicking some serious ass on stage, playing old school metal music? You have to be really stupid, and not just sexist, to think the Burning Witches are not a great metal band.

Anyway, as aforementioned, Romana is married to Damir Eskić, guitarist for Destruction and Gomorra (which was previously called Gonoreas), and it was actually during a Gonoreas’ concert that the couple met, with Damir having a huge influence on Romana’s playing style as he was the one who taught her a lot about the instrument (albeit she already knew how to play it from her school years). On a side note, Romana said she was impressed by Miriam Zehnder, who played the rhythm guitar at Gonoreas at that time, also saying her stage presence fascinated her a lot, showing how connected Burning Witches and Gomorra are not only because of Romana and Damir. In addition to that, Romana said her relationship with Damir is quite healthy, dynamic and fun, with Damir being for example the music collector while she’s more interested in clothes, and so on. Damir considers himself the coach, the moral preacher and the main supporter of the Burning Witches, keeping the girls happy and motivating them even in difficult situations, all confirmed by Romana who also said Damir also makes sure he gives them a motivating speech before every concert, getting them ready to rock on stage.

Both Romana and Damir seem to be extremely busy professionals, and when asked about how they manage all their duties and their relationship, including their music lessons as both are teachers at different music schools (Romana works at three different schools while Damir works at two schools and at the conservatory in Winterthur), she said although they don’t actually have time for anything else, they still manage to have a normal life as a couple, as all those things have already become a part of their everyday life. Furthermore, the couple might not have real rings, but the dates tattooed on their fingers already say it all, showing a lot of mutual respect and admiration between them, with Romana saying that although they’ve already been together for over a decade seeing each other pretty much daily, they still miss each other when they’re on tour in different parts of the world, mentioning for example how difficult it was during the two week Damir was away with Destruction this year. She wasn’t really complaining about that because she understands how hard it is to be part of a band that tours a lot and how lucky both are for being in successful bands, but let’s face it, it’s indeed tough to be away from your loved one no matter what, even if it’s in the name of our good old Heavy Metal.

Romana Kalkuhl’s Official Facebook page
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Burning Witches’ Official Facebook page
Burning Witches’ Official Instagram
Burning Witches’ Official Twitter
Burning Witches’ Official YouTube channel

Album Review – Orchid / Miasma (2019)

Immerse yourself in the debut full-length opus by four Indian metallers who are not afraid to experiment with the new and the unknown, always ready to push their own boundaries in heavy music.

Formed in late 2011 in Bangalore (also known as Bengaluru), the capital of India’s southern Karnataka state, Avantgarde/Progressive Metal entity Orchid is a four-piece band comprised of Kaushal on vocals, Vinay on the guitar, Rahil on bass and Mayur on drums that plays a dense and very distinct blend of Heavy Metal with several other genres and styles such as Progressive Rock, Hardcore and Psychedelic Rock leanings (as well as Mathcore), pushing the boundaries of heavy music in the subcontinental underground and remaining one of the most original bands to emerge from the region.

In 2016, Orchid released their much-awaited self-titled debut EP to critical acclaim with Rolling Stone India calling it “one of the best cult classics of 2016” and “one of the most intriguing metal releases of the year”, inspiring the guys to keep moving forward and keep spreading their distinguished music to all four corners of the earth with their debut full-length opus Miasma, an album tailored for fans of bands like Dillinger Escape Plan, Gorguts and Frank Zappa, among others. Unlike their previous EP, which touched upon themes of techno-surrealism, Miasma is more straightforward with sociopolitical themes, with the artwork, done by the band’s own drummer through Copycat, containing elements from every song on the album.

An enraged scream by Kaushal kicks off the low-tuned, sluggish and heavy-as-hell opening track Obsolescence, with Vinay delivering lancinating riffs while Mayur brings tons of intricacy and dementia to the musicality with his beats, remaining crazy, vibrant and unique from start to finish, whereas in Solipsist we’re treated to two and a half minutes of top-notch Progressive Metal where Kaushal growls and roars manically while Vinay and Rahil give a lesson in progressiveness and heaviness with their stringed weapons. Then we have Master Supreme, a short and sweet headbanging tune led by the crushing drums by Mayur, bringing to our avid ears the most insane elements from Progressive and Groove Metal. “The song is about the pervasive influence and the growing epidemic of gurus/godmen and their cults in Indian society as well as abroad. Religion and spirituality is the biggest scam in the world; and because we live in India, we have a front-row seat to the circus,” commented the band about this austere and captivating song.

After the shortest song of the album, it’s time for the longest one, titled Dead End, offering seven minutes of insanity, rage and eccentricity. In other words, a full-bodied sonic extravaganza full of breaks and variations, not to mention the beautiful Jazz-inspired passage featuring guest Aadarsh Subramaniam and his old school keyboard solo, building an instant bridge to the also pulverizing Identoid, where Rahil extracts truly thunderous roars from his bass while Mayur and Kaushal “duel” to see who’s the most aggressive and demented one, maintaining the album at a high level of ferocity and intricacy. Following such fun tune we have Sugar Pill, showcasing the most progressive of all starts but quickly morphing into a sonic onrush of crisp guitar riffs, Hardcore-inspired drums and raspy growls, fading into a very alternative and sluggish outro, before Zero-Sum Game comes crushing like a thunderbolt, already beginning in full force and bringing a violent Kaushal on vocals, while Vinay keeps firing his classic and slashing guitar lines in a lesson in modern-day Progressive Metal with Avantgarde Metal and Mathcore nuances. Lastly the band offers us all Disassembly Line, not as vibrant and crushing as all previous songs but still a good sample of all the madness the quartet can blast through their music, with highlights to the once again amazing job done by Mayur on drums.

In a nutshell, the guys form Orchid were able to condense all their skills, influences and rage in a very intricate and solid way throughout Miasma, placing their brand new album as a fresh option for fans of heavy music who are always in pursuit of bands that think outside the box and that are not afraid to experiment with the most distinct music styles and genres. Having said that, what are you waiting for to show your support to those Bangalore-based metallers? Go check what they’re up to on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their music, and purchase Miasma directly from their BandCamp page as well as from Instamojo. I bet you’ve never thought metal music made in India could sound so insane and eccentric like this, right?

Best moments of the album: Obsolescence, Dead End and Zero-Sum Game.

Worst moments of the album: Disassembly Line.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Obsolescence 5:54
2. Solipsist 2:34
3. Master Supreme 1:10
4. Dead End (feat. Aadarsh Subramaniam) 6:59
5. Identoid 2:47
6. Sugar Pill 4:22
7. Zero-Sum Game 4:32
8. Disassembly Line 3:48

Band members
Kaushal – vocals
Vinay – guitars
Rahil – bass
Mayur – drums, percussion

Guest musician
Aadarsh Subramaniam – keyboard solo on “Dead End”

Metal Chick of the Month – Wanda Ortiz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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