Interview – Angela Di Vincenzo (Secret Rule)

Are you already tired and bored of staying home during this quarantine? Why not enjoying this exclusive interview with the multi-talented Angela Di Vincenzo, talking about her band Secret Rule and their brand new album Against?

Angela Di Vincenzo (Secret Rule)

The Headbanging Moose: First of all, thanks a lot for having time to chat with us, and let’s start with a very simple question: who are Secret Rule? When did the band start, how do you define the band’s sound, and what are your main goals in the world of heavy music?

Secret Rule: Hi and thank you for this space. Secret Rule is a female-fronted metal band from Italy. We have been active since 2014 and have released 5 albums. Our sound is modern metal with a lot of other influences (electronic, symphonic, etc.). Our goal is to find a space in the metal market, and at the moment we’re really satisfied.

THM: Although the band was formed only a few years ago, in 2014, your excellent new album Against is already the fifth studio album in your career. How do you manage to release such amazing amount of music in such a short period of time, what are the main differences between Against and your previous albums, and how do you see the evolution of your music through the years?

SR: It’s very simple for us. We play around 30/40 gigs per year, and the other 10 months, we are free to work on new material. I think that’s a good lapse of time to produce new songs. In addition, as you know, when you do something with passion nothing is boring or tiresome. About Against, I think it’s a more aggressive album than the other ones, and this is what we wanted. For sure, we don’t consider ourselves a symphonic metal band. It would be very limiting for us and not respectful to those who play that kind of music. No doubt there are some symphonic atmospheres in our music, but at the same time, there are a lot of electronic inserts. So in our future the sound will always have something new, and I have to say you that we like this more aggressive approach.

THM: Some of my favorite songs from the album, those being Rise Again, Digital Revolution and Outsiders, bring a high level of energy while at the same time sounding very melodic. How do you guys manage to reach that great balance in your music? Can you give us more details about your writing and recording process?

SR: Andy and I are the main composers of the band. Personally, I grew up with Italian melodic pop music and I met metal music only around my 20s, so all my catchy melodies come from this melting of styles.

Andy was born with metal music in his veins so the heavy aspects come from him! About the writing process, I record all my vocal ideas on my phone each time I have one, at whatever hour and wherever. Andy does the same on his PC when he has an idea for a riff. When we start on a new album, we actually already have a lot of stuff to analyze and in 2 months we work on it and record the album, more or less!

THM: What inspires Secret Rule to write and record heavy music? Do you avoid repeating the themes covered in each song and album, or is this something that’s “out of control” due to the way you create your music?

SR: We can say it’s “out of control” LOL Actually, we like to experiment with new influences and everything comes naturally. We like heavy music but as you can hear, you also can find electronic, symphonic, pop and rock influences in our music, because we are all these things together. For the variety you can find inside, our albums are like a playlist on Spotify instead of a single album.

Album Review – Secret Rule / Against (2020)

THM: As you guys are from Italy, it’s impossible not to ask you about the current COVID-19 crisis that’s having devastating effects on your beautiful country. How are you guys managing the band amidst all the chaos that’s going on there? Also, I hope all is well with you and your loved ones during such difficult times.

SR: Thank you for your question and interest. Here the situation is a little bit hard. At the moment we have been at home just over three weeks. We can go out only to get food or medicine. We have to have a piece of paper with us with our name and reason we’re out and there are heavy penalties for those who don’t respect the government restrictions. It has been difficult for some people to understand they have to stay at home. Now things seem to be getting better in the North of Italy but we have to still wait to have a clearer picture of the situation. About us, we have had to postpone our tour with Semblant in September and we have had to postpone our tour in the UK as well. Since we can’t go on tour and we can’t meet with each other, Andy and I (we live in the same building) have started to work on some cover songs and new stuff. The first music video was released on the 24th of March and was Gets Me Through by Ozzy Osbourne and the second one on the 2nd of April was The Bitter End by Placebo. We already have other songs in mind. In this way, we keep busy and give our fans something new in this difficult period we all are living. We hope to return to normality very soon!

THM: I’ve been following the whole COVID-19 situation in Italy, and during the past couple of weeks I received some videos of Italians playing and singing metal songs such as Slayer’s “Raining Blood” and Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” on their balconies during this never-ending quarantine. Having said that, how important do you think Heavy Metal and music in general are for everyone in Italy right now?

SR: You have been lucky to see these videos because around my house I only hear people who sing classic Italian music, every day at 6 pm! At the moment here in Italy a lot of newfound musicians and singers are coming out on their balconies every evening hahahaha But this has been fun and it has been a way to give positive vibes in this dark moment. Italian people have great energy and sense of humor.

Unfortunately, this is not the right country for the metal music genre. There are more musicians than fans. But at least they are very good musicians 🙂

THM: How’s the current underground metal scene in Italy in terms of bands, venues and live concerts? And can you tell us about any Italian bands apart from Secret Rule that we should take a listen to?

SR: mmmm…hard question. In Italy there are a lot of metal bands, probably there are more musicians than listeners 😀 ….unfortunately, the scene is not so good. There’s no great cultural movement to listen to new bands. So it’s always very hard to bring people to little shows. Anyway, the few people who follow metal music give a warm welcome and support.

If you wanna listen to THE ITALIAN METAL BAND, you should obviously listen to Lacuna Coil!! Hahahahh LOL

Secret Rule

THM: Who are your biggest idols in music? And who do you dream of sharing the stage with?

SR: Personally, I like a lot of bands and singers but if I had to choose, I would say Lacuna Coil and Within Temptation. Sharing the stage with them would be awesome, a dream. I might cry if I were to meet Cristina and Sharon. I think they have great talent and unique voices. There’s no one like them. First and foremost, I’m a fan of theirs.

THM: As a Symphonic and Alternative Metal band, your whole performance is obviously impacted by your attire, or by the way you look on stage. Who’s responsible for creating all the clothing you guys wear during your promo pictures and on stage during your live concerts?

SR: What you see on us reflects our taste and work.

It’s not simple but for the last album, we made a deal with the fashion brand PUNK RAVE. This has been awesome because they believe in us and we love their style. So it’s been a perfect marriage.

In addition, the mood and the meaning they put in their fashion style fits perfectly with the messages in our latest album “AGAINST”.

THM: Thanks again for your time, and please feel free to send your final message to our readers, to your fans and to anyone else that’s getting in touch with Secret Rule for the first time ever.

SR: Thank you for this opportunity. We invite all readers to get a taste of our music if they haven’t done so before and to trust their perceptions.

You can find our music on the best digital platforms like Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and so on. The album is distributed worldwide so you can find it everywhere.

Links
Secret Rule Official Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube | Spotify | Apple Music

Album Review – Secret Rule / Against (2020)

A beautiful album of Symphonic Metal showcasing a collection of songs from romantic and intimate ones to dark and fast tunes, all of them about being overwhelmed in a hurricane of emotions.

Formed at the beginning of 2014 in Rome, Italy with the intention to create a special sound with powerful rhythms and catchy melodies, Symphonic Rock/Metal unity Secret Rule can be considered one of the most hardworking bands of the current Italian scene without a shadow of a doubt, having released nothing more, nothing less than four studio albums since their inception until 2019, or almost one album per year, with the year of 2018 being the only exception to that. After the released of the full-length installments Transposed Emotions, in 2015, Machination, in 2016, The Key to the World, in 2017, and more recently The 7 Endless, in 2019, it’s time for the band spearheaded by the stunning vocalist Angela Di Vincenzo (Kyla Moyl) together with guitarist and keyboardist Andy Menario (Martiria), bassist Michele Raspanti (S.O.S., Graal) and drummer Alex Beccati to take the world of heavy music by storm once again with their fifth album, entitled Against, exhaling endless energy, epicness and romance though the band’s feast of heavy riffs, soaring vocals and electronic elements. In other words, you will find all types of songs in Against, from the most romantic, intimate and mellow one to dark, fast and powerful tunes, all of them about being overwhelmed in a hurricane of emotions, exactly how we like it in Symphonic Metal.

The opening track Spira Mirabilis sounds ominous and atmospheric like the soundtrack to a dark horror movie, suddenly exploding into captivating Symphonic Metal led by Angela’s potent vocals who’s always supported by the theatrical performance by her band members, with Andy kicking ass with his wicked keys. And Andy also slashes his strings in great fashion in Shades of Humanity, accompanied by the thunderous bass by Michele while Angela continues to shine on vocals, sounding heavier than its predecessor but at the same time very delicate and also presenting strident guitar solos and never-ending stamina. Then it’s time for Secret Rule to put the pedal to the metal and offer us all a feast of rock and metal sounds in Rise Again, showcasing a great balance between the pounding beats by Alex and the futuristic keys by Andy, while at the same time blending elements from the music by Evanescence, Epica and Lacuna Coil; followed by the more introspective and cryptic Going Nowhere, a song perfect for Angela to steal the spotlight with her dark and sexy vocals amidst the solid and dense musicality blasted by the whole band.

Adding a touch of modernity to their musicality, with hints of Rammstein’s Industrial Metal being thoroughly inserted into its core but still keeping the band’s classic Symphonic Metal intact, of course, Digital Revolution is beyond exciting and vibrant from start to finish, becoming one of the best moments of the album without any doubt. Endless Promises is a radio-friendly tune by Secret Rule spearheaded by Alex’s unstoppable drums while Angela takes her vocals up a notch, sounding and feeling very pleasant right from the very first second, whereas Purgatory is a lot groovier and more demonic thanks to its harsh vocals, building a great paradox with Angela’s angelical voice, not to mention Andy’s flammable solos. Put differently, it will certainly please all fans of the genre, which can also be said about the title-track Against, bringing forward a video game-inspired intro that’s quickly joined by the band’s characteristic riffs and beats, keeping the album at a high level of adrenaline.

Deep Solitude sounds a little generic if compared to the rest of the album despite the great job done by Angela on vocals; nothing that would harm the album though, as it can be quite entertaining for many fans, as a matter of fact. Fortunately, they get back on track with Outsiders, another fun composition uniting the electricity of Symphonic Metal with the modern and futuristic nuances of orchestral music, with Andy, Michele and Alex being on absolute fire with their thunderous instruments, while My Last Breath flirts with Alternative Rock and Metal, resulting in a semi-ballad that sounds at the same time very gentle and obscure, with Angela embellishing the airwaves with another passionate vocal performance. And lastly, the keys by Andy dictate the rhythm in the closing tune Don’t Let Me Fade, where Alex pounds his drums potently and Andy injects an extra dosage of electricity to the song’s pace through his always sharp guitar solos.

As already mentioned, Secret Rule are not only an unstoppable, hardworking band hailing form Italy, but their talent is also undeniable as we can all see in their brand new opus Against, and if you want to know more about Angela and the boys you can get in touch with them on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and listen to more of their music on Spotify. Also, above all that, don’t forget to preorder your copy of Against from the band’s own webstore in a Special Limited Edition Boxset format, from Record Shop X or from Apple Music, and soon from other locations such as the Pride & Joy Music webstore. Let’s enjoy this fresh and exciting new endeavor by Secret Rule now in 2020, attending their live concerts and raising our horns for such distinct metal act from Italy, and when 20201 comes I’m sure Angela, Andy & Co. will present us with another round of their awesome Symphonic Metal. Because you know, Secret Rule never know when to stop, which in their case is always a very good thing.

Best moments of the album: Spira Mirabilis, Rise Again, Digital Revolution and Outsiders.

Worst moments of the album: Deep Solitude.

Released in 2020 Pride & Joy Music

Track listing
1. Spira Mirabilis 4:03
2. Shades of Humanity 3:29
3. Rise Again 4:37
4. Going Nowhere 4:56
5. Digital Revolution 3:56
6. Endless Promises 3:36
7. Purgatory 3:50
8. Against 4:34
9. Deep Solitude 3:47
10. Outsiders 4:30
11. My Last Breath 3:35
12. Don’t Let Me Fade 3:46

Band members
Angela Di Vincenzo – vocals
Andy Menario – guitars, keys
Michele Raspanti – bass
Alex Beccati – drums

Concert Review – Boonsdale Fest 2018 & Wacken Metal Battle Canada Final (The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 06/09/2018)

After a year of silence, Wacken Metal Battle Canada returned in full force in a unique partnership with Boonsdale Fest to decide which underground band would raise the flag of Canadian metal high on “The Holy Land” of heavy music.

INTRODUCTION: BOONSDALE FEST AND WACKEN METAL BATTLE CANADA UNITED

There’s nothing better than a night of ass-kicking heavy music in the always fun month of June in the city of Toronto, and to make things even better how about uniting at The Opera House the 2nd annual Boonsdale Fest, organized by Boonsdale Records and featuring the bands MokomokaiOperus and Borealis, with the 2018 edition of Wacken Metal Battle Canada, where the Best from the West Hammerdrone battled the Best from the East Centuries of Decay for a place alongside the greatest names in the history heavy music at Wacken Open Air later this year. As there was no Wacken Metal Battle Canada in 2017 (each year Wacken allocates 28 slots at W.O.A. for the Metal Battle winners from 28 different countries, and due to the increasing number of countries some are asked to pause for a year to give the chance to others to participate, which was what happened to Canada last year), this year several Canadian independent and underground bands were more than eager to participate in the competition again, with qualifying rounds happening all over the country starting January 12,  until Calgary’s Hammerdrone and Toronto’s Centuries of Decay reached the desired final round in Toronto this Saturday.

In 2016, Wacken Metal Battle Canada crowned Death/Thrash Metal band Profaner as champions, who then by the way advanced to be 2nd place at the international Metal Battle at W.O.A. that same year, so who would be granted the chance to represent Canada at the biggest metal festival in the world in 2018? Well, it’s time to rumble to the heavy music by Centuries of Decay, Hammerdrone, Mokomokai, Operus and Borealis, and wait for guest judges Gustavo Valderrama (Navaja Music, Electric Flow), Tim Henderson (Bravewords.com), Andrew Epstein (Zombitrol Productions, Alan Cross’ A Journal of Musical Things), Chris Gonda (PureGrainAudio.com), Charlie Felix (Sound & Noise, Live Talent), Oscar Rangel (Operus, Ex-Annihilator), Wojtek Sokolowski (Operus) and Luc Lainé (CFLX 95,5 FM) to decide which band would rule them all!

CENTURIES OF DECAY

Centuries of Decay @ The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 06/09/2018

Precisely at 9pm Toronto’s own Progressive/Atmospheric Death Metal act Centuries of Decay hit the stage at The Opera House showing why they were chosen Eastern Canadian Metal Battle champions, led by the deep and very melodic growls by vocalist and guitarist Devin Doucette. Formed in 2014, the quartet released in 2017 their debut self-titled album, available for a listen (and obviously for purchase) at their own BandCamp page, and that album was basically what the metalheads at the venue had the pleasure to witness them playing live. With songs getting close to or even breaking the 10-minute mark, something unimaginable for any artist or band from most non-metal styles that are in pursuit of stardom, Centuries of Decay inspired everyone in the crowd to bang their heads nonstop and feel embraced by their atmospheric music, generating a very nice and interesting feeling in all of us. That’s how exciting progressive and atmospheric heavy music can be, and if these are just the initial steps in the promising career of Centuries of Decay, I can’t wait to see what those four metallers will bring next.

Band members
Devin Doucette – vocals, rhythm guitar
Rob McAllister – lead guitar, backing vocals
Matt Hems – bass
Derrick Doucette – drums

HAMMERDRONE

Hammerdrone @ The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 06/09/2018

After a quick bathroom/beer break, it was time for the winners of the West Hammerdrone to make a lot of noise and crush us with their unrelenting Melodic Death Metal, opening their performance with the violent Dark Harvest, the title-track from their 2017 opus Dark Harvest, which you can buy directly from their BandCamp page, a concept album inspired by the real life but obscure tale of the Scottish terrorist organization the Dark Harvest Commando. Frontman Grahma Harris was on fire during the entire concert, growling and roaring (and also making faces) like a beast, while his bandmates Rick Cardellini (lead guitars), Curtis Beardy (rhythm guitars), Teran Wyer (bass) and Vince Cardellini (drums) delivered a well-balanced fusion of the more harmonious lines from Melodic Death Metal with the sheer heaviness and aggressiveness of old school Death Metal. As a matter of fact, you can download for free a live EP by Hammerdrone titled Rituals of Battle from their BandCamp page, just to give you an idea of how awesome their music sounds live. And after Hammerdrone’s concert was over, I knew the judges were going to have a very difficult time deciding who should be crowned the 2018 champions. Well, at least they had a few more excellent concerts to go until then.

Band members
Graham Harris – vocals
Rick Cardellini – lead guitars
Curtis Beardy – rhythm guitars, backing vocals
Teran Wyer – bass, vocals
Vince Cardellini – drums

MOKOMOKAI

Mokomokai @ The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 06/09/2018

When Peterborough-based four-piece band Mokomokai began blasting their electrifying blend of old school Heavy Metal and Hard Rock, I guess we could say it was the “official” start of Boonsdale Fest, and let me tell you it looked like their Rock N’ Roll party had no time to end. Formed in 2011, and having a distinct name inspired by the preserved heads of Māori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, the quartet formed by John Ellis on vocals and guitar, Bobby Deuce on the guitar, Jeremy Pastic on bass and J J Tartaglia on drums put everyone at the venue to dance with their flammable music, playing songs from their 2017 album The Poison Whiptail, like the excellent Heavy Metal Sky, as well as a cover version for the classic The Wizard, by Black Sabbath (check out the original version HERE), taken from their 1970 masterpiece Black Sabbath, with John even playing the song’s traditional harmonica. After such high level of adrenaline, I have only one thing to say about Mokomokai: if they visit your hometown, don’t miss the chance to see them kicking some serious ass live.

Band members
John Ellis – vocals, guitar
Bobby Deuce – lead & rhythm guitar
Jeremy Pastic – bass
J.J. Tartaglia – drums 

OPERUS

Operus @ The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 06/09/2018

Perhaps the performance by the following band of the night, Toronto-based Epic Symphonic Metal squad Operus, was the most peculiar of the entire event due to all the unique elements found during their concert (and one of them was definitely not on purpose). Formed in 2005, this six-piece act put on an extremely entertaining and atmospheric show still promoting their 2017 album Cenotaph, featuring Oscar Rangel (ex-Annihilator) on the guitar, cellist Robin Howe adding an extra touch of epicness to the band’s music, masked-frontman David Michael Moote with his passionate and theatrical performance, J.J. Tartaglia back on drums to play a completely different style from Mokomokai, and an injured bassist Wojtek Sokolowski who twisted his ankle right at the beginning of the show, but who refused to stop and managed to play their full set before going to ER (and that’s what I call a true metalhead!). That’s another band I highly recommend you go watch live if they’re scheduled to play at a venue near you, and you can find their latest album available on different platforms such as iTunes if epic and symphonic music is your cup of tea.

Band members
David Michael Moote – lead vocals
Rob Holden – guitar
Oscar Rangel – guitar, backing vocals, growls
Robin Howe – cello, backing vocals
Wojtek Sokolowski – bass, backing vocals
J.J. Tartaglia – drums 

BOREALIS

Borealis @ The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 06/09/2018

Last but not least, the festival ended with another very progressive and melodic band named Borealis, formed in 2005 in the Ontarian city of Orangeville, who also delivered a solid and delightful performance playing songs from all of their five full-length albums, such as Revelation, from their 2015 album Purgatory, and The Awakening, from their brand new opus The Offering, released earlier this year. Comprised of lead singer and guitarist Matt Marinelli (who had his bottle of water wisely placed on his mic stand looking like he was going to deliver some “wah wah’s” with his guitar when he was actually just thirsty as hell), guitarist Ken Fobert, bassist Trevor McBride, keyboardist Sean Werlick and drummer Sean Dowell, Borealis did not disappoint their fans, filling all empty spaces in the air with their classy Melodic and Power Metal and keeping everyone pumped up even with the clock getting close to 2am. That’s another band I highly recommend you go check them live as well as go after their discography, because it’s not only top-tier metal music, but the overall production of their albums is also outstanding.

Band members
Matt Marinelli – vocals, guitars
Ken Fobert – guitars
Trevor McBride – bass
Sean Werlick – keyboards
Sean Dowell – drums

AND THE WINNER IS…

Centuries of Decay – 2018 Wacken Metal Battle Canada Winner

…Toronto’s own Progressive/Atmospheric Death Metal squad CENTURIES OF DECAY! It was indeed an amazing concert, and I’m sure they will proudly carry the flag of Canadian metal high during their journey through the holy land of Wacken. Actually, I really wish Wacken Metal Battle Canada could send two bands to the festival, because Hammerdrone were just as demolishing and professional as the Metal Battle winners. At least now more people will get to know Hammerdrone and all other bands of the night, which in the end is the ultimate goal of the Metal Battle and of festivals like Boonsdale Fest, keeping the fire of metal alive by always presenting to us fans new incredible bands from the underground scene. For instance, there was this old school, diehard metalhead (drinking beer at an insane speed of “two tall boys every five minutes”, but who was still able to walk, talk and headbang as if he was having just water) who asked me right after Operus if there was still more to come, and when I said there was still one more band he showed a huge and honest smile and said “this is great, eh?”, and if independent bands can still extract that type of reaction from a veteran like that guy, well, that’s another proof that metal music will never die. Now let’s wait until next year to see which new name will represent Canada at W.O.A. 2019, and if you already have your tickets for the festival this year, don’t forget to go say “hi” and raise your horns to the guys from Centuries of Decay.