Metal Chick of the Month – Fallon Bowman

Then we lay there… Embracing our last stare… On a moonlit afternoon…

As The Headbanging Moose is based in Toronto, Canada, probably the most multi-cultural city in the world, there’s nothing better than having as our last metal chick of the year of 2017 a woman of Dutch and Indonesian descent that was born in Cape Town, South Africa, but that currently resides here in Toronto, playing an also diverse range of musical styles such as Alternative Metal, Nu Metal, Rock, Industrial and even Electronica. This woman, who’s a skillful vocalist and guitarist, goes by the name of Fallon Bowman, known for her involvement with the bands Kittie, Pigface and Amphibious Assault, as well as a solo career which she’s been pursuing since around 2011. Having said that, are you ready to bang your head to the electrifying music by the exotic Fallon?

Born on November 16, 1983 in Cape Town, a port city on South Africa’s southwest coast, on a peninsula beneath the imposing Table Mountain, Fallon has been active in the world of alternative and heavy music since 1996, when at the age of fourteen years old she helped to form Canadian Alternative Metal act Kittie with classmate Mercedes Lander and Mercedes’ sister, Morgan Lander, playing guitar and performing backing vocals for the band from their inception in 1996 until August 2001, when she left the band. As a matter of fact, her passion for music actually started a few years before Kittie, when she was around 10 years old, when she was fascinated with a guitar her grandfather had at his home in South Africa. However, she mentioned the guitar was not her first choice, as at first she wanted to be a drummer when she was around 12, but her parents were against it and she ended up getting a guitar from them after they saw her performance playing the song Violet, by Hole, at a school assembly with a friend using a friend’s guitar. Getting back to Kittie, Fallon has already explained several times in different interviews why she left the band, saying she was unhappy with some things in the band so she felt that maybe it was time for her to depart. Our dauntless guitarist recorded two albums with Kittie, those being the full-length Spit, in 1999, and the EP Paperdoll, in 2000, comprised of a remix of Spit’s song Paperdoll and five songs from Spit recorded live on June 15, 2000 at the Hultsfred Festival in Sweden.

Regarding the writing and meaning of the song Choke in Spit, Fallon said that it is “about someone telling you that they love you so much, and they put you up on a pedestal and make you feel great, then they turn around and say “screw you”, and you can sense that feeling while listening to the song (which you can do HERE). Furthermore, just to give you an idea of the impact of the release of Spit, right after that Kittie went on tours with bands such as Chevelle, Slipknot, Suicidal Tendencies, and Shuvel, also performing at Ozzfest and at the 2001 SnoCore festival. Hence, if you want to listen to Fallon playing her flammable guitar with Kittie, I recommend the songs Brackish and Charlotte, both taken from Spit.

Right after her departure from Kittie, Fallon experienced a period of stress due to splitting up with her friends from the band, but she managed to overcome that difficult situation after a while and got involved with her two next endeavors, the distinct bands Pigface and Amphibious Assault. Pigface is an industrial music supergroup formed in 1990 by Martin Atkins (Ministry, Killing Joke) and William Rieflin (Ministry, KMFDM, R.E.M., King Crimson), featuring tons of guest musicians such as our metal babe Fallon. She ended up recording several tracks with Pigface for their 2003 album Easy Listening…, which led her to begin writing music again due to the enjoyment she had during the recording process. She then purchased a sequencer and began exploring the industrial music genre that she admired but had never actively pursued, also filling her basement in the following months with drum machines and synthesizers, which in the end led to the writing of the songs for District Six, the debut album by her upcoming industrial project Amphibious Assault, mixing lots of heavy elements and aspects with her passion for industrial music. The name of the project was chosen during a flight from Toronto to New Jersey, when Bowman, at the age of seventeen, was skimming through a Tom Clancy novel when she came upon the term “amphibious assault”, with the whole project being, according to our talented musician herself, her personal “homage” to her KMFDM days, when she was obsessed with them. Amphibious Assault went on for a few years, from 2003 until 2007, with two full-length albums released, the aforementioned District Six in 2003 and On Better Days and Sin-Eating in 2006. If you want to take a listen at this more electronic side of Fallon, I recommend you check the songs Tears In Rain, District 6, The Importance Of Finding Narcissism, Mistakes, Breaks, Way Too Lates, and Benedictine, among many others.

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After the end of Amphibious Assault, Fallon mentioned that a new project was about to become a reality, tentatively named “Oh No, Torpedo!”, but that in the end became her solo project Fallon Bowman & The Grace Dynasty (with The Grace Dynasty being a five-piece band that included Rhim of The Birthday Massacre on drums), playing a series of live shows before announcing their forthcoming debut album, titled Human, Conditional, from 2011. However, right after the recording of the album was done, it was decided that the project would drop “The Grace Dynasty” from its name, being then just known as Fallon Bowman. You can take a detailed listen at Human, Conditional at Bowman’s own BandCamp page, with songs like the title-track Human, Conditional and Rio de Janeiro being a good sample of how her latest project sounds like.

Regarding her vocal range and her skills as a musician, Fallon mentioned in one of her interviews she’s highly influenced by R&B (thanks to her sister and parents), which allows her to do more than “just” scream and yell while singing, and that she hadn’t taken any singing lesson until she left Kittie. She said that her vocal teacher taught her all sorts of essential lessons about maintaining pitch while moving, and that she incorporated those into her performances to give it a more theatrical vibe. In addition, she also mentioned the emotion she transpires during her live performances is something that just happens, it’s very organic and it arises from the same place her lyrics and pain come from. And even in the middle of that sea of emotions, Fallon has time to sharpen her playing skills, being able to play guitar, keyboards, bass and sing (and getting there in regards to the piano), all helping her become a better composer. And did you know she has a degree in archeology? Well, that’s something almost no one actually knew until she was the subject of a prank for an episode of the short-lived Animal Planet series Freak Encounters a few years ago.

Fallon’s influences in music are just as diverse as her own background, with our talented multi-instrumentalist being highly influenced by R&B when it comes to her vocal style, but of course she also draws a lot of inspiration from electronic and rock music, saying that she loves the contrast between angelic singing and harder music. In terms of names, she said her taste for music varies from Whitney Houston to Deftones, from Calvin Harris to VNV Nation to Nirvana, and so on, mentioning that there’s beauty in all types of music. When asked about a band that she would have loved to tour with from the past, she promptly mentioned Nirvana, saying that meeting Kurt Cobain would have been a mind-blowing experience and that Nirvana, alongside with Hole, were the bands that made her want to be a musician. Furthermore, Fallon still had time to create her own dream band, that being David Gahan from Depeche Mode on vocals, Danny Carey from Tool on drums, Ryan from Mudvayne on bass, and Jimi Hendrix on guitar. How awesome do you think that supergroup would sound?

When asked about all changes that have impacted the music industry since she started her career back in 1996, she said when Kittie started they had almost no focus on the internet, as there wasn’t Facebook or anything like that at that time, saying it was all about street teams made up of fans that would spread the word about each band, something that doesn’t happen anymore nowadays. Fallon has been trying to learn about new apps and platforms to promote her music, and you can find her in several places, as for example you can buy her music on BandCamp, something that didn’t exist at all in the 90’s. Well, she’s also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, so let’s say she has adapted to this new reality in the music business as much as her taste in music has changed and evolved, right? Well, now let’s wait and see what the future holds for this young and restless musician, hoping that she keeps “invading” all current and new types of social media sites and music apps with her uniqueness and electricity.

Fallon Bowman’s Official Facebook page
Fallon Bowman’s Official Twitter
Fallon Bowman’s Official Instagram
Fallon Bowman’s Official YouTube channel
Fallon Bowman’s Official BandCamp

“I didn’t consciously think of what I was doing as a step for me as a woman of colour – it was more simple than that – being a teenager wanting to be a rockstar. In retrospect however, no one besides maybe Skin was doing that style of music and was also a woman of colour. It’s a bit mind blowing really. There was really no one else doing that at that level.” – Fallon Bowman

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Album Review – Novallo / Novallo II EP (2015)

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

Rating4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Independent

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

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

Metal Chick of the Month – Noora Louhimo

noora01

Let It Roar, Noora!

It is a well-known fact that all Finnish women are pretty and charming, absolutely no doubt about that. But it’s when a girl from the land of ice and snow releases her inner beast that things get even more exciting, which is exactly the case with our Metal Chick of the Month, the ravishing Noora Louhimo, lead singer of Finnish Heavy Metal band Battle Beast. And if you don’t like the voice and the looks of this blonde “warrior princess”, honestly, I don’t know what to say.

Noora was born on November 6, 1988 in Tampere, Finland, around 180km north of the capital Helsinki, and she has been singing since she was only 4 years old. She had many hobbies before she started focusing on singing, such as dancing, acting, drawing, painting and anything else she could do to express herself. When she was around 13 years old, she had her first band at school, singing Finnish pop songs as well as love ballads from artists like Whitney Houston and Celine Dion.

Despite being a huge fan of Heavy Metal from the 80’s when she was a teenager, when she was 16 years old she had some classical singing lessons, before starting to study music in a more Pop/Jazz-line and doing some jam sessions at bars at the age of 19. That was also when she found her first band, called Admiral Octopus, at a place called BluesBar. The band used to play Rock N’ Roll and Blues from the 60’s, 70’s, and also songs from Janis Joplin, which according to Noora herself is the reason why she got the rasp in her voice. After Admiral Octopus, Noora took part in a singing competition called “Wanna Be A Rock N’ Roll Star” at a place called Henry’s Pub, also in Tampere, and guess what? She won the competition singing Janis Joplin’s classic Piece of My Heart. That’s how her single Relax was born, and that’s pretty much her history before joining Battle Beast.

It was during autumn in 2012, right after Battle Beast finished touring some summer rock festivals in Finland, that singer Nitte Valo, who was with the band since its inception in 2008, announced to be leaving the band due to family issues. In September 2012, guitarist Anton Kabanen found Noora by accident on YouTube when he was searching for a new vocalist for Battle Beast, and after a couple of calls Noora accepted the challenge to be the new frontwoman of the band. In 2013 our blonde diva recorded her first full-length release with the band, the powerful self-titled album Battle Beast, and more recently the also amazing Unholy Saviour, in January 2015.

The Finnish lioness mentioned in one of her interviews that she does many different exercises with her voice, rest it when needed and then a lot more, and also that working out is a very important part of keeping her vocals in a good shape. Whatever she’s actually doing with her voice, it’s working more than perfectly, as we can notice in her excellent performance on a Finnish television program in 2014 singing the song Into the Heart of Danger, her contributions to the good song Satans of Swing by Finnish band Somehow Jo! and to the inspiring Eye to Eye by Swiss Melodic Power Metal band Crystal Ball, and also singing one of her favorite songs from Battle Beast, the electrifying tune Let It Roar. One interesting fact about her singing style is that, as much as she wants to sound like a female singer with “balls”, she wants to sound feminine and sexy at the same time.

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In regards to her main influences in life, our warrior princess doesn’t only sing Heavy Metal, but a huge variety of music genres such as Soul, Rock, Blues, among others, and those different styles are what keep her in balance and inspired as a singer. As aforementioned, she started listening to metal music when she was 16 years old, and that “fire” started actually with Guns N’ Roses. When she heard Welcome to the Jungle for the first time, she knew there was no coming back. Then there came Dio, Judas Priest, W.A.S.P. and of course Iron Maiden. Although her list of influences is endless, including names such as Robert Plant, Freddie Mercury, Ronnie James Dio, Whitney Houston, Blackie Lawless, Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson, Michael Jackson, Axl Rose and many more, her biggest idols in music are first Janis Joplin and second Ann Wilson.

And last but not least, when asked if she’s addicted to any bad habit or guilty pleasure, her answer couldn’t be more feminine than that: chocolate. Well, our “blonde ninja” is an extremely talented and beautiful woman, and Finnish chocolate is by far one of the best in the world. I guess there couldn’t be a better combination than that to celebrate two years of The Headbanging Moose, right?

Noora Louhimo’s Official Facebook page
Battle Beast’s Official Facebook page

“My passion has always been music and different ways of expressing myself as an artist.” – Noora Louhimo

Album Review – Orisonata / Orisonata (2014)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worst moments of the album: Once And Future King.

Released in 2014 Independent

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

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

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

Website Review – Metal Travel Guide

Worldwide Rock and Heavy Metal Location Guide.

Rating4

mtgIf you’re visiting a different city, province or country for the holidays, or if you’re already booking all your flights, trains and hotels for your vacations next summer, you might want to add to your trip some good Heavy Metal, right? Why not having a beer or two (or three, or four…) at a Metal pub, maybe watching a cover band or an original new band playing, instead of going to the same boring restaurants and pubs everyone goes during holidays?

An excellent source of information in terms of pubs, venues and some festivals is the Metal Travel Guide, a pretty straight forward website that lists many different Rock and Metal locations all around the world, divided by continents, countries and cities, and where users can review the locations and rate them on a scale from 0 to 5 (similar to what I use in my reviews). This is what they have on their homepage explaining what MTG is:

“The Metal Travel Guide (MTG) is the internets largest and longest running worldwide directory of places for rock music and heavy metal music fans.

MTG is a continuously growing database of bars, venues, clubs, events & shops from across the globe, added and reviewed by people like you!”

mtg01By reading the reviews you can have a good idea of the places, if they’re still open, the prices, type of music etc. For example, take a look at the MTG page for the rock pub called ROCK & NUBBE, located in Lisbon, Portugal: it has its full address, opening hours, phone number, Facebook page, and a couple of reviews saying it’s a nice option for any day of the week. Some locations even have a picture to make it easier for travelers to identify them as soon as they get there.

Of course I haven’t been to most of the locations listed on MTG. however, I can talk about the ones located in São Paulo, Brazil as I used to live there and have a beer at all those places at least once a month, like Blackmore Rock Bar and Manifesto Bar, where by the way I saw Blaze Bayley playing live twice. Those two pubs are awesome for Friday and Saturday nights, always with a good selection of tribute bands from a variety of Metal giants such as Iron Maiden, Metallica, Black Sabbath, Pantera, Slayer, Judas Priest, Nightwish, among others. Another place I would recommend from the list is Galeria do Rock, a huge Rock and Metal shopping mall located in the heart of the city, offering all kinds of Metal stuff and memorabilia. The only issue with this one is that the neighborhood is extremely dangerous, but if you go with some friends during daylight that’s fine.

mtg02The page for the Canadian pubs and venues unfortunately doesn’t seem to be updated regularly, with very few options and almost no reviews, especially in Toronto (Montreal is a little better, with a lot more places and reviews added). What a shame for such a big and beautiful country, where Rock and Metal have always been part of its history. Without any doubt, the best selection of Rock and Metal pubs can be found in the page dedicated to Europe, of course. It’s an almost perfect source for metalheads that are backpacking around the Old Continent during the summer.

You can also visit their Facebook Page, where there are lots of headbangers from all continents discussing about good Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal pubs and parties to go when you’re visiting a different city or country, and also keep updated with new additions to the website by following their official Twitter.

In summary, I recommend you take a look at all options from MTG before packing your bags. Because travelling can be awesome, but travelling with Heavy Metal is a true celebration of awesomeness.