Metal Chick of the Month – Noora Louhimo

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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

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Album Review – Somehow Jo! / Satans of Swing (2015)

Get ready to dance to the interesting mix of Alternative Rock and Heavy Metal by this fresh and groovy Finnish band.

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SHJ_ISO_KANSI_2When I got the new Somehow Jo! album to write the review and I was told by my friend it was an alternative rock band, I must confess I was a little bit scared or concerned for this is not my kind of music. It turns out that I was surprised when I listened to it, as you “forget” about labeling the music and start paying attention to the quality of the songs, to the lyrics which go from funny to intense, to how they show different kinds of music in a short time and to how well-produced it is.

So, for those who are not familiar with the band yet, Somehow Jo! are a band formed in 2009, in the city of Tampere, Finland, and after releasing two EP’s they are finally ready to show the world their debut full-length album, Satans of Swing. There is an interesting fact about this album: according to their press-release, the “album was recorded live, because the band wanted to avoid triggering and interfering organic audio”. Recorded at Headline Recording Studio in Tampere, produced by Ari Pietilä and mastered by Teemu Kinnunen, you can feel how pure and raw every track sounds.

Still according to their press-release, “the band’s ideology is to tell people about loss, giving, open-mindedness, equality, anger, love, freedom, relaxing, questioning the future, encounter prejudices and facing difficulties”. And you find everything in this album, starting from the opening track, Next King. The first surprise is how well Christian Saurén, the vocalist, mixes moments of clean and screaming vocals – of course, this can be heard throughout the entire album. This song has a really nice rhythm, is groovy and has a heavy guitar solo. You know those songs that are nice to listen at a bar, while sipping a cold beer? This is the case in the next one, Lovesong, with highlights to the awesome work on drums and bass – they lead the song from the most alternative rock music to much heavier moments naturally. Godbye is a calmer song compared to the others, but still heavy at some moments, and it has a pretty cool harmony among the musicians responsible for the backing vocals, giving it a good old vibe.

Hatesong is different from everything else in the album: it is possible to find touches of Hard Rock, Alternative Rock, Heavy Metal and Metalcore in it. It gives you that impression of “I’ve heard something like this before” and yet it is totally new, making it one of the most interesting compositions of the album. Fool has a lot of rhythm and that chorus that will make you hate yourself singing it all day long (“This is what I do, my darling, this is what I do / Baby I still miss you but I won’t be coming back to you / This is what I do, my darling, this is what I do / I’m so sorry that I made you feel like fool”). It would be interesting to see a live video of this song showcasing the interaction between the band and the audience, but in the meantime you can check its official video clip below. Great Sex & Red Wine is one of the heaviest songs of the album, where its guitars are simply amazing and its drums play an important role in the construction of the melody.

SHJ_PROMO_MEDThe strongest attribute in Hellhole Bar are its guitar riffs, which somehow resemble old 60’s rock, but the rest of the elements are kind of confusing, which did not result in good unity as a whole. On the other hand, Beginning still brings old fashioned elements, especially its bass lines and backing vocals, mixing those with new elements like screaming vocals, and the result is pretty interesting.

To finish the album, the title-track, Satans of Swing, brings more Heavy Metal moments and a very special guest: Noora Luohimo, the mighty vocalist of Battle Beast. And they could not have chosen a better female vocalist to this task for she fits perfectly to the heaviness of this melody. Noora herself was very pleased to work with Somehow Jo!, as she declared to the band’s website: “I gotta say that the recording session with Somehow Jo! was one of the highlights of my life and I enjoyed working with them enormously. Above it all, the song ‘Satans of Swing’ kicks ass and so do the guys of the band. Love you Somehow Jo!, keep on rocking!”. Definitely, this is a pretty different song from what we have heard so far from Somehow Jo! and also completely distinct from the work of Noora with Battle Beast.

After nine tracks and a little more than half an hour, this band makes you ask for more and more of their music, as time flies in a very pleasant way while listening to this album. Interested in more information? Check for updates on their official Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram pages. And, of course, you can purchase Satans of Swing on iTunesRecord Shop XInverse Store, and at many other locations. Satans of Swing is a really interesting piece of work, and it does not matter what kind of music you like, this is pure Rock N’ Roll for those who want to have a good time.

Best moments of the album: Lovesong, Hatesong, Fool and Satans of Swing.

Worst moments of the album: Godbye and Hellhole Bar.

Released in 2015 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Next King 3:38
2. Lovesong 3:32
3. Godbye 4:45
4. Hatesong 3:51
5. Fool 4:50
6. Great Sex & Red Wine 3:20
7. Hellhole Bar 3:55
8. Beginning 2:40
9. Satans of Swing (feat. Noora Louhimo) 6:13

Band members
Christian Saurén – vocals, guitars
Sakari Karjalainen – guitars, backing vocals
Eero Aaltonen – bass, backing vocals
Lassi Peiponen – drums

Additional musicians
Noora Louhimo – female vocals on “Satans of Swing”
Cardinal Satan – additional guitars, banjo, tambour