Metal Chick of the Month – Federica Lanna

While angels are turning into grace… Demons languish because of their pains…

It’s time to be embraced by the beautiful voice of the stunning Italian singer Federica Lanna, frontwoman for Modena-based Symphonic Metal act Sleeping Romance, here on The Headbanging Moose, and let me tell you that once you are touched by the mesmerizing, delicate and passionate vocals by our metal chick of the month of March, you’ll become addicted to her voice and music. That’s what first-class Symphonic Metal with female vocals is all about, and Federica is here to show us all the metallic scene in Italy is alive and on fire and that her band is one of the most interesting names we should be paying attention to when it comes to symphonic music.

Born on April 26, 1986 in Modena, a city in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region known for its balsamic vinegar, opera heritage, Ferrari and Lamborghini sports cars, Federica lives up to the legacy and culture of her hometown, having studied opera singing for around three or four years in her career. She had to stop her course, though, due to the high cost for her at that time, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t resumed her studies in recent years, when she began studying with a speech therapist as well as started working with Italian singer, keyboardist, producer, bassist and vocal coach Michele Luppi (Vision Divine, Secret Sphere, Whitesnake). Federica said in one of her interviews that unfortunately she doesn’t play any other instruments like guitar or keyboards, but who said she needs more than her voice to embellish the airwaves, right?

In regards to her career with Sleeping Romance, when she joined the crew in 2012 the band was at that time still called Hybrid Resolution, playing a style closer to Gothic Metal instead of their current Symphonic Metal. Federica didn’t release anything under the name Hybrid Resolution, though, with the band’s only release since their inception in 2009 being their 2011 five-track self-titled debut EP. The original idea of the band’s mastermind, guitarist Federico Truzzi, was about combining orchestral and symphonic music to rock and metal, which is why it was originally named Hybrid Resolution, but they decided to change the name to Sleeping Romance in 2013, already with Federica as their lead singer, to give the band a darker, more evocative and more romantic touch. Owner of a delicate but at the same time very powerful voice, Federica’s approach when developing her vocals for the music by Sleeping Romance is quite straightforward, as she works together with Federico in order to create vocal lines that not only value her voice, but the entire song. The duo tries different solutions and ranges together until they reach a desired shape and form, with Federico always providing her keyboard drafts to help her with the vocal melodies.

Drawing influences from movie soundtracks and classical music, and playing what can be labeled as “Mediterranean Symphonic Metal”, the band currently comprised of our diva Federica Lanna on vocals, the aforementioned Federico Truzzi on the guitar and orchestrations, Fabrizio Incao also on the guitar, Lorenzo Costi on bass and Francesco Zanarelli on drums have already released two full-length albums, those being Enlighten, in 2013, and Alba, in 2017, as well as a few singles through the years. Since the release of their debut opus, the band has toured quite extensively in Europe, playing mini-tours and one-off festival shows around the continent, including Brainstorm Festival and FemME in the Netherlands, Christmas Rock Night in Germany and many others. There are several videos on YouTube where you can enjoy Federica’s voice (and obviously her beauty), such as Lost In My Eyes, Where The Light Is Bleeding, My Temptation, December Flower, The Promise Inside, and an acoustic version of Finding My Way.

Also, although Federica hadn’t been in any band of certain significance before joining Sleeping Romance, you can still enjoy her gorgeous voice as a guest singer in the song The Final Crusade, released in 2017 by Austrian Symphonic/Progressive Power Metal band Serenity in the album Lionheart. Besides that special appearance, Federica also updates her own YouTube channel on a regular basis with her personal versions for metal and even non-metal songs from an array of bands and musicians, such as Within Temptation’s Somewhere (in partnership with Angela Di Vincenzo, from Secret Rule), Epica’s Storm the Sorrow (together with Alex Lady Owl), and Tesseract’s Tourniquet.

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As Federica started singing when she was still a child, growing up among Disney soundtracks and her father’s albums (which included classics like Pink Floyd, Queen, Enigma and Enya), her range of influences in music can be considered quite wide. For instance, she loved singing both Bohemian Rhapsody and The Sleeping Beauty, two very distinct but obviously very impactful and multi-layered songs. Apart from Freddie Mercury, Disney movies like The Little Mermaid and her father’s influence, Federica said in one of her interviews that it was when she discovered the music by Within Temptation that she began developing her taste for Symphonic Metal, falling in love with the genre. Among her favorite bands, she always mentions Within Temptation, Nightwish, Evanescence, Rhapsody and so on, also including other bands and styles on her list in recent years, such as Shoegaze, Djent and Progressive Metal.

When asked about the metal environment in her homeland Italy, specially the Symphonic Metal scene, Federica said that, due to the increasing number of amazing bands, the biggest challenge not only for Sleeping Romance but for any band is to be unique, to stand out and not be just a copy of a band which already exists like Nightwish and Within Temptation. She complemented by saying that despite the fact Sleeping Romance is a fairly young band and that it’s an honor for them to be compared to renowned names in the scene, they’re always trying to create something unique and recognizable, always aiming at generating their own sound. Federica also said that metal in Italy is undervalued in spite of all those excellent new bands appearing in the scene, and that’s one of the reasons why she doesn’t usually have a lot of chances to meet other musicians and play with other metal bands in her homeland.

Federica is obviously passionate about touring with Sleeping Romance and playing live, saying that during her first ever tour with the band she hadn’t eaten anything for two days before their first gig in Holland so excited she was then, also saying that tour was one of the best experiences of their lives. When asked about the most important aspects while preparing for a live show, our talented metalhead said that it’s essential for all band members to work, move and look on stage as one single entity, focusing on the songs instead of on their individual performances, complementing her thought by saying that they truly enjoy involving the audience by stimulating their senses and imagination during their concerts. In addition, as a tip to anyone who’s going on a tour with a band, she said touring is not always easy despite all the satisfaction it might give you, and that it’s really important to take care of yourself, bringing with you things like medicine and blankets, as well as being very patient with everyone and everything and be ready for whatever comes during the tour.

Last but not least, Federica said in one of her interviews that finding the perfect lineup before getting into the studio to record a new album is more than essential (which is why by the way she ended up playing with Sleeping Romance, as they changed singers), and that recording an album that truly represents the musicians involved and show the listener the band in their very nature is something Sleeping Romance is always in pursuit of. Furthermore, as the only woman in Sleeping Romance, Federica said she feels like “the princess among the ogres”, saying that the guys can be quite rude sometimes, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t like spending time with them; quite the contrary, that’s one of the main reasons why she enjoys being with them so much as it’s never boring or tiresome. Personally, I believe it’s Federico, Lorenzo, Francesco and Fabrizio who truly benefit from having such talented, beautiful and fun metal woman among them all the time, don’t you agree? That certainly brings a very welcome balance to their lives in the studio and on the road with Sleeping Romance.

Federica Lanna’s Official Facebook page
Federica Lanna’s Official Instagram
Federica Lanna’s Official YouTube channel
Sleeping Romance’s Official Facebook page
Sleeping Romance’s Official Instagram

“I have never thought to be so good to deserve a musical career and then Sleeping Romance came into my life and I experienced a constancy and a love that I ‘ve never felt for anything, and a couple of years ago I also started to teach singing; music gave me my place in the world when I didn’t know what to do with myself.” – Federica Lanna

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Album Review – Majesty Of Revival / Dualism (2016)

One of the most important bands from the contemporary Ukrainian Metal scene returns with a full-bodied album that will definitely put you to dance, love, drink a beer and bang your head, if not all at the same time.

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full var 5If there’s one very special band that proudly raises the flag of Ukrainian Metal as high as the sun, always delivering amazing music to our ears with a high level of professionalism, commitment and dexterity, it’s Symphonic/Progressive Power Metal Majesty Of Revival, and in case you know nothing about them, I highly recommend you go after all their discography as it’s definitely worth a shot. And if you need more than just these few words to convince you of how good this band is, simply take a listen at their brand new album, entitled Dualism, and you’ll certainly get hooked on their melodious and electrifying music.

Formed in the fall of 2009 by lead singer and guitarist Dimitriy Pavlovskiy in Uzghorod, a city located in western Ukraine, at the border with Slovakia and near the border with Hungary, Majesty Of Revival have already built a respectable career not only in their home country but also in important markets such as Japan, despite all the lineup changes since their inception. After releasing their debut EP Meaning of Life (2011), the full-length albums Through Reality (2012) and Iron Gods (2012) and another EP named Netherworld (2014), the band took a break from the outside world to focus on the studio work to give birth to Dualism, experimenting with different sounds and styles in order to provide their fans a unique experience in heavy music.

An avalanche of groove and heaviness will hit you from the very first thunderous notes by bassist Tom Penzel in the opening track, titled Deadlock, where it’s interesting to note how Dimitriy can easily go from deep harsh growls to very melodic vocal lines, not to mention how progressive guitars and drums sound, helping to keep this 6-minute composition exciting in its entirety. More metallic and aggressive in spite of the smooth keyboards by Vladimir Yakubovskiy, Awaken brings forward a good balance between guttural vocals and piercing riffs with serene and progressive passages, an amazing tune that will certainly pump up the fans when played live; followed by the sensational and classy Van Halen-inspired Hard Rock chant Alive, with highlights to the precise drumming by Vasiliy Irzhak and to its lyrics about our struggles in life (“All the changes occur when you least expect / And you never know who’s in charge / They come after you, if you fight, then you shoot / Or then you escape – take the last parachute”).

In Inner Dimension the band gets back to brutal and complex Power Metal, with the song’s background keyboards creating an amazing aura nicely complemented by the blazing riffs by Dimitriy, reminding me of old school Dream Theater (especially the guitar solos and all tempo changes). Then we have one of the heaviest of all tracks and consequently one of my favorites, the powerful Darkest, showcasing hints of Pantera in its riffs, an epic vibe led by the nonstop beats by Vasiliy, and lyrics as dark as the music demands (“Darkest fears disappearing with fading dreams / Full of griefs, thru the field of blackhearts / Forgotten truth has been replaced by lies / That destroyed belief for us all”); and Failure, where Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal are beautifully united once again. The bass guitar by Tom Penzel sounds like a hammer so heavy it is, adding tons of groove to the musicality and, therefore, turning it into a recommended choice for some good headbanging.

mor2016The intro for the power ballad Days seems slightly inspired by Metallica’s classic “One”, suddenly turning into contemporary and progressive Heavy Metal with the symphonic elements in the background increasing the song’s liveliness as well as its soulful guitar solos, whereas Wolfheart feels like listening to Sonata Arctica, including the song’s name and lyrics (“You have the wolfheart / You should free it once / Through the whole pain you have to believe / Release your hopes from the darkest fears / Don’t deny thy destiny / You are the knight of your own life / Cherish thy braveness, honor and love / With the obeisance you have to fight – sword in your hands, high above / You have the wolfheart”). It’s a good composition with beautiful guitar lines and solos, but too smooth at times compared to the overall potency of the album. Tongue gets back to a Symphonic Power Metal vibe with modern elements of Alternative Metal added to it, all without losing its core essence and boosted the the harsh vocals by Dimitriy. In addition, pay good attention to the interesting battle between Dimitriy and Vladimir with their guitar and keyboard solos. And presenting a sonority similar to classic bands like Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica, the very traditional tune Perfection offers nonstop drums and epic vocal lines that will surely accelerate the beat of your heart.

When the band slows down the crazy rhythm of ther music, we’re treated to a medieval power ballad named When the Night Embrace, with the passionate vocal performance by Dimitriy being flawlessly supported by the song’s inspiring atmosphere, becoming a perfect choice for singing along with the band during their live performances. The Hard Rock riffs by Dimitriy and the epic keyboards by Vladimir complement each other in the kick-ass metal tune Serenity, tailored for banging our heads nonstop while Vasiliy keeps hitting his drums as heavy as possible, not to mention the spot-on hints of Industrial Metal added to the vocal lines. As we get close to the end of Dualism, Majesty Of Revival fire the title-track Dualism, more progressive than most tracks of the album due to all its tempo changes and intricate beats and riffs. However, heaviness is still present in the musicality thanks to the deep growls by Dimitriy, feeling almost like a Metal Opera so imposing it is. And the Dream Theater-inspired ballad Same Blood closes the album on a high note, in special due to the superb keyboards by Vladimir and the song’s melancholic and gentle rhythm.

The progressive and symphonic universe crafted by Majesty Of Revival can be better appreciated through their Facebook, VKontakte and YouTube, and the excellency of Dualism can be purchased through their BandCamp page (where you will find some interesting options including bonus tracks and combos with T-shirts), as well as on iTunes and on Amazon. Featuring a modern and fresh artwork by Tomi Fanta, which was probably inspired by the duality found in poker cards, Dualism will instantly put you to dance, love, drink a beer and bang your head, if not all at the same time. In other words, everything we search for in high-quality Heavy Metal music.

Best moments of the album: Awaken, Alive, Darkest, When the Night Embrace and Serenity.

Worst moments of the album: Wolfheart.

Released in 2016 Massive Sound Recordings

Track listing  
1. Deadlock 6:56
2. Awaken 6:14
3. Alive 4:13
4. Inner Dimension 6:14
5. Darkest 4:04
6. Failure 4:33
7. Days 6:00
8. Wolfheart 4:37
9. Tongue 5:26
10. Perfection 3:26
11. When the Night Embrace 4:56
12. Serenity 4:53
13. Dualism 5:06
14. Same Blood 4:50

Band members
Dimitriy Pavlovskiy – vocals, guitars
Tom Penzel – bass
Vladimir Yakubovskiy – keyboards
Vasiliy Irzhak – drums

Guest musicians
Marat Adiev – keyboards
Nelly Hanael – backing vocals
Ivan Kraynyay – bass
David Sánchez – harp, strings

Metal Chick of the Month – Ailyn Giménez

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Come sleep with me, I’ll set you free…

The name Pilar Giménez García might not make a lot of sense to you, especially if you’re not a fan of Symphonic/Gothic Metal. It might even sound like a name extracted from a Mexican “telenovela” for some people. However, when I say the stage name of our metal chick this month, you’ll probably connect to her and, of course, to her beautiful voice: please welcome the stunning Spanish singer Ailyn Giménez, or simply Ailyn.

Ailyn was born on May 29, 1982 in Esplugues de Llobregat, in Barcelona, Spain, a place so close to the Camp Nou stadium that many famous players such as Piqué and Iniesta reside there. She is the current female vocalist of Norwegian Symphonic Gothic Metal band Sirenia, and her story prior to becoming a professional lead singer for a Heavy Metal band is quite unique in comparison to many other female singers from both metal or non-metal bands.

However, before we talk about her path to stardom, let’s first focus on her beginnings, in other words when Ailyn was “just” Pilar and started her career in the world of music. Our Catalan diva started singing in school when she was around 11 or 12 years old, when her music teacher inspired her to sing by playing her the song Hero by Mariah Carey. Ailyn immediately fell in love with the song and Mariah’s voice, and from that day on she started trying to sing like her, something easy to notice in the pop/romantic songs Tu Voz Se Apagará and Una Flor En La Tempestad. As hard as it’s to believe, this blonde girl shaking her booty is our Ailyn!

Then at the age of 15 she started her musical career, studying solfege and classical singing at The Albéniz School of Music, with her professional debut taking place in 2002 in Cornellà de Llobregat, also in Barcelona, Spain, in an annual benefit fashion show the city held to raise money for Alzheimer’s sufferers. As weird as it might sound, her first music contract was as part of an Anime/J-Pop/J-Rock group named Charm, with whom she released an album entitled Konnichiwa, in 2003, before parting ways with the group and starting to invest in her solo career in 2004.

Things started to get really interesting for her in 2007, when she was chosen as one of the members of the “young team” in the Spanish version of X Factor, where in the four episodes she participated before being eliminated she sang Pop/Rock classics such as Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time and Evanescence’s Bring Me to Life, among others. Almost at the same time, her sister was looking for metal bands to add them as friends on the once useful MySpace, and that’s when she got to know Sirenia. They really enjoyed the dark and heavy music played by Norwegian multi-instrumentalist and composer Morten Veland and his crew, and as if by magic, a month later the band sent Ailyn an email asking her if she wanted to audition because they needed a new singer. Check her performances in songs such as The End of It All and Lithium (her cover version for one of Evanescence’s most famous songs), and you’ll understand why she was called to be the smooth female voice of Sirenia.

In the beginning of 2008, our Spanish beauty headed to the wonderful country of Norway for a couple of auditions with Sirenia, before being selected as their new female singer in April 2008. Since then, Ailyn has recorded four full-length albums with Sirenia: The 13th Floor (2009), The Enigma of Life (2011), Perils of the Deep Blue (2013), and earlier this year the excellent The Seventh Life Path, as well as the singles The Path to Decay (2008), The End of It All (2010) and Seven Widows Weep (2013), and of course started touring around the world with the band. Moreover, it was during one of her first tours with Sirenia that she had the most memorable show of her life, at the always awesome festival Masters Of Rock, in 2008. According to Ailyn herself it was not because of her performance (as she was very nervous): she mentioned this specific concert was special because it was her first big show with Sirenia, and because she was able to enjoy all the energy and grandiosity of the festival.

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Besides her career with Sirenia, Ailyn sang the song Needle Bites from the album Rejected Gods (2014), by Greek Symphonic Metal band Enemy of Reality, recorded additional vocals on the song Furia de Libertad from the album Argia (2014), by Spanish Symphonic Power/Gothic Metal band Diabulus in Musica, and female vocals on the songs The Chevalier and Prayer from the album Death & Legacy (2011), by Austrian Symphonic/Progressive Power Metal band Serenity. In addition, she performed live with German/Norwegian Symphonic Metal band Leaves’ Eyes at their 10th anniversary show in Wieze, Belgium in 2014., and she is also scheduled to take part on the Metal Opera album The Great Lie by Melted Space in October this year.

However, maybe none of her accomplishments as a metal singer would have been possible without the influence of Dutch Symphonic Metal band Within Temptation in her life. It’s not that she has ever been part of the band or anything like that, but it’s known that all her passion for heavy music started one day while she was watching TV and they played a video from Within Temptation, letting Ailyn eager for more of their music and of the music by any other band with a similar sonority. Of course, that led to Within Tempation’s lead singer Sharon Den Adel being one of her biggest idols in music, among other names such as Jared Leto (30 Seconds To Mars), Josh Groban and Sarah Brightman. Moreover, when asked about which artists she would like to sing with, our metal babe said she would love to perform a duet with  Roy Khan (ex-Kamelot), an amazing choice in my opinion.

Obviously, just as any other regular person in the world, Ailyn has her personal hobbies, including some very relaxing activities such as reading, drawing and sewing, especially sewing her stage clothes for her live performances with Sirenia, and of course she truly loves listening to music. Another interesting fact about Ailyn is that she has a condition called heterochromia iridis, meaning she has two different eye colours, one eye (right) is brown and the other eye (left) is green, which in my opinion only makes her even more attractive. And on a final note, one might ask how a Spanish woman named Pilar Giménez García ended up being called “Ailyn”, a Chinese name, and the answer to that is quite simple: not only she has always been attracted to the Asian culture, but mainly because Ailyn means “true love”. Do I need to say anything else?

Ailyn’s Official Facebook page
Sirenia’s Official Facebook Page

“Since I was a kid I dreamt about being in the music world, and as I grew up I dreamt about being part of a band, so I think my dreams have been accomplished. Of course I’ve got many dreams, but only time will tell if they become true or not.” – Ailyn Giménez