Metal Chick of the Month – Brittney Slayes

There’s no hiding from her, she sees everything!

In order to properly celebrate nothing more, nothing less than FIVE years of The Headbanging Moose, there’s nothing better than paying a humble tribute to a true Warrior of the North as our metal chick of this month of October, a woman that perfectly represents all the passion, strength and perseverance from the people that make our beloved Canada one of the best places to live in the world. Born in 1985 in Vancouver, one of the most beautiful cities not only in the province of British Columbia but in the entire country, here comes the dauntless vocalist Brittney Slayes, whose real name is Brittney Hayes, frontwoman and founding member of Canadian Heavy Metal band Unleash The Archers, always ready to show you what metal music from the Great White North is all about.

The talented Brittney, who discovered her voice when she was five years old and began singing in her local community choir at the age of eight, traveled with several choirs during her school years, taking part in many musical theater productions and working with some of the best vocal coaches in Western Canada. In university, she attended the UVic School Of Music, but choosing instead to attain her undergraduate degree in History. Furthermore, during her time at the University of Victoria, she traveled the world as a member of the Juno Award-winning ensemble the Uvic Chamber Singers. As a UVic alumna and the lead singer of Victoria-born Unleash the Archers, Brittney gave a keynote talk on July 10, 2018 for UVic’s upcoming conference Boundaries and Ties: The Place of Metal Music in Communities, with her talk, entitled “View from the ‘Apex’: A Metal Musician’s Views on Metal and Community”, drawing on her firsthand experience with local, national, and international metal communities. And do you want to know what our metal warrior thinks about us, metalheads? “People are so open-minded. They’re not going to cast judgement and never give you a chance. From what I’ve seen, metalheads are very kind and caring and open-hearted. I just think that the metal community is uplifting, really,” said our wise vocalist.

Apart from her time singing with different choirs, our Canadian warrior had never been involved in any other bands or music projects before founding Unleash The Archers back in 2007 with her boyfriend and drummer Scott Buchanan, and according to Brittney herself starting the band was the best thing she could have ever done (and we all agree with that, of course), allowing her to use her background in classical music and her four octave range to provide a more dynamic approach to the band’s incendiary fusion of traditional Heavy Metal with Power and Melodic Metal. In late 2008, the band recorded a self-titled four-song demo, which featured two songs (Black Goat of the Woods and Destroyer) they would end up re-recording for their first studio album. In one of her interviews, Brittney explained a little more about the origins of the band, saying it all began when Scott, former guitarist Brayden Dyczkowski (who left the band in 2014) and herself were in university, when Scott and Brayden were playing in a Death Metal band together, and as the drummer’s girlfriend Brittney simply loved to go to their shows and rock out. When the band broke up, she called Brayden and asked him if he wanted to start a band with herself as the vocalist and Scott on drums, and from that day on Unleash The Archers became a reality, leading the band to grow and become a reference in Canadian metal music, winning the Best Metal Band and Best Vocalist awards during the 2015 Vancouver Whammy Awards, as well as being voted number 6 in Exclaim Magazine’s Readers Choice Awards for Best Metal Albums of 2009.

Apart from the aforementioned self-titled debut demo, Unleash The Archers have already released four full-length albums and one EP, those being their 2009 debut album Behold the Devastation (when she was still known as as B. Hayes), the 2011 album Demons of the AstroWaste, the 2012 EP Defy the Skies, the 2015 album Time Stands Still, and last year’s highly acclaimed opus Apex. Currently comprised of our Canadian Valkyrie of metal Brittney on vocals, Grant Truesdell and Andrew Kingsley on the guitars and harsh growls, and Scott Buchanan on drums, as well as Nick Miller taking care of the bass duties during their live performances, Unleash The Archers have a great selection of official videos, lyric videos and unofficial live footage for us to enjoy for hours on YouTube. For instance, you can join Unleash The Archers in their quest for metal with the songs Tonight We Ride, Ten Thousand Against One, Apex, General Of The Dark Army, Time Stands Still, Cleanse The Bloodlines, Awakening, The Matriarch and Dawn Of Ages. And if live concerts and performances are your cup of tea, you can enjoy Brittney and the guys kicking ass with the songs Dreamcrusher and Time Stands Still live in Montreal in 2015; General Of The Dark Army live at the Pont Rouge in Monthey, Switzerland  in 2016; an acoustic version of The Outlander recorded live at CHSR in New Brunswick with Matt Nightingale during the 2011 “Tour Through The AstroWaste”; and their full set during their 2015 appearance at ProgPower USA in 2015. When asked about her favorite Unleash The Archers songs, those she believes a newcomer to their metal world should definitely take a listen at, Brittney said she has always loved Battle In The Shadow (Of The Mountain), from their second album Demons of the AstroWaste, saying she has a strong emotional connection to that song, also including on the list Four In Hand, from their debut album Behold the Devastation, as it’s about sin becoming personified as a cloaked figure riding around in a chariot pulled by the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Interesting, isn’t it?

Brittney has also been featured in several other bands and projects as a guest musician, each one of them being very peculiar and showcasing all the talent and range of our metal warrior. For instance, she provided additional vocals to the song Leather Lord, featured on the 2013 EP Live at Mushroom: Vol. I, by Canadian Power/Heavy Metal band 3 Inches of Blood; guest vocals on the song Queen of the Galaxy, from the 2014 EP Queen of the Galaxy (and also featured on the 2018 album The Extraterrestrial Compendium), by American Power/Thrash Metal band Dire Peril (and you can also check a cool live version of it in 2016 at the Blue Lamp HERE); vocals on the song Lunar Sunrise, from the 2014 album The Age of Ether, by American Power/Progressive Metal band Disforia; vocals for the full 2018 album Terror of the Cybernetic Space Monster, by American Power Metal band Helion Prime, like in the song Spectrum; vocals for the excellent song Burn It Down (With Fire), from the 2018 album Shadows from the Past, by American Heavy Metal band Lords of the Trident; and last but not least, she was also a guest on the song Siren’s Song, from the 2016 album Lawful Evil, by The Dread Crew of Oddwood (an acoustic pirate band from San Diego, California).

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Regarding her career and life on the road, Brittney said that living life through music is every musician’s dream, living and breathing music every second of every day while on tour, and she wants to keep playing with Unleash The Archers everywhere, every corner of the globe, every continent and every type of venue, from Japan to Scotland, from Brazil to Antarctica (if they can find metalheads there, of course). When asked about the main difference between festivals and regular shows, she said that in the end they’re not that different, only that there are a lot more bands hanging out backstage waiting for their turn and the atmosphere seems quite a bit more laid back. Having already played with Unleash The Archers all over the world, from North America to China and Japan, Brittney has been collecting a lot of good memories and moments from each and every concert, such as their performance at Hell & Heaven Fest in Mexico City in 2014, where they played a side stage but were able to see the concerts by some of their favorite bands like Angra and KISS. Furthermore, all that passion for heavy music and her family had a very positive impact on her performance on stage. For instance, her brother used to play in a punk band and her father worked as a musician for a long time in the 60’s and 70’s. She used to play with his music equipment when she was a little kid, and there are many pictures of Brittney rocking out with an old SM57 in her hand standing on a table or any other stage-like apparatus. Also, as aforementioned, she was always involved in musical theater, drama, choir or any other sort of performing art, making her feel very comfortable when facing the crowd, it doesn’t matter if at a small venue or at a big renowned festival.

As it happens with any up-and-coming artist in metal music, Brittney has been asked several times through the years about who her biggest idols and influences are in music and in life in general, and her answers couldn’t be more classic, more inspiring and, of course, more metal. She said in one of her interviews that as a vocalist she has always been highly influenced by the one and only Bruce Dickinson, the metal god Rob Halford, Geoff Tate, Kai Hansen (Gamma Ray), Björn “Speed” Strid (Soilwork), Daniel Heiman (Lost Horizon), and Jonas Heidgert (Dragonland), among many others, with bands such as Iron Maiden, As I Lay Dying, All That Remains, Helloween and Septicflesh playing an important role in the development of her taste for music and her singing style. Furthermore, Brittney mentioned that the unparalleled Countdown To Extinction, released by Megadeth in 1992, was the first metal record she’s ever heard in her life, and that was basically the moment that would define her musical preferences for the rest of her life, but she also complemented her thought by saying Best Of The Beast, Iron Maiden’s first “best of” album, released in 1996, was the album that inspired her to use her vocal talents as a singer in a metal band. In addition, when questioned which bands she would choose if she could create her own festival, Brittney simply listed Iron Maiden, Lost Horizon, Iced Earth, Sabaton and Dragonland, all beyond formidable acts, also saying that she would love to tour with Iced Earth, one of her favorite bands of all time, as their music speaks to her on a whole other level.

And last but not least, When Brittney was asked how it feels to be in a Power Metal band from a country like Canada where the Power Metal scene is not as developed as in other places like Scandinavia and Japan, she admitted it’s a bit tough for bands that play metal the likes of Unleash The Archers due to the music culture in Canada being a lot more inclined to Death Metal and other more extreme styles, with Canadian metalheads growing up with bands like Kataklysm and Voivod,  even saying a Power Metal band can feel very “lonely” in the country. However, she also mentioned that even in that not-so-inspiring scenario there are still lots of traditional Power Metal acts all over the country, proving that as long as Power Metal bands keep playing music from their hearts and stay united and strong, the genre has all it takes to grow in popularity among Canadian fans. And there’s no one better than the warrior princess Brittney to lead that metal army and “unleash the archers” upon all of us.

Brittney Slayes’ Official Facebook page
Brittney Slayes’ Official Instagram
Brittney Slayes’ Official Twitter
Unleash The Archers’ Official Facebook page
Unleash The Archers’ Official Instagram
Unleash The Archers’ Official Twitter

“There’s always going to be those faces in the crowd that you have known since the beginning, and that you know will always be there for you; they were fans, and they’ve become friends. I think that there’s very much this foundation of fans that keep you standing. That will never change. The only thing that happens is that it just grows.” – Brittney Slayes

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Metal Chick of the Month – Patricia Pons

I am a mecha, eternal live. Everything dies while I’m still alive.

The summer might be almost over on the Northern Hemisphere, but here at The Headbanging Moose we’ll help you keep things warm with the fiery and multi-talented Spanish singer Patricia Pons, the frontwoman of Valencia-based Melodic Death Metal squad SynlakrosS, and obviously the chosen metaller to be our Metal Chick of the Month. Owner of a powerful voice and displaying a wild and flammable look by blending several styles such as Gothic and cyberpunk in her attire, Patricia is ready to conquer the world of Heavy Metal together with her bandmates through the uniqueness of their music, and I’m sure you’ll love to read about how she does that, how she prepares for the band’s live performances, among other fun topics. Are you ready to enter the cyberworld of Patricia and her SynlakrosS?

Born on December 10, 1984 in Valencia, a port city located on Spain’s southeastern coast and the third-largest Spanish city after Madrid and Barcelona, Patricia loves metal music, anime and arts from the bottom of her heart, and if possible she wants to have them all at the same time, just to give you an idea of how creative and talented our multi-colored hair growler is. Also a proud vegan, Patricia makes sure she spreads the word of veganism and its benefits anywhere she goes, again connecting that philosophy to her music and arts whenever possible. First, let’s talk about her career as the frontwoman of Spanish act Synlakross, which basically represents her life in heavy music since she entered the band in 2010. Actually, before SynlakrosS, she was part of a band named Kakuseisha, a project that didn’t last long (due to the departure of its Italian guitar player) where she played keyboards and was also responsible for the melodic and guttural backing vocals.

According to the band itself, SynlakrosS (stylishly spelled with capital S at the end) is a “storytelling” Melodic Death Metal band formed in 2008 in Valencia, Spain “whose proposal seeks to inject a good dose of energy through songs that transport your mind to a world of adventure with a good deal of rebellion.” Although the band was conceived in 2008 by bassist Pablo “Roro” and drummer Tiko Martinez (who by the way played together with Patricia in Kakuseisha), it was only after 2010 when the band reached its desired shape and form that things started to take off for those Spanish metallers, having already released a self-titled demo in 2011, their first full-length album Melodichrome in 2013 and more recently the full-length Death Bullets for a Forajido, in 2016. In 2015, SynlakrosS won the metal award at the Granitorock Festival, receiving national recognition and opening the doors for the band to share the stage in 2016 with Canadian metallers The Agonist. Patricia herself describes the music by SynlakrosS as “Passionate Metal”, or even “Killer Metal Music”, because they simply love what they do. If you want to see and listen to Patricia kicking ass with SynlakrosS, there are several official videos and fan-filmed footage from their live performances. For instance, you can enjoy the official videos for the songs Billy The Kid and Paper In A History, the audio for their excellent cover version for Nightwish’s classic Wish I Had An Angel, the playthrough video of the song Beauty From The Deep, as well as excerpts from their amazing live performance at Granitorock Festival in 2015 with the songs On The Bridge TV and Dragon Egg.

Apart from SynlakrosS, Patricia has already lent her powerful voice to a song named The Great Heresy, featured on the 2015 album Fuck Your God by Canadian Black Metal one-man army Episcopal Holocaust, sounding very different from her regular work with SynlakrosS, as Melodic Death Metal and Black Metal, despite being both part of the overall concept of extreme music, are not usually associated and have very little in common musically speaking. And, by the way, it’s amazing for The Headbanging Moose to see she has some sort of connection with Canada. In addition to that, she’s also more-than-ready to join Spanish Melodic Thrash Metal band Keldark as a guest vocalist on the song Fear the Fear, which will be part of their upcoming album The Brotherhood, to be released later this year.

Patricia’s main influences in music might sound very different from one another, but if you pay good attention to the details of each one of her favorite artists you’ll see her own voice is some sort of amalgamation of all their styles with her own personal twist. Among her biggest influences, we’ll find names such as Floor Jansen (After Forever, Nightwish), Dani Filth (Cradle of Filth), Kate Bush, Tori Amos, Anders Friden (In Flames), Dez Fafara (DevilDriver, Coal Chamber), Jonathan Davis (Korn), Sandra Nasic (Guano Apes), Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil) and Liv Kristine (Theatre of Tragedy, Leaves’ Eyes), and their respective bands, as well as other bands like Nobuo Uematsu, Koji Kondo and Dream Theater. For instance, the first album she bought with her own money was the classic Fallen, by Evanescence, and the first concert she’s ever attended as a fan was In Flames. In one of her interviews, Patricia made sure she explained a little about her main influences, saying she never listened to them singing just as men or women, she focused on the voice itself and enjoyed every part from their performances.

She’s also influenced and inspired by a ton of other non-music stuff, including books, videogames, films, anime and manga, with her favorite movie being The Matrix, her favorite book being Clive Barker’s 1988 horror novel Cabal, and her favorite writers being Edgar Allan Poe, E. T. A. Hoffmann, H. P. Lovecraft and Mary Shelley, among others, all present not only in her music but also in her stunning looks. In addition, Patricia mentioned in one of her interviews that her personal visual trademark is also highly influenced by the fact that she’s a woman proud of being in Heavy Metal (and proud of being a woman, of course), and she wants people to see that when looking at her. That’s also visible in her hair style, always showcasing unique, vibrant colors by Manic Panic España, the iconic hair coloring company that works with 100% vegan dyes with zero ammonia, such as Siren’s Song and Psychedelic Sunset, two of her favorite colors.

Regarding her live performances with SynlakrosS, as aforementioned they had the pleasure of opening for Canadian metallers The Agonist during their Spanish dates in Sevilla, Madrid and Bilbao in 2016, but they’ve also played in several other locations in Spain like Avilés, Barcelona, Valencia, A Coruña, and so on. However, Patricia wants the music by SynlakrosS to reach new heights, allowing them to play all over Europe as well as in many other parts of the world. In order to provide the audience the best experience possible with the music by SynlakrosS, Patricia said she not only does a series of vocals warm-ups, just like any other vocalist, but she also works on all types of physical warm-ups and stretching, as she’s a very dynamic musician with a flammable stage performance.

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When asked about the metal scene in Spain, Patricia believes that, although Spanish Metal is underrated, the only thing musicians and bands like SynlakrosS can do to change this situation is to work hard, creating high-quality music and touring as much as possible until people see the true value of their music, as well as understand the importance of learning English, as in Spain that’s their pending subject. In addition, she mentioned that the support underground bands have from the media is almost nonexistent, as big magazines and radio stations only talk about international (and sometimes national) big old bands, also saying that unfortunately if you’re a small band and you want promotion, you have to pay for it no matter how amazing and well-done your music is. When specifically asked about the Valencian Metal scene, Patricia said that although they have some amazing bands in the region, the scene is not a popular one. In her opinion, bands and metalheads in Valencia aren’t united and there’s some sort of competition between them. Lastly, when asked where the music style by SynlakrosS is more accepted, if it’s in the north or south of Spain, she said the reception from metal fans has always been great in both regions, mentioning cities like Bilbao and the whole region of Galicia as good examples of places where their experience was very positive in the north, and Seville in the south as having a very warmth and welcome attitude from the fans towards the band.

One topic that’s always discussed in heavy music is the growing presence and importance of women in heavy music, and of course Patricia has been doing her part in opening more space for women in a style usually dominated by men. She thinks that, although most women in metal are vocalists, there are more and more excellent female guitarists, bassists, drummers and other instrumentalists appearing in the scene every single day, all linked to the increasing interest of the society for metal music. However, one of the biggest problems for her is that, no matter how talented a female musician might be, there’s always an unsuitable question or comment from a sexist male fan directed to that female artist, such as “take off your shirt!” or “do you have a boyfriend?”, things that are completely off topic and add nothing to the music being presented. Even when she’s facing that type of situation, she keeps the atmosphere light by saying that when a man screams she’s beautiful, it’s because he hasn’t seen her at 8am with no makeup. That’s a very polite way to say “fuck off” to those inconvenient guys, don’t you think?

Patricia also said that instead of pointless questions like that, she would love to be asked why she became a vegan and why she doesn’t drink or smoke. She said that becoming a vegan was a spiritual change for her, while stopping drinking, smoking and using drugs started when she decided to focus on her voice and on being more professional as a musician. She said there was a case in her family where a person had issues with drugs, and that made her think about it, that it wasn’t what she wanted for her life. Regarding alcohol, she said no one in the band drinks before going out or playing live, being an example to other metalheads that you can still be crazy and have a great time without being drunk or high.

If you’re already a fan of SynlakrosS, what I’m about to say won’t be a surprise to you, but if you’re a newcomer to their world of Alternative Metal I’m sure you’ll be impressed by the fact that Patricia is a professional illustrator and designer, having graduated from EASD Valencia (or Escola d’Art i Superior de Disseny de València) in 2009 in Fashion Design, and doing merch for different metal bands and her own art with manga style with macabre, Gothic and fantastic inspiration. She’s, for instance, the designer responsible for all the graphic art found in SynlakrosS’ 2016 album Death Bullets for a Forajido, including the cover art, inspired by the Wild West concept mixed with the band’s metal essence. You can check a few pieces designed by Patricia on her own DeviantArt page, such as this amazing “Demon Girl”, and who knows, maybe if you have a band she can be the next artist to provide her lines and colors to represent your music.

Last but not least, it doesn’t matter if you understand Spanish or not, there are several interviews on YouTube with Patricia and the other guys from SynlakrosS where they talk about the band’s current status and future plans, their inspirations in music, the metal scene in Valencia and in Spain in general, the evolution of women in metal, among other topics. You can check for example the videos Keep Calm And Listen Synlakross con Entrevista!, 2 Rockeros Entrevista con SynlakrosS, and Tertulia con Synlakross, all showing a very relaxed and uncompromised side of the band, and all a good inspiration for lovers of rebellious and electrifying metal to learn one of the most important languages worldwide. In other words, wouldn’t you love to understand what the charming and skillful Patricia has to say about all kinds of topics?

Patricia Pons’ Official Facebook page
Patricia Pons’ Official Twitter
Patricia Pons’ Official Instagram
SynlakrosS’ Official Facebook page
SynlakrosS’ Official YouTube channel
SynlakrosS’ Official Instagram
SynlakrosS’ Official SoundCloud page

“In Spain, if you want promotion, in general, you have to pay, no matter how amazing and well done is your music.” – Patricia Pons