Metal Chick of the Month – Jill Janus (September 2, 1975 – August 14, 2018)

“The dark, the dark… The darkness falls on you. The dark, the dark… The darkness swallows you.” – The Dark, by Huntress

It took me a while to think of a proper beginning to this posthumous tribute to the talented and gorgeous metal vocalist Jill Janus, frontwoman for one of the most promising metal acts of the past few years, California-based Heavy Metal squad Huntress, but as I mentioned HERE she was going to me our metal chick one day no matter what. Owner of an extremely powerful and captivating voice, delivering beautiful high-pitched screams that were capable of putting a huge and genuine smile on the face of the Metal God himself Rob Halford, Jill unfortunately committed suicide this past August 14, 2018 outside of Portland, Oregon at the age of 42, after years battling against her inner demons. In this humble tribute, let’s remember the life and career of Jill, her bands and projects, her contribution to heavy music, her fight against mental illness, and bang our heads and raise our horns to her flammable Heavy Metal, because she might be gone from this world, but her spirit undoubtedly lives on.

Born on September 2, 1975 in Catskill Mountains, a physiographic province of the larger Appalachian Mountains, located approximately 160 km north-northwest of New York City and 60 km southwest of Albany, Jill was always very reserved about her personal life, much to the impact her mental disorder had to her memories. All we know is that Jill, a huge fan of bands like Suicidal Tendencies and Lamb of God, started her musical journey as a child performing opera in Upstate New York, and that as a teenager she traveled to Europe taking on coloratura soprano roles and was awarded a scholarship to the American Musical Dramatic Academy in Manhattan. She was such an intense musician that even during her relatively short career she was able to make a significant impact on the scene, taking part of several amazing projects and bands since the beginning. For instance, Jill, who was a trained opera singer according to several sources, was not only the voice for Huntress, but also the singer for acts such as Chelsea Girls, Vexy Strut, Under the Covers and The Starbreakers, not to mention her future project that was going to be called Victory: The Rock Opera, and her time as a Playboy model and as a topless DJ, being known as either Penelope Tuesdae or simply Tuesdae in some of these endeavors.

In regards to her career with Huntress, and I might say that I personally consider Jill and Huntress to be one single entity, the band was “unofficially” founded in 2007 when Jill released two demo songs, those being Back from the Dead to Kill and Call of the Wild, to be used as “bait” for potential musicians for her band. It was in 2010 when Jill joined forces with underground Heavy Metal band Professor in Highland Park, California to finally form the Huntress we learned to admire, always true to the roots of Heavy Metal with hints of Thrash, Death and Black Metal and with Jill being responsible for the vocal duties with her breathtaking Amazonian-inspired 4-octave vocal range as well as for the lyrics, releasing right away a three-song EP titled Off with Her Head, containing the songs Off With Her Head, Hollow Hills and The Creeper. Singing about occult and obscure topics such as witchcraft, sorcery and witch hunters, Huntress then released three incendiary full-length albums in the span of four years, starting with their debut opus Spell Eater, in 2012, followed by Starbound Beast, in 2013, and finally Static, in 2015, leading the band to tour the world as a supporting act to several metal heavyweights like Lamb of God, Arch Enemy, Kreator, Amon Amarth, Killswitch Engage, Testament, Danzig, Trivium, Sabaton and Dragonforce. You can purchase all three albums directly from their BandCamp page, and remember Jill’s extraordinary voice on YouTube with the videos for the songs Sorrow, Zenith, Spell Eater and Flesh.

In an interview Jill gave to a metal webzine from Brazil called Portal do Inferno in 2014 (you can check the full interview HERE in both Brazilian Portuguese and English), she explained the band’s discography as her spiritual journey through three elements and a tribute to the Goddess in her three forms, the maiden, the mother, and the crone, with each one of her three albums representing one of those elements. Spell Eater was the maiden, sounding ferocious and raw; Starbound Beast was the mother, more thoughtful and showcasing better musicianship and songwriting; and Static was the crone, being vicious, brutal and consequently heavier and darker. During that same interview, Jill provided some details about her partnership with the one and only Lemmy Kilmister (R.I.P.), who wrote the lyrics for the excellent song I Want to Fuck You to Death from the album Starbound Beast. Jill said they were good friends, that they would meet at the Rainbow in Los Angeles for drinks, that one day she asked him to write a song for her and, voilà, Lemmy gave her two pieces of paper with the lyrics to the song, which according to Jill herself was at that time “the most romantic thing a man had ever done to her.”

Furthermore, if live performances are your cup of tea, or in other words, if you deeply need to see an artist or band playing live to know if they’re actually good, you can have a really good time watching some live footage from Jill and her Huntress on YouTube, such as their acoustic version for Blood Sisters in 2013 at the 100.3 the X studios, which by the way was the first time ever the band has done a live acoustic performance; a live version of the song Spell Eater in 2012; their performance of the song Senecide at the Tidal Wave Festival 2012 in San Francisco, California (courtesy of Capital Chaos TV); and the song The Tower live at First Avenue in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2012, on tour with Dragonforce. Hence, it’s ass-kicking performances like those that will keep the name of Jill Janus resonating in the air waves through the years.

Her contribution to other metal and rock bands and projects was also superb, with the most interesting one being the Los Angeles-based all-female supergroup The Starbreakers, comprised of Jill on vocals together with guitarists Nita Strauss (We Start Wars, Alice Cooper, Iron Maidens) and Courtney Cox (Iron Maidens, Femme Fatale), bassist Emily Ruvidich (Paradise Kitty, Misty Day), and drummer Lindsay Martin (We Start Wars, Wasi Wasi, The Aviators). Formed in 2017, the main goal of those five blonde metallers was simply to rock like there’s no tomorrow by playing songs from their metal heroes, and there are plenty of videos on YouTube for you to have a sonic blast with the girls. For example, you can check them kicking some serious ass by playing several classics such as Judas Priest’s all-time metal hymn Painkiller and Dio’s undisputed hit Holy Diver at The Viper Room, in West Hollywood on March 11, 2017, during their first ever live performance; Metallica’s roaring tune Master of Puppets also at The Viper Room in 2017; and Megadeth’s breathtaking classic Hangar 18 at Whisky A Go Go, in West Hollywood earlier this year.

All her other projects are just as fun and interesting, starting with the Chelsea Girls, an all-girl cover band formed by Jill together with Samantha Maloney (Hole, Motley Crüe), Allison Robertson (The Donnas), and Corey Parks (Nashville Pussy), with the band’s name referencing an Andy Warhol flick. She was also the vocalist (under the name Tuesdae) for Vexy Strut from 2003 to 2006, a New York-based Hard Rock band where all other band members were guys, playing music in the veins of Aerosmith and Guns N’ Roses with overtly sexual and cocky lyrics; she sang along with Dave Navarro (Jane’s Addiction) in an acoustic project called Under the Covers for a while (and you can check some photos of the duo HERE); and last but not least, Jill and Angus Clark of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra have recently announced a “Rock n’ Roll romance of innocence and lust” named Victory: The Rock Opera, telling the tale of Victory, an internet sensation and a social media superstar whose God-like reach has given hope to the desolate and deranged. There are some demos available on their official website, but no one knows for sure what will happen with the entire project after Jill’s death. Apart from her career as a singer, as aforementioned she was also a topless DJ under the pseudonym Penelope Tuesdae, and if you’re curious to see what she was like at that time you can check some NSFW photos HERE, as well as a behind the scenes photo shoot on Vimeo. If you think Jill was ashamed of her endeavor as a topless DJ, you’re absolutely wrong. “I was living in New York City and needed cash. So I learned how to DJ, but added a gimmick to make more money. I did it topless. A few years later, I have Playboy to thank for legitimizing topless DJ’ing as a lucrative business, although I quit when Vexy Strut was formed. That was my goal all along – to get your attention as a singer and songwriter. So what – I showed you my boobs. Mission accomplished!”, said our diva in one of her interviews.

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Jill’s standpoint regarding her classical music and opera background is also very interesting, as she told Portal do inferno during the same interview mentioned  before that she was always listening to opera singers and classical music, especially Maria Callas due to her vocal richness and skills, that her classical training helped her support her metal voice, and that she was very strict separating metal from opera. The reason for that split was that she never liked Symphonic Metal, calling it “easy listening” metal, showing she was indeed a tough old school metalhead with great passion for the more straightforward, ass-kicking and no-shenanigans-nor-preservatives type of metal. As a matter of fact, just take a listen at any of the Huntress albums and you’ll notice there’s nothing there that’s not deeply rooted in old school metal and rock music, and that’s one of the reasons why she was so loved by several icons like Lemmy and Halford.

When asked about being a female artist in an environment mostly dominated by men, she said she loved being the only girl on tour, calling the rest of the band and all other bands as her brothers, who used to take good care of her. She was also asked to give some advice to any female metal singers starting their careers, and her answer to that was quite direct: she said any girl should go after her vocal coach Melissa Cross, who has already worked with tons of other amazing vocalists such as Randy Blythe (Lamb of God) and Angela Gossow, former singer for Arch Enemy, due to the exceptional job she does with singers, warming them up, training them, teaching them how to take good care of their voices, among other awesome tips and activities. She also said during that same interview she was never afraid of using her sexuality and sex appeal to draw her listeners “close to the flame”, as she considered herself a witch and a pagan, becoming very natural for her to be nude. I have to admit being naked was something so natural and easy for her it was far from being something dirty or porn, but simply the way she found to better connect to her inner self and to nature itself.

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to write a tribute to Jill now without talking about her recent death on August 14 this year (check this video summarizing this sad event HERE). She had always been very open over the years about her mental illness in the form of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, dissociative identity disorder and alcoholism, which resulted in several struggles throughout her life. Also diagnosed with uterine cancer in 2015 while the band was working on Static, she was able to win that personal battle after undergoing a hysterectomy, being declared cancer-free later. In an interview to Revolver, she described how the schizoaffective disorder evolved into full schizophrenia, which affected her in her 20’s and continued until her death. She said “I was suicidal constantly. I was very suicidal early on in my life. Then in my mid-20’s, it shifted to full-blown mania, where I can’t really remember much of my 20’s. I can’t remember anybody from high school, either. I lost my long-term memory and can’t remember names, faces, or even places. We’ll be at a venue on tour and Blake will be, like, ‘We’ve played here two times before,’ but I’ll have no recollection.” Jill told Psychology Today in a 2015 interview that she attempted suicide for the first time at the age of 16 “with a pair of scissors. I was getting mandatory counseling at school but didn’t see a psychiatrist until I was 20,” she said. “I was then diagnosed manic-depressive and participated in a medical study at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan.” She was eventually diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, telling Psychology Today “I’ve always seen and heard things others couldn’t. Many visions or dreams would manifest into reality, which my family and friends described as my ‘psychic ability.’ This caused more drama at school, being called a ‘freak’ and getting beaten up. When I was 17, the visions and encounters with ‘other-worldly creatures’ was almost a daily occurrence.”

Some of the most interesting and peculiar parts of her interview with Psychology Today are a very good depiction of how serious any type of mental illness can be, impacting not only the life of the person suffering from it but also everyone else living around this person. For instance, one of the ways that her mental illness manifested was that she created different “characters” or “identities” and was eventually diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder. Dissociative identity disorder is characterized as having two or more distinct personality states. People often forget parts of their life as they cannot recall experiences from one personality state when they are in a distinct, separate personality state. She described these different “characters” this way: “As a child, I had a very active imagination and would pretend to be characters I created. This seems normal for a kid, but then I started seeing these characters and they’d take over my body. It felt like being possessed like in the movies. I could shed it easily as a child, but when I hit my 20’s, it became very difficult to shake it.” She complemented by saying “I spent 10 years as ‘Penelope Tuesday,’ the persona I initially created to conceal my true identity as I worked the NYC nightlife scene. I cannot remember much of my life during those years, except through stories from my friends and family. I was manic, fiercely ambitious and slept very little. I was not drinking or abusing drugs during my time in New York. My family became very worried and moved me home to get help after discovering I had breast-augmentation surgery. But I wasn’t aware that I had done this until a few weeks later when I snapped back to reality and saw I had breast implants. It was terrifying. I spent time at Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown, New York, and was diagnosed with multiple personality disorder (dissociative identity disorder).”

She also explained how the bias manifested in her youth. “I was embarrassed about being perceived as ‘crazy.’ As a kid I was made to feel bad or was bullied for being different. As a child, I would make up things about myself to avoid seeming odd. This coping tactic got more intense after college and then I felt other personalities taking hold,” she said. “I used an alias for most of my life, keeping who I really was hidden. Only now am I capable of letting go of my various identities, but it’s still painful to feel vulnerable.” As time went on, she was able to find treatments that were effective in managing her mood and psychotic symptoms. She also said the combination of medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy was effective for her. Cognitive-behavioral therapy often includes examining how one’s thoughts and behaviors may influence emotions and well-being, and how modifying thoughts and behaviors can improve clinical outcomes. In addition to that, she also found that her music was influential in her coping. Her experience is supported by research that shows that music therapy improves clinical outcomes among individuals with mental illness, including schizophrenia and mood disorders. “Music saved my life. My mother says I was singing before I could speak. I knew my purpose as soon as I could talk. It was always music. I relate to the mathematics behind music, it soothes my brain and helps me cope with my various disorders,” she said. “By the time I was 10, I was performing in operas and musicals. My vocal range developed quickly. I was using four octaves by 13. The discipline and focus was beyond my years. But I’ve never had much patience for people. I was always one step ahead. Music is the only way I ever knew how to cope.”

And you can notice how much Jill loved her music and metal in general, and how open she always was about her mental condition, by watching several interviews with her on Youtube, such as her chat with Brittney Patton in 2016 where she talks about mental illness, artwork, sobriety and other topics; talking about touring and her childhood to Rock Hard Megazine in 2012; an interview to Yell! Magazine during Heavy MTL in 2013; a two-part interview filmed by JAM Magazine on tour backstage at the Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie, Texas on November 2, 2013 (check part one HERE and part two HERE); an interview to Jeanette LeBlanc from The Heavy Press after a Huntress show at The Kool Haus, in Toronto in 2013; or simply watch this EPK published by Huntress in 2012 where Jill talks about the band and their music.

After Jill’s passing this August, several renowned artists and bands from the rock and metal scene shared their shock and sadness on social media, such as Rob Halford, Lzzy Hale, Alex Skolnick, johan Hegg, Starkill, DragonForce, Otep, Randy Blythe, Cristina Scabbia, Alissa White-Gluz, and obviously her boyfriend, bandmate and partner in crime Blake Meahl, among many, many others as you can see HERE and HERE, showing how respected, loved and admired Jill was her entire life and career, and that she was never alone despite all her mental issues. Having said that, if you or someone you know and love might be at risk of suicide, please call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (or use the Lifeline Chat) if you’re in the United States, reach out to the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention if you live here in Canada, or any other support number or website from this international list of suicide crisis lines no matter where you are located in the world.

Jill Janus’ Official Instagram
Jill Janus’ Official Twitter
Huntress’ Official Facebook page
Huntress’ Official Twitter

“Once you decide to choose your purpose and live only for that purpose, that is when you will find success, and right now Huntress is it. I’m married to heavy metal and that is all that I have.” – Jill Janus

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Album Review – Sharked / Generalized Death Drive EP (2016)

In less than 15 minutes, this enraged quintet from France pulverizes everything and everyone that dares to cross their path with their relentless fusion of Deathcore and Death Metal.

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coverPutting a label to French quintet Sharked might be a difficult task, but if there’s one thing we can say about the music by this unrelenting cohort is that it’s as pulverizing as an atomic bomb. Bringing together the most aggressive elements from Deathcore, Grindcore, Death, Thrash and even Black Metal, which makes them sound like the evil bastard of Testament, Pantera, Napalm Death and Cannibal Corpse, Sharked are ready to disturb whatever is left of peace in our decaying society with their second EP, titled Generalized Death Drive, and let me tell you they need less than 15 minutes to achieve their malevolent goal.

Formed in October 2010 in the city of Lyon, France by guitarist Tom Roger, and having released their self-titled debut EP that same year, Sharked have suffered a few changes through the years before reaching their current lineup, shaping up their music to the high-octane and belligerent form found in Generalized Death Drive. Featuring a straightforward artwork by Grégory Diot, each song in the EP was baptized with the name of a type of killing (as the suffix -cide means “a killer of”), those being genocide (the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation), liberticide (the destruction of freedom), infanticide (the crime of killing a child within a year of birth), tyranicide (the killing of a tyrant), homicide (the deliberate and unlawful killing of one person by another) and suicide (the act of intentionally causing one’s own death), all seasoned with the sheer truculence and wrath by Tom and his crew.

A few beeps warn the listener it’s time for total anarchy in Genocide, a devastating tune led by Tom and his lancinating riffs, while lead singer L’Abbé S.M. growls and barks like a rabid dog. And the massacre goes on until the very end of the song with not a single second of peace, giving no time for the listener to breathe before a hurricane of metal music named Liberticide begins. Faster and leaning towards modern Death Metal, it sounds very clean, professional and metallic due to the album’s amazing production, with drummer Nicolas Ramboz keeping the musicality on fire with his unstoppable blast beats. The next track, Infanticide, also showcases an outstanding level of anger and hatred, where the vocals by L’Abbé S.M. will inspire you for some violent slamming into the circle pit. This is like a Deathcore version of contemporary Cannibal Corpse thanks to the unique sonority generated by Sharked’s heavy artillery, in special by the bestial drumming by Nicolas and the fierce bass lines by Jérémy Conil.

sharkedIn Tyranicide they send a statement saying they’ll never slow down their music, reaching a demented pace enhanced by the sick beats by Nicolas, not to mention the crisp and menacing sound of Tom’s guitar; followed by Homicide, a modernized Deathcore chant where the wicked noises and samples by ArtRose work really well together with the rabid havoc brought forth by the rest of the band. And closing the album we have Suicide, offering more brutality for lovers of extreme music with L’Abbé S.M. sounding like a choleric Max Cavalera at times. In less than two minutes, they triturate whoever is still alive after all the insanity in the form of music found in the EP.

To sum up, Sharked’s killing feast witnessed in Generalized Death Drive might be considerably short, but it’s more than enough to carve their names in the underground of French extreme music and, consequently, to open the doors for the band to record their first full-length album pretty soon. If you want to know more about Sharked, go check their Facebook page and SoundCloud, and you can buy a copy of the EP at the Sepulchral Silence Record’s BandCamp page, on iTunes, on Amazon and tons of other locations. Their songs might be named after types of killings, but if there’s one thing they don’t kill at all is good music. Quite the contrary, it’s bands like Sharked who keep the fire of underground metal burning bright, always putting their passion for extreme music above everything else, maintaining the longevity of this type of music even when society and mainstream record labels and producers go against it.

Best moments of the album: Liberticide and Infanticide.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Sepulchral Silence Records

Track listing   
1. Genocide 3:12
2. Liberticide 3:09
3. Infanticide 2:54
4. Tyranicide 1:19
5. Homicide 2:11
6. Suicide 1:54

Band members
L’Abbé S.M. – vocals
Tom Roger – guitars
Jérémy Conil – bass
Nicolas Ramboz – drums
ArtRose – samples

Metal Chick of the Month – Emmi Silvennoinen

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Aina sydämessäin oon… Neito pohjolan…

Brothers of the North, sharpen your swords and axes, grab your war hammers and shields, paint your faces with the colors of your Norse clans and be prepared to bleed in the battlefield fighting side by side with our Metal Chick of the Month, the lionhearted Finnish warrior Emmi Silvennoinen, former keyboardist for Finnish Epic Folk Metal band Ensiferum. If you dig Scandinavian girls and are also crazy for electrifying fighting chants, Emmi will certainly drive you moonstruck.

Born on April 9, 1988 in the city of Vantaa, Finland, the fourth most populated Finnish city and also part of the inner core of the Finnish Capital Region along with Helsinki, Espoo, and Kauniainen, Emmi stepped in as the keyboardist for Ensiferum for their live performances following the departure of Meiju Enho in September 2007, until she finally joined the band as their permanent keyboard player for the recording of the album From Afar, in 2009.

Before becoming part of Ensiferum’s metallic army, our gorgeous Scandinavian shieldmaiden was the keyboardist for a Finnish Melodic Death/Gothic Metal band named Exsecratus, from Helsinki, with whom she recorded the demo Execute, in 2006, and the full-length album Tainted Dreams, in 2007. Although the band doesn’t exist anymore, you can still enjoy Emmi’s impassioned keyboard notes embellishing the band’s sounding in interesting songs such as Under the Winter Moon, My Last Fight and Suicide. As you can see, Emmi used to play a completely different style than her work with Ensiferum, but that doesn’t mean her excellent skills behind the keyboards were less important or less effective for the music by Exsecratus.

As aforementioned, our Finnish “valkyrja” joined Ensiferum back in 2007 as the band’s keyboardist for all their upcoming live performances when in 2009 she finally got the full-time job with them, recording her first single with Ensiferum called From Afar, which is also the name of her first full-length album with the band, from 2009. From that album, one of the most interesting tracks is Twilight Tavern, which official video features live footage from the famous venue Nosturi, located in Helsinki. After that strong start, Emmi also recorded with Ensiferum the singles Stone Cold Metal (2010) and Burning Leaves (2012), the full-length album Unsung Heroes (2012), the fun Suomi Warmetal EP (2014), and more recently the full-length album One Man Army (2015).

Among all Ensiferum songs that could be used to present Emmi’s solid skills as a musician, I believe the title-track of their latest album, One Man Army, is a very good example of what she’s capable of doing. In addition, why not grab a cold beer and enjoy the sound of her keyboards in their cover versions for the all-time classics Wrathchild (Iron Maiden) and Breaking The Law (Judas Priest)? Despite the fact both original songs do not have any keyboard parts at all, she managed to add her own notes to the music, enhancing their uniqueness compared to all other cover versions for those two songs you might find anywhere.

Emmi hasn’t been in many parallel projects apart from her full-time commitment with Ensiferum, except for playing keyboards in the album Hymns of the Mortals – Songs from the North (2014) by Finnish Melodic Death Metal band Thyrien. Again, the musicality crafted by Thyrien is quite different from the Folk Metal by Ensiferum, as you can see in the excellent tune When The Horizon Burns, once again showcasing Emmi’s versatility and ability to adapt to what the music is asking for.

One very important detail about Emmi’s natural aptitude for music is that she doesn’t only play regular keyboards in her life and career, but she can also play the Hammond organ, the pump organ, the regular organ and the piano, not to mention she was also doing the backing vocals in all songs by Ensiferum. If that doesn’t prove to you how dexterous our charming keyboardist is, I honestly have no idea what really would.

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Due to the fact that Emmi was a live musician for a good couple of years with Ensiferum, I thought it would be nice to have some words from our diva regarding her life on the road, her opinion about the importance of live performances to a metal band, or anything similar to that. Fortunately, I was able to find an interview where, when asked about the differences between playing at a big festival and playing at small venues, she gave a short and sweet explanation of the importance of festivals to bands like Ensiferum. “There are usually more people who hasn’t heard of our music, and festivals are a place to show all we got”, she said, and let’s admit she’s absolutely right about that.

Furthermore, if you’re either a fan of Emmi and the music by Ensiferum or if you’re a newcomer to the world of Epic and Folk Metal, you can enjoy Emmi kicking ass on her favorite place on earth, which is on a festival stage together with the other members of the band, playing songs such as Windrider (at With Full Force XV, Germany, 2008), Lai Lai Hei and Token Of Time (both at Wacken Open Air, Germany, 2008), or even Ensiferum’s full performance at the RockHard Festival, in Germany, on May 18, 2013.

However, in the past few years Emmi was unfortunately forced to sit out of some of Ensiferum’s tours around the world for personal reasons (which were not disclosed anywhere), culminating in her definite departure from the band in April this year. In 2013, she missed the band’s South American tour which was scheduled to start on May 28 in Bogota, Colombia, with her parts being replaced by backing tracks as per a statement released by the rest of the group. And in the beginning of 2015 Emmi couldn’t make it to Ensiferum’s European and North American tours, when she was replaced by the digital accordion of Netta Skog (ex-Turisas). “This was a very tough decision for me to make to not be a part of the European and North American tours, but I am so happy that not only an amazing musician will be standing in for me, but also a close friend. I hope you all enjoy the shows and the new songs with Netta – I’m looking forward to returning to play them for you in the summer!”, she stated, showing her relationship with the band was more than perfect at that time. Unfortunately, she couldn’t get back in action due to family reasons, being replaced permanently by Netta.

Lastly, I wish there were more interviews (both written and on YouTube) with Emmi to be shared with all of you, but it looks like she’s either more reserved than the other members of the band, or that interviewers all over the world are wasting some amazing opportunities to ask a few questions to such a unique musician. Anyway, if you speak Finnish you might have a good time with this interview to a Finnish channel called MoonTV (I couldn’t understand almost anything, obviously), and if you’re a fan of radical sports you can check Emmi and the other members of Ensiferum going paragliding in the valleys of Slovenia after their concert at Metaldays, held in Tolmin, Slovenia in 2013. Adrenaline has always been the perfect catalyst for good heavy music, don’t you think?

“It’s nice to see Scandinavian folk metal bands, especially Finnish bands, are doing well all around the world. I’m proud to be part of this, and it’s nice to see people are loving this kind of music, and getting inspirations from Scandinavian bands for their own music and all their lifestyles.” – Emmi Silvennoinen

Album Review – Escapetor / Fear (2014)

A serious contender for “Thrash Metal Album of the Year”, as heavy, invigorating and awesome as it can be.

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ESCAPETOR - Fear cover artWhen you think of that insane Thrash Metal from the 80’s, your head automatically turns to North America, more specifically to the San Francisco Bay Area and to South Florida, where monsters such as Slayer, Megadeth, Metallica, Anthrax, Exodus, Testament and many other great bands simply made history with their never-before-seen heavy music. But what if I tell you there’s also excellent Thrash Metal music in the “Land of the Midnight Sun”, the stunning Kingdom of Norway? And what if I tell you it’s the most awesome Thrash Metal music you can find anywhere today?

That’s exactly the case with Norwegian Thrash Metal band Escapetor, who after a few demos, EP’s and a debut album, are about to release their second full-length album, entitled Fear. Not only that, this Rogaland-based group also adds lots of elements from more contemporary bands like Pantera and Slipknot to their songs, which ends up elevating the overall fierceness of their musicality to a level all Thrash Metallers from anywhere in the world will love from the bottom of their hearts. In other words, if you do not like the Thrash Metal by Escapetor, you’re not a good person.

The initial riffs and fast drums of the opening track, The Queen, say it all: it’s fuckin’ brilliant Thrash Metal, so good I bet no one can stand still while tis song is played. In addition to the flawless instrumental, with highlights to the aforementioned powerful guitar riffs, the performance by German singer Claudius Bormuth is beyond superb, turning this song into a unique heavy music delight. What a great voice, perfect for Escapetor’s musicality! If only Metallica were doing something as enjoyable as this. Anyway, that was just the beginning of Fear: the melodic mid-tempo song Dark Past, with its more modern sonority perfect for headbanging and for some crazy air guitar, has some excellent guitar solos accompanied by a strong and catchy chorus (“Can you feel it, burning inside / I can’t take it anymore. / All these feelings tearing me apart, / Cause I know it is my dark past.”); while Unknown Thoughts, a pretty decent song with an interesting job done by drummer Leif-Ove Haugstad, reminds me of a more contemporary Metallica.

Dealing with Fate is pure riffs and heaviness where you can sense the influence from the band’s biggest idols in terms of harmony and rhythmic breaks. Besides that, its backing vocals are an amazing addition to the already great vocals by Claudius, and everything gets even better due to an outstanding guitar solo at the end. The following track, Mr. Hyde, showcases a refined mix of Thrash Metal and Southern Rock, something I’ve seen only Testament doing properly. It’s direct and powerful, straight to your face, with its lyrics inspired by the “Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” being an extra ingredient to this great recipe (“Last night, I woke up, I had the same old nightmare / What have I done, Mr. Hyde has taken over”).

ESCAPETOR band photoThe title-track, Fear, is truly kick-ass, with its deeper growls in the chorus and all variations from a faster rhythm (perfect for mosh pits) to a heavier and slower tune (tailored for intense headbanging) perfectly exemplifying the total synergy among all band members. The mighty bass lines by Dan Gundersen set the tone for another badass ferocious track, Shadow, where guitarists Ragnar Nord-Varhaug and Axel Feller keep up with the tradition of dynamic and technical guitar duos in Thrash Metal, followed by Escapetor, with its epic intro and an astonishing atmosphere created by the guitar riffs. Not only this is one of the best songs of the album without a shadow of a doubt, but its pure old school musicality and lyrics (“We are Escapetor, here in your town / Delivering metal to you our crows / We travel the wastelands, we sail over seas / To bring you our music, to make you feel free”) make me feel like I’m listening to a classic band from the 80’s.

Then it’s time to bang our fuckin’ heads with Suicide, an evil version of A7X (which is indeed something very positive), with highlights to its great vocals and to drummer Leif-Ove Haugstad simply smashing his drum set. It can’t get any heavier than this! The next track, Time, reminds me a little of Iced Earth and although it might not be as brilliant as the rest of the album, it’s a pretty decent song anyway; while the Testament-ish tune Creatures of the Night offers us some very dark and solid guitar lines, with the final part of the song being so damn heavy it’s impossible not to love it. And finally, Escapetor offer all fans of good music an incredible gift, with their impeccable cover version of Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues. I have to say this is more than just a cover version, it’s a superb tribute to one of the biggest music icons of all time, and seriously, this song made my day a lot better.

Call it the “New Wave of Norwegian Thrash Metal”, “Boknafjord Area Thrash Metal” (the largest bay in the county of Rogaland), or create your own definition of it, but one thing is certain: Fear is surely the “Thrash Metal Album of the Year” so far, and there’s a huge chance it will remain in the top spot when 2014 is over. If you cannot wait to listen to more of Escapetor’s crazy Thrash Metal, a preview of the entire Fear is available HERE, and you can already pre-order it at the official Crime Records webshop. Let’s say that only Thrash Metal behemoths Exodus can beat them, but it would be an honour anyway to be second place just behind Gary Holt, Zetro & Co., right?

Best moments of the album: The Queen, Fear, Escapetor, Suicide and Folsom Prison Blues.

Worst moments of the album: Unknown Thoughts and Time.

Released in 2014 Crime Records

Track listing
1. The Queen 5:52
2. Dark Past 5:05
3. Unknown Thoughts 4:33
4. Dealing with Fate 6:42
5. Mr. Hyde 5:03
6. Fear 3:56
7. Shadow 3:45
8. Escapetor 4:52
9. Suicide 4:24
10. Time 5:46
11. Creatures of the Night 5:53
12. Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash cover) 2:30

Band members
Claudius Bormuth – vocals
Ragnar Nord-Varhaug – guitar
Axel Feller – guitar
Dan Gundersen – bass
Leif-Ove Haugstad – drums