Metal Chick of the Month – Melissa Bonny

Feel the fire dancing with your soul, now you’re alive…

I honestly find impressive the huge amount of excellent metal bands hailing from the glamorous Switzerland, a country of only around 8 million inhabitants, but that has already provided the world remarkable acts such as Celtic Frost, Eluveitie, Gotthard, Hellhammer, Krokus, Sybreed and my favorite Swiss band of all time Triptykon, as well as tons of amazing underground groups already reviewed at The Headbanging Moose like Voice of Ruin, Henriette B, Way Of Changes and Black Diamonds. We already had a while ago the absolutely stunning Vanja Šlajh as our Metal Chick of the Month, and now it’s time to get back to the “Land of Milk and Honey” to pay a tribute to another fantastic Swiss metaller, a rising star named Melissa Bonny, lead singer of the up-and-coming Swiss bands Rage Of Light and Evenmore.

Born in Montreux, a traditional resort town on Lake Geneva in Switzerland, on January 23, 1993, Melissa started her life in music when she was only 6 years old by singing in a school choir for several years.  When she finished school, she spent most of her free time making music by herself or with some friends and took part in several events in her area, singing on stage, alone or accompanied. She also mentioned that one of her favorite pastimes was to make parodies of famous songs, and that the unexpected success of those parodies convinced her that she should move forward with her music career. That was when she started looking for a band, singing during a short time with a cover band from Valais, a canton in southern Switzerland, in 2012 before being recruited that same year by Symphonic Folk Metal band Evenmore as their lead vocalist, which gave her the opportunity to release her creativity while writing music and the chance to broaden her horizons and perform on great stages before well-known bands such as Lacuna Coil, Eluveitie and Xandria.

Owner of a potent and versatile voice, which allows her to sing as a mezzo-soprano or to do guttural growls the likes of Angela Gossow and Alissa White-Gluz, Melissa is highly influenced by several amazing metal acts, in special female-fronted groups like Delain, Eluveitie, Arch Enemy, Nightwish, Within Temptation, The Agonist, Amaranthe and Epica, as well as bands with a very epic and melodic sonority such as Kamelot and Sonata Arctica. For instance, among her favorite albums you’ll find several classic releases that perfectly represent her passion for dark and imposing metal music, including the albums The Black Halo by Kamelot, Origins and Helvetios by Eluveitie, and Shadows Of The Dying Sun by Insomnium. As you can see, Melissa nurtures a profound admiration for more contemporary Melodic Metal, where the music is joined by an exciting theatrical piece that became a trademark of almost all bands from her playlist.

Her list of favorite songs obviously includes many compositions found in her favorite albums, and you’ll notice that all of those songs have an epic vein, a potent punch and a detailed focus on the overall harmony. You can bang your head together with our dark-haired muse and feel the energy flowing from modern classics such as Kamelot’s March of Mephisto (featuring the one and only Shagrath, from Dimmu Borgir, as a guest vocalist) and The Haunting (featuring the stunning Simone Simmons, from Epica); Epica’s Storm the Sorrow; Arch Enemy’s You Will Know My Name; Sonata Arctica’s Only the Broken Hearts; Delain’s Get the Devil Out of Me; After Forever’s Energize Me; and my favorite from this list, The Agonist’s kick-ass hit Thank you Pain. We have to admit this is a damn good playlist of modern-day metal music, don’t you agree?

Although Melissa is already working on her own solo material, which had been left aside for several months, let’s focus on her two bands, Evenmore and Rage of Light, as those are already a reality in the world of heavy music and also where Melissa has been shining bright with her fantastic vocal range and mesmerizing looks. Let’s begin with Evenmore, a Symphonic Folk Metal band from Romont, a municipality and capital of the district of Glâne in the canton of Fribourg in Switzerland, formed in 2011 which, since its creation, has for ambition to offer its audience intense moments while listening to its musical creations. Apart from Melissa, the band is composed of guitarist Landry Pernet, bassist Frederic Jorand, drummer Florian Bard and pipes/whistles player Matthieu Bopp.

It was in June 2014 that Melissa and her bandmates from Evenmore relased their first EP, titled The Beginning, comprised of four distinct songs, including the excellent The Black Knight. Welcoming new instruments and aiming at creating a beautiful balance between metal and traditional music, Evenmore worked hard on developing their Celtic vein, culminating with the release of their first full-length album in 2016, named Last Ride, which received many positive feedback thanks to the versatility and the quality of its compositions, transporting the audience into a story that evolves song after song. From that album, you can enjoy Melissa’s unique vocals in the songs The Ride Begins, Eleana and Breaking The Silence. Furthermore, if you prefer watching the band live to actually confirm if they have what it takes to succeed in the world of metal, I recommend you go to YouTube to check some good quality footage from their live concerts, such as the songs Winter is Over at the Grande Salle de Cojonnex in Montreux in 2014, The Ride Begins at the famous Z7 in Pratteln in 2015, and also Last Breath at the Rocking Chair in Vevey in 2014. Hence, after listening to such powerful tunes, you’ll see why Evenmore already had the pleasure of sharing the stage with renowned acts like Lacuna Coil, Eluveitie and Xandria in their short but solid career.

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In regards to Swiss Trance Metal act Rage of Light, this hybrid project was actually conceived several years before our ebony growler joined the band in 2015. Rage Of Light was born in 2007 from the desire of its creator, multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Pellet, to combine two music styles that he loved for a long time, those being metal and trance, inspired by the Swiss trance scene of the early 2000’s and by the sound crafted by Melodic Death Metal bands. However, due to his duties with the bands Dysrider and Nodafreth, Jonathan had to put Rage of Light aside for a few years, until reigniting it again between 2011 and 2015 by writing new material and recruiting Melissa for the vocal duties and his bandmate from Nodafreth, Noé Schüpbach, for the guitars. The trio released in 2016 their debut EP, titled Chasing a Reflection (which can be enjoyed in its entirety HERE), comprised of four original songs, Beautiful Slave, Deception, Sick and Requiem, and a cover version for Lollipop (Candyman), a hit single from the 90’s originally recorded by Danish Dance-Pop group Aqua. You can compare Rage of Light’s version with the original one by clicking HERE, but I guess I don’t even need to point out that the new version by the Swiss power trio is a billion times better.

And it seems that Rage of Light truly enjoyed giving a new arrangement and taste to a classic hit, as earlier this year they released a stunning version for Amon Amarth’s unparalleled hymn Twilight of the Thunder God, which you can take a shot at the end of this tribute to Melissa. In my humble opinion, this is the perfect example of a cover song that’s already fantastic musically speaking, but that its official video makes it even more majestic thanks to the alluring solitude and passion exhaled by Melissa up in the Swiss Alps. If I were you, I would definitely keep an eye on Rage of Light’s BandCamp page, as I’m pretty sure this very entertaining project will soon publish more of their excellent material and maybe even another vibrant cover song for an old classic.

As aforementioned, Melissa is also working on a solo project which hasn’t taken its final shape and form yet, but that doesn’t mean you cannot have a good time watching her videos from her own YouTube channel, where she covers some of her favorite bands and artists, such as these versions for Kamelot’s March of Mephisto, Hozier’s Take Me To Church and Epica’s The Second Stone. If any of these cover songs are an indication of what’s her solo project is about to be, I guess we can be more than excited for her original material then, don’t you agree?

Melissa is obviously a very normal woman with more-than-usual habits, hobbies, likes and dislikes, just like any of us. In one of her interviews, she stated that among her favorite activities besides making music and her bands we’ll find travelling, hanging out with her friends, cooking, and watching several TV shows such as Vikings, The 100 and Game of Thrones. Well, let’s say those TV shows are indeed a great source of inspiration for Melissa when writing her music and obviously when performing live, as you can see in the official videos as well as all the unofficial footage of Evenmore playing live. Who knows, maybe one day the guys from Vikings or even Game of Thrones will get to watch her amazing performances with Evenmore and Rage of Light, and we can then enjoy our Swiss Valkyrie kicking ass on one of those shows with her stunning looks and magnificent voice.

Melissa Bonny’s Official Facebook page
Melissa Bonny’s Official Twitter
Melissa Bonny’s Official Instagram
Melissa Bonny’s Official YouTube channel
Evenmore’s Official Facebook page
Evenmore’s Official Twitter
Evenmore’s Official YouTube channel
Rage of Light’s Official Facebook page
Rage of Light’s Official BandCamp
Rage of Light’s Official YouTube channel

“Boredom follows me but I’m too fast!” – Melissa Bonny

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Album Review – The Agonist / Five (2016)

An average album by a band that has the potential to offer a lot more than this, full of highs and lows and quite confusing at times.

Rating6

the-agonist_fiveI might be absolutely wrong in what I’m about to say and many of you won’t probably agree with me but, after the remarkable success achieved by the fantastic Eye of Providence last year, I believe Canadian Melodic Death Metal/Metalcore band The Agonist rushed things a bit in the release of Five, their fifth installment and by far the album containing some of the weakest tracks ever recorded by this iconic Montreal-based band. That doesn’t mean there aren’t good moments in Five, but the album as a whole lacks more creativity and punch, being full of highs and lows that end up making listening to it quite confusing at times.

Featuring an eccentric artwork by Brazilian artist Gustavo Sazes, and with all song names beginning with “THE” (in case you’re a person obsessed with minor details), Five doesn’t sound as fresh and inspiring as their previous albums, feeling at times as if they were “forced” by some contractual clause to release a new album in 2016, which kind of explains why you’ll find amazing compositions like “The Anchor and the Sail” mixed with forgettable songs such as “The Man Who Fell to Earth”. For instance, the album is unimaginatively called Five, a pedestrian name not even close to the beauty of Lullabies for the Dormant Mind or Eye of Providence. However, if there’s one thing that’s absolutely awesome from start to finish is the performance by the stunning blonde banshee Vicky Psarakis, who saved several parts of the album from being a disaster.

Despite its promising ominous intro, The Moment doesn’t live up to its hype, quickly turning into generic Melodic Metal with lazy guitars and drumming. As aforementioned, although Vicky continues to impress on vocals as she did in Eye of Providence (and she had a lot of fun recording the official video for this song which you can see at the end of this review, by the way), this is certainly one of the most unexciting songs the band has ever written. The Chain is a billion times faster and heavier, just the way it’s supposed to be, with Danny Marino and Pascal “Paco” Jobin doing an awesome job on guitars, and despite its backing vocals sounding a bit out of place the overall result is pretty good, with highlights to its interesting lyrics (“Can I have the attention of the class? / Open up your text / The city of Seven Hills / Another illustration of the autophagy / Put down your fiddle, Lady Liberty / And take a good long look”).

My favorite of all tracks, The Anchor and The Sail, is the good old The Agonist we got used to but with a more contemporary touch, perfectly representing the evolution in music every artist always search for. Its rhythmic and potent riffs and beats, together with Vicky kicking fuckin’ ass on both clean vocals and harsh screams (especially during the song’s enraged chorus), accredit this to become one of their biggest hits in a near future as soon as fans have time to absorb all the music in Five properly, which is not the case in The Game, another song with a promising intro that unfortunately fades into genericism, feeling more like filler than like an honest composition by the band. Then Vicky and drummer Simon McKay lead the musicality in the solid The Ocean through their beautiful vocal lines and harmonious and powerful beats, displaying the right amount of classic The Agonist blended with some interesting experimentations that could easily become a radio hit; followed by The Hunt, which albeit not a masterpiece in terms of creativity, at least it maintains a good flow of energy with Vicky once again stealing the show. And if you say I’m being too picky and that I only enjoy their old classics, let me tell you one of my favorite compositions in Five hands down is the devilish Blues-inspired semi-acoustic ballad The Raven Eyes, completely different from anything the band has ever done before and something I would love to see The Agonist replicating live. The stunning performance by Vicky, declaiming the song’s venomous lyrics embraced by a deliciously dark atmosphere and complemented by smooth piano notes and acoustic guitar lines, is the epitome of awesomeness.

the-agonist_2016I have absolutely no idea why the Nightwish-like instrumental track The Wake was included in Five. It’s not a bad composition, not at all, but it doesn’t add anything remarkable to the album except for almost three minutes to its total duration. I’m not even sure if I can consider this one of the worst songs of the album so out of place it is. Anyway, The Resurrection, one of the heaviest of all songs in Five, brings forward another promising start and excellent lyrics (“Take these coins off my eyes / I’m not ready to be put down / If only you could hear the screaming in my mind / Take these coins off my eyes”), with my only complaint being that it could have kept the same wrath from its first few seconds during the whole song. The Villain follows a similar pattern, losing a little of its punch halfway through it, but nothing that harms its overall electricity. Moreover, the amazing low-tuned sounds by bassist Chris Kells and the furious drumming by Simon provide all the necessary support for Vicky to keep firing her potent growls.

The last part of the album is just downhill in terms of quality and adrenaline, starting with The Pursuit of Emptiness, which is not heavy enough to be Melodic Death Metal nor light enough to be Hard Rock, getting lost in trying to incorporate too many different genres at the same time; whereas the worst of all songs, The Man Who Fell to Earth, would have been a complete disaster if it wasn’t for Vicky’s passionate vocals. Exhibiting the blandest instrumental parts of all tracks, you’ll forget this song exists as soon as it’s over. And the regular version of the album ends with a not-so-bad composition entitled The Trial, nothing truly remarkable but at least it adds some fire to an album below my expectations. And if you grab the limited edition of Five you’ll be treated to their cover version for Hozier’s Take Me to Church, a solid tribute to a contemporary classic, albeit I still prefer Vicky’s old cover songs available on her YouTube channel like her sensational version for “Stricken” by Disturbed.

One day Five might grow on me, but so far after tons of listens at different times and places I still don’t feel this is the best The Agonist could have done as the next step in their amazing career and I don’t believe what I wrote in this review will change much. You can listen to a preview of each track HERE and take your own conclusions (or you can obviously buy the full album), and although I’ll add a few of the songs from Five to my playlist together with all their previous classics, I think it will be hard for me to go and pick Five in its entirety to be part of the soundtrack for my commute, at the gym, at home or anywhere else. I don’t believe the band sold out like I read many people saying in the past week, but the fact that they released a new album when the previous one was still very fresh and vibrant doesn’t make a lot of sense. Well, let’s see what they will offer us next, and as long as it’s not called “Six” it will already be an advancement compared to Five.

Best moments of the album: The Anchor and the Sail, The Ocean and The Raven Eyes.

Worst moments of the album: The Moment, The Pursuit of Emptiness and The Man Who Fell to Earth.

Released in 2016 Napalm Records

Track listing  
1. The Moment 4:14
2. The Chain 3:12
3. The Anchor and the Sail 3:49
4. The Game 2:50
5. The Ocean 4:27
6. The Hunt 3:35
7. The Raven Eyes 5:34
8. The Wake 2:44
9. The Resurrection 5:22
10. The Villain 5:00
11. The Pursuit of Emptiness 4:03
12. The Man Who Fell to Earth 3:53
13. The Trial 4:33

Limited Edition Digipack bonus tracks
14. Take Me to Church (Hozier cover) 5:52
15. The Raven Eyes (acoustic version) 5:36

Band members
Vicky Psarakis – vocals
Danny Marino – guitar
Pascal “Paco” Jobin – guitar
Chris Kells – bass
Simon McKay – drums