Metal Chick of the Month – Marjolaine Bernard

Behind shivering drops of my soul… Dancing under a dry sky the void’s pouring inside…

Let’s take a flight to Paris, the capital and most populous city of France, where among several activities and attractions you can visit the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum and the Notre Dame Cathedral, or simply find a traditional French café on the famous Avenue des Champs-Élysées to enjoy a nice, traditional croissant. If you’re a metalhead, there are also some excellent metal pubs and venues for you to go, such as Le Black Dog, James Hetfeeld’s and Le Cavern, and if you’re lucky enough you might enjoy a live concert by Wildpath, a female-fronted Symphonic Power Metal band formed in Paris in 2001 where, since 2008, our metal chick of the month has been giving life to their lyrics. I’m talking about French vocalist Marjolaine Bernard, a very talented and young musician who will certainly attract the attention of fans of melodic female voices like Floor Jansen and Tarja Turunen.

Born on June 4, 1983, Marjolaine started in the world of music at a very young age, first with the piano, then by joining a choir after watching a children’s concert, and since then she has never stopped singing. Furthermore, our French girl has been singing metal for a long time, being part of different small independent bands as a teenager and being clearly inspired by names like Floor and Tarja. However, Marjolaine stated that, despite Floor and Tarja (among other renowned vocalists) still being a reference to her, they’re not necessarily what she listens to nowadays and she doesn’t see herself as a Symphonic Metal singer, but just as a musician among other musicians trying to work with her voice in the best way possible, always in line with the music being played.

Marjolaine and her bandmates from Wildpath draw inspiration to create their music from several distinct sources, from electro to reggae, from metal to ambient music, like a giant melting pot. Furthermore, she mentioned she loves movie scores and soundtracks, being highly influenced by amazing composers such as Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman, also getting ideas from music from video games. She said that metal is a style where you’re allowed to let go with musical expressions and experimentations, and that’s the path that’s being constantly explored by the band in recent years. Forging elements from rock, metal, electro, folk, symphonic and traditional music, always caring for harmony and energy, Wildpath are a band in continuous evolution, and Marjolaine’s voice is exactly what the music needs to become more lively and appealing, as you’ll see below when we talk about her career with the band.

However, before Wildpath, there was Ad Vitam Aeternam, which is Latin for “To (or Towards) Eternal Life”, a Melodic Gothic Metal band formed in 1999 in Paris with whom Marjolaine played until 2005. She recorded the album Abstract Senses with Ad Vitam Aeternam in 2004, that being the only official release by the band since their inception. You can take a listen at the entire album HERE, or also enjoy individual songs from the album such as Dementia and In The Throes of Apocalypse, always paying attention to how different the music style by Ad Vitam Aeternam was from Wildpath, which only shows how versatile Marjolaine is as a vocalist.

It was in the year of 2008 that she finally joined Wildpath, which as already mentioned was formed back in 2001 by keyboardist Alexis Garsault and guitarist Olivier Caron in Paris, having released their debut album Nyx Secrets in 2005 (without Marjolaine on vocals, obviously). After Marjolaine became the lead singer for Wildpath, the band released three full-length albums, Non Omnis Moriar in 2009 (which by the way had its name inspired by the Odes by Roman lyric poet Horace and means “I shall not all die” or “not all of me will die”), Underneath in 2011 and Disclosure in 2015, as well as a very special release featuring acoustic versions of tracks from previous albums in 2016, titled Still – Acoustic Live Experience. You can get a very good taste of how smooth and tuneful Marjolaine’s vocals are in songs such as Petrichor, The Raven, Absentia, Confined and Excinere, listen to the entire albums Disclosure and Underneath, enjoy the acoustic versions from Still for the songs Everlasting Wish and Unborn, or also have fun with Marjolaine and the others with two live “studio” versions for the songs Buried Moon and Secret’s Case.

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If you prefer Wildpath live in front of a bunch of metalheads, I recommend this 2012 version of Buried Moon and Dive live at Le Grand Rex in Paris during the IronSquid StarCraft 2 World Championship Finals, as well as Non Omnis Moriar live in Eloyes, France in 2010; Unborn and Ghost Memories live at Le Divan Du Monde in Paris in 2015; or even this full concert  in 2012 during a mini-festival named Metal Symphonic Quest II in Tours, a city located in the centre-west of France. The festival also had the bands Adrana, Lost Opera, Roman Rouzine The Tria and Eidon, but it was Wildpath who headlined the night. And if you think you need to go all the way to France to watch Wildpath live, you’re wrong, as in 2016 the band played their first gig in the UK at The Quinphonic Festival 2 at The Roadhouse Birmingham. How far do you think Marjolaine and Wildpath can go?

As a guest musician, Marjolaine was part of the only album released by French Melodic Heavy/Power Metal band Silent Fall, entitled Otherwise, from 2010, doing choir vocals in the whole album and main female vocals on the song This Could Have Been. If you’re curious to know how she was invited to be part of the album, the answer is quite simple. Olivier Caron, Wildpath’s own guitarist, was also the lead guitarist for Silent Fall, making it a lot easier for Marjolaine to add her vocals to their music in an effective and exciting way.

When asked about her favorite song of all time, including all types of music and eras, her answer was quite unique, citing the classic Sanvean: I Am Your Shadow (or simply Sanvean) by the iconic Australian musical project Dead Can Dance, featured on their first official live album Toward the Within, released in 1994, an album that contains 15 songs, of which only four appeared on their previous albums. Sanvean was later re-recorded by one of the masterminds behind Dead Can Dance, Lisa Gerrard, on her 1995 solo album The Mirror Pool. In regards to heavy music, her first rock album was the classic Angels Fall First, the debut studio album by Finnish Symphonic Metal band Nightwish. With cult songs such as Elvenpath, Beauty and the Beast and Astral Romance, it’s easy to understand why Marjolaine fell in love for Symphonic Metal, right?

Marjolaine was also questioned about her favorite or best moments as an artist, and albeit she said there have been already lots of amazing memories with Wildpath, one of her favorite experiences was a concert with a “quatour” (a special form of string quartet that developed in Paris around 1775 and became one of the leading genres of Parisian music until the French Revolution) and a choir at La Scène Bastille, saying that seeing a symphony coming alive was truly fantastic. In addition, she also listed as one of her favorite moments when the band played with French progressive guitarist Patrick Rondat, and lastly the band’s famous performance in 2015 at Le Divan du Monde.

As previously mentioned, among her main influences we’ll find names such as Floor and Tarja, with Floor in particular being a huge inspiration for Marjolaine as she’s one of the few contemporary female singers who can combine lyrical songs with very dynamic rock vocals in a precise manner. However, out of the metal and rock scene, her favorite singer is Lisa Gerrard, who apart from her work with Dead Can Dance was also responsible for several other renowned projects, including a Golden Globe Award for the music score to the film Gladiator, on which she collaborated with Hans Zimmer.

Another interesting fact about Marjolaine is that her stage outfit is created by one of her students, who proposed to create special clothes tailored for their live performances, working with the band’s colors and adding her own personal touch to the creations. That stylist is from a company called Le Paon, a new brand from the independent French scene. Marjolaine and the stylist collaborate with each other in the creation of the outfits, first discussing new ideas orally and then working together on drawings and other details, until the stylist begins working on the whole realization of the clothes. One of her first new looks debuted at the concert at Le Divan du Monde in 2015, and in her opinion it was already a great evolution from her previous costumes.

Lastly, when asked about places or regions she would like to play with Wildpath, Marjolaine answered she would love to go to Brittany (a cultural region in the north-west of France) because she has family there, or also other French cities such as Lyon. Outside of France, she mentioned Belgium, Switzerland and Luxemburg as countries she would love to visit with her band, as well as other more distant places like Japan and South America, but that the high cost of playing in those places make the trip almost impossible, at least for now. It’s interesting that she didn’t mention the United States or Canada on her list, two major markets for heavy music, in special our French-speaking province of Quebec here in Canada. Well, let’s hope she just “forgot” to mention Canada, and that one day we have the pleasure of seeing Wildpath kicking ass live in our home and native land.

Marjolaine Bernard’s Official Facebook page
Marjolaine Bernard’s Official Twitter
Wildpath’s Official Facebook page
Wildpath’s Official Twitter
Wildpath’s Official YouTube

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Concert Review – Tarja Turunen (Tom Brasil, São Paulo, Brazil, 10/24/2015)

Tarja’s fans never disappoint when she plays in Brazil and, this time, they said goodbye to the “Colours in the Road” tour in a night full of love, gratitude and amazing songs.

OPENING ACT: Mad Old Lady

Tarja_Saturday night, October 24, was an example on how multicultural a big city like São Paulo can be. That night, the city hosted several concerts, on small, medium and big venues, of small and big bands and there was no reason to one stay at home. One of the shows that night was of the Finnish singer Tarja Turunen, at Tom Brasil. She came back to the country a year after her last show here and, this time, with nothing less than seven dates in Brazil to end the Colours in the Road tour, that also had dates in Mexico and El Salvador and ends with concerts in Chile, Uruguay and Argentina in November.

The Brazilian band MAD OLD LADY were the opening act of the night. Formed by Eduardo Parras (vocals), Guga Bento (drums), Rafael Agostino (keyboards), Timo Kaarkoski and Tiago de Moura (guitars) and Fernando Giovanetti (bass), they were one of the bands that recently played at Motörhead’s MotörBoat (the only Brazilian act in this edition) and, back to Brazil, they were responsible for entertaining the audience that was waiting for the Finnish soprano. Mad Old Lady are a well-known band by Tarja’s fans for they also were the opening act of her previous concert in town, in 2014. The fans enjoyed an honest concert and saw on stage competent musicians playing songs of their album Power of the Warrior, and even a cover for Metallica’s Enter Sandman, sang by the bassist Fernando, the highlight of their show for many.

Band members
Eduardo Parras – vocals
Timo Kaarkoski – guitars
Tiago de Moura – guitars
Fernando Giovanetti – bass
Rafael Agostino – keyboards
Guga Bento – drums

TARJA TURUNEN

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Photos by Yuri Murakami – http://www.sleepychaos.com.br

All the expectations of the night, of course, were kept for TARJA TURUNEN. October marked the tenth year since Tarja left Nightwish and the fans, always loving and supportive, were excited to see her once again on stage. The enthusiasm of the crowd was in high levels with the entrance of the musicians that form Tarja’s band in this tour: Guillermo De Medio (keyboards), Nicolas Polo (drums), Pit Barrett (bass), Alex Scholp and Julian Barrett (guitars). To the sound of the first tunes of The Phantom of the Opera, composed by Baron Lloyd-Webber, Tarja was the last one to come onstage and drove her fans to pure happiness while singing the famous song of the musical.

tarja_04

Photos by Yuri Murakami – http://www.sleepychaos.com.br

Smiling and talkative all the time, Tarja showed that she deserves the title of one of the greatest divas of heavy metal: between the songs, she always took a moment to thank the love and support of the fans, in English, Spanish and even in Portuguese, received many presents, like stuffed bears, dolls and love letters, and said that she considers Brazil as her fourth home. The setlist of the night was very generous and mixed songs from her three solo albums, some covers and even a new and yet unreleased song, No Bitter End, that Tarja said it will be in her upcoming album, to be released in 2016. The fans made a beautiful side show following the singer all the time clapping, screaming and singing along with her.

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Photos by Yuri Murakami – http://www.sleepychaos.com.br

Among the covers, Tarja also revealed being an huge fan of James Bond’s movies and sang Goldfinger, theme song of the movie released in 1964. The Finnish diva also sang Slaying the Dreamer, a Nightwish song that she hasn’t sung since her departure of the band, and the night ended up with Gary Moore’s classic Over the Hills and Far Away, also famous as a cover released by her former band. There was still room in the night for a special birthday celebration to drummer Nicolas Polo, with everybody singing for him and Tarja bringing him a cake in shape of a snare drum. During this moment of the party, Tarja once again showed her gratitude to her loyal fans and said it was a pleasure and an honour to come to Brazil at the beginning and also at the end of this tour. When the show was almost over, during Until My Last Breath, one of the most known songs of her solo career, she came down the stage to salute all the fans that were on the front row.

Undoubtedly that was a memorable and very special night. Tarja is a talented singer like no other, she has a very strong presence and a charisma that few vocalists in heavy metal show in and out of the stage, as well as a legion of really dedicated and passionate fans. If it was an honour for her to play twice in Brazil with this tour, can you imagine how special it was to her fans? Certainly we all are already waiting for the return of this beautiful Finnish diva with the release of the new album, next year.

Setlist
The Phantom of the Opera
500 Letters
Ciarán’s Well
Falling Awake
I Walk Alone
Anteroom of Death
Never Enough
Dark Star
Neverlight
Until Silence
No Bitter End
Goldfinger
Deliverance
Victim of Ritual
Slaying the Dreamer
Die Alive
Until My Last Breath
Over the Hills and Far Away

Band members
Tarja Turunen – vocals
Guillermo De Medio – keyboards
Nicolas Polo – drums
Pit Barrett – bass
Alex Scholp – guitars
Julian Barrett – guitars

Album Review – Within Temptation / Hydra (2014)

As the name of the album says,  Within Temptation show all their “heads” with an interesting mix of Symphonic Metal, Pop, Rock, Rap and other musical variations.

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CoverLess symphonic, but a lot more eclectic: that’s a good definition for Hydra, the brand new studio album by the Dutch Symphonic Metal band Within Temptation, with so many special guests that it makes me wonder if they asked Pitbull or J-Lo for some tips on how to sell more albums. Anyway, 39-year old Dutch princess Sharon and keyboard player Matijn were responsible for almost all songs, all full of different elements from other musical genres, and it’s even hard to keep calling what the band does as Symphonic Metal after listening to it.

I’m not sure if the diehard fans of the band will enjoy it due to all the new stuff added to the music, but one thing I have no doubt about: the professionalism and talent of all members of the band. Hydra doesn’t have a single moment where it sounds amateur, showing how much the band cares about the final result of their material, and that becomes 100% clear with the opening track, Let Us Burn, an awesome start with its symphonic atmosphere, excellent keyboards and chorus, and Sharon’s voice as beautiful and potent as ever.

The next track, Dangerous, has an interesting duo on vocals with Howard Jones (ex-Killswitch Engage) together with Sharon and a more Heavy Metal approach, while And We Run, despite following a similar formula with rapper Xzibit on vocals, sounds too pop for me, but might be interesting for part of the fans. The next song is also the best track of the album undoubtedly: Paradise (What About Us?), featuring the one and only goddess Tarja Turunen with her unique perfect voice, has some great guitar solos and was born to become an instant hit. Not only that, this amazing song also has a music video made for our pure delight, with a “green” message against technology and, of course, all the beauty of Tarja and Sharon together.

Hydra continues with the semi-acoustic Edge Of The World, a beautiful song where Sharon shows a smoother side of her voice, and Silver Moonlight, another strong moment of the album with a very enjoyable pace and with the keyboards giving it all that special atmosphere. The next song, Covered By Roses, lacks creativity and it’s one of the albums weakest tracks (despite Sharon’s performance being beautiful again), followed by another nice song, Dog Days. The regular version of Hydra ends with the good song Tell Me Why with its strong chorus and keyboards, and Whole World Is Watching, featuring Dave Pirner (Soul Asylum), a nice ballad but nothing special if compared to the other songs of the album.

Within-Temptation-2014However, if you acquire the digital premium or the deluxe album box version of Hydra, the total running time of the album goes up to over 90 minutes of music with all the bonus tracks. There’s a bunch of cover songs and alternate versions, including the music video for Paradise (What About Us?), but the best one by far is their version for the song Radioactive, from the American alternative rock band Imagine Dragons. This version is way better than the original (which by the way is not bad), and the same can be said about Summertime Sadness, from Lana Del Rey, and Dirty Dancer, from Enrique Iglesias.

The album art is simple but very effective, representing well the Hydra and what the band is delivering with the album. Regarding the musicians, as I previously mentioned, they’re all very professional and know what to do with their instruments, but it’s impossible not to get addicted to Sharon’s voice and “forget” the instrumental parts sometimes. And yes, she will be the “Metal Chick of the Month” one day for sure.

To sum up, Hydra might not be a wonderful album, but it’s pretty consistent and a good choice for the road, the gym or anytime you don’t want to get too heavy. Don’t worry, Within Temptation is still Symphonic Metal, and it’s totally entertaining to see how they were able to add so much unusual stuff to their music without losing their identity. Maybe Hydra will grant them the so desired ticket to stardom, who knows?

Best moments of the album: Let Us Burn, Paradise (What About Us?) and Silver Moonlight. Among the cover songs/bonus tracks, I would say Radioactive is the best one by far.

Worst moments of the album: Covered By Roses and Whole World Is Watching.

Released in 2014 Nuclear Blast/Universal Music

Track listing
1. Let Us Burn 5:31
2. Dangerous (feat. Howard Jones) 4:52
3. And We Run (feat. Xzibit) 3:50
4. Paradise (What About Us?) (feat. Tarja Turunen) 5:22
5. Edge Of The World 4:55
6. Silver Moonlight 5:17
7. Covered By Roses 4:48
8. Dog Days 4:47
9. Tell Me Why 6:12
10. Whole World Is Watching (feat. Dave Pirner) 4:03

Digital Premium/Deluxe Album Box bonus tracks
11. Radioactive (Imagine Dragons cover) 3:15
12. Summertime Sadness (Lana Del Rey cover) 4:07
13. Let Her Go (Passenger cover) 3:44
14. Dirty Dancer (Enrique Iglesias cover) 4:15
15. And We Run (evolution track) 5:41
16. Silver Moonlight (evolution track) 6:05
17. Covered By Roses (evolution track) 4:43
18. Tell Me Why (evolution track) 5:00
19. Paradise (What About Us?) (feat. Tarja Turunen) music video – iTunes Premium Version 5:51

Band members
Sharon den Adel – vocals
Robert Westerholt – guitars, vocals on “Silver Moonlight” and “Tell Me Why”
Ruud Jolie – guitars
Martijn Spierenburg – keyboards
Jeroen van Veen – bass guitar
Mike Coolen – drums
Stefan Helleblad – additional guitars

Guest musicians
Howard Jones – vocals on “Dangerous”
Xzibit – vocals on “And We Run”
Tarja Turunen – vocals on “Paradise (What About Us?)”
David Pirner – vocals on “Whole World Is Watching”

Album Review – Tarja / Colours in the Dark (2013)

While Nightwish unfortunately perishes day after day without a decent singer, Tarja keeps providing us some excellent heavy music with her strong solo career.

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Tarja_Colours-In-The-Dark_StandardWhen Tarja Turunen (the prettiest female singer in the world!) left Nightwish a few years ago, everybody thought she was over in the world of heavy music (she even said so in some interviews). Tuomas Holopainen is a very talented and creative musician, and without him nobody knew how she would be able to survive. Well, today I guess it’s the exact opposite: Tarja has a very solid solo career, while Tuomas is completely lost with his band due to his gigantic ego. And now once again Tarja releases a very good album full of melody, consolidating her as one of the most important female voices in Heavy Metal of all time.

Victim of Ritual, the opening track, is a kind of “Metal Opera” that joins Tarja’s beautiful voice, a nice rhythm, and an interesting mix of different sounds. I love the chorus when she sings victim of rrrrrrrrrritual! Then comes 500 Letters, a regular song from Tarja with nothing new to show us. The next song, Lucid Dreamer, is a good example of what she can do with her voice, while in Never Enough she gives her special Nordic ingredient to it by starting with the words y, ka, ko, ne! This is our famous one, two, three, four, but in Finnish, and I must say a nice start to one of the best songs of the album, followed by a track called Mystique Voyage, a good ballad totally focused on her unique voice.

Tarja_Colours-In-The-DarkThe next track is a cover song: I listened to the original version from Peter Gabriel for the song Darkness, and I think Tarja’s version is very similar to it. It’s good, but not even close to the quality of her version for Alice Cooper’s Poison. Anyway, I would really enjoy seeing Peter and Tarja doing a duet for Darkness live someday! Deliverance is just another one of Tarja’s typical ballads, while Neverlight has that type of heavy riff I was expecting to find more in the rest of the songs. The album ends with another nice ballad, Until Silence, and the song Medusa, which in my opinion is the most beautiful song from Colours in the Dark.

Regarding the musicians, it’s always good to listen to Mike Terrana. He is amazing on drums even when he’s not playing at full speed. The other band members do a good job too: nothing extraordinary, though, but enough for what Tarja needs. The front cover is beautiful, of course, as it has Tarja on it! and not only that, it has a psychedelic touch that makes it very interesting for album art lovers.

To sum up, Colours in the Dark is not as original as My Winter Storm, which is my favorite Tarja album, but it’s a good work worth buying if you enjoy heavy music with a female voice, just not so heavy as Arch Enemy or The Agonist. And did anybody notice how Tarja is getting more and more beautiful year after year? I hope she comes to Canada for a full tour soon.

Best moments of the album: The songs Victim of Ritual, Never Enough, Neverlight and Medusa.

Worst moments of the album: The keyboards and piano seem to be more important than the guitar, which is not that bad, but I feel there’s a lack of good riffs and solos in the whole album that could have given more punch to it.

Released in 2013 earMUSIC

Track listing
1. Victim of Ritual 5:54
2. 500 Letters 4:22
3. Lucid Dreamer 7:28
4. Never Enough 5:20
5. Mystique Voyage 7:14
6. Darkness 5:38
7. Deliverance 7:27
8. Neverlight 4:33
9. Until Silence 5:03
10. Medusa (feat. Justin Furstenfeld) 8:12

iTunes edition bonus tracks
11. Neverlight (Full Orchestral Version)
12. Until Silence (Orchestral Version)

Band members
Tarja Turunen – Lead vocals and piano
Alex Scholpp, Julian Barrett – Guitar
Kevin Chown, Doug Wimbish – Bass guitar
Christian Kretschmar – Keyboards
Mike Terrana – Drums
Max Lilja – Cello