Metal Chick of the Month – Aura Dănciulescu

Let’s go fucking wild, Aura!

The year of 2019 might be coming to an end, but not before we fill the airwaves with the stunning vocals by Aura Dănciulescu, the winged frontwoman for Romanian Symphonic Heavy/Power Metal band Scarlet Aura and our awesome metal chick of the month of December. Born Aura Gabriela Danciulescu on October 28, 1985 in Fălticeni, a city in Suceava County, north-eastern Romania, situated in the historical region of Moldavia, Aura is a multi-talented singer, lyricist and songwriter, always passionate about music and writing. Of light brown hair (but currently dyed blonde) and brown eyes, Aura has all the attributes fans of heavy music look for in a vocalist, and I’m sure after reading a little about our gorgeous metalhead you’ll get addicted to her music and be quite impressed with her skills, transparency and deep love for our good old Heavy Metal.

Aura, who by the way has a famous sister, Mihaela Pohoaţă, a Romanian aerobic gymnast who won five world championships medals (three gold and two bronze) and three European championships gold medals during her career, started singing when she was just a little kid, and her initial performance was so bad her parents actually decided to put her in vocal lessons to improve her skills. By the way, her parents have always supported her decisions, letting her be free, believe in herself and have her own goals. She then naturally decided to become a singer after the vocal lessons when she was around 10 years old, developing her voice through the years until reaching the superb level she sings nowadays. Although she’s always been a rock and metal fan, it was when she met her now husband, Mihai Danciulescu, lead guitarist and backing vocalist for Scarlet Aura, that she really started to adore it, with Mihai explaining to her all the different styles of rock and metal music and introducing her to some of his biggest idols. Furthermore, before dedicating her life to music from the year of 2011 onward, Aura went to University of Bucharest and studied political science and law school, also holding a few extra courses on diplomacy and national defense and having worked for a few years at the Romanian Senate.

After numerous music projects and her first rock band Steelborn, having recorded with the band the EP’s Un Nou Inceput and Intr-Un Vis, both in 2010, and the full-length album Trup De Apa, in 2012, all in her mother tongue Romanian (and if you want to listen to Aura beautifully singing the band’s pleasant Rock N’ Roll you can check a couple of YouTube videos with the songs Orice Ar Fi & Suflet Furat live and Ratacire), it all eventually led to creation in 2014 of Scarlet Aura, the exotic rising metal star of the East that quickly got the attention of promoters and fans worldwide. By the way, if you would like to enjoy a very interesting “fusion” of Aura’s past and present, Scarlet Aura recorded in 2018 a heavier version of one of Steelborn’s oldest songs, Un Nou Inceput, the title-track to their 2010 debut EP. Having already toured with renowned acts like Tarja Turunen, Beast in Black and Soto, the band comprised of our unstoppable Aura on vocals, the aforementioned Mihai on the guitars and backing vocals, Rene Nistor on bass and backing vocals, and Doru Gheorghita on drums are on a roll since their inception, positioning them as one of the most promising names in the current European scene.

As a matter of fact, the name scarlet Aura was only adopted in 2015, with the band’s original name AURA being used only during their first year of existence, having released under their old name the album The Rock Chick. In addition, as you might have noticed, Aura and Mihai met in 2010 while playing with Steelborn, and after a few years they fell in love, got married and decided to pursue a career together as Scarlet Aura. Under their new and powerful name, Aura and the boys have already released the full-length albums Falling Sky in 2016, Memories in 2017, and Hot’n’Heavy in 2018, as well as the EP The Beast Within Me in 2017 and the CD/DVD box set Scarlet Aura in Concert (recorded live at Quantic Pub in Bucharest on April 27, 2017) in 2018. Moreover, Scarlet Aura are set to release in 2020 their fifth album, entitled Stormbreaker, and the second one in the trilogy The Book Of Scarlet, once again combining metal music with fantasy literature, and if you want to show your true support to Aura and the boys you can help them make the album come true by participating in their Indiegogo campaign. also, the band’s official YouTube channel is and endless source of awesomeness, providing us metalheads several first-class videos for the best songs form all of their albums, such as Hail To You!, High in the Sky, Hate is Evanescent, Violence is Forever, My Own Nightmare, You’re Not Alone, Immortal In Your Eyes and Fallin’ to Pieces, not to mention other interesting videos from the band playing songs like In The Name Of My Pain at a Romanian TV show called  Antena 1, and their full performance at Transalpina Rock Fest in 2018.

In addition to all of the band’s original material, I would also recommend you take a very good listen at their 2017 album Memories, which is pretty much a tribute to all of their idols and influences in music, mixing some of the biggest metal hits in history with non-metal cover songs as well. For instance, you can enjoy Aura giving her own feminine twist to all-time Heavy Metal and Hard Rock classics like Judas Priest’s Breaking the Law, Blind Guardian’s A Past and Future Secret, Europe’s The Final Countdown, Iron Maiden’s Wasting Love, Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger, Twisted Sister’s We’re Not Gonna Take It, Ozzy Osbourne & Lita Ford’s If I Close My Eyes Forever, and Dio’s Don’t Talk To Strangers, or maybe you fancy listening to her personal interpretation of hits by female-fronted bands from the most diverse styles like Skunk Anansie’s My Ugly Boy, Doro’s All We Are, and The Cranberries’ Zombie. You can obviously find these and all of their own original songs by directly visiting their Spotify profile, bringing to your metallic ears hours of first-class metal music made in Romania.

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Apart from her life with Scarlet Aura, was also a guest vocalist in a song called Plecăciune Zăului, from the album Zăul Moș, released in 2017 by Romanian Symphonic Black Metal band Syn Ze Șase Tri (with the name of the band translating as “I Am With Triple Six”, just to give you an idea of how dark their music is). Not only that, Aura has also been working as a moderator at Wacken Radio since April this year, spearheading the first ever English show of the radio called Go Wild. “I was invited to give an interview on Scarlet Aura in the S.T.U.N.T.S. metal show, for Wacken Radio, held by TinU and SlayerOfMadness. We connected immediately and the invitation to join them as host came naturally and I couldn’t be more honored and happy to say Yes! And soon I discovered that Wacken Radio supports radio hosts applicants that can join the family by applying and going through some tests and if they pass, they can be also part of Wacken Radio! I passed the tests too so here I am!”, said Aura about her new experience as a show host. Furthermore, this is not the first connection with Wacken organization for Scarlet Aura, as the band was supported by Wacken Foundation in 2018.

Aura doesn’t use only her voice as her instrument of work, as her brain also seems to be a nonstop source of great ideas and projects. For example, Aura is the managing director for a Tallinn, Estonia-based record label named Silver City Records, founded by Aura herself together with her husband and bandmate Mihai and Tatyana Shubina (from Outlanders Productions), exclusively for rock and metal bands, and if you have a band looking for an up-and-coming label you can contact them directly via Facebook or by e-mail at contact@silvercityrecords.com. She was also a guest speaker at an event held by Mastering the Music Business, the leading Romanian music conference and showcase event, where she talked about her music, her business and her vision as a a successful performing artist, manager and record label CEO that she is, and you can also hire Aura for marketing and advertising purposes as a voice actor through a website called Voices.com, where you can see our multi-talented diva has already worked for Vodafone România, real estate companies and other local advertising companies, being able not only to sing classical, rock and metal music, but also to impersonate voices from all ages in English, Romanian, French and Italian for an array of projects like animations, documentaries, movie trailers and video-games, among others. Well, in the end I think the question should be “is there something she CAN’T do?”

A lover of the simple things that make our lives more fun such as pizza, red wine, yoga, cats, writing, reading, carpentry and painting, with her favorite movie of all time being the 1939 classic Gone with the Wind and her favorite books being from English author Terry Pratchett, Aura has among her biggest idols some of the most iconic names in the history of Heavy Metal, including the one and only Ronnie James Dio (R.I.P.), the unstoppable Mr. Bruce Dickinson, and Slayer’s own roaring engine Tom Araya, as well as bands like German institution Helloween, and on a more feminine side she always mentions names like the unparalled Tarja Turunen and Doro. However, Aura mentioned in one of her interviews that she always searches inside herself for the power she needs to print her own convictions, her own beliefs and of course her own voice, also mentioning her own mother as her biggest idol of all, which is just fantastic, don’t you agree? She also considers scarlet as her favorite color (which makes total sense to me),  My Own Nightmare as her favorite Scarlet Aura song, and the day she married Mihai, on September 22, 2012, as the best day of her life.

Just like any other true metalhead, our Romanian bombshell simply loves touring and performing live, always eager to promote her music to the four corners of the earth and to inspire all girls out there to join her in her female-fronted metal movement. When asked about her experience sharing the stage with her idol Tarja Turunen in 2016, considered by many as the most influential woman in modern-day metal music, she said that meeting her was really overwhelming at first, and that she was able to learn a lot from her during that tour. One funny (and somewhat stressful) episode during the tour with Tarja happened when Scarlet Aura’s crew crew lost their stage clothing luggage, forcing the band to improvise by borrowing belts, T-Shirts and make up. Moreover, Aura also has very good memories of other conerts with renowned acts of the metal scene like Accept, Doro, Nazareth, Gotthard, Helloween and Europe, showing how much all members of Scarlet Aura are connected to metal and how much they admire and are influenced by their music idols. And last but not least, when Aura was asked about the current metal scene in her birthplace Romania, she said that it has been continuously growing, getting bigger and shinier as the years go by, and that she expects it keeps getting more and more important to the world of heavy music. She complemented by saying that growth, especially her own band’s rise to stardom, wouldn’t be possible without the support of metalheads in Romania and worldwide, always praising fans like us for all support and passion we have for our good old Heavy Metal.

Aura Dănciulescu’s Official Facebook page
Aura Dănciulescu’s Official VKontakte
Aura Dănciulescu’s Official Instagram
Aura Dănciulescu’s Official Twitter
Scarlet Aura’s Official Facebook page
Scarlet Aura’s Official VKontakte
Scarlet Aura’s Official Instagram
Scarlet Aura’s Official Twitter
Scarlet Aura’s Official YouTube channel

“As an artist I’m not afraid to dig into the unknown by approaching sensible subjects in our songs, subjects like the difficulty of being honest with others but also with yourself regarding your own feelings, the need of overcoming a huge sufferance that troubles you, the lack of courage when it’s about doing the right thing, the lack of love or the crying for it… subjects that make ourselves human, subjects that are in each one of us and that makes us who we are and maybe throughout our music, we get recovered, healed or better, we discover ourselves for who we really are because with any doubt music heals the spirit, metal heals the heart.” – Aura Dănciulescu

Album Review – Van Canto / Dawn of the Brave (2014)

This a capella Power Metal band from Germany proves why the human voice is the most powerful music instrument of all.

Rating5

vancanto_dotbWhen German Power Metal band Van Canto presented their a capella Heavy Metal to the world for the first time back in 2006, especially their cover version for Metallica’s Battery, I thought it was a fantastic and unique idea, but I wasn’t sure if that project was going to make it through the years. As we all know, the absence of music instruments implies many limitations to the sound a band can produce. However, here we are many years later with Van Canto’s brand new studio album, named Dawn of the Brave, the fifth in their career and another prove that the human voice is much more powerful and versatile than we think.

There’s nothing new when comparing Dawn of the Brave with their previous albums, but it’s still a lot of fun to listen to their own compositions, as well as their always much-anticipated versions for different classics from all types of artists and bands.

The intro Dawn of the Brave sounds like they’re just warming up their voices for what’s about to come, and it’s already a good sign of the overall quality of the album. One thing I really enjoy about Van Canto is their “made for battle” lyrics, mainly because they don’t let us forget that despite the absence of real guitars, they’re still a Power Metal band, and that’s exactly what happens in the heroic song Fight for Your Live, which could have easily been recorded by Manowar (“We are at your side / Day by day, and night by night / Fill your soul with pride / Reminding you to fight for your life / Fight!”). It’s one of the top moments of the album, with a great performance by all members.

To the Mountains focuses on Inga’s powerful voice, with a more melodic approach that sometimes reminds me of Within Temptation or Epica, and it will surely sound amazing when played live, while it’s impossible not to sing along with Badaboom, the first single of the album, with its strong rhythm and addictive chorus. The following track is the first cover version in Dawn of the Brave: thousands of bands have already recorded a cover version for Europe’s biggest classic of all time, The Final Countdown, but I’m pretty sure none was able to do it a capella as Van Canto, and believe me, the result is marvelous.

Dawn of the Brave goes on with Steel Breaker, an average Hard Rock song not as interesting as the previous tracks, and The Awakening, a faster and more melodic track that will surely be enjoyed by the fans of the band. Then come The Other Ones with its powerful atmosphere and strong lyrics, and the second cover song of the album, Holding Out for a Hero from Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler, another excellent heavy version for a song that’s not Heavy Metal at all.

vancantoTheir last two own compositions in the album are called Unholy, a song with good lyrics and a nice rhythm, and the sensational My Utopia, which sounds like a mix of Stratovarius and Iced Earth (without the real shredding, of course). And finally, the album ends with two excellent cover songs: Into the West, an Annie Lennox cover taken from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King soundtrack (which in my opinion is one of the best soundtracks ever), and the one and only  Paranoid, from Heavy Metal icons Black Sabbath, with Ross taking the lead on vocals. The limited mediabook edition includes interesting orchestral, acoustic and other versions for some of their own songs, while the earbook edition comes also with a bonus DVD containing some of their own songs and awesome versions for all-time classics from Nightwish, Grave Digger, Blind Guardian, Manowar and Iron Maiden.

Alright, they’re not 100% a capella: they use a full real drum kit, played by the good Bastian Emig, but that doesn’t make the final result less impressive. Sly and the beautiful brunette Inga do an amazing job on vocals, but it’s the sound of guitars and bass produced by the trio of Ross, Stefan and Ike that gives Van Canto that “it” factor, in other words, that makes them so unique when compared to all other Power Metal bands in the world. I still can’t believe those guys are able to do those fantastic guitar solos just by using their voices!

In summary, Dawn of the Brave is a very creative album that everybody who enjoys some good singing should listen to and appreciate. The band surely proves to us all that no music instrument in the world can be compared to the human voice, which is the idea of the album art, don’t you agree? It’s an instrument so powerful it can even turn calm and smooth a capella music into pure Power Metal.

Best moments of the album: Fight for Your Life, Badaboom and My Utopia. Among the cover songs, the best ones are definitely The Final Countdown and Paranoid.

Worst moments of the album: Steel Breaker and Unholy.

Released in 2014 Century Media

Track listing
1. Dawn of the Brave 1:08
2. Fight for Your Live 3:59
3. To the Mountains 4:05
4. Badaboom 3:31
5. The Final Countdown (Europe cover) 4:55
6. Steel Breaker 3:40
7. The Awakening 4:13
8. The Other Ones 4:18
9. Holding Out for a Hero (Bonnie Tyler cover) 3:51
10. Unholy 3:28
11. My Utopia 5:13
12. Into the West (Annie Lennox cover) 4:25
13. Paranoid (Black Sabbath cover) 3:04

Limited Mediabook Edition bonus tracks              
1. If I Die in Battle (Orchestral Version) 4:45
2. My Voice (Orchestral Version) 5:29
3. Take to the Sky (Orchestral Version) 4:24
4. Neuer Wind (Jovian Spin Remix) 3:48
5. Lost Forever (Acoustic Version) 5:01
6. Last Night of the Kings (Choir Version)  4:11

Band members
Dennis “Sly” Schunke – lead vocals
Inga Scharf – lead vocals
Ross Thompson – higher guitar vocals
Stefan Schmidt – lower guitar vocals, solo guitar vocals
Ingo “Ike” Sterzinger – bass vocals
Bastian Emig – drums