Metal Chick of the Month – Vanja Slajh

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I shall devour your flesh!

As we kicked off 2014 with a true badass bassist, and as the year was so awesome for The Headbanging Moose, let’s keep up with the “tradition” and start 2015 with another Heavy Metal babe that kicks some serious ass with her 4-string weapon. The chosen one this time is the enigmatic Swiss brunette Vanja Slajh (or also Vanja Šlajh), bassist for Zurich-based Gothic Doom Metal band Triptykon.

Although we can find pretty much any information about anything in the world on the Internet, it was a hard task collecting personal and professional details about Vanja’s life, showing how introverted she might be and how she has managed to remain as underground as possible even after joining Triptykon and gaining some considerable fame.

All that could be found on the Internet about the personal life of this stunning woman was the year she was born, which was 1984, and that she is from the beautiful country of Switzerland, but nothing else in regards to her favorite artists, bands, food, drinks, movies or hobbies. Not even her official Twitter account has any details about her life or projects, and basically all interviews related to Triptykon are done by the band’s founder Tom G. Warrior, who’s also the mastermind behind Swiss Extreme Metal bands Hellhammer and Celtic Frost. In case you love some mystery in a woman, you’ll probably fall in love for Vanja, as it seems her life is full of secrets that she’s not willing to share with almost anyone in this world. In an era where our lives are 100% exposed on all types of social media like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram, Finding people who can have non-overexposed private lives is truly fantastic, and Vanja is one of those “heroes”.

So let’s talk about the known facts about her, all related to her career as a Heavy Metal bass player. Despite the fact that no one knows exactly when she started playing bass nor who her biggest influences in music were, before joining Triptykon she was part of a Swiss Black Metal project named Freitod, but the band has never really released anything. Besides, no one is really sure when she became the bassist for Freitod nor when she left the band (those Black Metal bands are way too obscure sometimes).

Finally, in 2008, Tom G. Warrior invited Vanja to be the bassist for Triptykon, and as he has mentioned several times during his interviews, she was the only person he had in mind for the 4-string position with the band. Some people say Vanja was the chosen one because after the two met when he was going to do some production for her previous band, Freitod, they suddenly became really good friends. I believe friendship among band members is valid, and of course essential for the survival of any band, but in my opinion her skills as a musician and her onstage performance were what actually influenced Tom in his decision.

So far she has recorded with the band the full-length album Eparistera Daimones, the EP Shatter, and more recently the amazing album Melana Chasmata. The lyrical themes changed slightly from what she used to play with Freitod, now more focused on feelings such as despair, pain and depression, as you can see in the lyrics for their single Breathing (“Every breath I take / Leaves me parched for air / Every hand I touch / Causes skin to tear / Every flame approached / Blinds my eyes / Every word I write / Leaves me drained”), taken from their most recent album.

However, it’s that dark, low and thunderous sound this gothic girl can extract from her instrument that really stands out when she’s playing, which can be easily noted in the aforementioned song Breathing, and in the songs Crucifixus and Shatter, from their Shatter EP, the later having one of the most powerful and bestial bass lines I’ve ever heard in my life. How can she play those notes? And before you ask, although she’s recorded some vocals for their latest album, it’s not her voice in Shatter, but of singer Simone Vollenweider.

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If you want to enjoy the thrilling live performance of this Goddess of Metal with Triptykon, I believe the best video available online is their masterful performance at Wacken Open Air in 2011. But in case you don’t have enough time or patience to watch the entire concert online, or if you’re a depressed person and don’t want to feel even more depressed with Triptykon’s dark music, you should at least check out one of the songs from that concert, their version for Celtic Frost’s classic and probably biggest masterpiece Procreation (Of The Wicked). To be honest, I have no idea how watching the stunning Vanja and her wicked bass kicking fuckin’ ass on stage can be depressing by any means, but that depends on each person’s perception of reality, right?

Besides Vanja’s unique technique as a bassist, one of the main reasons for this raven-haired woman being able to produce such low notes (as if her bass guitar was going to explode) is her excellent partnership with Ibanez guitars. I read somewhere that she uses the Ibanez Iceman Series Electric Basses (more specifically the Ibanez ICB300EX-BK Iceman Bass) because “she just fell in love with it”. What a lucky bass guitar!

One last detail about Triptykon’s awesome bassist is that she was featured in a special issue (#94) of Decibel Magazine in August 2012, called Women in Metal “Queens of Noise”, but unfortunately I couldn’t check what’s actually inside the magazine. Not sure if there was any kind of interview with her or just some pictures, which doesn’t bother me at all. As long as she keeps shaking the earth with her blustering bass, I’m pretty sure no one will care if she doesn’t give any interviews in her entire life. Well, at least not in English, because there’s one available in her mother tongue during Rock Hard Festival 2014, Swiss German, where I could at least enjoy her beauty, voice and smile as I don’t speak that language at all. If you speak Swiss German or regular German, enjoy it!

Vanja Slajh’s Official Twitter
Triptykon’s Official Facebook page
Triptykon’s Official YouTube channel

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The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2014

“May the New Year bring you courage to break your resolutions early! My own plan is to swear off every kind of virtue, so that I triumph even when I fall!” – Aleister Crowley, Moonchild

It’s with these inspiring words found in the occult novel Moonchild, written by British occultist, poet and novelist Aleister Crowley in 1917, that The Headbanging Moose reaches another year end. Well, not before celebrating heavy music, which is the essence of this webzine, right? In order to honour all metal bands and musicians who made our year a lot more fun, here is The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2014, excluding of course EP’s, best of and live albums. Party on, dudes!

Redeemer-of-souls-album-cover-art-12801. Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls (REVIEW)
The Metal Gods are finally back with another marvellous sonic storm forged in the fires of pure Heavy Metal.
Best song of the album: Halls Of Valhalla

Primalfeardeliveringtheblack20142. Primal Fear – Delivering the Black (REVIEW)
Primal Fear once again deliver the awesome with their tenth studio album, their best since Seven Seals.
Best song of the album: King For A Day

Triptykon-Melana-Chasmata3. Triptykon – Melana Chasmata (REVIEW)
One of the most expected albums of 2014 is a beautiful mix of Gothic, Black and especially Doom Metal as grandiose as they can be.
Best song of the album: Boleskine House

ExodusBloodInBloodOut4. Exodus – Blood In, Blood Out (REVIEW)
American Thrash Metal masters deliver us another great lesson in Thrash Metal. Welcome back to the family, Zetro!
Best song of the album: Blood In, Blood Out

Cover5. Axel Rudi Pell – Into the Storm (REVIEW)
A fantastic “storm” of heavy riffs and solos by one of the best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal guitar players from Germany.
Best song of the album: Burning Chains

accept-blind rage6. Accept – Blind Rage (REVIEW)
And we salute Accept for another wonderful metal album, the third installment in this new amazing Accept-era.
Best song of the album: Dying Breed

ESCAPETOR - Fear cover art7. Escapetor – Fear (REVIEW)
A serious contender for “Thrash Metal Album of the Year”, as heavy, invigorating and awesome as it can be.
Best song of the album: The Queen

vandenplas_chronicles8. Vanden Plas – Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld (REVIEW)
Get ready for an amazing journey in this new Rock Opera Album.
Best song of the album: The King and the Children of Lost World

godsmack_1000hp9. Godsmack – 1000hp (REVIEW)
Lots of horsepower, groove, great riffs and strong vocal lines are just some of the things you’ll find in this amazing rock album.
Best song of the album: 1000hp

10. Phantom – …Of Gods and Men (REVIEW)
With huge doses of blood, iron, sweat, steel and fire, this Canadian power trio delivers an indie Heavy Metal masterpiece for our total delight.
Best song of the album: Blood & Iron

And here we have the runner-ups completing the top 20:

11. Behemoth – The Satanist (REVIEW)
12. Cannibal Corpse – A Skeletal Domain (REVIEW)
13. Humbucker – King of the World (REVIEW)
14. Insomnium – Shadows Of The Dying Sun (REVIEW)
15. Crucified Barbara – In The Red (REVIEW)
16. Gamma Ray – Empire of the Undead (REVIEW)
17. Motorjesus – Electric Revelation (REVIEW)
18. Lordi – Scare Force One (REVIEW)
19. Dimenzion:Psychosphere – Collapse (REVIEW)
20. Anti-Mortem – New Southern (REVIEW)

One of our recent reviews mentioned the law of conservation of mass by French chemist Antoine Lavoisier, which states that “Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed.”  With that said, why not innovating a little and listing the Top 10 Cover Songs of 2014? Because in the end it’s metal bands working towards the conservation of heavy music. Let me tell you all those cover versions are amazing, but the first two go beyond that, they’re just perfect.

1. Axel Rudi Pell – Hey Hey My My (Neil Young cover)
2. Escapetor – Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash cover)
3. Iron Savior – Dance With Somebody (Mando Diao cover)
4. Van Canto – The Final Countdown (Europe cover)
5. Ektomorf – I Hate You (Verbal Abuse cover)
6. Anti-Mortem – A Little Too Loose (Mr. Big Cover)
7. Endzeit – The Dawn No More Rises (Dark Funeral cover)
8. Axel Rudi Pell – Way to Mandalay (Blackmore’s Night cover)
9. Humbucker – Wine, Women An’ Song (Whitesnake cover)
10. Exodus – Angel Of Death (Angel Witch cover)

Also, in 2014 we were able to witness so many impressive releases from new and not so new independent bands (or at least not signed to major record labels) such as Orisonata, SouLost, GoatchristValknacht, Ann My Guard, Septekh, Way Of Changes, Henriette BMisanthrope Monarch, Witches Of Doom, Phobiatic, Prayed and Betrayed, Temple Of Void, Maahlas, Laugh At The Fakes, Lelahell, Diablery, Humbucker, Phantom, No Sin Evades His Gaze, Endzeit, among tons of other awesome bands and artists, it’s hard to name just a few. They’re indeed a huge slap to the face of those idiots who keep saying heavy music is dead and gone. Just Google those bands or search for them here at The Headbanging Moose and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Some of them even made it to the top10/20 list, as you can see.

You can check The Headbanging Moose’s playlist Top 10 Hard Rock & Heavy Metal Albums of 2014 @ Songza, with the best songs from each band of the list above, as well as amazing songs from lots of independent bands who rocked the world in 2014. And, of course, do not forget to listen to the weekly episodes of The Metal Moose Show by the Metal Moose Radio. Support you local bands… AND FOLLOW THE MOOSE!

And last but not least, before the Headbanging Moose goes into “hibernation” until the beginning of 2015, I’ll leave you guys with a song that’s way better than any of that Christmas garbage shoved down our throats every fuckin’ year. This song says it all.

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2015!

Album Review – Triptykon / Melana Chasmata (2014)

Gothic, Black and especially Doom Metal as grandiose as they can be.

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Triptykon-Melana-ChasmataOne of the most expected albums of 2014 from one of today’s darkest and heaviest bands has finally arrived: Melana Chasmata, or Μελανά Χασματα (in the Greek alphabet), which can be translated as “black, deep depressions”, from Swiss Gothic/Doom Metal band Triptykon, has everything it takes to be one of the most acclaimed albums of the year, and undoubtedly the best in terms of extreme music.

This Zurich-based Doom Metal “dream team” founded by Heavy Metal icon Tom G. Warrior (Hellhammer, Celtic Frost) is as cohesive and effective as possible, and of course, totally wicked. There isn’t a single song on this album that can be considered filler or commercial: quite the contrary, Triptykon offer us a masterpiece of darkness, with lots of melancholy, pain and hopelessness, perfect for people who hate all those disposable pop songs made for that annoying and fake sense of “collective joy”.

Tom & Co. open the album with a pure Black Metal track called Tree Of Suffocating Souls, with a fuckin’ heavy instrumental, especially bass and drums, which sound simply amazing together. Moreover, the lyrics are also very intelligent and controversial, making the whole song even better. And what can I say about the Gothic/Doom Metal work-of-art Boleskine House? Its low resonant bass and the female vocals give me the shivers, and make me want to literally feel this song at a Triptykon concert. It’s a flawless brilliant composition, the best song of the album, and the lyrics are those things we feel grateful for being able to enjoy (“Your eyes that once / Have gazed the waves / Have long been closed / Become enslaved / Within these walls”).

Altar Of Deceit continues with the greatness in Melana Chasmata with its dark intro, Tony Iommi-ish demonic riffs, desperate vocals, and a very nice solo at the end, while Breathing, another extremely dark track with a depressive and at the same time beautiful intro, suddenly accelerates to an awesome mix of Death and Black Metal and ends in a very good “old school Slayer” way. What else do we need in a song, right?

The following two tracks are the epitome of evil: Aurorae is a dreary song, tailored for people who enjoy “suffering” alone while savoring the most obscure tunes a band can produce, and its guitar solo gives it an extra touch of fineness; and Demon Pact sounds like if its riffs, vocals, drums, bass and everything else were actually recorded in hell. Based on the name of the song I wasn’t expecting anything less evil, making it one of my favorite tracks by far.

triptykonIn The Sleep Of Death, a very atmospheric and eerie low-paced song, has some more desperate vocals, followed by the longest track of the album, Black Snow, a lesson in Doom Metal with over 12 minutes of obscurity and awesomeness. Tom proves here he’s the beast incarnate, and it’s impossible not to scream together with him “Black snow! Black snow!”. And to close this stunning album in a majestic way, we have Waiting, with its delicate rhythm and mesmerizing female vocals. It’s a very gothic and beautiful song, and I’m sure lots of fans will consider it one of the highlights of the whole album.

The album art, once again created by Swiss surrealist artist H. R. Giger, who has already worked with music icons such as Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Carcass, Celtic Frost and Danzig, perfectly represents all the density in the music in Melana Chasmata. Besides that, one thing I need to say is that, although all musicians are amazing and Tom G. Warrior is a genius, the badass bass lines are my favorite part of all songs. Vanja Slajh is a Doom Metal Goddess, no doubt about that.

Tom always says that only Death is real. However, he forgot to say the same about his band Triptykon, and now about Melana Chasmata, an album we’re more than glad it’s a reality. Eparistera Daimones was already a great album, but this time Triptykon took Doom Metal to such a level of grandiosity it’s hard to find words to describe it. When music is able to reach our souls like what’s found in Melana Chasmata, we know there’s something special about it. And if Triptykon go to your town for a live performance, don’t miss it by any chance: it’s going to be a unique and thrilling experience that very few bands can provide you nowadays.

Best moments of the album: Boleskine House, Breathing, Aurorae, Demon Pact and Black Snow. As a matter of fact, I should say that the whole album is amazing.

Worst moments of the album: It’s difficult to find a weak song in Melana Chasmata, but if I really had to choose one I would say In The Sleep Of Death.

Released in 2014 Prowling Death Records/Century Media Records

Track listing
1. Tree Of Suffocating Souls 7:55
2. Boleskine House 7:12
3. Altar Of Deceit 7:32
4. Breathing 5:50
5. Aurorae 6:17
6. Demon Pact 6:07
7. In The Sleep Of Death 8:10
8. Black Snow 12:24
9. Waiting 5:55

Band members
Tom G. Warrior – guitar, vocals
V. Santura – guitar, vocals
Vanja Slajh – bass, vocals
Norman Lonhard – drums, percussion