Metal Chick of the Month – Polina Psycheya

I’ll take you far away to another land…

Brothers and sisters of heavy music, let’s all travel this November to Chelyabinsk (or Челя́бинск in Russian), a city in west-central Russia located in the northeast of the oblast, around 210 kilometers south of Yekaterinburg, just to the east of the Ural Mountains on the border of Europe and Asia, to meet our stunning and unstoppable metal chick of the month. She considers herself a true Russian Viking, always ready for heading into the battlefield armed with her potent vocals and endless energy, and in case you haven’t heard of this amazing frontwoman yet, I bet you’re going to be surprised by how talented, hardworking and passionate about metal she is. I’m talking about Polina Psycheya, whose real name is Polina Sibrikova (or Полина Сибрикова), former lead singer for Russian Melodic Death Metal band All I Could Bleed and current main frontwoman for Portuguese Symphonic Progressive Metal band The Autist, an obstinate woman that takes no prisoners in her quest for heavy music.

Before starting her career as an Extreme Metal singer, Polina had what we can call a normal life in her hometown Chelyabinsk, graduating from МОУ СОШ № 41 (or “secondary school number 41 of Chelyabinsk”) in 2007, and advancing for a degree in Graphic Design from РБИУ (or RBIM – Russian-British Institute of Management) in 2010, a higher education international institute also located in Chelyabinsk. As a matter of fact, even after joining All I Could Bleed she kept working as an artist and clothing and apparel designer, as you can see on her official Facebook page titled “World of Polina Psycheya”, where she usually posts details about her works, tutorials and items for sale. However, it looks like heavy music is her true passion in life, with her skills as a designer becoming a complement to her role as a female growler. And if you think she took any special courses in singing, you’re absolutely wrong, as Polina simply learned how to scream and growl by herself, only training during the band’s rehearsals, always shaping up her own vocal style without copying anyone or anything from books.

As already mentioned, Polina was the frontwoman for Russian act All I Could Bleed starting 2009, but the band started a few years before that, more precisely in 2004 when two old friends, guitarists Alex Sibrikov and Max Melnikov, decided to form a Death Metal band together as an outlet of their aggression. When they released their first single Follow Me, in 2009, Polina was not yet part of the band, with Alex taking care of the vocal duties. However, after Polina joined All I Could Bleed, the band reached its desired shape and form and was ready to take the world of heavy music by storm, with the release of their 2011 debut full-length album Burying the Past (available for a full listen on YouTube) being the culmination of a lot of hard work and dedication of all band members to their music. As a matter of fact, Polina not only growled and screamed like a beast in the album, but she was also responsible for the lyrics, cover art and design, proving that although she might not be a founding member of All I Could Bleed, she had definitely become the band’s heart and soul during her time with them.

After the release of Burying the Past, Polina and her bandmates got back in action in 2014 when they released a single titled Debris of Earth, a lot more melodic, more experimental and groovier than all songs form their debut installment. Furthermore, if there’s one thing Polina loves from the bottom of her heart is playing live, and she certainly translates that passion into sheer energy during the band’s live performances. When asked about the idea for their onstage outfits, she said she took the inspiration from dark, ancient and powerful warriors like the Riders of the Apocalypse, designing all the clothing herself, and when she was asked about her first ever concert as the frontwoman of All I Could Bleed, she mentioned it was indeed an unforgettable night for her in her hometown Chelyabinsk, in 2009. Due to the fact she wasn’t writing the lyrics for their songs at that time, her bandmates gave her the task of learning the classic Enemy Within, originally recorded by Arch Enemy, and singing it as part of their setlist. Well, Polina didn’t disappoint at all; quite the contrary, the reception of the crowd at the venue was amazing, inspiring her to keep growling in the name of metal. You won’t be able to find that concert online, but there’s no need for panicking, as you can at least enjoy All I Could Bleed’s full (and absolutely awesome) performance at the Tele-Club in Yekaterinburg, Russia on April 24, 2014, where Polina simply kicked some serious fuckin’ ass on stage.

Apart form her career with All I Could Bleed, Polina has also been involved since 2017 with Portuguese Symphonic Progressive Metal band The Autist, a female-fronted metal project with progressive and symphonic elements highly recommended for fans of truly melancholic, tragic and conceptual music that was inspired by deep emotions we all go through in our lives. The origin of the project dates back to 2014 and is the mind reflection of guitarist and composer Pedro Remiz, who decided to recreate his own musical world after the end of Darkside of Innocence. Also featuring Alina Lesnik (from German Symphonic metal band Once), Chiara Tricarico (from bands like RavenWord and Sound Storm) and several other guest musicians, besides of course Polina as the band’s main vocalist, The Autist have already released two EP’s and one full-length album so far, with Polina lending her slashing roars to the songs The Sanctuary, Ethereal and Pandora’s Curse, from their 2017 album The Coldest Sun, and to the songs The Idol, Anima and Bloodlust, from their 2018 EP Anima.

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Regarding Polina’s biggest idols and influences in heavy music, her list is beyond fantastic, including bands (and obviously their respective vocalists) such as Rammstein, Metallica, Death, Pantera, Children Of Bodom, Arkona, Kreator, Destruction and Motörhead, all of which she would love to play alongside at Wacken Open Air by the way, with Rammstein and Children Of Bodom being considered by Polina herself the two bands with the highest impact on her vocal style and musical direction. In addition, during one of her interviews she was also asked to list the top 5 albums anyone should have in their collection, and once again her choices didn’t disappoint, including Metallica’s Master of Puppets, Death’s Symbolic, Dimmu Borgir’s Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia, Black Sabbath’s Paranoid, and Pantera’s Vulgar Display of Power. Hence, you can enjoy Polina paying a tribute to several of her idols on her official YouTube channel, recording her own versions to classics like Dimmu Borgir’s Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse (together with German multi-insturmentalist André “Agordas” Groschopp); Arch Enemy’s Nemesis; Pantera’s all-time hit Walk  (recorded with All I Could Bleed during one of their rehearsal sessions); and Death’s Symbolic (recorded during one of All I Could Bleed’s live performances). Furthermore, you can also enjoy other exclusive videos on her YouTube channel, such as Progressive/Melodic Power Metal masters Kamelot featuring not only Polina but also the amazing Kobra Paige live in Moscow in 2017; and Polina herself talking a little about her style, about Death Metal and about Arch Enemy,  and the reason for that is because in the past let’s say Polina wasn’t very happy when compared to Arch Enemy’s former vocalist Angela Gossow. She said in one of her interviews that she didn’t like the comparison because it was only based on sex, not on their vocal styles, as she believes her vocals are a lot closer to Death’s  iconic Chuck Schuldiner’s than to Angela’s. Now Polina is a fan of Arch Enemy, but again, if you meet her don’t waste her time asking about Angela Gossow, right?

When questioned about the current state of heavy music and the metal scene in her homeland, especially the Death Metal scene, our Russian warrior said that despite the huge amount of talented and hardworking bands found in the underground Russian scene, Heavy Metal is not respected and it’s extremely hard to make a living out of it, resulting in several musicians leaving their bands and entire bands calling it quits. In her opinion, the only Russian band that has truly conquered success in Russia and outside of the country is Pagan/Folk Metal institution Arkona, always keeping in mind they were one of the pioneers of the genre and started their career over 15 years ago. On the other hand, she doesn’t think that metal becoming mainstream would be the solution for that because albeit mainstream bands can make a considerable amount of money to support their careers, not to mention touring and recording videos become a lot easier, she believes you can lose or give up your honesty if you’re not underground anymore. In other words, she thinks somewhere in between mainstream and underground would be ideal, and seeing successful but still loyal-to-their-roots bands like Trivium, Primal Fear and the aforementioned Arkona only corroborates with her opinion. In addition, Polina actually thinks metal isn’t thriving anywhere in the world except for South America, and that she sometimes wishes she was reborn in the 70’s or 80’s as those where the decades when metal was the big thing. She also said she doesn’t really care about all metal classifications and labels, as long as it’s metal and an honest way to express yourself, complementing by saying that despite the heaviness and aggressiveness of the lyrics, metal is a lot more honest and inspiring than other styles like pop and rap, where musicians only promote negative things like debauchery, drugs, dullness and false moral values. As Polina herself said, it’s hard to make a living out of metal music in Russia, and that’s why she keeps working as a designer while her former bandmates from All I Could Bleed also have regular day-to-day jobs like working at a music school or on railroad construction, as well as playing in bars and pubs with other projects and cover bands. Not only that, but just like any other regular person she also has her hobbies, all related to her passion for music, for costume designing and for outdoor sports such as hiking and bike riding. Who knows, maybe one day if you’re just walking around Chelyabinsk you might be surprised by our Russian Viking staying healthy and in shape on her bike.

As expected, Polina was also asked to give her opinion on how she sees the increasing importance and participation of women in heavy music, especially regarding the growing number of female singers in extreme music bands, and her answer to that was quite curious. Our gorgeous growler said she has never actually felt like an “outsider” in a male-dominated world, saying she doesn’t “feel” like a woman but just like a Death Metal musician. Moreover, when asked if she’s ever had any issues with fans, Polina said that despite her stunning beauty, her fans have always been very respectful with her, understanding she has always worked hard, always true to the foundations of Death Metal and never backing down, getting full support from all of her followers. And last but not least, still regarding the support received from fans from all parts of the world, when questioned about illegal downloads and all types of websites posting her material without her official consent, she mentioned that in the end that’s not as bad as it looks, saying that exposure in the internet is actually a good thing for unknown underground bands because they end up receiving free PR, and several people who get in contact with the band through an illegal download will buy the album or any other type of official merch, and attend the band’s concert if possible, meaning more money than expected will go to the band’s pockets. Having said that, although Polina herself is not against illegal downloads, I’m pretty sure our metal diva would simply love if you purchased Burying the Past from the Darknagar Records’ BandCamp page or from Discogs, or any of the releases from The Autist from their BandCamp page, showing your true support and appreciation for these two extremely talented bands and their Viking frontwoman.

Polina Psycheya’s Official Facebook page
Polina Psycheya’s Official Instagram
Polina Psycheya’s Official Twitter
Polina Psycheya’s Official YouTube channel

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Concert Review – Disturbed & Breaking Benjamin (Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, Toronto, ON, 08/08/2016)

The city of Toronto got awesomely “infected” by David Draiman and his horde on a warm and beautiful night of alternative music.

OPENING ACTS: Saint Asonia and Alter Bridge

Disturbed_Breaking Benjamin_2016Due to my hectic working schedule yesterday and the distance from my place to the fantastic Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, I wasn’t able to see the performances by the two special guests of the night, Canadian Nu Metal/Hard Rock band SAINT ASONIA and American Rock N’ Roll/Hard Rock band ALTER BRIDGE. To be honest, I wasn’t very excited to watch Saint Asonia, despite the fact they’re portrayed as a “supergroup” based in Toronto formed by lead singer and guitarist  Adam Gontier (ex-Three Days Grace), lead guitarist Mike Mushok (ex-Staind), bassist Corey Lowery (ex-Stuck Mojo) and drummer Rich Beddoe (ex-Finger Eleven). I’m not sure how many people were actually able to watch their concert, nor if they were a good warm-up for the following bands. All I can say is that the music they play is not my cup of tea and I don’t really regret missing their performance.

What I do feel slightly sad about was missing the excellent singer Myles Kennedy and the talented guitarist Mark Tremonti (together with bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips) playing their straightforward and honest rock music with Alter Bridge. We all know Myles and Mark are awesome musicians, and even considering the music by this Orlando-based group a bit too soft for me I’m sure that might have been a kick-ass concert. Well, that’s the price to pay when there are too many bands in such a short period of time, fans end up missing a good chunk of what they paid for unless they arrive REALLY early to the venue, which was not the case for most fans last night.

BREAKING BENJAMIN

IMG_1585The Molson Canadian Amphitheatre got packed only a few minutes before American Rock N’ Roll/Hard Rock band BREAKING BENJAMIN began their show, with frontman and guitarist Benjamin Burnley leading his competent band from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania formed by Jasen Rauch on lead guitars, Keith Wallen on rhythm guitar, Aaron Bruch on bass and Shaun Foist on drums. The band got back in action a couple of years ago after Benjamin was finally able to overcome his phobias and addictions, with all members being completely new to the band (except for Benjamin, of course), and based on the warm reaction from everyone at the venue I believe fans truly missed Benjamin’s melodious mix of Alternative Metal and Hard Rock during the band’s hiatus.

As a fan of the darkest side of music who’s always listening to the most visceral forms of Thrash, Death and Black Metal, I must admit their music didn’t excite me despite being extremely well-crafted and played to perfection by all band members. Except for the brief moments when they played an excerpt of the superb Walk, by one of my favorite bands of all time, Pantera, as well as another excerpt from the classic Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana, I couldn’t really connect to the band’s music. One thing I enjoyed a lot though was the vocal range by Aaron, going from clean and melodic lines to furious growls whenever he was responsible for the vocal parts, and for me that was the best ingredient of their concert. Please don’t think I hate Breaking Benjamin with all my strength or that it was a horrible concert, let’s simply say it’s hard to pay some decent attention to a band you’re not a fan of their music or style when you’re anxious for the following act.

Setlist
So Cold
Angels Fall
Sooner or Later
Blow Me Away
The Imperial March / Schism / Smells Like Teen Spirit / Walk
Polyamorous
Ashes of Eden
Believe
Breath
Failure
Until the End
I Will Not Bow
The Diary of Jane

Band members
Benjamin Burnley – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Jasen Rauch – lead guitar, electronic strings, programming
Keith Wallen – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Aaron Bruch – bass, backing vocals
Shaun Foist – drums, electronic percussion, programming

DISTURBED

IMG_1592Only one day after playing at Heavy Montréal, Mr. David Draiman and his Alternative Metal horde DISTURBED hit the stage at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre to do what they do best, which is playing electrifying razor-edged modern metal music. Still promoting their 2015 album Immortalized (which by the way was awarded gold in Canada as well as platinum to the single The Sound of Silence, as informed by Draiman during the show), this iconic band from Chicago, Illinois not only revolutionized music with their inception back in the 90’s, but they also keep bringing different generations to their live concerts like what happened yesterday, something only traditional bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica do nowadays.

Blending classics such as the opening song Ten Thousand Fists and the classy Stricken with new songs like the kick-ass The Vengeful One, Draiman and his crew conquered all from the very first notes of their powerful performance. Draiman might not be moving around like before, but it looks like that’s a task he’s leaving for guitarist Dan Donegan, drummer Mike Wengren and especially bassist John Moyer to do, with those three guys being unstoppable on stage while Draiman focused on his unparalleled vocals (including his classic “monkey screams”) and leading gestures. They even invited the guys from Saint Asonia and Breaking Benjamin to sing the classic Who Taught You How to Hate with them, although it felt a bit weird seeing two bass players on stage at the same time.

IMG_1602One of the most anticipated moments of the show was their beautiful version for Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence, and I have to say that lived up to all expectations and beyond. The drumming by Mike was incredible, as if he was pounding our hearts, and the piano notes embellished the entire ambience, but of course the main ingredient in such a unique ballad were Draiman’s vocals. He sang each and every note to perfection together with the fans, a memorable moment in a warm Torontonian night that will stay fresh in our minds and hearts for many years to come. Another great example of how Draiman flawlessly captivated and commanded the audience throughout the whole gig occurred during their new song called The Light, where he asked everyone to raise their lighters and mobiles during the chorus of the song and every single person obviously attended his demand, creating a sensational view of brilliant dots all over the venue.

My only complaint is that their setlist was way too short, with only fourteen songs being played in total. They could have played a few more tunes like the title-track “Immortalized” or even their version for “Land of Confusion”, which has been part of their recent setlists. Anyway, the icing on the cake came in the form of their biggest hit Down With the Sickness, with all fans jumping up and down and screaming the lyrics together with Draiman, especially the ones in the floor section like myself. The heat of the fire coming from the stage might have been strong, but the heat coming from their music was even stronger, leaving all fans happier than usual on a Monday night on their way back home. When introducing Down With the Sickness, Draiman said Toronto was “infected” by their music. I can’t think of a better definition to their concert than that.

Setlist
Ten Thousand Fists
The Game
The Vengeful One
Prayer
Liberate
Who Taught You How to Hate
Stupify
The Sound of Silence
Inside the Fire
The Light
Stricken
Indestructible
Voices
Down With the Sickness

Band members
David Draiman – vocals
Dan Donegan – guitar
John Moyer – bass
Mike Wengren – drums