Label : Righteous Babe
Review by Luisa Mercier
Ani diFranco has been working on this record since 2008. Which for an average musician is not that much. But Ani is not an average musician, she has always written very fast and in twenty-one years of musical career she has released seventeen albums. So, you will understand that three years is a vey large gap for her. In the meanwhile she became a mother, so her absence is explained quite easily.“Which Side Are You On?” follows “Red Letter Year” (2008) and is titled after a 1932 protest song composed by Florence Reece, wife of Sam Reece, who was a Kentucky unionist and a defender of the miners rights. Continue reading »
Label : Auerbach Tonträger/Prophecy Productions
Review by Luisa Mercier
Hekate is a German ensemble which delivers us a quite eerie Folk, Neoclassical sound mixing it with lyrics that draw from history, myths and legends. Some of them are inspired by nineteenth century (Romanticism and so on), others by the events that took place in the Middle Ages. The present album is inspired mostly by Romantic poetry as the reference in the title “Byronic Hero” might suggest and it is sung in three languages: English, German and French, even though the first two have a main role. The music can only be defined as sweeping, dreamy, thin and the effect is obtained through the use of several instruments: gongs, kettledrums, drums, percussive devices, hurdy-gurdy, guitars, glockenspiel together with keyboards. The vocals, courtesy of Axel and Susanne, are sometimes recited (“Byronic Hero”, “Jardin d’Anais”) and sometimes sung. This, combined with very effective duets (“In My Garden”), gives a further contribution to the journey that their music can create. They work really well together. Susanne‘s vocals are delicate, sweet, Axel ones are slightly harsher and sometimes gloomier and create an hypnotizing effect. “Sanctus” is a beautiful hymn and shows the mystical side of the band. The Latin and the part spoken in Italian give to the whole composition a solemn atmosphere. Really epic. Another epic moment is “Per Aspera Ad Astra”, a beautiful symphonic instrumental which really sums up the idea of “Sturm und Drag”, the storm and the torment is really well portrayed in the composition. The more modern sounding is perhaps “Die blaue Blume” with an ethereal, electronic background pointed by keyboards while Susanne sings in German. It is quite different from the rest of the album and it is one of the highlight of the record, in my opinion.“Die Welt der dunklen Garten” is a really varied (and very well produced) album that cannot be fully grasped with only one listen; it is multifaceted since it contains folk, atmospheric, sometimes a more modern sound. Let it accompany you in your most relaxing moments after a tiresome day.
Rating – 75/100
- Byronic Hero
- Jardin d’ Anaïs
- In my Garden
- Die dunkle Wolke
- Per aspera ad astra
- Idilia Dubb
- Oh du Welt der dunklen Gärten
- Opportunity of Time
- The Present Day
- Die blaue Blume
- House of God
- Susanne Grosche – Vocals
- Axel Menz – Vocals & Percussions
- Achim Weiler – Keyboards
- Jörg Schickerath – Percussions
- Dirk Diederich – Drums
- Jörg Schickerath – Percussions
Interview by Erwin Van Dijk
Monaco is a miniature state the size of some football fields. It is mostly known as hangout for the rich & famous in the world. But metal? Until very recently I would not have thought of metal from Monaco. Enter Black Knight Symfonia. The band has got two female singers (an operatic female singer and a melodic female singer) and this interview is with Arya, one of singers and Saga, the guitarist, composer and male singer of the band.Arya is your artist name. Why did you choose this name for your work with Black Knight Symfonia?
Arya: Arya is the name of the main character in the french comic book of Michel Weyland, a solitary woman, dark, incredibly strong and pretty, in Persian this name means pure and noble. The courage of this young lady guided me when I was younger, a nice warrior, doing terrible quests… Black Knight Symfonia tells legends of battles, troubles, I think this name suits well our universe.Did you always wanted to become a singer?
Arya: I’ve always listened to classical music, the first disc I heard was a compilation of solos from Maria Callas. The need to sing came way later. I fist studied piano at the conservatory, but I was missing something when I played this instrument. To be able to change every note, make it vibrate, change its colour just like I want, only the voice could do it. So when I was 14 years old I changed my course and learned opera singing at the conservatory. When I take a breath to start singing, I feel, already fine inside. Some people say eyes are the mirror of the soul, but I think that it’s the voice.
And did you follow any singing lessons and what do you do to keep your voice in top condition?
Arya: I studied music, piano and opera singing at the conservatory, but also in the children’s choir of the opera of Nice. To keep my voice in condition I work everyday. I have a library full of old vocal techniques, anatomy and musical interpretation books. Most of my techniques when I sing were learned from ancient masters. I have the habit before singing for Black Knight Symfonia to sing some technical baroque airs, “to warm up” my voice, like some Handel, then I finish my warm up with operas, like some Gounod or Cilea. And then I am prepared to sing ”Dragonland”.Is Black Knight Symfonia your first band?
Arya: Black Knight Symfonia is the first band where I am a lead singer, I sang before in Nohellia but I was just doing backing vocals. This is the first time that I have the opportunity to work on the music and the lyrics, this is very hard but the result is that I can try new and more exciting things.The other female singer of Black Knight Symfonia is Nymphadora. What are the differences between your and her voice?
Arya: Nymphadora has a very “rock” voice, very pure and I have a operatic voice. When we recorded the chorus in the song ”Akasha”, we were astonished by the fact that our voices were mixing really nicely. We complete each other extremely well.
To what kind do you listen yourself and what are your favourite bands?
Ayra: On the classical music side, I really love baroque from Italy and England, and contemporary French music. Baroque music was technical and elegant, contemporary music manages to let us enter the world of dreams. Well, that’s for classical music. And now the underground music…. I am a big aficionada of black metal. If I had to list just a few bands, I would choose Burzum, Satyricon and Summoning. I don’t really listen to other metal band with female vocals because I never find the power of the music, songs are focalised on the voice, what Black Knight Symfonia took the risk not to do. Music first and that’s what I like to have real strong emotional compositions with orchestrations and not just “common songs” to be trendy.Why did you choose to become a member of Black Knight Symfonia?
Arya: I was introduced to Saga by a mutual friend. We talked about our visions of music and Saga played me a few songs, like “Emerald Kingdom”, and I immediately fell in love with his musical personality The dialogue between Saga, Nymphadora and me was evident. We quickly began working together and the trio was marvellous. Time passed and since then, we became close friends.Like with Arya, Saga is your artist name. Why did you choose this name?
Saga: First a Saga is an Epic story and Epic is the main characteristic of our music and the second reason is that Saga is also the name of a Knight in Saint-Seiya that like me is a Gemini and has an equally evil and good spirit.Did you always wanted to become a guitarist and who are your favourite guitar players?
Saga: I wanted to become a guitar player when I heard Yngwie Malmsteen and Megadeth albums. I was really surprised and loved immediately the virtuosity of the neoclassical approach of Yngwie Malmsteen melt with the intensity of Metal songs. I am a self taught guitarist and I learned pretty much everything from analysing the playing of the guitarists that I like the most. I also practised some typical neoclassical structures in my playing because I like Metal as much as classical music. My favourite guitar players are Yngwie Malmsteen because he created neoclassical metal, Steve Vai that is a genius of the guitar and plays like nobody else on earth, Michael Romeo, and Jeff Waters from Annihilator that has some kick ass rhythm patterns.
What kind of guitars and amplifiers do you use and why?
Saga:I’m playing on a Vigier Excalibur Ultra (French hand made guitar) and on an Ibanez UV777 Steve Vai signature 7 strings guitar and I play on VOX and Marshall amplifiers.Did you have other bands before Black Knight Symfonia and what are the differences between them and Black Knight Symfonia ?
Saga: I am also a member and the main composer in the international Viking folk metal bands Folkearth and Folkodia. In the past I played in a Black Metal and in a Technical Death metal band and I also played a few years in an instrumental guitar band. Black Knight Symfonia is the band I always dreamt about because it allows me to compose using elements from all metal genres and to add powerful and emotional Epic orchestral arrangements.
With the exception of the female vocals (which is logic) and the drum parts you are responsible for all the other aspects of Black Knight Symfonia. Do you see Black Knight Symfonia as a real band or more as a solo project ?
Saga: Black Knight Symfonia is a real band. Arya and Nymphadora are full time members and they bring their musical background and lots of emotions into the vocal melodies and they also participate in the writing of the lyrics. Composing all the music is just the way it works for me to create an original musical world. I can’t afford bringing someone else to compose music for Black Knight Symfonia because someone else would probably be influenced by another band. It is sad but most of the band are just copying others people work… I really hate followers … For me Music is a sort of art and I always stay focused on my goal that is to create my own music without getting distracted or influenced by any other bands music. Creativity is the most important thing in my music.What is the idea behind the name Black Knight Symfonia? Black is related to the dark mood of our music, I don’t like really much happy “cheesy” music.Knight is related to the Epic and kind of medieval or fantasy themes of our lyrics and the Black Knight is a really Dark strong and tortured Knight. Symfonia is related to the orchestral aspect of our music. I really consider the orchestral parts as important as the metal parts, and finally I can say that Symfonia is written with an F and not a PH because it is written in Polish and it is a wink to Fryderyc Chopin (who was Polish) that is one of my favourite classical composer with Johan Sebastian Bach.
“Heavenly Chaos” is your debut album. How would you describe the music on the album?
The music on our album could be best described as a really emotional dark and epic trip into a fantasy world.
Where did you get the inspiration for the music and lyrics?
I am already composing second album and we will soon work on vocals parts and in 2010 we will go back to studio to record our second album. You can expect our next album to be much more intense and the orchestrations will also have an even more important role to bring you into something you never heard before. We will also keep focused to get signed by an open minded label that will release our first album. And beyond 2010 I would say that as long as my imagination and emotions allows me to bring some more very original and unique music Black Knight Symfonia will live on. And the last question, is there anything the reader should know that I have not asked in this interview that might be important?
Arya: Just a little word of love and kindness to all our listeners, hundreds kisses !Saga: We just want to thanks every listeners and fans that are sending to us some really nice compliments and support messages. We are really grateful for your support! We also want to thanks the femme Metal Webzine for showing interest in our band. We are still searching for an open minded label to sign our band and release our album “Heavenly Choas” ! So if you are working in a label or know someone running or working in a record company and if you love our musical world please just contact us we will consider every propositions. Stay Epic and Metal !
Label : Stygian Crypt Productions
Review by Tony Cannella
The Viking Folk Metal band Folkodia is a conglomeration of several different projects all coming together to form Folkodia. The band was formed in 2007 and the current line-up features 12 members from 8 different countries. On their 3rd album “Forgotten Lore”, Folkodia has released an album of acoustic versions of some songs that originally appeared on their first two albums. The vibe behind “Forgotten Lore” is more Folk than Metal, in fact there is no metal to be found anywhere on “Forgotten Lore”, it is just straight up acoustic Folk music with songs about Vikings and Elves. “Forgotten Lore” starts off strong with “Ancient Forest of Elves”. This is my favorite song and right away the listener is treated to the interplay between the male and female vocals that dominates the album. The male vocalist has a deep voice and the female vocalists also offer a lot to the songs. The mournful “Bound For Vahalla” is next and quickly became another highlight. Other highlights that makes up the 47-minute disc include: “Winter Night” (strong vocal performances all around on this one), “The Fierce Kiss of Death”, “Thus A Viking Dies” and “The Immortals of Thul”. Having never heard Folkodia before, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and the uniqueness presented on “Forgotten Lore”. Sure, it may not be Metal but it offers a pretty cool change of pace from the normal Folk Metal fare.
Rating – 84/100
- Ancient Forest of Elves
- Bound for Valhalla
- The Capitulation of Vercingetorex
- The Fierce Kiss of Death
- Honored Are the Fallen
- Winter Night
- Thus A Viking Dies
- The Immortals of Thul
- Sword in Hand
- The Lone Warrior
- The Capitulation of Vercingerorex II
- Metfolvik (Ruslanas) – Vocals, Tin whistle
- Hildr Valkyrie – Vocals
- Elio D’Alessandro – Vocals
- Anais – Vocals
- Simon Müller – Guitars, Acoustic guitars, Bass, Flute, Tin whistle
- Loki – Drum programming, Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals
- Münggu Beyeler – Deger pipe, Ewi flute, Vocals
- Eleanor Lucas – Violin
- Saga – Guitar, Bass, Vocals
- Matthew Bell – Guitars, Acoustic guitars, Mandolin, Nylon string guitars, Lute, Bass
- Mara Davis – Flute
- Blackheart Nostarion – Cello
- Rhode Rachel – Vocals, Jaw Harp, Tin Whistle, Bass
- Billy Knockenhauer – Guitar
Label : Stygian Crypt Productions
Review by Tony Cannella
Folkearth is a revolving line-up of musicians from around the globe. The project got off the ground in 2004 and released their debut “A Nordic Poem” that same year and has continued to release albums every year since then. Their newest effort is titled “A Viking’s Anthem” and once again sees Folkearth gaining contributions from a wide range, and rather long list of musicians. Epic, Viking Folk Metal is the main inspiration that can be heard throughout this 11-song, 50-minute opus, which gets started with a bang from the outset of the opening track “Beasts from the Blizzard”. This is a fast paced, galloping track that definitely sets the pace for “Viking’s Anthem”. The main vocalist is the male who has a rough, extreme style and some nice clean female vocals pop up here and there to contrast with the male vocalist. “Ragnarok” is next and has an almost old school power metal feel to it, until the vocals come in, that is. In fact, while Folkearth is generally thought to be a Folk-Metal band, I hear a very European power metal influence musically to go along with the violins, Cellos, Tin Whistles and other Folk-ish instruments. “There Is No Death” is just a fiercely, relentless heavy song that really builds up the momentum. Other highlights include: “The Eternal City”, “To Avalon”, “The Conquering Nightmare” and “Legacy of Steel”. The Folk-Metal genre seems to be gaining a lot of steam over the past few years. For fans that can’t get enough, “Viking’s Anthem” by Folkearth will surely be a welcomed addition to their CD collection.
Rating – 70/100
- Beasts from the Blizzard
- There Is No Death
- The Eternal City
- Viking’s Anthem
- To Avalon
- A New Day Is Rising
- Warrior Code
- The Conquering Nightmare
- Set Sails to Conquer!
- Legacy of Steel
- Marios Koutsoukos – Vocals, Keyboards
- Anaïs – Female Vocals
- Simon Batley – Vocals
- Münggu Beyeler – Vocals, Swiss Whistle
- Michaël Fiori (Saga) – Guitars, Bass, Vocals
- Simon Müller – Guitars, Bass, Tin Whistle, Flute
- Matthew Bell – Guitars
- Loki – Guitars, Keyboards
- Nostarion – Cello
- Florian Busch – Violin
- Polydeykis – Piano, Accordian, Guitars, Flute
- Dennis Schwachhofer – Drums
- Kyle Freese – Drums
Style switcher only on this demo version. Theme styles can be changed from Options page.
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