Interview by Ed MacLaren
After numerous delays, Norway’s Ancestral Legacy has just released an exceptional new album of doomy black metal with “Nightmare Diaries”. But before the album was released the band experienced a nightmare for its own diary – the departure of longtime vocalist Elin Anita Omholt. While losing a vocalist might be a death knell for some bands, Ancestral Legacy are set to continue their own legacy with an excellent new vocalist in Mexican Isadora Cortina. Ancestral Legacy fans get the best of both worlds – they can listen to Elin on the CD and get to watch live as Isadora grows into her new band. Femme Metal got a chance to spend some time with Isadora and get her views on Mexican assimilation techniques for living in Norway, living the dream, and the importance of bringing your own shoes.
So how does a nice young woman from Mexico hook up with a bunch of long haired Norseman in a metal band?
I first met Eddie through MySpace, he added me as an Ancestral Legacy friend, I left a comment on the music and after some chatting we became friends. Like a year later he told me about a song he wrote and asked me if I was interested in working on it and of course I was – it’s the song called “Atrapada en Pesadillas” from the EP. After the band got to hear the song, I met Christopher the drummer, we talked on MSN and things happened so I traveled to Norway for a month to visit him. While I was there Eddie told me they had not rehearsed in a while because of Elin‘s (former vocalist Elin Anita Omholt) accident, he was wondering if I could rehearse with them. After some months, Elin decided to quit and I was getting my visa to move to Norway and marry Christopher, it was kinda natural for them to ask me to join and it was like a dream come true to me. Now I live in Norway with the man of my dreams and play in the kind of band I always wanted to.
What was it about the band’s music that attracted you to it? Were you a fan of Ancestral Legacy before you joined the band?
The first thing that attracted me was a song on their MySpace called “Murdered by Reality” I really love the ending of the song and how Elin sings it, I had it on my mind for weeks. After I worked with the song in Spanish, I got to hear “Out of the Dark and into the Night” from the new album and I could listen how mature and incredible the new material was. It was very mature compared to their older material and I think it’s a very different sound from other metal bands with female vocals. I was not the kind of fan that screams and flash boobs when she meets one of the guys, I was more admiring how good musicians these guys are and how good quality songs they can create.
What’s your musical background? Have you performed in any other bands?
Well, I had been most of my life a shower singer, then at 15-years-old I joined the concert choir of my school. My teachers were singers from the Mexican Military so it was a good way to start and of course I believed in myself as a singer. After three months of rehearsing two hours, five days a week they picked me as soloist. We had concerts out of Mexico City and we also sang for the President once. I had always been into gothic and metal stuff since my brother listened to Iron Maiden and my cousin to Metallica since I was a kid. Then I discovered that metal was also for girls by listening to After Forever, Nightwish and especially Tristania. My life changed and I knew that metal was what I wanted to sing. I tried to join some bands but my mom would not let me do it, so the only band I could join was my brother’s cover band. We were playing four days a week in bars and it became a good way to get some money and train myself onstage. Anyway, I was getting frustrated that metal was not part of what the owners of bars let bands play. The good thing is that I learned to sing different styles; VERY pop things to more hard rock voices and that help me to get out of my head that the only way I could sing was the military-opera style I learned. In that period I did some presentations on TV, universities and musical contests. In 2008, I recorded two songs with the gothic German band Beyond the Void and also the song with Ancestral Legacy. Those experiences gave me a lot to learn on the studio and were very important to me. From then on my life completely changed so I went from singing metal in my room in front of the mirror to play original songs with the guys onstage.
How have things gone so far? Is everyone getting along? Is the band treating you well?
From the beginning they have been very nice and warm (that Nordic people is cold is not true at all). I was not sure what they were thinking of me until we did a three song-concert and they got really drunk, so they told me that they were really happy to have me on board. In the beginning they were hoping that my voice was not that soft. They wanted me to sing more powerful like Elin did because my voice can easily get lost within this hard music. But after rehearsing a lot with them – and in a way get used to the music without Elin‘s vocals – I got better and in the latest concerts they were telling me that I have improved a lot.
Replacing any longtime vocalist is a daunting task. Do you feel any pressure living up to Elin’s vocal legacy? Considering that Elin’s vocals appear on Ancestral Legacy’s new album, “Nightmare Diaries”, it must be difficult to step into her shoes.
Since the “Nightmare Diaries” album is Elin‘s album, I get to sing Elin‘s melodies but with the new songs I think I can bring a darker sound than Elin did. In a way I am not stepping into her shoes but coming with my own shoes to do my own thing. Elin is an awesome singer and I learned from her to print more power in my voice but now it is my turn to make music with them as Isadora not as the next Elin.
It was a long road for Ancestral Legacy to record and release “Nightmare Diaries” however the end result is a very strong doomy offering of black metal. How do you develop that connection to the music when you missed out on all the struggles to get it recorded and released?
In a way I didn’t miss them that much since Christopher and Eddie were updating me on it via MSN and the release problems were on while I was moving to Norway. On the other hand, I was there but only through them. Since I came in, Eddie has given me songs and he is very open minded. He has never pressed me with what kind of lyrics or melodies he wants, he knows that I don’t have experience writing vocals so he is very patient and helpful. The band know that the fact that I came in is gonna mean a change but at the same time all of us wanna have some new and different elements. Christopher has been into progressive drums and he thinks that that will improve his style with the band. We just wanna make music and we do it as it comes natural to us and that’s the connection we all have with the music – no matter who came first or last.
What is your plan on reproducing the vocals live? What are you doing to put your personal stamp on the vocals?
For me, the most important thing live is that people get to feel the music as I feel it inside. If I am home alone I will not head bang or get really physically active, I just concentrate on the singing and practice on printing my feelings for the song in my voice. But when you sing live everything counts, and a good way to transmit what that music does to me is by being very active onstage. I hate to stand still and smile (as I had to do before) and of course since I practiced at home so much I can concentrate on the people there, in making them see that they are special to us no matter if they are old friends of just first time listeners. That formula works very well for me live, and it has helped me in the way that people don’t compare me to Elin – they just accept me as I am and they like the music as it is on the CD with her and live with me.
Ancestral Legacy has been touring to support “Nightmare Diaries”. What has been the fan reception to the album and your vocals?
DAMN AWESOME! For some reason I am always very worried of what the people will think of the band with me, but in the last concerts they have been buying CDs, coming to say hi and say how much they enjoy our music, telling me that they will be waiting for the new album with my vocals and of course head banging a lot! Especially they guys in Paris, they are so metal! I am really thankful that fans and friends of the band welcomed me in such a good way instead of just comparing me. And as a great plus, I was so happy after we made it to the local newspaper twice.
You’ve re-recorded “Separate Worlds” for Femme Metal’s Demonic and Divine CD compilation. Have Ancestral Legacy been doing any other recording since you joined? Have your vocals and influence had an impact on the creative process of the band?
We have some new songs but we have not recorded them, just some demos without recorded vocals (since I don’t have good recording equipment at home). But I have the lyrics and bad quality recorded vocals in my computer. I think new songs will be coming this year. Well, I don’t believe it’s my voice that impacts the creative process since Eddie has the same system: he writes a song, sends it to me as he once sent it to Elin and we work on it. He is not writing music for my kind of voice specifically. I have enjoyed it a lot; we have one song ready that is called “My Wretched Lord” and in a way I feel it’s so mine and I feel it’s easier for me to sing it. I think that will be for good in the future as it will be easier for me to interpret the new songs.
What are your aspirations since joining Ancestral Legacy? What are your goals for yourself and the band?
When I started my aspiration was to sing the songs as well as I could, now my aspiration is to write good vocals and lyrics for the new songs, and of course get a CD where I can read “Isadora Cortina-Vocals”! I have to say the band exceeded what I thought it would be. I never imagined I would play a gig in France or Germany. Now I see that everything is possible and I just wait for life to surprise me… Maybe one day we will get a world tour or something! Ha-ha! In my personal life my aspiration is to incorporate myself into Norwegian society, go to university, get to speak Norwegian perfectly and be a perfect wife.
Starting in a new band comes with a lot of new experiences. What have been your best and worst moments so far?
To start with a new band meant to start a new life with a new language to me. I do not regret anything and I have loads of new friends from all around the world. In a way, the best moments are each live concert we have had. After all of them we were always so happy. But especially the mini European tour we did was beyond everything. I didn’t wanna come back! We went on tour with bands that became really good friends: Act III, Veil of Mist and Thorny Roses; all of them stole a piece of my heart. The worst has been that since I am not really used to the weather in Norway I get sick quite often so I usually come to the rehearsals with zombie face and a biiig pack of tissues. Unluckily, I got sick in France once so it was quite tiring to play, I was fighting with myself because I didn’t want to sleep all day – I wanted to enjoy every single moment in and offstage!
Label : Femme Metal Records
Review By Tony Cannella
Norway’s Ancestral Legacy formed in 1995 and play symphonic black metal in 2005 they released their debut full-length titled “of Magic Illusions”, the band returns now with their long awaited follow-up “Nightmare Diaries”. The bands complex form of Black Metal also includes some hints of progressive music and nice acoustic passages throughout the entirety of this 10-song 56-minute opus. The band includes two singers: a male (Eddie Risdal – who provides the harsh vocals) and a female (Elin Anita Omholt) to give the songs a contrasting clash of styles. The band has since undergone a line-up change with Mexican vocalist Isadora Cortina replacing Elin Anita Omholt.The very strong opening track “Out of the Dark and Into the Night” gets things off to an energetic start and really sets the tone for what is to follow. All of the elements are there on this one, the cool duel vocals of Elin and Eddie, and some nice tempo and mood changes really lift this song, not to mention a cool guitar solo. The next song “Separate Worlds” is just pure aggression and heaviness. “Chosen Destiny” is one the absolute highlights for me, as the band slow down the tempo a bit, while still maintaining the heaviness of the previous songs – the duel vocals are especially strong on this one with Elin taking the bulk of the vocals, But Eddie joins on the chorus. Other highlights include: “Perhaps in Death”, “Done”, “…My Departed” and “The Shadow of the Cross”. A good second release from this Norwegian band. It is cool how the band combines melodic music with some truly heavy and angry sounding music. I have to admit that I wasn’t familiar with Ancestral Legacy‘s music prior to this, but after having the pleasure to hear “Nightmare Diaries”, I now consider myself a fan. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait another five years for album number 3.
Rating – 85/100
- Out of the Dark and Into the Night
- Separate Worlds
- Chosen Destiny
- Perhaps In Death
- Trapped Within the Words
- Tomorrow’s Chance
- …My Departed
- The Shadow of the Cross
- Elin Anita Omholt – Vocals
- Eddie Risdal – Guitar, Harsh Vocals & Synth
- Tor Arvid Larsen – Guitar
- Eddie Risdal – Guitar, Harsh Vocals
- Atle Johanssen aka Anton Dead – Bass
- Christopher Midtsvéen Vigre – Drums
Label: Anthem Records
Review by Tony Cannella
Metal is truly a worldwide phenomenon. Okay, maybe that is the understatement of all time but it is great to see how metal is represented all over the world. Different styles, different genres, it all has something to offer. In the realm of female fronted bands, it is no different. There is a lot of good music out there, sometimes you just have to look for it. Here now is a compilation CD brought to you by the good folks at the Femme Metal Webzine titled “Ferocity and Femininity”. Represented are 15 bands and over 70-minutes worth of some of the best up-and-coming bands in the Female Fronted metal scene. The CD begins with “The Reach” by the UK’s Adastreia. This is a good track to choose as an opener, since it sets the standard very high right away. The song is dramatic with great operatic vocals. From there are another two bands representing the UK are on board. The first of which Hanging Doll are on board with the fantastic “Sweet Retribution”. This is an excellent track with an infectious melody and more great vocal work. That is followed by another equally good song by Submerged titled “This Thing of Darkness”. A cool mid-tempo number that has plenty of killer riffs. Canada’s AraPacis check in with “So Many Leapers”. This song ups the heaviness a bit with it’s Maiden-like galloping rhythms. It’s just relentless. Their style is more in a traditional metal vein, but equally effective as the previous bands. Next is Fateless Tears from the U.S. Their style generally reminds of good progressive music as can be heard on their track “Mesmerized”. Dueling female and male grunt vocals are used here. The UK’s hAND are represented with “I Find Myself” and this is musically phenomenal track and the vocals are very strong. Dremora from the US check in with “Alone” and Maida Vale from the Netherlands with “Remote Control”. A couple of perfectly crafted songs that highlight the strengths and differences of both bands. Dendura from the US are represented with Symphony – a symphonic metal masterpiece and that is followed Celticia (from the UK) with “Misshaped Scenes”. Next is Afterdawn with “Top of Occasions“. The great Australian band Temujin is heard with “Let You Go”. This is one of the most promising new bands I’ve heard in quite some time and this is one of my favorite tracks from their brilliant “1000 Tears” CD. Dyonisis – another great band – is up next with “Xact”. The final two songs “Ghost in the Shell” by Liquid Sky and “Disclosed” by Norway’s Ancestral Legacy bring this collection of female fronted metal to a rousing conclusion. With 15-songs and over 70-minutes worth of powerful music, this CD should provide a great resource for fans who are always on the lookout for new bands to support. Caz and the Femme Metal crew have put a lot of dedication and heart in compiling this CD and that is to be commended. The spotlight is shone brightly on these 15 bands, who each bring something unique and interesting to the table. This is truly a great collection of songs and bands that should please not only fans of the femme metal genre, but fans of music in general. The packaging layout and artwork also deserve a special mention. Plus, it’s all for a good cause. All proceeds will go to aid Cancer research.
Rating – 90/100
- Adastreia – “The Reach”
- Afterdawn “Top of Occasion”
- Ancestral Legacy – “Disclosed”
- AraPacis – “So many Leapers”
- Celticia – “Misshaped Scenes”
- Dendura – “Symphony”
- Dremora – “Alone”
- Dyonisis – “Xact”
- Fateless Tears – “Mesmerized”
- hAND – “I Find Myself”
- Hanging Doll – “Sweet Retribution”
- Liquid Sky – “Ghost in the Shell”
- Maida Vale – “Remote Control” (New 2008 Version)
- Submerged – “This Thing of Darkenss”
- Temujin – “Let You Go”
Style switcher only on this demo version. Theme styles can be changed from Options page.
- Caterina Nix – Chaos Magic
- Phaedra – “Blackwinged Night” (2015)
- Yui – YOUSEI TEIKOKU
- Kiarely & Janel – Conquer Divide
- Conquer Divide – “Conquer Divide” (2015)
- Lindsay Schoolcraft – Cradle of Filth
- Severnica – “Long Lost Longing” EP (2014)
- Tarja Turunen – “Ave Maria – En Plein Air” (2015)
- Francheska Pastor – Bad Seed Rising
- Oceans of Slumber – “Blue” EP (2015)
- Xandria – “Fire & Ashes” EP (2015)
- Tarja Turunen
- Liv Jagrell – Sister Sin
- Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody – “Prometheus, Symphonia Ignis Divinus” (2015)
- Thundermother – “Road Fever” (2015)
- Leslie Hunt – District 97
- Lyria – “Catharsis” (2014)
- Cradle of Filth – “Hammer of the Witches” (2015)
- Whispering Woods – “Perditus et Dea” (2015)
- Alissa White-Gluz – Arch Enemy
- Tarja – “Luna Park Ride” CD/DVD (2015)
- Natalie Koskinen – Shape of Despair
- Tezaura – “Unleash the Butterflies” (2015)
- Royal Thunder – “Crooked Doors” (2015)
- Zola Jesus
- Jenny Hval – “Apocalypse, girl” (2015)
- Kobra Paige – Kobra and the Lotus
- Frantic Amber – “Burning Insight” (2015)
- Johanna Sadonis – Lucifer
- Galley Beggar – “Silence & Tears” (2015)