Label : Ex Cathedra Records
Review by Tony Cannella
What do you get when you mix Celtic songstresses Enya and Loreena McKennit with heavier more bombastic artists like Nightwish and Within Temptation? Well, it’s hard to say for sure, but it would probably sound a little something like the Canadian singer Leah and her debut album “Of Earth & Angels”.
“Of Earth & Angels” is solid from the opener “Prisoner”. This is a nice up-tempo song that sets the pace perfectly. “Remember” is next and is just a beautifully haunting song that changes tempos. Leah has got a wonderfully emotional singing style and musically the songs are well paced and pretty diverse. Continue reading »
Label : Ravenheart Records
Review by Tony Cannella
From Rome, Italy the Gothic metal band Maledia released their debut album “She and Her Darkness” in 2009. It was quite impressive for a debut and now finally three years later they follow that up with a 7-song 38-minute EP “Your Angels Cry”.
At 38-minutes it is obviously longer than your average EP but not long enough to be considered a full-length. “Your Angels Cry” is a heavier album than their debut and a bit darker, and injects their Gothic sound with a bit of a Black Metal influence. This is never more evident than on “Obscura” which sees one of the more bizarre vocal duets of the year, with female vocalist Luana Imperatore teaming up with the Italian Black Metal growler Agonia Blackvomit. Continue reading »
Review by Tony Cannella
From Australia, As Angels Bleed plays beautifully vampiric gothic metal with a romantic edge. Their self-titled debut is out now and for fans who love their metal a little on the dark side, then I would highly recommend As Angels Bleed. The ominous intro leads off the first song “Sinfully Yours”. Lead vocalist Avelina De Moray has a vocal style that stands out from a lot of female vocalists, with a sound that is mournful and she forgoes the operatic route. “Let me show you what death tastes like” is the opening (spoken) lyric to the next song “Desire”. Some crunchy stop/start guitar riffing dominates the song, but what can’t be understated enough is the bands use of melody. Continue reading »
Interview by Andy Axworthy
Some things are just meant to happen. When you have spent nearly 10 years in the music industry and shared a stage and spotlight with the likes of The Quireboys, Nazareth, Quo and Stage Dolls then you tend to get noticed… Oslo’s Issa Øversveen has done all that and a lot more besides – something that brought her to the attention of Frontiers Records. The result of this union was released in Europe on the 24th September. We caught up with Issa to talk about the solid mix of hooks, riffs, melodies and attitude that is “Sign Of Angels”.Hey Issa! A warm welcome from all of us at Femme Metal. How are you today?
Heyyy – I’m doing fine. A bit cold these days in Norway, but with all happening I couldn’t be more happy. You will be a new artist to many of our readers, yet you are already a veteran of the music industry. Can you tell us a bit of your story so far? What inspired you to start singing and as a career, did you choose music or did music choose you? Well yes I can – I don’t know where to start here but when it comes to music I’ve loved it since I was a little girl – I used to make my own radio shows and “perform” every chance I got. ) Being very influenced by music growing up I had a big passion for it and when I got the chance to go to an audition in Oslo for an artist called Jahn Teigen for an “artist school” I did. I went and during all this I got to also work in his reception at the school. This gave me the chance to connect a lot with the industry and shortly after I started to work around with songwriters singing demos and backing for other artists. I’m very grateful for this as the experience I’ve got from it all is worth everything today. During this period I also won a competition for Fox Kids, the TV-channel, making the song “Fade Away” to be released on their album among other big artists. After this I started performing a lot with cover bands and getting the experience from entertaining and finding my voice and character started. I soon started doing this almost every weekend for years and after a while I found myself doing big events and I got so lucky that I’ve had the chance to share stage with so many acts and artists. I can only say that I’m the most grateful person in the world having to see and learn so much on my way and also having the chance to find out what I love to do and sing. Meanwhile I’ve done all this. I have worked with labels writing and singing for others and I’ve also guested on a lot of albums. Over these years I might have forgotten about myself in all this and the reason for it is easy as I’ve had so much music in my life – on the other hand I’m so glad I’ve released this record now as I have more to offer as an artist. As you have mentioned you have personally gained a lot of experience over the years, singing for and touring with so many artists. Could you share some of your personal highlights or favourite memories from that time with us?
Ahhh, this made me laugh as I’ve had soooo many funny moments to tell here. I can mention a couple of funny things like I did a gig for the military in Norway. This was a NATO practice with people from every country… what a gig that was – about 1000 pilots celebrating their stay here. We played in a big tent and what an audience they proved to be. I’ve never got so many hats and t-shirts ever. That must have been my superstar moment having lines of people wanting pictures – most funny gig ever – but when it comes to highlights and other artist, well there are so many to talk about: Awesome gig with Stage Dolls at a motor festival – that was cool – singing and partying with the Quireboys – haha, so many memories here. My first 30,000 people gig at Norway cup in Oslo… I’ve never been so nervous, like a big dream standing there… All the hard work has paid off as you are now signed with Frontiers Records. How did that deal come about and how have they been to work with on the album and in terms of your own development? Ahhh this is a funny story. It was a friend of mine called Michael that sings in the band Circus Maximus that had the first contact with Frontiers Records. I do think I live the dream story here, but Frontiers had talked about finding a girl to do a duet with one of their artists. Well Michael told them to check me out. Frontiers then got some demos of me and from that they wanted to do a record with me. That’s just what everyone dream of when it comes to releasing a record and I’m just very thankful for their belief in me. Frontiers has been fun to work with and very supportive of me and thought around things. I have no better way to describe this rather then I feel like a part of the Frontiers family. That new album is “Sign Of Angels” and it is due to hit the shelves this September. What has it been like and what have you been doing during this final countdown to the release? Well it’s not so much to do rather then be excited but it’s been a lot of work too. With a release like this there is a lot of promotion work that has to be done like interviews etc. It’s all good fun but I can say that the days run by fast. There is a lot of experience behind this cd, both in terms of the songwriters and the musicians who have helped contribute to the album. Can you tell us about the band and what is has been like to work with them?
Ahh the band has been amazing. The guys contributing on this record has been nothing more then supportive and fun to work with. I’m just honoured to have had the chance to work like this and also I’m very glad that the guys want to play live with me when they have the time. That’s gonna be one show I tell ya!! Haha, when it comes to the song-writing I have just started to work with some of them and its awesome to now have songs I’ve co-written on, on albums around.
Talking of the songwriters, who did you work most closely with during production and what sort of influence were you able to have during the writing and recording process? During the look for the songs I worked closely with Frontiers using their “stable” of writers to pick out songs for this record. It was some process to find just the perfect ones but again, to have these amazing writers to write for you is an honour. I can also mention that these writers have been so flexible to changes during the production with changes that sometimes have to be done to suit songs to a vocalist. As I mentioned above I’ve now started to work with some of these writers and not only write for others but to have material for my next album. I want to show that I do more then just sing and my next album will do just that by having my material on it… )
Whatever the recipe, these ingredients have been mixed (with the help of Ronny Milianowicz as producer) into as good an album of metal-edged melodic rock as you are going to hear this or any other year. What are your thoughts and feelings about the finished article?Hehe, I’m just humbled by this. U know I think an album reflects the work you put in it and I can say that it’s a lot more work then people might think. It’s late nights and early mornings to make a good product. When it comes to the finish product I’m very happy and it’s just what I pictured it would be. Also I have to thank Ronny especially with his way of listening, understanding and creating this album. He’s done the most amazing work with this and making us all sound amazing – THANKS!!
How personal have the songs become to you and which track is your current favourite and why? Ahhh, I have given this some though lately and I really can’t describe ‘cos I really feel a connection to all of the songs on this album. We are now starting to plan the next video for the album and I can reveal that it’s the song “Unbelievable” that’s gonna be made so that’s the track I’m all into these days.
The first track you recorded for the album, “I’m Alive”, is also the first single release and is a great introduction to the cd. What can you tell us about the track and the video shoot that supports it?
Ahhh, I love that song and I think it shows just what you will get on the record. It’s strong and powerful mixed with female touch and the video is just the same. We had a blast doing the video and the producer of the video, Thomas (Tjader – Pretty Maids, In Flames), made it look amazing. It’s always a bit strange walking in the room and flirting with a camera like that but I guess after a while you get used to it and just “do your thing”. I bet there are some funny clips from the video ‘cos when you have a wind storm in your face it’s not easy not getting tears running and that doesn’t fit the song very well either. So we had a lot of stops and so many laughs doing the video to “I’m Alive”. Beyond that how do you and Frontiers plan on promoting the album once it has been released? Are you planning any showcases and can we expect an Issa tour at some point? If so, when is that likely and where do you hope to play?
Well as far as promoting, Frontiers use their contacts around the world and I’ll do my best helping and being as available as possible. When it comes to showcases I’m of course eager to do that, but we’ll see when the time comes. After that I can say that we are these days planning and setting up a tour schedule and I can’t wait to get going and showing people this side of me. I have been performing for almost all my life and this is my strong side. Ha, I could live on a stage if I had to – I just love it so much.
You’ve previously said you want to write and contribute your own songs to future recordings. What sort of experience did you take from this project in terms of song-writing, arrangement and studio set up? On this record I didn’t have the time to write myself and also I didn’t feel like my material was where I wanted it before we started. But later on I have written so much more and I’m already working on my next album. I love to write but I do think that to write with other people and get out of your own comfort zone is very healthy. I have learned so much from it all and I’ve taken that with me on the way. I think when it comes to music you have to open your mind and be open to other and different things.
In addition to singing do you play any instrument(s) and if not, which one(s) would you like to learn?
Well I don’t want to brag about things I really don’t know too much, but I do know some notes on the piano. Also a bit on guitar but really I’m not good at all, haha, but when I was a child I played the flute and tuba – HAHAHAHA can you picture that? Well if I had to learn something it has to be the piano more than I know today. I think with this instrument you can do so much within music and in today’s production that’s a thing most people use a lot in the studio to even correct other instruments.
What about influences? Do you have an icon or role model as a singer and which artists do you currently have on your iPod?
My iPod is almost overloaded with music. I have this thing about me that I get totally hooked on acts or singers. This means that I only listen to that specific act/artist for a time and then I move on. Right now I’m on Adam Lambert’s latest album. My influences in time have been so much but I can see that powerful singers have been my thing. I like Robin Beck, Celine Dion, Heart and even Mariah Carey and Kelly Clarkson have got me all hooked in the past. The album artwork is striking. How much fun was that cover shoot and can we look forward to that style at your shows or does the ‘live’ Issa have something else in mind? : )
HAHAHAHA – Well I can tell you so much that the photo shoot was arranged by me and a well-known photographer in Norway. I like to use a shoot like that to express myself and what I want to be said about the album. I had such a great time doing this and LP who took the pictures is just so funny. It’s a lot of work to get just the right picture where the hair and everything is right but when you work with the best I guess its no problem ))) The Issa you will see on stage will be very similar. The clothes might not be the same but still I am the same girl as those pictures. I think you can look at the pictures as art – creating perfection. But my statement from the pictures is strong and feminine – an in-your-face attitude – and that is just what you are gonna see from me on stage. My hair might not look just as perfect but, haha, that’s life I guess..:O)))Do you have any other passions outside of music? If you were not singing what would you be doing? Hmmmm, this is difficult. I love animals so I would guess my passion would go with that but if not maybe something within entertainment and booking or music in other ways than to sing. Finally, are you happy with everything that is happening around you now, or are you the type that likes to keep stepping outside the comfort zone? What makes you tick? Hehe, well I can tell you what makes me tick. People that treat others or me unfairly. I like clean games and straight people… haha, I guess I’m very normal on this and I always expect people to deliver and give just as I do with myself. I love stepping out of my comfort zone. That means I love to do new things – things I might not know as much and I’m deffo not afraid to try and fail… I think trying and doing gives me a kick sometimes and I’m very curious on new things – I wanna know how it all works…
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us Issa. Is there anything else you would like to add before we let you go? : ) Well yeah, please check out my web site www.issasite.com its soon up and ready. Also add me on Facebook people - Issa Oversveen – here I’m talking to people and telling all the strange things that’s happening…O)))
Thank you sooo much.
Interview by Ed MacLaren
In the evolution of metal, one of the most lastingly popular genres is arguable the glam metal sound of the 80s. While the look of those bands is long gone, their pop metal sound and melodic influence is still felt decades later. Turn the spotlight from LA’s Sunset Strip to Oslo, Norway where Isabell Oversveen aka Issa is turning heads with her second album, “The Storm”. Brimming with catchy hooks with a roughly polished sheen, “The Storm” gives a subtle nod to the past while driving headlong into the future. Femme Metal got a chance to talk to Issa about “The Storm”, growing as an artist and avoiding the sophomore slump.
Congratulations on “The Storm”! It must have exceeded all your expectations – you’ve gotten pretty close to creating the perfect pop metal record.
Your music is anthemic and high energy with a real positive vibe to it. What do you want people to hear when they listen to “The Storm”?
I want people to really just enjoy the music first of all, but as I’ve written some on this record I feel like that’s been extra special this time – they’re songs from the heart and it’s been nerve wracking to see how it would be received.
There’s always talk about the “sophomore slump” where second albums don’t live up to the promise of the debut. It’s certainly not the case with “The Storm”. How do you think you’ve progressed as an artist and how is that revealed on “The Storm”?
Well, I think when it comes to music you just have to follow your heart – you can’t always please everyone but as long as I follow what I believe in I can’t go wrong. I also think everyone has their own view on how I should do things but it wouldn’t be an Issa album if I just did everything to please everyone else when it comes to me as an artist. I think this album shows more of a personal me – you’ll see songs written by me and I even produced my own vocals on “The Storm”.
Did you have any worries that “The Storm” wouldn’t live up to expectations after the success of your debut, “Signs of Angels”? There’s a lot of pressure for a new artist in this highly competitive market.
Yes – like everyone else you do sit with this feeling that hmmm is it good enough and does it live up to the first album? But all in all you have to try to stay focused on the important thing – making good music that you like.
You’ve been actively pursuing a career in music since your teens. Have all your experiences over the last 10 years been a build up to now? Is there anything you would have or would have done differently?
Yeah. I’ve been working so hard all these years and I just wouldn’t do without it. It’s part of me and it’s made me just who I am today. (Laughs) Just looking back makes me smile – and I think for sure I’ve done it the hard way sometimes but then again if I didn’t have the “I’ll do it all” attitude I wouldn’t have been in contact with Frontiers and I wouldn’t be writing this right now.
Is there one moment in your career that would stand out as your “big break”?
Well I can say that my first album was the first time my name was put out there – but I’m so realistic that I know it’s hard to get that one big break that will make you world-famous overnight. I’m not really sure I would have liked to be in the spotlight all the time but if the music can be heard I would definitely love that more than anything.
On “Signs of Angels” your record label shopped songwriters to contribute to the album. On “The Storm” you’ve started to actively contribute to the songwriting. How do you think your songwriting skills have progressed since “Signs of Angels”?
I’ve always loved to write music and I have lots of songs recorded at home – but when it came to “Signs of Angels”, I didn’t feel like they were as good as I wanted them to be. On “The Storm” I was more prepared and I did work with the Martin brothers that year writing and singing songs for other acts. To be honest we didn’t have any songs for this album as we had given them all away – lucky for me Frontiers pulled my favorites at once from the albums they were placed on for me to have them myself. I was so happy for that.
When you were writing for the album did you have a point of view or part of your personality that you wanted to show? Did your writing input have an influence on the overall feel and tone of the album?
Yeah it has. When we decided to do an album I’m in constant contact with the record label – and we both want to find the songs that will suite me and that we both like. As far as personality, I had a crazy year last year so the songs I’ve written on are taken straight out of my life. (Laughs) The title “The Storm” tells you just how last year was.
What was your experience working with producer and label-mate Daniel Flores on “The Storm”? He’s had more than a bit of experience working with a female vocalist in his own band, The Murder of My Sweet.
I can’t say anything else then a pleasure – Daniel was just fantastic on every point. I loved how Daniel knew just how to make a female voice sound just right – many producers today can run over you a bit with their opinions leaving the artist feeling like its produced how they personally want it rather than how you want it. That was not the case with Daniel – he wanted me to be happy with everything and we were in constant contact making sure we agreed on the progress.
A duet with TMOMS’s Angelica Rylin would have made for a great bonus track. Have you thought about working with any other vocalists?
Yeah. The thought is there all the time – I think when I got asked to sing “Hold On” on the same album as Robin Beck I couldn’t resist saying yes. I’ve always wanted to do something with Robin and who knows maybe in the future we could work more together. (Laughs)
You’ve gotten a lot of development support from your label Frontiers Records. Many companies have a “sink or swim” attitude towards new talent but they really got behind you. How important is it to have that kind of support from your label?
It means everything to me – I look at Frontiers as my own family. They have taken so good care of me and I love working with them. I also had the pleasure preforming live for them in Napoli when they had a meeting with all the European label managers last year and what more can I say – it was fantastic!
You’re a young woman learning your craft with the support of many talented people. With that said, do you have any long-term goals in terms of the control and independence you want to have over the direction of your music?
Well, for now I’m just concentrating on an album at a time but my biggest goal for the future would be to be as blessed as I am now and do music and more albums to come. It takes time to build up a reputation and I hope over the years that I’ll only get stronger as a writer and singer.
You work with a lot of well-connected members of the metal community yet lyrically and melodically your music has a real pop sensibility. How do you reconcile the two?
Well I look at it as I’ve always had a love for songs with attitude and guitars but combining those two makes it just a little bit different from all other albums – I think the production has a lot to say because even though some songs might be more poppy as an demo we sure know how to give them that little extra… (Laughs)
You walk that tightrope between pop and metal like a gymnast. In a way it brings back the pop/hard rock sounds of Bon Jovi and Heart from 25 years ago. What music do you enjoy and what elements of those influences do you try to bring to your music?
(Laughs) You just mentioned some of my favorite artists here – I love Heart and Bon Jovi! I love their music and that feel they have performing their song – its energy and feelings all the way. I believe these artists will never just fade away like some might in this pop culture we have now – they have something that just can’t be forgotten about.
Tracks like “Looking for Love” and “Black Clouds” have one foot firmly in pop territory and the other in the rock/metal vein. Have you ever thought about moving in a more pop direction and make a run at international top 40 successes?
Well from a young age I have always had a love for a bit more rock/metal vibe on things and I just don’t think I can move on from that just for the sake of being a top 40 success. (Laughs) Don’t get me wrong – I would love to have a song on top 40 but I believe in sticking with what I like might get the same result. I have to say as a live performer I love having the rock/metal feel.
You’ve said that you feel most at home touring and performing on stage. What is it about live performance that excites you?
Ah! There’s just something very special with preforming live. Doing an album gives you the chance to read what people say but live you can see on their faces just what they think – it’s just amazing.
Does performing your songs live bring out different elements of the songs than on the album?
Yeah, in a way it does because seeing someone preform live can be a stronger experience then an album – it’s like a story being told. The songs are being influenced by the people playing the songs and you can give it that little extra.
Do you think that live feel gets captured on “The Storm”?
Well, I’ve tried to not make a perfect smooth album – but have a bit of the blemishes there. With that I mean that sometimes a feeling in how you sing things can be stronger than a perfect line. That’s so important to me.
How would describe an Issa show? Do you get a mix of pop and metal fans?
Yeah, definitely. I think with me you will get a good mix. I love to focus on having a strong show – not a show where the middle is “let’s go and get a drink” time. (Laughs) I think I’ve performed so much live in my time that I know just how to keep the crowd hanging around until the bitter end. I love big songs and big outfits and its worth watching as much as listening.
Where are fans going to hear the new songs live?
Right now I’m already planning my next album leaving a little time in the middle but my Facebook will tell everything so please go to Facebook and you’ll get all the info there..
(Famous) Last words?
I just want to say thank you to everyone that supports me – it means the world to me! I just couldn’t do without you! Thanks so much!
Style switcher only on this demo version. Theme styles can be changed from Options page.
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