Interview by Connie Bach
Hailing from Madrid, Crownless carries a sound all its own, which is tough to describe. With its mix of Nane’s clean, strong vocals, combined with Sergio Mena’s sinister growls offers a lovely contrast. “Lost Inside” is from their self-titled album, “Dark Evolution”, that will be released next year and is on the Femme Metal compilation coming out in October.
Hi, Vanessa. We are so glad Crownless decided to contribute to “Beauty and Brutality”. I’m just curious, where did the name Nane come from?
Hi! Nane is a nickname that a good friend of mine started using about eight years ago to call me. It seems that Nane is the way some Spanish children say Vane and Vane comes from Vanessa. My friend thought I was like a child and I use that name since then.
Though this is Crownless’s first release under that name, can you tell me about the band’s creation and history under the name Anzeray?
Well, this is a question that people usually ask. Three of the actual members of Crownless were in Anzeray but that’s the only relation between Crownless and that band. I mean, we had great times and we did great music together but Crownless is a new band, with a new musical approach and a different concept not an Anzeray’s evolution. When Anzeray broke up, time went by and one day Jorge Escudero phoned me and told me “Hey, I’m thinking in a new band, would you join me ?” and the rest is well known.
What forced so drastic a line-up change in 2006 and why the name Crownless?
The new line-up is a consequence of all we were talking about before… CrownLess is a new band, not an evolution so, in fact, there have been no line-up changes by now. Why CrownLess? There was a list with… about ten different possible names for the band. All of them had some kind of symbolism about our feelings or about our purposes. Crownless is a very representative name for a band that doesn’t believe in kingdoms. We voted and Crownless won.
Where did you learn your vocal skills? What is it like, working with a duel vocalist like Sergio?
My mother taught me the basics when I was a child but after that I continued learning by myself. I really can’t remember my life without singing. I have had lots of microphones since I was a child. I loved singing, everyday and everywhere. Sergio is a very talented singer. I really love the sound of his voice. And I think that we are a great vocal couple. The contrast between our voices and the different ways we can sing make us very versatile and, I think, attractive. I’m very proud of that.
Nane, what is your personal history with the band, and the metal music scene?
I’m very very VERY shy, haha. Even though I love singing, I never thought about being part of a band until I was about twenty years old. I started singing in a cover band called Gargoyle. We played greatest hits from bands such as Stratovarius, Skid Row or even Manowar! Haha. It was nice but Manowar really wasn’t my style XD. After that, some years after, I joined Anzeray. That was the time when I started learning classical technique by myself. With work, I managed to combine this operatic approach with my clean vocal skills. Then Anzeray broke up and I started again the “looking-for-a band” process…and finally, CrownLess came into my life. Before Gargoyle I sang and played guitar for friends, but never imagined something like this.
Turning now to the album, how was it “born” and how did the creative process go?
Well, the song “Lost Inside” is an exclusive version for the compilation, so the album is not released yet. We are at the studio at the moment. There is, however, a demo cd that was released in 2008 named “CrownLess”. That was our “introduction” to the metal scene. The creative process for the album is being hard, because we want to give our best. Anyway, we are proud and we are sure you’ll like the results. We’re looking forward to showing it to the world.
How does the process of building an album and a following, change the relationships within a band?
I think all this process is giving us the possibility of knowing thoroughly the rest of the band members. We talk a lot and we spent a great part of our time together, recording, creating, changing lines… working to make a dream come true. I’ve always said bands are like a love relationship and an album is the fruit of that union.
As far as the song “Lost Inside” goes, what is the concept behind it? How does it relate to the rest of the album?
“Lost Inside” talks about anguish and death, about those nights in which you cannot sleep, and then, you start thinking about your existence. We live everyday with death around us but we decide to ignore it because that makes live something easier to deal with. “Lost Inside” talks about the moment when someone realizes that cannot ignore that anguish. I think the album will be a dark album in almost every aspect: composition, arrangements, lyrics, album art… Anyway death is something that comes to us as life does, so there will be moments for hope as well.
How do your songs relate to your life, and the lives of the band members?
Music is an expression of the soul. When I’m sad, I always sing. That always comforts me and helps me to go on. Also when I’m angry, when I’m in love or when I’m happy. I think in CrownLess we all need music and we have lots of things to say to the world, as our listeners do.
Metal fans can be quite crazy. How do you like to connect with them?
We love them! We are logged at CrownLess Official Forum and we chat there with fans. Also we try to meet and chat with them on gigs. When I’m on stage, singing, I love to see their faces and notice that they are feeling what I’m saying the same way I do. There’s no money to pay what they can make you feel only with their eyes. It’s awesome.
What is the most memorable thing a fan has done to show support? What was your reaction?
They have done t-shirts, play cards, they’ve come to gigs far away from their cities…but the most hilarious thing I remember now was when they bought some horrible underwear, wrote on them support and love phrases and threw them to us when we were on stage. We couldn’t believe it. What a moment! Hahaha.
Review by Mortuai
While the self-titled CD I received from Madrid, Spain’s Crownless is ostensibly the band’s first release, they are not quite as new a band as the writeup they kindly included with the disc proclaims. Originally formed in Madrid under the moniker Anzeray, the group released a single demo in 2003 before going through an almost-complete lineup switch in 2006 and changing their name to Crownless. Of course most visitors to this site are probably already well aware that “Crownless” is the title of a track from Nightwish‘s “Wishmaster” album and might therefore logically be expecting Nightwish-cloning. What you have instead is something I can’t quite accurately describe, but I’ll try to give you a visual image that largely sums it up: Picture you’re incredibly hungry and you find a place to eat. It’s a buffet with a wide variety of different dishes, but unlike most cheap buffets, every single item available is absolutely delicious. Unfortunately, it’s also late at night and the place closes up before you’ve had a chance to take more than a bite of everything on the menu and you’re left no longer starving but still desperately wanting to try more. Got that image pictured properly in your head? Translate that into a music CD and you have Crownless. The disc starts off with what seems by this point to be an obligatory inclusion, namely a minute-long effects and soundbyte-driven intro which admittantly effectively builds tension nicely for the first real track,“‘Freak Garden”,’ a song which opens with a keyboard-backed heavy-prog metal stomp riff. Mere seconds in, I found myself asking a question which I would repeat quite a few times over the course of the next twenty minutes or so, namely…’This is a DEMO?’ The production on Crownless is absolutely stellar – better in fact than a great many full-fledged albums I’ve heard – with all instruments and vocals coming through clearly and sharply, yet never sounding overprocessed or studio-flattened. The booklet artwork and layout is similarly spectacular, I should note – a top-notch job worthy of the music contained on the disc. Perhaps a bit unusually, male vocals make their appearance first, provided by bassist Sergio Mena, who during the course of this track proves he is equally adept at both melodic midrange singing and vicious deathgrowls. Vanessa makes her debut soon enough, though, and while she seems to be holding back just a little bit here and there, she does have an excellent melodic tone and her delivery is consistently believable and thoroughly enjoyable. Better yet for a guitar fanatic like me, guitarist Jorge Escudero delivers a great-sounding Middle Eastern-themed lead break which showcases the style he maintains throughout the release – technically skilled yet always melodic and never giving in to playing fast for the sake of playing fast. Up next is “Night Crawler”,’ in which the band shifts gears from heavy-prog to a midtempo classic/power metal hybrid with some nice keyboard lines tastefully added into the mixture. Great harmonized dual-vocal lines from Ramirez and Mena pepper this cut and Escudero rips out another superb guitar lead. Following that is “Oceans Of Sorrow” and it is here the band starts sounding more like you would expect a band named after a Nightwish track to sound, with Ramirez‘s voice switching to a more operatic style, gothic-symphonic musical elements coming to the forefront, and the keyboards taking a more prominent role in the overall sonic mixture. This is truly one of those rare releases where each track seems better than the one before it and that trend doesn’t stop with the disc’s longest song, “Touch The Sky”, an ultra-catchy Euro-power metalfest that instantly calls to mind some of Gamma Ray’s better efforts and a touch here and there of the glory days of Stratovarius. Just when you think the band is tapped out stylistically, they shift gears yet again to an absolutely beautiful Spanish guitar and vocal piece, “El Angel de los Sueños” (‘The Angel Of Dreams’). Ramirez really shines here, her voice sounding gorgeous in her native language and the soft, almost lullaby-ish music providing a perfect backdrop for the vocal melodies and harmonies. If Crownless the band has a weakness, it would have to be the fact that in trying to be all things for all listeners, they lose a bit of focus and don’t manage to establish a really coherent identity and signature sound for themselves. The good news about even that perceived ‘weakness’ is that every experiment they try on the disc works superbly well. If Crownless the disc has a weakness, it’s that it’s only twenty-four minutes long and makes me want to hear more of everything! But then again, I have to keep reminding myself…it’s only a demo! This band has a tremendous amount to offer and I personally can’t wait to hear what they can do on a full album. Highly recommended as a group to check out now and to watch out for in the future.
Rating – 90/100
- Freak Garden
- Night Crowler
- Ocean of Sorrow
- Touch the Sky
- El Angel de los Sueños
- Vanessa “Nane” Ramirez – Vocals
- Jorge Escudero – Guitar
- Pablo Sanchez – Keyboards
- Sergio “Keko” Mena – Bass, Vocals
- Pablo “Tato” Bazan – Drums
Style switcher only on this demo version. Theme styles can be changed from Options page.
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