Interview by Si Smith
It was clear from their early days that Benighted Soul were no average French symphonic metal band. From the Greek lettering on their 2005 bonus DVD demo “Catharsis” to their themes of mythology and history, Benighted Soul trod a unique path among the female fronted bands of the time. With their 2008 EP “Anesidora” we were introduced to a character who would now become the central focus of the band’s repertoire. I spoke to vocalist Geraldine Gadaut to discover more about this mysterious character…..
First, may I welcome you to Femme Metal and thank you for talking to us. Also congratulations to Jeyms and we hope that little Eleonore is doing well and is in good health.
Thank you very much, it’s my pleasure ! Little Eleonore is fine. She’s beautiful. She’s a very calm and quiet baby.
Beginning in around 2002, that is quite a long life for any band already! How did you guys come up with the theme and style of the band?
For those who don’t know, would you like to tell our readers a little about Anesidora, and where she comes from? When recording the EP “Anesidora”, we were thinking about the artwork and which ideas it should convey. The lyrics were about childhood, innocence, but there was also this song, “Anesidora”, about Pandora’s box. The artists who were working on the artwork came to us with the idea of a little doll, symbolizing childhood and its disappointments, leaned against a chest that can be either a simple toy box or pandora’s box. This little doll with red hair and wings on her back immediately won our hearts. She took the name of the character Anesidora and became sort of a mascot for the band. The fans definitely love her ! So we decided that she would be the main character of our first album.
The new album brings Anesidora right up to date as she progresses through her life in this world. How much of Anesidora do you see in yourself? After all you act her role very convincingly! I could say she’s like a part of myself that would have come out of me and made its own way. So, she’s not really me and I’m not really her. She’s more of a symbol. But yes, just like her, I hated growing up. I found it difficult. So I use my own experience to describe what Anesidora must face. But she doesn’t react like I would. She’s a bit more rebellious, I think I see from your performance video reports that you take your singing very seriously, yet in between takes you are also a happy person with a great sense of humour. How do you reconcile these two “sides” of yourself? Do you adopt a different persona when you perform the tracks live or record? If so, who is the “real” Geraldine?…… I think these two sides are part of me. But of course, I’m not quite the same on stage and in everyday life. On stage and even in studio, there’s a big part of acting that requires attention, that’s why I can look very serious. I think acting is about deepening something that’s already in you, a part of you that you don’t necessarily show in everyday life. If I acted in normal life like I do on stage, I guess people would think I’m really crazy…
The little doll figure appears on your album covers and also in your videos. Who originally came up with the little doll characterisation? Will the doll grow up as Anesidora does? As I said earlier, we were looking for a symbol of innocence, of childhood…That’s how we adopted this little rag doll. But with “Start from Scratch”, we wanted her to change, to evolve. We asked Eliran Kantor, who designed the artwork, to give her a makeover. He changed her into a doll that looks more like a little girl. We like this idea of Anesidora evolving, maybe growing, album after album. The album is rich in orchestration and also involves a 20-person choir. How different was it having to work with all these different people? (or did you not have anything to do with them in the recording process….) The recording of the choir was amazing. We had to find 20 people motivated enough to rehearse twice a week during 3 months. It didn’t seem easy. But we found them and it was incredible to see how much these people got involved in the project. They were all very different : music students, family members, friends… But they all saw how important this was. Above all things, we really, really had fun together !
It is clear from a brief listen that despite the “symphonic” tag, there is no denying that there are some heavy riffs lurking in the mix there (for example at the beginning of “Wrong Reflection”)! What are your influences as a singer and are there any specific bands that inspire you?We don’t see Benighted Soul only as a symphonic metal band anymore. As you said, there are other aspects in our music : rock, progressive metal, even pop music ! As a singer, my influences changed. When I start singing, I was a big fan of Tarja Turunen and Floor Jansen although they are really different singers. I’m still fond of their works today but I have also new influences : Pain of Salvation, Ram-Zet… bands that are not inevitably considered as “symphonic metal”. Although this album is more rooted in the “real” world, there are still traces of the old Greek mythological themes (eg the last song “No Warning Signs” speaks of the Fates and the thread of life they weave and cut). Will we see more from the Greek themes in the future, or do you think that with this album the band has really “turned a corner” into a new direction? As you said, the band has really turned a corner. On our old demo “Catharsis”, our music was really rooted in epic metal. The way I sang was very lyrical. The mythological themes suited very well then. But “Start from Scratch” brought more rock in our music and I felt the need to write something more real, maybe more personal and stop hiding behind mythological character. It doesn’t mean there won’t be hints about mythology anymore. I like this subject and I think it suits very well the choir’s parts.
You guys have really gone to town promoting this new album. 15 reviews and 7 interviews just in February! How has the reception of the new album been in general? It would seem quite positive, achieving such scores as 5/5, 18/20 and 8.5/10! First place in the metal charts by FNAC! We worked a lot on this album. So of course, we were hoping it would be well received by people and reviewers. But the reception exceeds what we were expecting. What was amazing is that reviewers really understood our music, they understood the sense of our work. There was no gap between what we had intended to do and what was perceived. Even more exciting for you, you went on tour supporting Tarja Turunen on the “What Lies Beneath” tour in 2010! What was that like? Have you any secret stories to tell for us? This was really exciting for me considering that in 2001, I decided to take singing lessons when I first heard Tarja sing on “Dead Boy’s Poem”. So this tour was amazing for two reasons : 1 – Being in a band supporting one of my favorite singer ; 2 – The audience ! It was incredible ! We were very happy to meet people who like our music in these countries. Any secret story ? An interesting music video was shot by Pat from Kells in the tour bus but I can’t tell if you’ll get the chance to see it one day ! You begin your “Start from Scratch” tour soon. What can fans expect from this tour? Any surprises in the live gigs? Will Anesidora herself make an appearance? As its name suggests, we will mainly perform song from the album “Start from Scratch” but there will be a few surprises for people who know the older songs. Anesidora will follow us on tour, of course !
Most of your appearances are in France. Has your music travelled well across the borders? Do you get any messages from far-off fans? (this one [me] is in the UK, which is not so far…). As we live in France, it was important for us to meet our fans in our own country. That’s why most of our gigs takes place there. However, our music has already travelled. We have fans in Italy since we’ve performed there with Tarja on tour. But on social networks, we receive messages from South America, United States, Netherlands, Greece, Hungary…In the future, we really would like to be more active on the European scene. I think that when the album is over, the listener has been taken through a large range of emotions from our little doll-girl. How do you guys relax after shows or recording sessions? It must be quite draining for you!!
It’s a 70 minutes- album and yes, I think when it’s over, the listener must be a little bit lost ! When we perform the songs live, it’s always very intense. But when we leave the stage, there’s always lots of things to do and we don’t have the opportunity to relax until late in the night ! First, we like to meet our fans after the show so we always take the time to speak with everyone who wants to. Then, we have to pack up everything, instruments, hardware, clothes… When all is over, we can get in the car and, at last, sit down ! But there’s always lots of things to talk about : how was the show, the audience, who did the wrong note during one or other song…Once in the car, we’re still in the live energy, in the effervescence. But after an hour or so, everyone begin to relax and fall asleep, exhausted ! Finally, a great big thank you from all at Femme Metal for talking to us and we wish Anesidora a full and exciting time as she tours the country!! Any final message for the readers? Thank you for your interest, thank you for your support !
Label : Savage Prod/Season of Mist
Review by Tony Cannella
France’s Benighted Soul began their career in 2003. After the bands inception, they released two Demos, a DVD and an EP. Now Benighted Soul has released their debut full-length album, “Start From Scratch”. Their style a bit Symphonic mixed with elements of Progressive and even some slower doomy stuff. Some great crunchy riffs and technical, intricate musicianship are the order of the day for this bunch. The band is fronted by the powerful vocals of Géraldine Gadaut. Bassist Jean-Gabriel Bocciarelli also supplied some male vocals throughout this 11-song 70-minute disc. “Start from Scratch” is a concept album centered around the little doll Anesidora and features a 20-person choir. Benighted Soul is able to switch from a heavy approach to a more melodic style throughout the CD, with Geraldine Gadaut providing some impactful vocals. “Broken Icons” gets things off to a bombastic start and the duel male/female vocals are put on full display on this very strong opener. The male vocals are full-on aggressive in style and create a big contrast with the sweet, semi-operatic tone brought forth by Geraldine. The 8-minute “Edge of Insanity” is next. Throughout the course of “Start from Scratch”, Benighted Soul offers up several songs in the 7-8 minute range. By changing tempos and speeds, Benighted Soul are able to insure that “Start from Scratch” rarely gets boring, to the contrary, despite its length there is plenty here that kept me interested for the duration. Highlights include: “Ticking Time Bomb” (my favorite track), “Wrong Reflection”, “Stranger Me”, “My So Called Friend” and the album closer “No Warning Signs”. “Start from Scratch” is a strong debut and an album that should resonate with fans of Power and Prog metal. I am almost positive that we will be hearing much more from this talented French band in the future.
Rating – 90/100
- Broken Icons
- Edge of Insanity
- Wrong Reflection
- Falling in the Sin
- Ticking Time Bomb
- Stranger Me
- The Seventh Cage
- Start from Scratch
- My So Called Friend
- No Warning Signs
- Géraldine Gadaut – Vocals
- Jérémie Heyms – Guitars
- Jean-Gabriel Bocciarelli – Bass & Vocals
- Flavien Morel – Keyboards & Orchestration
- Nicolas Adam – Drums
Label : Jetnoise Records/Ravenheart Music
Review by Tony Cannella
Judging by the band name and song titles it is pretty easy to discern in which genre the Russian band Fright Night falls in. This is Gothic metal at its most Gothic. And well played Gothic Metal at that. Their debut album is titled “The Play of Pain” and it features some epic and dark tunes that should please fans of Gothic music. Fright Night features the duel male/female vocals of Alexey Ovsiyenko and Marianna Lukianova (she also plays guitar on the CD). Alexey’s vocal style is deep and quite Gothic sounding. At times he reminds a bit of the lead singer from Moonspell and Marianna contrasts that style with her clean vocals. Throughout the 10-song 59-minute CD, “The Play of Pain” showcases their atmospheric style, and slow deliberate pacing of the songs. “His Death” sets the tempo for what is to follow; the tempo certainly does not speed up much from this point on. “The Letter of the End” and “The Blood” both over 7-minutes long are two highlights. The band gets points from me for covering the Uriah Heep track “Rainbow Demon” (anyone who pays homage to the mighty Heep is okay in my book). Another interesting track is the 8-minute “Christopher Lee”; the lyrics to this one are not really sung, but spoken by Alexey with Marianna providing support on background vocals. The tempo to this track is slow and hypnotic. Other highlights include: “The Summon”, “We Will Go” and “Two Roses”. This is definitely one that needed to grow on me and after each listen I found myself enjoying “The Play of Pain” more and more. This is definitely not commercial music but it is perfect for a dark and stormy night. Just light some candles and enjoy.
Rating – 83/100
- His Death
- The Letter of the End
- The Blood
- The Summon
- We Will Go
- Rainbow Demon
- Two Roses
- The Cross and the Pyre
- Christopher Lee
- Marianna Lukianova – Guitar, Vocals
- Alexey Ovsiyenko – Vocals
- Irina Lebedenko – Keys
- Nikolay Shevelev – Bass
- Vadim Mironov – Drums
Label : Thundering Records
Review by Tony Cannella
Akroma are a melodic Black Metal band from France. They have just released their second album titled, “Seth”. Musically, Akroma‘s style is Black Metal but the musicianship is of a very high caliber that has some classic metal type of leanings. The songs are sung in their native French language and the vocals are quite – well, let’s just say they are quite interesting and extreme. The duel lead vocals are handled by Alain “Bob” Germonville, with the female vocals being done by Lulu. “Seth” features 10-songs and 60-minutes worth of music, and the epic closing number, “Les Tenebres”, clocks in at around the 11-minute mark. The male vocals throughout the CD are delivered in rapid-fire style, and they are the main vocals used on the majority of “Seth”, but the female vocalist Lulu is allowed to shine at moments throughout the course of the CD. She has a very beautiful operatic style that really is a highlight whenever she is allowed to take the spotlight – “Les Taons” and “La Grêle” are perfect examples of this. The music certainly has it’s chaotic moments, but I came away being impressed by the musicianship. Musically, this band is really excellent, it is the male vocals that will be a main sticking point with a lot of people. If you can get passed that, than Akroma are a band that may be worth the risk.
Rating – 75/100
- L’Eau Changée en Sang
- Les Grenouilles
- Les Moustiques
- Les Taons
- La Peste du Bétail
- Les Ulcères
- La Grêle
- Les Sauterelles
- La Mort des Primieres Nés
- Les Ténèbres
- Lulu de Angalys – Vocals
- Alain “Bob Germonville – Vocals
- Mattieu Morand – Guitars, drums & programmation
- Flavien Morel – Keyboards
- Nicolas Colnot – Bass
Label : Renaissance Records
Review by Tony Cannella
Tular are a female fronted 5-piece symphonic, operatic metal band from Italy. Their current band line-up is Francesca Martini (Vocals), Emmanuele Palmieri (Lead guitar & orchestration), Michele Raspanti (Bass), Alessandro Lacobellis (Guitar) and David Folchitto (Drums). Their debut album is entitled “The Truth Behind the Mask”. The CD begins with the 1-minute atmospheric intro track “Walking Through the Line”. This piece features only heavy orchestrated music and spoken parts by singer Francesca Martini. It certainly does a good job in building anticipation for the next track “Witch!” This song is very heavy and showcases the great soprano vocals of Francesca. A great guitar solo by Emanuele is also on display. Next, is a cover of the Bon Jovi song, “We Rule the Night”. This choice of a song to cover is definitely a surprise but the band does an excellent job on it and definitely put their own stamp on it. Next is “My Thief”. This song starts off with a cool bit of orchestration before launching into the song. Francesca really does an excellent job on this song as she really shows what a great range she has. This was one of the highlights for me. Next we have “Let It Rain”. This is a very dramatic mid-tempo tune and one of the very best offered up on this collection. The next song, “Fairy Legend” starts off slow and then builds into an atmospheric masterpiece. Other highlights include: “Lucretia”, “Dark White Flame”, “Darkest Room” and “Heroes”. Perhaps the biggest highlight for me was “Where Doves Dare”. The band delivers excellent performances all around and really deliver the goods here. The final two songs are not listed on the CD. This first song is a different mix of the song “Darkest Room” with the lyrics sung in Italian. The song also has a bit of a middle eastern vibe in the beginning. Both versions of the sung are really good but I think I prefer this one. The second unlisted bonus track is another cover song. This time the band takes on the Kiss song “I Was Made for Lovin’ You”. Definitely another interesting choice of remakes but they once again do a very good job. The orchestration on the song and the male background vocals are also a nice touch. I enjoyed “The Truth Behind the Mask”. The songs and musicianship are good. The song writing is excellent with the majority being done by Emanuele and Francesca. It is a strong debut that features 14-songs and 60-minutes worth of pure bombastic and symphonic metal paradise.
Rating – 75/100
- Walking Through the Line
- We Rule the Night
- My Thief
- Let It Rain
- Fairy Legend
- Dark White Flame
- Darkest Room
- Fallen Angel
- Whre Doves Care
- Heart and Soul
- Temujin – “Let You Go”
- Francesca Martini – Vocals
- Emanuele Palmieri – Guitars
- Alessandro Iacobellis – Guitar
- Michele Raspanti – Bass
- David Folchitto – Drums
Style switcher only on this demo version. Theme styles can be changed from Options page.
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