Interview by Scott Johnson
If Battlelore and Nightwish got in a fight and Celine Dion were the referee then a big meteor fell from the sky and smashed them all together the survivor would be called Ancient Bards. Their EPIC songs and beautifully hand crafted musicianship plus the not of this world vocals of Sara Squadrani make for a combo that would fire up any battle weary warrior and help him find new energy to slay a thousand dragons. I had a chance to talk to Sara and to eneter the world of Ancient Bards.
Hello Sara, so nice of you to give me this oppritunity to talk to you today. I would like to ask you if a person were to ask you to descibe the music of Ancient Bards what would be the first thing that would pop in your head?
Hi Scott! Well Limb described us as a Symphonic Epic Power Metal band and I think this label suits our music pretty well but I would add the word “imaginary” or maybe “fictional” because every time I hear the tunes I can perfectly picture the deeds of the heroes we’re talking about. This is some kind of magic Daniele does when he writes, I starts by thinking about what’s happening in the story and then the music comes out naturally from his fingers playing the piano!
How long has the band been together?
We became an actual band in the summer of 2007, it seems like it was yesterday! Daniele was looking for musicians to join his project, he found me through MySpace; he wasn’t really searching for a female vocalist but when he first heard me he thought that he could give it a try!
Have you been with them from the beginning?
I’ve been with them from the beginning. Daniele had tried before to form a band though but with no results, as he coulnd’t find people who shared his same visions and had the same aims.
What is the metal scene like in Italy?
In Italy the metal scene is nothing like the ones of the other European countries. Here metal music is followed by few, it never went mainstream and good metal bands too often remain underground realities. It’s just that it isn’t part of our culture, here Italian pop music has a long story and people are not attracted to heavier sounds, they’re not interested and I’m afraid that there can also be a little prejudice towards those who listen to metal, as ignorance can easily lead you to make the logical association metal=satan (I’m not saying Italians are ignorant, I just meant to say that whenever one doesn’t have the curiosity to really get to know something he accepts the common judgment). That’s too bad!
Taking a listen to the album, Who are some of your personal influences as a singer?
My personal influences are very particular for a metal singer… my first choice would be Celine Dion, ever since I heard her singing “My Heart Will Go On” I literally fell in love with her, she is a strong woman with an amazing voice she can do everything she wants with! She is also very versatile as we can see in her last album “Thaking Chances”. Celine is like my beacon but I also love Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, the amazingly talented Jessie J, I adore Adele and Giorgia Todrani, the best Italian singer of all times I think. I obviously take inspiration from female singers, though I “steal” something from Gavin DeGraw too.
Have you ever been compared with Celine Dion before as far as singing style? I love her.
Once someone wrote a comment on an Ancient Bards YouTube video saying “Celine Dion is that you I hear?” and that made me go crazy! It was and it still is a huge compliment for me to be compared to my vocal hero. Of course I don’t have her warm and lovely timbre but I grew up listening to her every song so I must have absorbed her singing style a bit.
I noticed that the musicianship of everyone in the band is very very technical and wonderfully detailed. Have you all been studying music and all of the centain instruments for a long time?
The guys started studying when they were kids and they all took lessons in academies (some of them now are teachers). In our kind of metal you need to be very prepared technically and my boys are really good, because the all have a great passion for music, which make it easier to find the strength to practise and practise and practise…
I really love all of the elements within the band. From the epic big full over all sound to the choir to all of the beautiful notes flying from the guitars and the thunderous drums and especially your voice that gives me utter goosebumps every time you open your mouth to sing. Where did the idea to tie all of these elements together come from?
Everything comes from the mind of Daniele, when he composes he can imagine all these elements together and the rest is the natural consequence of the fusion of our different personalities, our diverse musical tastes and our different musical aptitude. All these elements create our particular sound.
Can you explain the concept of the Black Crystal Sword Saga?
I honestly don’t know everything about the saga, only Daniele knows the whole story, he just gave me a few hints but I don’t know exactly how it’s going to end. It’s all about this Black Crystal Sword and all the people that happen to know about it. In the first two chapters the story is entangled enough so I suggest you to go on our website (www.ancientbards.com), in the download tab you’ll find a pdf file with all you need to know about what happened so far!
Let’s talk about “Soulless Child” which was released last November. What is the over all story and message with this album? Is it a continuation of the Black Crystal Sword Saga?
Yes, “Soulless Child” is the second chapter of the first part of the Saga, that was created by Daniele when he was just a kid (he was like 16 or something) and right because Daniele was so young that the story is full of that naïvety which is typical of the pureness of a young heart. The characters are virtuous, never-failing, brave and fearless but also so so human! I think the great message is this, in this world we need heroes and we look for them everywhere but the real thing is that anyone can be a hero just by being the best person one can be!
What character from the saga do you relate too the most?
I relate to Shena because she’s the only female character of the story so far and I’m the only female musician among the bards! I like her because she’s a tough woman, she has the responsability of her realm on her shoulders so she needs to be flawless and blameless even when it’s not easy to… I wish I could be as brave as her (I’m doing my best)!
Are all of you big fans of fantasy fiction?
Not really, the ones into fantasy fiction are Daniele, Martino and Federico, they are the experts in those things. I personally was never attracted too much to these kind of things.
How many parts of the story do you think there will be?
I don’t know precisely as Daniele himself is not sure of it. The only thing I know is that there will be three parts, each one divided into (I don’t know how many) chapters
Will there be a tour for the “Soulless Child”?
Nothing sure yet, we will be having a few gigs around Italy and we will attend a few festivals we’ll soon give news about. For an emerging bang is still very hard to play abroad, we need to wait for one of those chances that happen only once in a while and take it!
Is Daltor dead??????
It’s what we are let to believe at the end of TAOTK… but at the beginning of “Soulless Child” it’s clear that maybe it takes more than some dragon bites to kill a hero!
I can’t wait for us to find out what is next in the story of the Black Crystal Sword Saga and in the story of Ancient Bards. I would like to thank you for your time Sara and do you have anything that you would like to add?
It’s always an enormous pleasure to talk with Femme Metal, I wanna thank all of you guys who bring on this beautiful webzine! I hope to see you all from the stage soon! Cheers!
Label : Alien Productions
Review by Luisa Mercier
From France, another little masterpiece of gothic-doom has landed on my desk. Evolvent‘s “Spiritual Confession” was released back in 2008 and soon it obtained a very good response from media, they even released a video for the title-track in 2009. On the present album, the female singer is Céline de Kerliviou, but in the meanwhile Johanna Manto replaced her. “The Canticle of the Shade” which opens the EP is a painful hymn of agony: the guitars flow with their doomish pace while keyboards and synth paint a gloomy landscape. On top of them, male aggressive vocals entertwine with sweet, angelic female vocals. Strings, keyboards and the usual tuned-down guitars introduce “Engraved on the Tomb”. Towards the half Céline appears and the track clearly recalled me Draconian early releases and their majestic, solemn atmosphere. Definitely more doom than gothic is “My Mystic Storm” where Céline amazes us all with a magnificent solo perfotmance towards the end of the track. Perfect song for grey, gloomy wheather outside. The title-track is quite short, but really moving. Relying more on a neoclassical style, it is a sort of interlude in which Céline sings in a very operatic way. Fascinating and enchanting, really. Last track is a 15-minutes song, “The March of Death”, goes back to gothic-doom. It ranges from more metal to more atmospheric moments, but I have to say that there is not a great variety, even though being so long. The piano outro is sweet and calming. Really, a treasure most doomsters don’t want to lose!
Rating – 75/100
- The Canticle of the Shade
- Engraved of the Tomb
- My Mystic Storm
- Spiritual Confession
- The March of Death
- Celine De Kerliviou – Lead Vocals
- Yann Zilliox – Death Vocals & Lyrics
- Sebastien Latour – Keyboards
- Alan Raoul – Bass
- Sylvain Begot – Drums & Guitar
Review by Tony Cannella
Okay, so here is another Folk-Metal band.This band, Scythia hails from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and makes no mistake about it; they play Epic Folk-Metal.The main lead vocalist Dave Kahn (I believe) but they could use several different singers since there are a couple of different styles at play here – some better than others. Some Female vocals are used as more background or harmony vocals. Musically, Scythia is Folk-Metal and they don’t stray too far from that path. The best track on display here is the 7-minute “Red Wizard”. This is just a cool epic type number that features a lot of tempo changes. Another favorite is the orchestral instrumental piece “Elegy”. Other highlights include: “Fierce Riders of Scythia”, “The Black Death” and “Dies Irae Pt.1″. Folk-Metal is a sometimes polarizing metal genre and I don’t see Scythia really appealing to fans outside of said genre. Still, “…Of War” features plenty of strong material that will please the many in the Folk-Metal crowd.
Rating – 70/100
- Caspian Rhapsody
- Fierce Riders of Scythia
- The Black Death
- Red Wizard
- Dies Irae Pt. 1
- Warrior’s Anthem
- Dave Kahn – Lead Guitar, Vocals
- Scott F. Thompson – Keyboards
- Morgan Zentner – Oboe
- Terry Savage – Bass
- Nik Golar – Guitars, Bass, Vocals
- Scott F. Thompson – Keyboards
- Celine Derval – Drums & Vocals
Style switcher only on this demo version. Theme styles can be changed from Options page.
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