Interview by Vard AmanTo rise from the sea of Female Fronted Symphonic Metal and stand out as a band that is both of an exceptional quality as well as something that is distinctly different from the rest takes quite an act; and Lanewin, from St. Petersburg, is just such an act. They are fronted by Anna Belaeva – a multi-talented, versatile and highly imaginative vocalist; if you listen to their newly released masterpiece “Eclectic Tour”, you’ll hear what I mean. I was honoured to interview her recently. Hi Anna, welcome to FMW! First of all, tell us a bit about your singing career before Lanewin? When did you start singing? What inspired you?
Hi! I’m glad to be here and answer your questions! Honestly I didn’t have any singing career before Lanewin. I started singing at the age of 18 and immediately formed Lanewin, because I was not able to live without music and singing. What inspired me? Well, one evening heard amazing song that my friend sang to me. It was Nightwish’s “Sleeping Sun”. I was so impressed by that music, that the same day I listened to all their songs, and straight after that I started listening to music, before that day I didn’t listen to it. And several days later I tried to sing with Tarja’s voice, and soon realized that singing is what I want to do in my life. Continue reading »
Review by Tony Cannella
From Belgium, the band Azylya formed in 2009 and released their debut EP “Thanatos’ Insanity” in 2011. After solidifying their line-up, the band signed on to the up-and-coming label WormHoleDeath for the release of their debut full-length, “Sweet Cerebral Destruction”. Azylya don’t strictly adhere to one specific genre, instead they incorporate elements of symphonic metal, death metal, doom metal and even cinematic metal. It is quite an eclectic mix, but the one constant running through “Sweet Cerebral Destruction” is the fact that this music is very heavy and quite dark.
The basic story of Azylya was written by female singer Jamie-Lee Smit in 2007 when she was fourteen years old. The story follows the (mis)adventures of a young girl who is abused by her father who – in order to avoid a scandal – abandons her in an insane asylum, where she must do what she can to survive, and that is the story of Azylya’s “Sweet Cerebral Destruction”. Sure, it’s an interesting enough story, but will the material live up to the concept? After the eerie piano intro “At the Beginning” the song “Incest” continues with some more ominous sounding piano as the song progressively picks up in heaviness. Female vocalist Jamie-Lee Smit starts off with her angelic vocalist and is soon joined by the guttural death metal style of Yohann (he also doubles on guitar). More piano adds atmosphere to the opening of the next song “Woodscape”, before the rumbling guitars comes crashing in and the song picks up in heaviness. “Woodscape” also has a strong cinematic vibe and a relentless rhythm. Other highlights include: “Sweet Cerebral Destruction”, “Within My Cell” and “Electroconvulsive”. The material definitely goes hand-in-hand with the concept and even though it is not anything new, the duel vocals were definitely the highlight for me. Jamie is excellent on vocals and Yohann’s death metal growls are the perfect complement to her style and the material contained within.
In the end, I couldn’t help but be impressed with Azylya and their debut “Sweet Cerebral Destruction”. The album works both lyrically and musically and most importantly the material strong and unrelenting. I loved this album. Continue reading »
Interview by Andy Axworthy
Everything eventually comes down to the individual. Whether it’s the influences of the films you see, the books you read, the music you hear, or that of family, friends, colleagues it all colours our view of the world and defines our tastes. Now imagine all that filtered through the medium of a metal band – one with seven members – who are as comfortable being staid and grounded as they are running wild off the edge of the map – and who have a pressing desire to share that with you. Welcome to eclectic. Welcome to the world of A New Dawn. Femme Metal tracked down lead singers Jamila and Alysia, now back in Holland after their first UK gig at Beauty & Brutality, to talk about the show, current release “Finally…” and what lies ahead for the band.
Hi girls! A warm winter welcome from Femme Metal. How is the festive season treating you?
Jamila: Well, I can’t say that I like winter, I like the summer – I want sun and beach. I really hate the rain, snow and hailstone. But I do like Christmas and New Years Eve. I always spend the holidays with my family and my closest friends.
You played your first UK gig with the Beauty & Brutality Halloween Party on October 31st in Birmingham. What was the experience like for you both? Any standout moments that you could share with us?
Alysia: I’ve had the best show ever. For me it was a double party because of Samhain. I’m amazed how everyone was cheering us on, and how enthusiastic people were. I had a blast! Meeting the other bands was really nice as well.
Jamila: It was the first time that we played in the UK. I really had a great time. I was pretty tired all the way, but that was because I didn’t sleep at home that much, so I left tired and came home almost dead hahaha. We had great fun with all the band members the crew and the other bands. When we were on stage, everything just went like it’s supposed to be. We gave a great show and they really enjoyed our show.
Although that was the first show on these shores, A New Dawn has been around in one form or another since 1997. As more recent members how has this depth of existing experience helped you, together and individually?
Alysia: The most important thing for me is that the way the band “works”. We prepare and just “do” it: we put on a show and have fun. I always feel that we’re in this all together and that the band is supporting each other fully. This makes us capable of putting on a show as we did in Birmingham.
Jamila: Well, I’m one of the oldest band members next to Elbert. I must say that I have the feeling that we finally found a group of people that “works”. Of course you have your differences and you do not always agree but this group listens to each other and we work pretty well together. So naturally I feel that it’s good right now.
You are both regularly described as opposites – light versus dark. Well they say blondes have more fun but they also say that the devil has all the best tunes, so who has the halo, who has the horns and do you ever get the urge to swap?
Alysia: Blondes do have more fun. I tell ye! 😉 Yes, we have me as the light halo type of character in the band, where Jamila is more the strong nightcrawling woman.
If you are curious for the whole story behind the light vs. dark thing, keep an eye on our upcoming album. I won’t spoil any details before the album is out! Jamila: You know, I wouldn’t want to be anyone else then myself. Also on stage the “light versus dark” thing is a tiny bit true. And in that light I think we both want to switch sometimes, because we are not only what you see on stage. But that’s to the fans and audience something that they just have to find out for themselves. Most of it is a stage act, but people like to put you in a box: she is blond and sweet, she has black hair and is a bitch … but you’ll never know what the story of someone is. You need to talk to the person and ask questions instead of making your own stories about what you’ve heard. If you don’t, you will never know the whole truth. There is a story behind all the “blond versus dark” and you will know when our second album is finished. How about the rest of the band? Can you introduce us and tell us about the current line up?
- Jamila Ifzaren – Vocals
- Alysia van Horik – Vocals
- Mike v.d. Heuvel – Grunts/Growls
- Michiel Glas – Guitar
- Peter Groen – Bass
- Elbert de Hoog – Guitar
- Rik Bruineman – Drums
Your EP “Finally…” builds on the good work of 2008’s “Falling From Grace”. With 3 tracks coming in at just over 18 minutes it has something for everyone and is your first release together as leading ladies. How does it feel to have now done that and how was the recording experience for you individually?
Elbert is the founder of AND (if you want to know more about how it all began, you can take a look at our website). In the first couple of years there were other people in the band. When one of the singers left the band, AND went searching for a new vocalist and they found Jamila. You can almost say that AND fell apart in the year 2008 but the ones who were still standing, kept on going. They found Rik and Michiel. In that time Michiel was the grunter. The year 2009 was an awful year for AND, especially on personal level (home situations and stuff). Finally in the year 2010 Elbert, Jamila, Michiel and Rik found the other 3 members (Mike, Alysia and Peter). Since then everything went smoothly – writing songs and getting ready to record our 2nd full-length album.
Alysia: Recording the demo was a wonderful experience. New songs to make my own, and another voice to blend with. Jamila and I have found each other in our singing and we complimented each other. I had never been in a studio before, never had the chance to make a song with other people and to make the music my own. It was amazing. Jamila: I love being in the studio. I was pretty excited to record 3 new songs. We’ve had a radio-silence for quite a while and the time was there to record something new. So we did. Working with Alysia was very easy. She understood everything and did her homework. The songs were done in no time hahaha. Musically, each release seems to be an evolution in the band’s sound. With eclectic and varied tastes and influences amongst the members things must be pretty lively at times. How do you both help and contribute to the music and arrangements during the song writing process? Alysia: The best part about being a band with seven individuals is that everyone contributes to his best to the process of making a song. We all write music, Mike, Elbert, Jamila and I are working on lyrics, and all together we come up with ideas and themes. Jamila: Everyone is working really hard on the music and the arrangements but the song writing is more our part (and of course Mike’s). Most of the time we all work together in the writing progress of a new song. The cover of “Finally…” is intriguing. At first glance it looks like a normal mask/masque but take a closer look and you can see the seven deadly sins etched into its surface. Can you tell us the story behind the artwork?
We created the mask because everyone wears a mask every now and then. But we wanted the mask to have “lived a life full of emotions”. So, looking at the lyrics of the songs of the EP, there were the seven deadly sins (“Final Verdict”) and the name “Desire” in a Japanese Sign and of course the mask itself (“Masque of the Red Death”). We just thought it was funny but it also has something to do with the new story that can be found on our 2nd album. As a band you ask your fans to share their experiences with you – to take inspiration from everyone, in everything and of everywhere. Is that something that you still look to build into the song writing? Also, what would you both say is your current favourite/inspirational AND song and why do you feel that way about it? Alysia: Definitely. My inspiration comes from other people’s stories and things I see and experience in daily life. Also, showing the crowd what we, as AND, have been through is very important to all of us. It shows that we’re human. My most inspirational song is on the new album. The music is awesome, there are nice guitar solos in it and the story behind it is really grabbing you by the throat. We call it “ToF”. You’ll hear it soon! Jamila: Everything I’ve ever written is about life. My life, the life of my family and friends, what I see on television and so on. So people in general are a big inspiration to me. You have sad, happy, evil, angry, disappointed, crazy, loving and caring people … and they all have their own stories. I’m really interested in what it is that moves people to do things or to never do that special thing. This is my big inspiration. Lately I’ve been having contact with a French fan and this person told me a beautiful story (with tears and happiness) about his life. It grabbed me by the throat and I just wrote like an idiot hahaha. My favourite song is “Final Verdict” because of the different styles of music in one song, but there’s something really personal for me in one of our new songs. You will hear the story as soon as the album is finished.
You have a strong fan base, two EP’s and a full-length cd as a fully-fledged band and despite this you have stayed unsigned for now. What plans do you have in this area and would you say there are any advantages or drawbacks when balancing total freedom to do what you want against restrictions that might be placed on you if you were signed?
This is a difficult question. Because of course we want a label that wants to work with us (and we really have a lot to offer) but it’s difficult these days. We are so ready to entertain a bigger crowd and that’s what we also hear from a lot of people: “You belong on a bigger stage”. And this is something we believe in. Sometimes you need a period of a few years to find your ideal partner (or band members in this case hahaha) and make it work. This new album is something we’ve all worked really hard on and are very proud of. Next to creating/writing the songs, we are also very busy to create a big show to look at. We like to put on a big show but sometimes we need a bigger stage. But believe you me … we will rock your socks off with this next album and especially on stage.
What is it like, living the metal dream? How do you both handle balancing the call of the wild with those moments when reality comes knocking?
Alysia: Sometimes it feels like my reality only starts when I’m playing with the band or performing. Work, obligations are dull things. It feels like I start “living” when I can make music. I need to get used to people speaking their appreciation about what I do, but it’s wonderful. Jamila: Living the metal dream? I think it’s just beginning. You’re in a band and you make the 1st full-length album. Everything goes well, a lot of gigs, fans, autographs, pictures. But you need to keep on going. Sometimes that’s very difficult if a lot of things happen in a band. But like I said a couple of questions ago, we’ve got a great group of people, who work together really well. We’ve got our 2nd full-length album coming on, this will still sound like AND but of course also very different. It’s more progressive and louder, maybe even a bit heavier.
But reality did come knocking on my door a while ago (r.i.p. daddy) and I still have problems to cope with all that and still try to give the band my full attention. It’s a constant learning progress but I’m doing better and better. Music is a great medium to express yourself and for me, singing is the best way for me to express my emotions when I just don’t want to talk.
You have played the MACC (Metal Against Child Cancer) Fest. How does raising awareness with this type of show figure in AND‘s overall philosophy and are there any other similar events that you can or will support and which you can tell us about?
Alysia: Unfortunately our band has lost beloved ones to cancer. We wrote a song in that theme and we were more than happy to contribute to MACC. In December we did a show as a tribute to a deceased fan who died of leukaemia. Speaking on my behalf, I will always be up for charity. Jamila: It’s just like Alysia already told you, unfortunately, our band already has lost loved ones to death (mostly because of cancer), so playing at a festival where they make people aware of cancer definitely fits in our overall philosophy.
How about your alternative reality – what would each of you be doing if you were not singing with AND? Do you have any ideal jobs, burning ambitions or an itch you would just have to scratch that you can share with us?
Alysia: I’d be having my own practise (working with troubled children), stuck to my huge mansion somewhere on an abandoned piece of land behind a forest. I’d have an enormous kitchen where I could bake cookies and cakes all day and I’d have at least four dogs (and a pony!).
Jamila: I’d probably have my own private practice in painting (ß in the biggest meaning of the word, face-painting, body-painting, mural painting and other types of painting) or I probably would have saved up all my money to go to the other side of the world to work as a volunteer helping out disadvantaged people.
How about your ideal gig? If money was no object and you could take the band, crew, rig and set up anywhere in the world to play, where would you go and why? Alysia: The Royal Albert Hall! Because it’s enormous! And, and, and, yeah. Or Wacken Open Air! Or Pinkpop! … Lowlands! Oh dear, these dreams are getting ahead of me. Jamila: I don’t really care where that is, but there has to be a beautiful big stage with a lot of lights and where everything is well arranged with lights and sound. A stage where we can do our show like it’s meant to be (maybe even bigger hahaha) with a minimum of 5000 people who really enjoy the music and show of AND.
Finally, when do you hope to release the new CD and do you have any touring plans that you can share with us?The release of the new album will be before the summer. The presentation will be a blast. We’ve got a lot of great ideas for our album presentation – it will be a big show. We are all very excited and a bit nervous, because we just want it to be a great show. Thank you both for talking with Femme Metal and best of luck recording the new album. Before you escape, any last words for the fans & readers? Alysia: Hope to see you guys soon, stay up to date through Facebook, Twitter and our website! Stay metal! Jamila: As you’ve been reading, we have lots of plans for our new album and we will keep you posted on everything. Just keep checking our websites. We hope to see you all at one of our shows and thank you for reading this interview.
Photos by Cristel Brower
Label : Ravenheart Records
Review by Tony Cannella
The Dutch Melodic, Gothic metal band A New Dawn returns with their second full-length album, “Seven Faces of Truth”. For this album, the band continues its unique style when it comes to the vocals. Two females are joined by Death Metal style male vocals from Mike Heuvel. Seven members, “Seven Faces of Truth”, I sense a correlation here. Actually “Seven Faces of Truth” is probably the most ambitious undertaking that A New Dawn have attempted – both musically and lyrically. The main character is Dawn and throughout the course of “Seven Faces of Truth”, her story is told as she wrestles with emotions ranging from happiness to sadness and everything in between, this is something that we all can relate to and A New Dawn captures perfectly the fact that what is going on in someone’s mind and heart are not always what they seem. The opening intro “My Name is Dawn” gets things started with Dawn’s own narrative, as additional voices (which also could be Dawn’s emotions, lending their own voices) join in to help exemplify the various emotions that the main character feels. Following the intro A New Dawn launches into the Maiden –esque “Contradiction”, which is followed by a re-recorded (and much more forceful) version “Desire” (originally heard on the “Finally…” EP). These two songs embody the relentlessness of the material contained on “Seven Faces of Truth”, throughout pretty much the entire one hour of playing time. Lyrically the band write what they know about, real emotions that reside within us all, consequently there is something that all of us can relate to on “Seven Faces of Truth”. Musically, there are a lot going on in the songs. Some albums are hard to describe song-by-song and this one of those moments where descriptions just simply will not do this album justice. Suffice it to say, A New Dawn tears through the material like a band on a mission mixing in tempo changes and longer songs like the excellent 7-minute “Battle In Twilight (Contradiction Part 2)”. With shorter songs like “The Madness Within” – which disarms the listener with a violin solo before it develops into an all out thrash/death metal number. The interplay between the three vocalists is so well done and a huge strength for A New Dawn. Two more songs from the “Finally…” EP turn up as the re-recorded versions of “Masque of the Red Death” and the 8-minute “Final Verdict” sound better than ever, before the outro “Bellare Ad Aeternus” takes us to the end of the story and closes out “Seven Faces of Truth” reflectively with just a symphony and acoustic guitar. Even though A New Dawn formed way back in 1997, it is hard to believe this is only their second full-length. In between they have released several demos, EPs and even a DVD but this is their sophomore full-length effort, and in my opinion, this is the best thing they have ever done. As far as melodic, power, gothic metal (or whatever you want to call it) goes; it doesn’t get much better than this.
Rating – 95/100
- My Name is Dawn
- Composition of Life
- Prelude to Farewell (Part 1)
- Theatre of Fears
- Battle in Twilight (Contradiction Part 2)
- The Madness Within
- Masque of the Red Death
- Final Verdict
- Bellare Ad Aeternus
- Jamila Ifzaren – Vocals
- Alysia van Horik – Vocals
- Mike v.d. Heuvel – Growls
- Michiel Glas – Guitar
- Elbert de Hoog – Guitar
- Peter Groen – Bass
- Rik Bruineman – Drums
Review by Tony Cannella
U.N.S.I.N. is an eclectic modern metal band hailing from Greece. On their debut EP “0154” the band displays their aggressive, melodic metal style with hugely positive results. The bombastic opener “Up” sets things in motion, this song features a heavy and thoroughly pounding riff that dominates the song. “Unseen” is next and continues in the same heavy direction as the previous number. Vocalist Christine Nikolaidou has got an excellent voice that just totally took me by surprise. Her singing style is clean and it just soars right there with the music. The final two tracks “Acid” and “The Show” brings this EP to a close and I was left wanting more. U.N.S.I.N. is a band that really came out of nowhere and floored me. Of course it is a shame that “0154” features only 4-songs and about 17-minutes worth of music but it has really made me hungry for when this band releases a full-length. If U.N.S.I.N. are able to find the right label to support them on their impending full-length, then there should be no stopping them.
Rating – 93/100
- The Show
- Christine Nikolaidou – Vocals
- Sryros Pafilis – Guitar
- George Tsalis – Bass
- Theodosis Tsatsaronis – Drums
Style switcher only on this demo version. Theme styles can be changed from Options page.
- Maria O’Donnell – Galley Beggar
- Ellie Goulding – “Delirium” (2015)
- BAND-MAID – “New Beginning” (2015)
- Enya – “Dark Sky Island” (2015)
- Artaius – “Torn Banner” (2015)
- Milena Eva – GOLD
- Kari Rueslåtten
- Clare Cunningham – Thundermother
- YOUSEI TEIKOKU – “Shadow Corps[e]” (2015)
- Cinnamun Beloved – “The Weirdest Moment” (2015)
- Kobra and the Lotus – “Words of the Prophets” EP (2015)
- Veronica Freeman – The V
- Chastain – “The 7th of Never” & “The Voice of the Cult” REISSUE (2015)
- Diemonds – “Never Wanna Die” (2015)
- Embassy of Silence – “Verisimilitude” (2015)
- Burning Point – “Burning Point” (2015)
- District 97 – “In Vaults” (2015)
- Jaded Star – “Memories from the Future” (2015)
- Lauren Hart – Once Human
- Priya Panda – Diemonds
- Cœur de Pirate – “Roses” (2015)
- 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