Interview by Erwin Van Dijk
Monaco is a miniature state the size of some football fields. It is mostly known as hangout for the rich & famous in the world. But metal? Until very recently I would not have thought of metal from Monaco. Enter Black Knight Symfonia. The band has got two female singers (an operatic female singer and a melodic female singer) and this interview is with Arya, one of singers and Saga, the guitarist, composer and male singer of the band.Arya is your artist name. Why did you choose this name for your work with Black Knight Symfonia?
Arya: Arya is the name of the main character in the french comic book of Michel Weyland, a solitary woman, dark, incredibly strong and pretty, in Persian this name means pure and noble. The courage of this young lady guided me when I was younger, a nice warrior, doing terrible quests… Black Knight Symfonia tells legends of battles, troubles, I think this name suits well our universe.Did you always wanted to become a singer?
Arya: I’ve always listened to classical music, the first disc I heard was a compilation of solos from Maria Callas. The need to sing came way later. I fist studied piano at the conservatory, but I was missing something when I played this instrument. To be able to change every note, make it vibrate, change its colour just like I want, only the voice could do it. So when I was 14 years old I changed my course and learned opera singing at the conservatory. When I take a breath to start singing, I feel, already fine inside. Some people say eyes are the mirror of the soul, but I think that it’s the voice.
And did you follow any singing lessons and what do you do to keep your voice in top condition?
Arya: I studied music, piano and opera singing at the conservatory, but also in the children’s choir of the opera of Nice. To keep my voice in condition I work everyday. I have a library full of old vocal techniques, anatomy and musical interpretation books. Most of my techniques when I sing were learned from ancient masters. I have the habit before singing for Black Knight Symfonia to sing some technical baroque airs, “to warm up” my voice, like some Handel, then I finish my warm up with operas, like some Gounod or Cilea. And then I am prepared to sing ”Dragonland”.Is Black Knight Symfonia your first band?
Arya: Black Knight Symfonia is the first band where I am a lead singer, I sang before in Nohellia but I was just doing backing vocals. This is the first time that I have the opportunity to work on the music and the lyrics, this is very hard but the result is that I can try new and more exciting things.The other female singer of Black Knight Symfonia is Nymphadora. What are the differences between your and her voice?
Arya: Nymphadora has a very “rock” voice, very pure and I have a operatic voice. When we recorded the chorus in the song ”Akasha”, we were astonished by the fact that our voices were mixing really nicely. We complete each other extremely well.
To what kind do you listen yourself and what are your favourite bands?
Ayra: On the classical music side, I really love baroque from Italy and England, and contemporary French music. Baroque music was technical and elegant, contemporary music manages to let us enter the world of dreams. Well, that’s for classical music. And now the underground music…. I am a big aficionada of black metal. If I had to list just a few bands, I would choose Burzum, Satyricon and Summoning. I don’t really listen to other metal band with female vocals because I never find the power of the music, songs are focalised on the voice, what Black Knight Symfonia took the risk not to do. Music first and that’s what I like to have real strong emotional compositions with orchestrations and not just “common songs” to be trendy.Why did you choose to become a member of Black Knight Symfonia?
Arya: I was introduced to Saga by a mutual friend. We talked about our visions of music and Saga played me a few songs, like “Emerald Kingdom”, and I immediately fell in love with his musical personality The dialogue between Saga, Nymphadora and me was evident. We quickly began working together and the trio was marvellous. Time passed and since then, we became close friends.Like with Arya, Saga is your artist name. Why did you choose this name?
Saga: First a Saga is an Epic story and Epic is the main characteristic of our music and the second reason is that Saga is also the name of a Knight in Saint-Seiya that like me is a Gemini and has an equally evil and good spirit.Did you always wanted to become a guitarist and who are your favourite guitar players?
Saga: I wanted to become a guitar player when I heard Yngwie Malmsteen and Megadeth albums. I was really surprised and loved immediately the virtuosity of the neoclassical approach of Yngwie Malmsteen melt with the intensity of Metal songs. I am a self taught guitarist and I learned pretty much everything from analysing the playing of the guitarists that I like the most. I also practised some typical neoclassical structures in my playing because I like Metal as much as classical music. My favourite guitar players are Yngwie Malmsteen because he created neoclassical metal, Steve Vai that is a genius of the guitar and plays like nobody else on earth, Michael Romeo, and Jeff Waters from Annihilator that has some kick ass rhythm patterns.
What kind of guitars and amplifiers do you use and why?
Saga:I’m playing on a Vigier Excalibur Ultra (French hand made guitar) and on an Ibanez UV777 Steve Vai signature 7 strings guitar and I play on VOX and Marshall amplifiers.Did you have other bands before Black Knight Symfonia and what are the differences between them and Black Knight Symfonia ?
Saga: I am also a member and the main composer in the international Viking folk metal bands Folkearth and Folkodia. In the past I played in a Black Metal and in a Technical Death metal band and I also played a few years in an instrumental guitar band. Black Knight Symfonia is the band I always dreamt about because it allows me to compose using elements from all metal genres and to add powerful and emotional Epic orchestral arrangements.
With the exception of the female vocals (which is logic) and the drum parts you are responsible for all the other aspects of Black Knight Symfonia. Do you see Black Knight Symfonia as a real band or more as a solo project ?
Saga: Black Knight Symfonia is a real band. Arya and Nymphadora are full time members and they bring their musical background and lots of emotions into the vocal melodies and they also participate in the writing of the lyrics. Composing all the music is just the way it works for me to create an original musical world. I can’t afford bringing someone else to compose music for Black Knight Symfonia because someone else would probably be influenced by another band. It is sad but most of the band are just copying others people work… I really hate followers … For me Music is a sort of art and I always stay focused on my goal that is to create my own music without getting distracted or influenced by any other bands music. Creativity is the most important thing in my music.What is the idea behind the name Black Knight Symfonia? Black is related to the dark mood of our music, I don’t like really much happy “cheesy” music.Knight is related to the Epic and kind of medieval or fantasy themes of our lyrics and the Black Knight is a really Dark strong and tortured Knight. Symfonia is related to the orchestral aspect of our music. I really consider the orchestral parts as important as the metal parts, and finally I can say that Symfonia is written with an F and not a PH because it is written in Polish and it is a wink to Fryderyc Chopin (who was Polish) that is one of my favourite classical composer with Johan Sebastian Bach.
“Heavenly Chaos” is your debut album. How would you describe the music on the album?
The music on our album could be best described as a really emotional dark and epic trip into a fantasy world.
Where did you get the inspiration for the music and lyrics?
I am already composing second album and we will soon work on vocals parts and in 2010 we will go back to studio to record our second album. You can expect our next album to be much more intense and the orchestrations will also have an even more important role to bring you into something you never heard before. We will also keep focused to get signed by an open minded label that will release our first album. And beyond 2010 I would say that as long as my imagination and emotions allows me to bring some more very original and unique music Black Knight Symfonia will live on. And the last question, is there anything the reader should know that I have not asked in this interview that might be important?
Arya: Just a little word of love and kindness to all our listeners, hundreds kisses !Saga: We just want to thanks every listeners and fans that are sending to us some really nice compliments and support messages. We are really grateful for your support! We also want to thanks the femme Metal Webzine for showing interest in our band. We are still searching for an open minded label to sign our band and release our album “Heavenly Choas” ! So if you are working in a label or know someone running or working in a record company and if you love our musical world please just contact us we will consider every propositions. Stay Epic and Metal !
Label : Stygian Crypt Productions
Review by Tony Cannella
The Viking Folk Metal band Folkodia is a conglomeration of several different projects all coming together to form Folkodia. The band was formed in 2007 and the current line-up features 12 members from 8 different countries. On their 3rd album “Forgotten Lore”, Folkodia has released an album of acoustic versions of some songs that originally appeared on their first two albums. The vibe behind “Forgotten Lore” is more Folk than Metal, in fact there is no metal to be found anywhere on “Forgotten Lore”, it is just straight up acoustic Folk music with songs about Vikings and Elves. “Forgotten Lore” starts off strong with “Ancient Forest of Elves”. This is my favorite song and right away the listener is treated to the interplay between the male and female vocals that dominates the album. The male vocalist has a deep voice and the female vocalists also offer a lot to the songs. The mournful “Bound For Vahalla” is next and quickly became another highlight. Other highlights that makes up the 47-minute disc include: “Winter Night” (strong vocal performances all around on this one), “The Fierce Kiss of Death”, “Thus A Viking Dies” and “The Immortals of Thul”. Having never heard Folkodia before, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and the uniqueness presented on “Forgotten Lore”. Sure, it may not be Metal but it offers a pretty cool change of pace from the normal Folk Metal fare.
Rating – 84/100
- Ancient Forest of Elves
- Bound for Valhalla
- The Capitulation of Vercingetorex
- The Fierce Kiss of Death
- Honored Are the Fallen
- Winter Night
- Thus A Viking Dies
- The Immortals of Thul
- Sword in Hand
- The Lone Warrior
- The Capitulation of Vercingerorex II
- Metfolvik (Ruslanas) – Vocals, Tin whistle
- Hildr Valkyrie – Vocals
- Elio D’Alessandro – Vocals
- Anais – Vocals
- Simon Müller – Guitars, Acoustic guitars, Bass, Flute, Tin whistle
- Loki – Drum programming, Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals
- Münggu Beyeler – Deger pipe, Ewi flute, Vocals
- Eleanor Lucas – Violin
- Saga – Guitar, Bass, Vocals
- Matthew Bell – Guitars, Acoustic guitars, Mandolin, Nylon string guitars, Lute, Bass
- Mara Davis – Flute
- Blackheart Nostarion – Cello
- Rhode Rachel – Vocals, Jaw Harp, Tin Whistle, Bass
- Billy Knockenhauer – Guitar
Label : Trance Jam Records
Review by Tony Cannella
The band Pandemonaeon hails from Oakland, California and plays what they describe as Tribal Folk Metal. Their new album is called “Dangerous Beauty” and it offers a dark and exciting vision from vocalist Sharon Knight, Winter and their band mates. “Dangerous Beauty” also incorporates many Middle-Eastern and Celtic influences to their sound. From the very outset with the opener, “Eater of Sorrow”, Pandemonaeon draws the listener in with a captivating sound. With the beautiful vocals of Sharon Knight at the helm, the opening track is a strong number; some male, demonic sounding vocals are supplied to enhance an already excellent track. The melodically charged “Lover’s Pardon” is then followed by the folk-ish “Fierce Black Soul of Night” keeping things on a steady course. “Hunter” is a moody, ballady kind of track featuring vocals, tribal drums and flute as the main instrumentation. The next track, “Heart Girl With a Serpent” changes tempo several times and became an instant favorite. Other highlights include: “Dangerous Beauty”, “The Tower” and “Queen of Shadows”. The band incorporates many exotic non-traditional metal instruments such as Oud, Saz, Violin and many others that I can’t even spell, much less pronounce. According to their bio, Pandemonaeon were formed way back in 1996, so they have obviously been grinding it out for a long time. Hopefully, with “Dangerous Beauty” their hard work will be rewarded. Whether it is or isn’t, you still have to give it up for Pandemoaeon for recording such a good album.
Rating – 90/100
- Eater of Sorrow
- Lover’s Pardon
- Fierce Black Soul of Night
- Heart Girl With a Serpent
- Dangerous Beauty
- The Tower
- Queen of Shadows
- The Goat Is on the Pole
- Song of Mari
- Chalice & Blades
- Well of Lost Voices
- Sharon Knight – Lead & harmony vocals, acoustic guitar, mandola, percussion, keyboard
- Winter – Acoustic & electric guitars, percussion, harmony vocals
- Tim Rayborn – Garmony vocals, oud, saz, suling, dumbek, riqq
- Gari Hegedus – Violin, mandocello, tarhu
- Caith Threefires – Bass
- Tina “Bean” Blaine – Dumbek, djembe, percussion
- Mark Abbott – Drums
Label : Stygian Crypt Productions
Review by Tony Cannella
Folkearth is a revolving line-up of musicians from around the globe. The project got off the ground in 2004 and released their debut “A Nordic Poem” that same year and has continued to release albums every year since then. Their newest effort is titled “A Viking’s Anthem” and once again sees Folkearth gaining contributions from a wide range, and rather long list of musicians. Epic, Viking Folk Metal is the main inspiration that can be heard throughout this 11-song, 50-minute opus, which gets started with a bang from the outset of the opening track “Beasts from the Blizzard”. This is a fast paced, galloping track that definitely sets the pace for “Viking’s Anthem”. The main vocalist is the male who has a rough, extreme style and some nice clean female vocals pop up here and there to contrast with the male vocalist. “Ragnarok” is next and has an almost old school power metal feel to it, until the vocals come in, that is. In fact, while Folkearth is generally thought to be a Folk-Metal band, I hear a very European power metal influence musically to go along with the violins, Cellos, Tin Whistles and other Folk-ish instruments. “There Is No Death” is just a fiercely, relentless heavy song that really builds up the momentum. Other highlights include: “The Eternal City”, “To Avalon”, “The Conquering Nightmare” and “Legacy of Steel”. The Folk-Metal genre seems to be gaining a lot of steam over the past few years. For fans that can’t get enough, “Viking’s Anthem” by Folkearth will surely be a welcomed addition to their CD collection.
Rating – 70/100
- Beasts from the Blizzard
- There Is No Death
- The Eternal City
- Viking’s Anthem
- To Avalon
- A New Day Is Rising
- Warrior Code
- The Conquering Nightmare
- Set Sails to Conquer!
- Legacy of Steel
- Marios Koutsoukos – Vocals, Keyboards
- Anaïs – Female Vocals
- Simon Batley – Vocals
- Münggu Beyeler – Vocals, Swiss Whistle
- Michaël Fiori (Saga) – Guitars, Bass, Vocals
- Simon Müller – Guitars, Bass, Tin Whistle, Flute
- Matthew Bell – Guitars
- Loki – Guitars, Keyboards
- Nostarion – Cello
- Florian Busch – Violin
- Polydeykis – Piano, Accordian, Guitars, Flute
- Dennis Schwachhofer – Drums
- Kyle Freese – Drums
Review by Tony Cannella
Black Knight Symfonia hail from Monaco and were formed in early 2008. They play a pretty cool style of symphonic, dark metal that definitely includes elements of movie score type of music. That sound and more can be heard on their debut release titled “Heavenly Chaos”. The band feature three singers in their ranks: band founder Michael “Saga” Fiori handles the extreme vocals, Adelaide “Arya” Allard de Stave brings the operatic style and Anaïs “Nymphadora” Chevallier style is more heavy and Micheal sings the clear male vocals and all the extreme parts, these different mixes of styles give Black Knight Symfonia a lot of diversity and in the end help to add to the overall listening experience. The intro track “Glorification of the Dead” get’s us started and it has a definite music soundtrack score type of feel to it. “Dark Era” is next and although it starts off slow, it has a sense of darkness and mystery surrounding the opening as the operatic voice of Adelaide Allard de Stave come in and she is soon joined by clean vocals provided by Michael Fiori, who also adds some extreme vocals to the song. This is a cool track and is one of my absolute favorites. “Chevalier Noir” is next and this is one of the more different numbers on “Heavenly Chaos”. It is a song that only features synths and orchestration with a bit of guitar and is a great show case for Adelaide with her operatic vocals, but the extreme voice of Micheal Fiori also makes an appearance. An interesting number that really sets it apart from the other material presented here. The band get back to the metal with the pounding track “Dragonland” – this is one of the main highlights for me, as this is one relentless track. Another high point comes in the song “Emerald Kingdom”, with it’s pounding rhythms, the all around great vocal performances and the impressive and underrated guitar work of Michael Fiori. Other highlights include: “Eternal Life”, “Akasha” and “Despair”. The vibe running through the CD is definitely dark – both musically and lyrically and there is no denying the talent of this band.Black Knight Symfonia has released a solid debut with “Heavenly Chaos” it has an epic, battle metal feel to it and it does play like a movie soundtrack at times, the three vocals styles meld nicely together. Michael Fiori and crew put a lot of work and dedication into this CD and it shows, not only are his guitar skills quite impressive, but his production is crystal clear. For those who like dark metal with a movie soundtrack feel to it, than you can’t lose with Black Knight Symfonia. There is beauty in darkness and Black Knight Symfonia is living proof of that.
Rating – 80/100
- Glorification of the Dead
- Dark Era
- Chevalier Noir
- Emerald Kingdom
- Voyage Initiatique
- Eternal Life
- Hell on Earth
- Eternal Life (Instrumental Version) (Bonus Track)
- Dragonland (Orchestral Version) (Bonus Track)
- Adelaide “Arya” Allard de Stave – Soprano Vocals
- Anaïs “Nymphadora” Chevallier – Heavy Vocals
- Micheal “Saga” Fiori – Guitars, Bass, Male & Extreme Vocals, Synths & Orchestral Arrangements
- Leviathan – Drums
Style switcher only on this demo version. Theme styles can be changed from Options page.
- Chaostar – “Anomima” (2013)
- Helalyn Flowers – “White Me In Black Me Out” (2013)
- My Ruin – “The Sacred Mood” (2013)
- Belladonna – “Shooting Dice With God” (2013)
- Visions of Atlantis – “Ethera” (2013)
- Upon Wings – “Afterlife” EP (2013)
- Maxine Petrucci – “Back to the Garden” (2013)
- Masterforce – “Until the End of Time” DEMO (2011)
- COURAGE MY LOVE return with “Becoming” EP
- Maledia – “Your Angels Cry” EP (2012)
- Lumus – “Bacchus’ Curse” (2012)
- Lightless Moor – “The Poem – Crying My Grief to A Feeble Dawn” (2013)
- Hurtful Witch – “Spectra” (2013) [DEMO] [REISSUE]
- Ivalys – “Lumen” (2013)
- Hydrogyn – “Private Sessions” (2012)
- Heart Shaped Rock – “Brought it On” SINGLE (2012)
- Igorrr – “Hallelujah” (2012)
- North Diamond – “По Ту Сторону Бытия” ["On the Other Side of Being" - "Po Tu Storonu Biytiya"] (2012)
- Kvitrafn (Einar Selvik) – Wardruna
- THE EDGE OF PARADISE @ The Mix, Seattle, WASHINGTON, USA – 27/04/2013
- Jessie Ware – “Devotion” [The Gold Edition] (2013)
- Hugo Flores & Jessica Lehto – Factory of Dreams
- Carter Tutti Void – “Transverse” (2012)
- Jennifer Borg – Divine Ascension
- Black Sun Aeon – “Blacklight Deliverance” (2011)
- Black Heaven – “Dystopia” (2011)
- Fourever – “Solitarium” (2012)
- Embassy of Silence – “Antler Velvet” (2013)
- Shiori Vitus – Eleanor
- KARMIC LINK announces new line up addition and album updates