Interview by Robert BradyWhen most women are little girls they dream of the Knight and Shining Armour and the dress they will adorn themselves with. Some women find earlier than others. It certainly seems music found Jamie Lee-Smit the founder of the ‘Belgian’ metal band Azylya. Azylya is a musical concept conceived from the mind and heart of Jamie Lee-Smit. Every time I listen to Azylya I feel like I am going to see a film at a film festival. Jamie Lee-Smit certainly has unleashed her cinematic influences in her music. I love the fact is that she never allows one moment for her listeners to get bored or think it all sounds the same like some bands have a tendency of doing on their albums. There is always something different with every track and composition in Azylya‘s music and at the same time they remain on point with their objective overall as not to alienate the listener from getting the main concept. Azylya has something for every metal pallet. If you like female fronted metal it certainly has that to the forefront, there are black metal elements with the male vocal along with progressive, gothic, power metal elements. The running theme that seems heavily present with in Azylya is the cinematic film score style of metal that only a few bands as Rhapsody of Fire and Epica have dared venture towards. As female fronted metal has really flourished in the past 15 years with bands like Theater of Tragedy, After Forever, Tristania, Epica, Leaves Eyes, Within Temptation and Nightwish, I believe Jamie Lee-Smit and Azylya are at the forefront of the preservation of the road and trail the previous bands have built. As a 40 something who grew up as a metal child of the 1980′s where our choices in women in metal were limited honestly to 4 bands in Girlschool, Rock Goddess, Warlock/Doro, and Lita Ford it is encouraging to see women now on the frontline of the battle and to see young women like Jamie Lee-Smit take her dream and vision and enlist in the business, I definitely see women in metal thrive in the next few decades and bands like Azylya carrying that banner for years to come. 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 Vard Aman
In my opinion, well played Doom Metal is one of the ultimate and most extreme forms of music, second to none when it comes to creating and unleashing powerful, dark and stirring soundscapes of emptiness, despair and (yet), total awe. Some people may disagree with me, depending on their personal tastes; but if you agree with me, you might want to do yourself a huge favour and check out an Australian band called Lycanthia. Lycanthia have recently released their second full-length album, entitled “Oligarchy”, and on it Lycanthia produces all the soundscapes to which my above description applies. Founded in 1996, they have provided one of the sturdiest pillars of Australian Doom Metal, and have since become a household name – OK, maybe a name in one of the less frequented corners of the Doom Metal household (where you might find a Funnel-Web Spider perhaps), but they’re rightfully and deservedly there none the less. Lycanthia is fronted by three vocalists, one male (Lee Tassaker, also the bassist) and two female (Vanessa Black, also on violin; and Megan Tassaker, also on keyboards). I chatted to Megan recently.
Hi! Welcome to Femme Metal Webzine.
Thanks for having me.
Let’s start off with a bit of history: Tell us a bit about Lycanthia‘s formation and early years.
In the early days, Lycanthia started out as just a recording band made up of a group of friends. The main inspiration at the time -without naming names- was that many of their favourite parts of certain songs would be orchestral sections, or parts with female vocals but when you would see the bands live, those elements wouldn’t exist. Lycanthia wanted to make a band that would be able to zone in on these elements AND reproduce them live. Once a demo was made, the next step was making it a live act.
What inspired the name?
The name was taken from the book Lycanthia, by Tanith Lee.
There have been quite a lot of line up changes over the years. How much of a hampering effect has this had on Lycanthia? (I’m assuming it has).
It has had an effect, as far as holding back recordings goes. Although we do try to take our time with recordings and make sure they are right, the last album “Oligarchy”, would have been recorded much earlier if it weren’t for those kind of hiccups. It’s a shame that people hold it against you or try to judge your band when that happens as well, for the most part we have remained friends with ex-members. There have been many reasons people have left, from wanting to go in different creative directions, to having family or work commitments that have restricted their time. Having said that though, we are all very happy with our current line-up, it has definitely helped us step up and refine our sound further into what we want it to be. So as much as these things can hold thing’s back, they can also push you further.
What other projects have you been/are you involved in?
I (Megan) am also in Avrigus, Lee is currently playing Bass for Cruciform and plays session bass for Avrigus. Mat is in Bleakwood and Blatherskite.
Tell us a bit more about Avrigus.
Avrigus is a recording band featuring myself and Simon Gruer. I would describe the music as atmospheric doom/gothic metal. The band was founded by Simon and the previous vocalist/keyboardist/composer Judy Chiara. I met Simon at a Lycanthia gig (before I was in the band), at the time I hadn’t heard any Avrigus. He mentioned that he was wanting to keep Avrigus going but Judy was not longer wanting to be a part of it and he was searching for a new vocalist. He had tried to get it going with a few other people but it hadn’t really worked out. So I checked out the music the next day and expressed my interest, he had heard demo tracks that I had sung on and was very enthusiastic. We met up and I dropped down some demo vocals for “Banquet of Souls”, Simon was very happy with how it sounded. I think he wasn’t 100% sure until he heard me play an original song though. I played “Beauty and Pain” on keyboard and sung it for him, he loved it immediately and we set out creating a bunch of songs that became the “Beauty and Pain” EP, available for digital download only at the moment on our website: www.avrigus.com. At the moment we are recording an album that was mainly written by Simon before I joined the band, most of the songs were written in the time between “The Secret Kingdom” - the last album with Judy, and the time that I joined the band. One original written by me will also appear on the album. At this time we don’t have a sure release date as we are still in the process of finishing writing vocal lines and perfecting the orchestrations.
How would you describe Lycanthia‘s sound to those who haven’t heard it?
A blend of old-school Death/Doom riffs, complimented by counter melodies on violin, harsh grim vocals and dual Female harmonies.
What is the significance of Doom Metal and the attraction to it, both as a musician and as a fan?
Doom is about creating an atmosphere and a mood, many other genres are just about technicality. For me music is art and a creation of expression, not that there isn’t merit to being technically proficient, just that I prefer song writing to move me and hopefully move others.
Tell us a bit about your previous releases, “Myriad” and “Within the Walls”.
“Myriad” was a first attempt at writing songs as a group for Lycanthia. A fairly collaborative effort, the majority of members were teenagers when this album was made and the sound was not as clearly defined as it is today. At the heart of it though, it was just made for fun. In between “Myriad” and “Within the Walls”, we put out a single called “Inferno” which we recorded specifically for a compilation CD. By the time we came to “Within the Walls”, Lycanthia had many other songs written – including some that ended up on “Oligarchy” (which obviously weren’t in their current state then) – the songs that were chosen were the ones the band felt were ready for putting out into the world, that had been worked on and reworked until they were to the bands liking.
How has your sound changed over the years leading up to “Oligarchy”?
Some of the songs were written – in a much basic form – before “Within the Walls” and we were still working on them. As a band, having new members join allowed Lycanthia to be more diverse and imaginative, a lot of parts of songs we weren’t so happy with were able to be brought to life in ways we had only imagined before.
Is there a possibility of re-working/re-recording and re-releasing some older Lycanthia material in the future? (Such as “Hope Lingers Yet” - it was a snippet of that song that introduced me to Lycanthia and left a lasting impression).
No, we have no plans to re-record “Myriad”.
What has the response been to the new album so far?
The response has been fantastic. A lot of people have told us that we have brought the band into a new place with this release, and obviously it helped get us attention from Hypnotic Dirge Records who signed with us. It has also helped us score several endorsements.
What inspires your lyrics and what are your general lyrical topics? I’m particularly curious about the stories behind “The Essential Components of Misery” and “Forgone”.
“The Essential Components of Misery” is lyrically about the way we see the world around us. Although we are lead to believe we have freedom, we do not. We are lead to believe that we have choices, but the choices are really just to conform or be left behind. So in a way, it’s a bleak reaction to the harsh reality of the world as we see it. “Forgone”, this song is like a part 2, part 1 being “Eternity”. So in the title of the two songs there is a hint to what the song is about… “Eternity… Forgone”. It is probably our only song that is lyrically a fictional story rather than a story that comes from personal experiences or feelings. It is about a deity that falls in love with a mortal, and has to be stripped of eternity to embrace their lover. Although it is fictional, I think it is something that everyone can relate to, forbidden love.
Would it be true to say that “Forgone” is written as a poem first and foremost and that the song’s lyrics are based on it? If so, does that apply as a general rule to most of the lyric writing process?
Sometimes that happens and other times if a lyric idea comes to mind, we will just write them down and set them aside until a song comes along that it suits. With all our songs, it’s not so much lyrics to a song, as it is a poem to accompany the music. Once the poem is written, we arrange it melodically to suit.
How regularly do you play live and what is the response like at your shows?
When we aren’t recording, we play live probably once every couple of months. The response is always great. We heavily advertise our shows to build up hype and we always enjoy playing live because that’s when we get to experience crowd reaction to the music.
Have you done any international tours?
As of yet, we have not. We do plan to in the future though; it’s something we all really wanting to do.
How healthy is the Doom Metal scene in Australia currently?
There has been increased enthusiasm for the genre lately. We have Mournful Congregation from South Australia, they play Funeral Doom. Okera from Melbourne, and Futility from Canberra are just some of the amazing doom bands that are also playing in Australia at the moment.
I’ve noticed a few ex-Lycanthia members around in Doom Metal bands, like Rise of Avernus (Andrew Craig), Rituals of the Oak (Sabine Hamad-Linfoot), and Murkrat and The Slow Death (Mandy Andresen). Can you tell us anything about them?
Firstly we’d like to mention that we are great friends with all these people. We are big supporters of all of these bands and love their music. In the case of Mandy, she begun Murkrat after leaving Lycanthia, it was a direction of music she had been heading towards for a while and we love it, but it isn’t the sound for Lycanthia. The same can be said for Sabine, she found her tastes leaning towards a different direction, and you have to follow what you want to do musically, otherwise there’s no fun to it. Andrew Craig is one of those guys who is always filling his time up with heaps of projects, we loved our time with Andy but in the end, he didn’t have the time to put towards us along with all of his other commitments.
What do you all do when not playing music?
Steve is a car fanatic, always going to old car shows etc, he is also a heavily into ninjitsu. Mat is an armature photographer. Lee likes to do a lot of painting, he actually painted the cover of “Oligarchy”, though it had editing and arrangement done to it, music and literature are big interests of his too. I go in and out of phases but always creating things, whether its poetry/lyrics, drawings or clothing, I also love to read. Vanessa takes part in many arts projects, creating and designing spaces.
Australia has always been one of my favourite countries. I like the people (well, more than I like most people at least) and the idea of clean first world cities in a country with so much open space and nature – the best of both worlds. But that’s just my opinion. What is it like living in Australia for you? What do you like and what don’t like about it? And is +40C really just “a tad on the warm side today, mate”? And have you ever seen one of those famous Sydney Funnel-web Spiders?
I am very much an Autumn person. In Australia, summer is a humid hell of heat, sweat and flies. In winter, I freeze, although I do enjoy the scenery of winter, the cold feels like pain to me and my sinuses suffer. The same sinus suffering happens to me in Spring-time, Autumn is perfect in-between weather to me. I do love that we have nature and cities in Australia, one of the thing’s I dislike is probably that in general, the music industry in Australia is not very big at all. To be honest with you, I probably have seen a Funnel-web but if I have I didn’t recognise it. I don’t even think I know what they look like, which is probably really bad hahaha. Living in the city, I don’t really see that many spiders and have to travel to see the wilderness.
Back on topic again, one final question: What is next for Lycanthia?
Next, I’m not sure I’m able to announce the very next thing that will happen, but it’s coming in November. We should be able to announce soon. I’ll keep you posted.
Thanks for chatting with us, good luck, we’ll be watching and listening closely!
Label : Hypnotic Dirge Records
Review by Vard Aman
“The want to flee consumes me,
The urge to succumb eats its way,
Through a brawn weakened by seclusion”
Doom Metal is one of the most, if not the most varied and extreme forms of metal. When played badly, or is recorded badly, it can be abysmally bad (in a bad way); but when it is played well, there are few forms of music more powerful and more stirring than Doom Metal. Doom Metal is usually associated with scenarios of despair, depression, emptiness and, well, doom; but, when played well, I’ve always found it to be uplifting – a way to expose, revel in and release “the doom” through dramatization in a powerful extended aural climax. If you want to depress me, play me Justin Bieber, if you want to make me happy, play me some good Doom Metal. If Doom Metal conjures images of emptiness, then it’s an epic; a passionate; and a dramatic emptiness, a drama that plays on, and plays out the extremes of our imaginations and our imagined (or real) fears, losses and sorrows.
Well, good Doom Metal does anyway; bad Doom Metal, it is fair to say, can often spell instant boredom. Lycanthia, fortunately, are good Doom Metal. No, they’re more than that; they’re VERY good Doom Metal, and that means that everything in my somewhat purple-prosy description of good Doom Metal applies to them, and in great abundance! Lycanthia are from Sydney, Australia, and formed in 1996. In 1999 they released their debut “Myriad”, followed by lineup changes, an EP in 2006 called “Within the Walls”, more lineup changes, and now, in 2012, their second full length, “Oligarchy”. This band has staying power, and this is reflected not just in their continuing determination, but in their sound as well. Their sound is a Death Doom/Gothic Doom combo, nothing groundbreaking in that, but it’s the way they play what they play that makes Lycanthia the standout band they are and “Oligarchy” the standout album it is. Take the best parts of the harsher side of My Dying Bride mixed with the best parts of “Velvet Darkness They Fear”-era Theatre of Tragedy mixed with a bit of Draconian and you have Lycanthia. Are you drooling yet? No? OK, then add not one, but two extremely talented female vocalists (Vanessa Black and Megan Tassaker – also in Avrigus) whose wistful and melodic vocals are contrasted by a male vocalist (Lee Tassaker) whose raw, plaintive growls and shrieks would make most Death/Black Doom Metal vocalists proud. Now are you drooling? Still not? OK, go and listen to some Justin Bieber then… The heaviness, the power and the emotion is almost relentless throughout “Oligarchy”, further emphasized by the somber melodies. Likewise the contrast between the power of Lee’s growls and the melodic vocals of Vanessa and Megan (solo and harmonizing) serve to emphasize both.
On top of that, Vanessa and Megan contrast each other vocally too, and to the music itself they add violins and keyboards respectively. Stylistically, most of the songs on “Oligarchy” are fairly similar to each other, which is a good thing when you can’t get enough of this band and their musical creations. “Forgone” was the first song to be released, a single if you like. It’s a good summary of what this album is about, and when you get this album you can expect much more of this. “Hair of the Beast” is somewhat different to the other tracks, and this one takes a few more listens to get into than the others, perhaps for that reason. Lyrically, Lycanthia are as good as they are musically. They have all the poetic doom, emptiness, sorrow and despair that one would expect from this kind of music, but there is an additional element: a fantasy story-telling element – most prominently highlighted by the song “Forgone” which is a tale of a young god who falls in love with a mortal, enraging the other gods who strip him of his immortality as a consequence (a Lycanthia creation that sounds like it could be based on actual mythology, and there probably are many parallels) – just when you thought it couldn’t get more epic. But this is “epic” in the Doom Metal sense, so don’t expect any happy stories with happy endings – expect some very powerful stuff. Highlights off the album? All of them, although “Forgone” and “Despondency in Crescendo” are particular standouts and “Time Feeds These Wounds” and “Hair of the Beast” (as I’ve already mentioned) take a few listens to get into. So how highly do I rate this album against the many Doom Metal albums I’ve heard and own? As I am writing this review, I have been listening to this album for about a week and it’s still growing on me (“Forgone” since it was first released on YouTube). There have been some fantastic albums released by some fantastic bands, but if anyone breaks into my house right now (beating all my booby traps… just in case the thought crosses anyone’s mind… I am a Saffer after all), holds me at gunpoint and steals my collection, Lycanthia’s “Oligarchy” is the one they will have to prize out of my cold, dead hands. Or, maybe, considering that Lycanthia is not the biggest name out there they might be a bit more reluctant to fight over it and perhaps they might let me keep it… hehe, their loss if they do! But if they do take it, I’ll give them these bits of advice: listen to it loud and with the lights out (seriously, try it); and if for some reason they’re trying to maintain a tough-guy-who-doesn’t-blub-to-music image, they might want to listen to it alone – just in case they can’t handle the powerful and extended aural climax of one of best representatives and examples of one the ultimate forms of music. And then give it back, dammit!
Rating – 98/100
- The Essential Components of Misery
- Ablaze the Wheel Turns
- Despondency in Crescendo
- Time Feeds These Wounds
- Hair of the Beast
- From Ancestral Lands
- Lee Tassaker – Vocals & Bass
- Megan Tassaker – Vocals & Keyboards
- Vanessa Black – Vocals & Violin
- Stephen Mikulic – Guitars
- Giovanni Gariano – Guitars
- Andrew Craig – Drums
Label : Nettwerk Music Group
Review by Luisa Mercier
Delerium are the masters of electro/dream pop and their enchanting melodies are immortal for all of us, ambient music lovers. After so many masterpieces, the combo decided it was about time to release an acoustic album containing all their most successful songs in a new and unreleased version plus three never heard tracks. The opener “Send Me An Angel” is one of them and it has a heavenly feeling. The mood is calm, dreamy, the chorus is catchy. Feels like floating in the sea in a summer day. The vocals are delivered by Miranda Lee Richards; they soar over the music creating an angelic atmosphere. “Dust in Gravity” is the first of the old songs here proposed as acoustic version. The original had a distinctive pop, modern sound thanks also to Kreesha Turner vocals. The acoustic has a slight jazzish, bluesy taste and it is as enjoyable as the song featured on “Remixed: The Definitive Collection”. Another unreleased is “Too Late, Farewell”, so sad, melancholic. The piano and guitar notes highlight the nostalgic feelings that are in Butterfly Boucher’s vocal lines. Really an outstanding piece of music. “Silence” is maybe Delerium‘s greatest hit and it has been rearranged by several DJs during the years, for example by Tiesto. The present version is piano, strings and percussions based and it has an exotic mood to it. Sarah McLachlan‘s vocals shine once again throughout it. Another successful song is “Innocente” and the acoustic version has retained the folk-Middle Eastern feeling of the original coupled with Leigh Nash‘s sweet voice. Last brand new song is “Vienna” featuring Elsiane on vocals. Her voice is quite strange at first listen, she recalled me the Belorussian singer/pianist Leandra, but it’s just a matter of getting used to it, I guess. Piano, strings and acoustic guitar make the track another perfect Delerium gift to their fans.“Lost and Found” has Jael from Lunik on vocals and it has the same pop sound of the original, though more elegant and refined thanks to strings and piano. A more ethnic style is the one chosen for the acoustic version of “Flowers Become Screens” with the ethereal vocals of Kristy Thirsk. “Love” has become even more refined in the acoustic version with the distinctive voice of Zoe Johnston as perfect complement. A simple piano and vocals arrangement for “After All” with lovely Jael again, while the chill-out/lounge mood of “Orbit of Me” becomes a nice ethnic beat. Last track is “Touched” featuring Rachel Fuller which becomes a nice classic ballad with piano and strings. The romantic atmosphere of this track closes this beautiful album. A must for all Delerium fans.
Rating – 85/100
- Send Me An Angel (featuring Miranda Lee Richards)
- Dust In Gravity (Acoustic) (featuring Kreesha Turner)
- Silence (Acoustic) (featuring Sarah McLachlan)
- Innocente (Acoustic) (featuring Leigh Nash)
- Vienna (featuring Elsieanne Caplette)
- Lost And Found (Acoustic) (featuring Jaël)
- Flowers Become Screens (Acoustic) (featuring Kristy Thirsk)
- Love (Acoustic) (featuring Zoë Johnston)
- After All (Acoustic) (featuring Jaël)
- Orbit Of Me (Acoustic) (featuring Leigh Nash)
- Touched (Acoustic) (featuring Rachel Fuller)
- Bill Leeb – Founder, Writer & producer
- Michael Balch – Co-founder, Co-writer & co-producer
- Rhys Fulber – Co-writer, co-producer
- Chris Peterson – Co-producer
- Miranda Lee Richards – Vocals
- Kreesha Turner – Vocals
- Leigh Nash – Vocals
- Jaël – Vocals
- Kristy Thirsk – Vocals
- Elsieanne Caplette – Vocals
- Zoë Johnston – Vocals
- Rachel Fuller – Vocals
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