Review by Luisa Mercier
“Welcome Madness” is the debut EP of this gothic-metal influenced Swedish band. I really like the imaginary they have created that resembles a bit that of the latest Nightwish release. Of course, the music is really different: the guitar riffing is quite powerful while Jade delivers her rock vocals counterbalanced by Matt on growls. It is quite straightforward metal as you can hear in “Beware of Zombies”.
The beginning of “The Asylum” is very epic and the whole track has an interesting instrumental structure. The rhytm section is very apparent while the the whole song has a prog feeling, slightly avantgarde. Continue reading »
Label : Nightmare Records
Review by Tony Cannella
This is one that I have been looking forward to. The Florida based Power Metal band were impressive as hell on their self-titled 2nd album, which came out in 2010. That album marked the debut with the band of Sabrina Valentine. Now they return with an even meaner, heavier more aggressive new album entitled, ”The Fire Is Mine”.
The intro “Beyond the Wall” sets the stage for the hard driving “After the Fall” and we are off and running. This is a particularly bombastic track that would make a great set opener. The song is accentuated with killer guitar harmonies and the soaring voice of Sabrina Valentine. Seven Kingdoms have always been great at fusing their songs with melody, whilst playing at a breakneck speed – and “The Fire is Mine” is no different. “Forever Brave” continues where “After the Fall” left off. The ballad “Kardia” offers a change of pace gives the listener a chance to catch their breath. Sabrina Valentine is joined by Theocracy frontman Matt Smith on this song.
The next two tracks “Fragile Minds Collapse” and “In the Twisted Twilight” are strong as well. “The Fire is Mine” is brought to an epic conclusion with the intro “A Debt Paid in Steel” which leads us into the almost 8-minute “The King in the North”. Heavy riffs abound throughout the 53-minute album and guitar work by Camden Cruz and Kevin Byrd is excellent. Lest anyone think that their previous album was a fluke, I would enthusiastically point them in the direction of “The Fire is Mine”. Seven Kingdoms have taken a massive step forward and have released – in my opinion – the power metal album of the year. This band is so good, it’s scary. Continue reading »
Label : Svart Records
Review by Luisa Mercier
The Finnish folk/psychedelic band is back with their second album and what first stroke me the most is the wonderful cover artwork. I strongly suggest to take a look, since it is a beautiful metaphor of how our body is a temple and it is intimately connected to nature around us. A true cult of nature. Musically speaking, Hexvessel explores all the sides of folk and psychedelic music with a lot of different influences. “Heaven and Earth Magic” is the hypnotic intro, acoustic-based with spoken words that lead to the first single “Woods to Conjure”, a track that reveals the amount of inspirations from which tha band draws. There is psychedelic rock, there is jazz, horns and different instruments that create the misty images of woods and grass. “Wilderness Is” is another short acoustic interlude with guitar and piano, openining for “A Letter in Birch Bark”, another song displaying Hexvessel influences, in which Mat almost spoken vocals are mixed to those of the sweet Marja. “His Portal Tomb” is one of the longest tracks on the album and really the band work shines here. Doomish mood mixes with psychedelic music reminding Pink Floyd and the same can be told for “Unseen Sun”. They sum up what this album is about. My personal favourite is “Sacred Marriage”, opened by beautiful strings, followed by acoustic guitars and psychedelic riffs. “No Holier Temple” is a fascinating release, if you love mixed styles, melancholic yet lisergic atmosphere, this album is perfect you.
Rating – 80/100
- Heaven and Earth Magic
- Woods to Conjure
- A Letter in Birch Bark
- Elegy to Goyahkla
- His Portal Tomb
- Are You Coniferous
- Sacred Marriage
- Dues to Dolmen
- Unseen Sun
- Your Head Is Reeling
- Mat McNerney – Vocals & guitar
- Marja – Additional Vocals & percussion
- Vesa – Guitars
- Simo – Guitars
- Niini – Bass
- Jussi – Organs & Samples
- Kimmo – Violin
- Jukka – Drums
Interview by Alessandra Cognetta
Marja provides vocals and percussions for the Finnish Hexvessel, whose latest album “No Holier Temple” has been released on the 7th of September by Svart Records. It’s difficult to put into words what a surreal experience their music provides, and I probably wouldn’t do them justice anyway, so we took the chance to ask her a few questions about the band and all the elements that surround their work. So get ready and follow us on this journey through the forests of old.
Hello and welcome, Marja! First of all, thank you for being with us. How are you?
Hi Alessandra! Thanks for getting in touch! I’m great, we’ve been touring and rehearsing a lot lately, so tiredly happy!
Since this is the first time we have the pleasure of featuring Hexvessel in the webzine, could you please introduce the band to our readers?
We’re a psychedelic forest folk band residing in Finland, founded by Mat McNerney and rest of us have gathered around him since.
Hexvessel‘s second album, “No Holier Temple”, is due for release on the 7th of September. What are your hopes and expectations for this new record?
This is our first album with the bigger live band involved and the sound reflects that. On the first album Mat told some of his and our stories through his sound, and now we’ve invited the band to channel some of new spells with their unique styles added. We’ve played some of these songs live for a while now so based on the live feedback from the audience, I believe “No Holier Temple” will be a great successor for “Dawnbearer”. It’ll probably be easier to get into, and will open up more levels, layer by layer with more listens like the first one.
The front cover of “No Holier Temple” (by the artist Bastian Kalous) is stunning, and really shows how important nature is for you. How was it conceived and, most importantly, how was your bond with and reverence towards the native forest born?
We were looking for the right visual for a long time, from illustrations to paintings until we came across Bastian’s work. You can see from his art that he’s one with it, and we were stunned how one simple image can be a symbol or a gateway to so many stories. It has the same eerie, beautiful atmosphere as the whole album. Magickal on its own terms. This is how we see the nature as well, it’s full of mythical signs of the cycle of life but it also holds the eternity of something more substantial. Only if those trees could speak.
What are the elements of your music that, in your opinion, changed (or evolved, if you wish) the most since “Dawnbearer” and why?
Mat has his own strong sound as a songwriter and singer which has always been present in his works, but now his voice as the narrator and storyteller is deeper and clearer, and the band supports his sound and vision. “No Holier Temple” is a story through music but also a step towards future and ideals, not just looking back.
I found particularly intriguing the “spoken” tracks, like the album opener, “Heaven and Earth Magic”, they feel like a prayer, even a shamanic ritual, we could say. As if you were summoning the old gods themselves. How do you manage to bring such magic to Hexvessel‘s sound?
Words, in any language, possess magick when spoken aloud. Humans have invented complicated communication systems that allow us even to talk about the metaphysical, abstract level using simple words. Poems, lyrics, incantations and prayers are initially the same, conjuring an emotion that stands out from the common day routines. Robert Graves calls poems “stored magic”. When you combine that with music, a non-verbal way of expressing emotions, it becomes even better, and the reader and in this case the listener, really completes the circle by joining it.
I’ve read on Svart Record’s press release that the themes of the new album were inspired by eminent figures such as naturalist John Muir and environmental activists Dave Foreman and Howie Wolke. How did you come across their work and in what ways did they influence yours?
I guess we’re all looking for something to hold on to these days, some grab a hold to global capitalism and consumerism, some to religion and some to trying to ignore all that’s happening around us. If you look at it all in the long term, it’s horrible how we’re just speeding up the decline of the Earth while people become more and more concerned about their own short term bliss. Mankind seems to be the worst kind of dictator, spoiling its own valuables. This while technology, ecological and moral thinking are on their height and would enable us to be bit better than that. To strive to do the right thing and leave behind something else than garbage and deserts, some ash in an urn – I guess that’s what it’s about. These guys been doing it, some are still doing it by showing that one man’s passion and vision for the common good – not meaning just the mankind here – can really make a difference. It’s like standing in front of the disfigured old god, and realizing what matters like the last conclusion in Rilke’s poem Archaic Torso of Apollo:
“We cannot know his legendary head with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso is still suffused with brilliance from inside, like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low, gleams in all its power. Otherwise the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could a smile run through the placid hips and thighs to that dark center where procreation flared. Otherwise this stone would seem defaced beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur: would not, from all the borders of itself, burst like a star: for here there is no place that does not see you. You must change your life.”
Speaking of influences, what do you draw inspiration the most for you music?
I think we all bring a bit to the table, but overall you could hear some 60-70′s psychedelic themes and sounds, pagan folk and proto metal shavings and more jazzy spoken word poetry, not to mention just jamming at the Wastement. But most of all, I think we are inspired by literature, history, words and acts of meaning and beauty – and those stories find themselves in musical forms after a while.
I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Hexvessel has a Tumblr, as well as many other profiles on different social networks. What is your approach to the internet in relation to music?
We embrace internet as great means for interaction and learning. Long gone are the days when people would use all their money and time shuffling through albums and books on Saturdays – it’s all online now. I personally love following blogs and tumblrs for new music and inspiration. One great example is the Youtube channel for Sagan Series, quite epic short videos mashed up of Carl Sagan quotes, audio books, emotional music and excellent video footage. Perfect for the short attention span generation to experience something that you had to really search up before. We also enjoy exchanging music with our fans and friends online by putting up mixtapes of our favorites and receiving back great recommendations of lost and hidden gems so I guess we’re quite social online.
You provide both vocals and percussions for the band. Can you tell us about your musical background and how you got into Hexvessel?
I’m an active music fanatic so I’ve done lots around it, from having the honor to work at a record label with some of the best progressive rock legends in Finland to writing for zines, organizing gigs since early 2000s and taking photos. I loved Mat‘s early demos for Hexvessel and have been quite involved since as a wife, producer, and even devil’s advocate. Lots of Hexvessel material directly relates to the two of us, our life and love so in a sense, we create a lot of it together though Mat is the main vessel. I sing along and play air drums to my fave music so it seemed natural to do that on records and live as well, quite a dream come true.
Director Justin Oakey created a beautiful movie for your song “I Am the Ritual”. How did the collaboration develop?
If you check out Justin’s earlier work, you’ll see what caught our eye when we saw his visuals and he had the same feeling about our work. Mat and Justin see eye to eye so the planning and production of “I Am the Ritual” was very easy and the end result is just amazing. Justin is pretty much a natural extension of the band, he channels the music through the aesthetics. We are so happy to see other bands picking up on Justin‘s talent now.
You recorded a cover of Paul Simon’s “Diamonds” for “Dawnbearer”. Was it a one time tribute or we can expect to see more covers (or even guest musicians) in the future?
It was pretty much essential to have a Paul Simon cover on “Dawnbearer” as his music and especially “Graceland” play such big role in Mat‘s life. I love his take on “Diamonds” – its completely transformed but true to the original lightness of the vocals and story. There is in fact another cover on “Dawnbearer” – “Solomon’s Song” by C.O.B. which is bit more in the vein of the original. We’ve just recently started playing “Solomon’s Song” live which I really enjoy a lot, one of my faves.
You promote the Finnish Natural Heritage Foundation through your website and even your T-shirts are created with natural and recycled materials. What do you think is the role of music in raising awareness on environmental problems and the respect for nature?
We owe it to nature so we should give something back, make that difference. To be honest, the nature preservation topic has very little to do with the music itself as we don’t preach or even talk about environmental issues in our songs, but as all art, they can be made into a soundtrack to something that stands for a cause. “Woods to Conjure” video is of that sort, its not directly related to the song’s theme, but seeing those big trees fall makes you feel and think, and the song acts as a doorway to those emotions. We just try to do our part by preferring ecological and sustainable shirts and inks, using recycled paper and cardboard on our CD and LP covers and donating money to the Finnish Natural Heritage Foundation that buys forests and swamps to stay forever preserved in their natural state. It’s the little things that count, and in return we can have our walks in the forests and be in awe of those magnificent trees around us.
That’s it, thanks again and we wish you all the best for “No Holier Temple”’s release and your upcoming Finnish tour!
Thank you so much, appreciate the interview and good questions!
Interview by Roberta Ilaria Rossi
After the recent release of the third Nemesea album, Femme Metal crew has the pleasure of exchanging some chats with Manda, that did the honors and that has revealed all the hidden details about “The Quiet Resistance”. Here you can find all the details of our chat with this amazing Dutch singer.
Hi Manda and welcome to Femme Metal. How are you doing?
Hi, I’m doing fine!
Recently, you’ve signed a deal record with Napalm Records to release your third album, “The Quiet Resistance”. How was this decision born?
When thinking about doing a 3rd studio album the band wasn’t sure about how to release it. We had some contact with NR in the past and at the right time both Nemesea and NR agreed to work with each other on a new Nemesea album.
This last album is such a great masterpiece, that mixes some genres like electro music, trance and some alternative rock. It seems that, compared to previous albums, TQR has taken something from the other two. “Mana” was an album with progressive tendencies, a little gothic, the second one, “In Control”, was more symphonic. For this album, you wanted to try something innovative. What causes this decision? Why did you want to create a new experiment, if we can call it like this?
We always try to develop/progress. It’s true that the TQR album combines elements of our previous albums and for this album that was the plan from the beginning. With 2 new members on board (Lasse - Keys & Frank – Drums ) a band sound changes as well. Especially Lasse who is also a sound designer had a major influence on the sound this time. We were always looking for someone that had interest in rock as well as electro music. Lasse is the perfect guy for that. The whole band is interested in all kinds of music and especially in rock and electro oriented music. It’s normal to us to combine those styles/influences..
What’s behind the title of the album? Why have you chosen it?
“The Quiet Resistance” is about that resistance/feeling within you but are afraid of, not allowed to speak of. We came across the intro when going through some older audio material that Lasse had. We had al lot of songs written already at that point and lots of them were about speaking your mind (for example the songs “Say”, “Caught in the Middle”, “Whenever” ). When we heard this intro lyric we immedialtely knew it had to become the album title.
The artwork shows you, Manda, in a lost location, with you holding a long sword. Could you explain us what’s the meaning of it? Who created the artwork?
The artwork was created by Stefan Heilemann, a very talented artist. I’m in a lost/quiet environment (desert like) and the sword represents a quiet resistance as well. You can’t hear but can see the resistance.
The opening title track, “The Quiet Resistance”, starts with a very male mysterious voice, like a “hard breath” voice. Why did you decided to open the album with this song? Is it just to create a sort of “wonder” in the listener?
To us it’s a strong lyric and is a good opener for the album. When making intros like this we always look at it from a live point of view as well.
Taking a listen to the song called “Rush”, I’ve found a similarity with Evanescence’s sound. In a first moment, it was seeming to listen to Amy Lee in “The Open Door”. Do you agree with this statement?
As much as I like Evanescence and Amy Lee I can’t really hear a similarity. We have a different way of arranging and sound design compared to for instance Evanescence. The song was more influenced by Bjork than Evanescence but… when i say that of course Amy Lee is a big fan of Bjork so….
Listening to the album, my attention ran upon the song called “Allein”. There is a clear reference to Rammstein influences. Indeed, we find the great vocal by Heli Reissenweber (singer of the Rammstein cover band Stahlzeit). Why have you decided to create a track in Rammstein’s style? Had it already been decided previously or have you wanted to create something new for this album?
It started with a electronic pattern Lasse wrote. When HJ started to write a song around it a Rammstein feel occured. At some point we had to decide if we wanted to go for a Rammstein influenced track or to step away from that and go for something else. Since we are all big rammstein fans we decide to go in that direction. We went all the way when asking Heli Reisenweber. We see the song as written by Rammstein & Nemesea together. At least, something like this would come out if we did… we’ll keep on dreaming ha ha.
TQR has been mixed and produced by Joost van den Broek, better known for having played in a great Dutch band, After Forever. Nemesea toured with these guys a very long time ago, is there any particular reason about this choice?
Joost is a multi-talented person. He’s a great keyboard player but is an equally talented producer, arranger and mixer. We got to know him during the shows we played with AF. HJ had worked with Joost on some other projects as well so it was very logical for us to ask him to work on TQR.
The first single taken from this album is “Afterlife”. Why have you chosen this single as the first song to record a video clip as well?
Both band and label agreed this song to be the first single. The song is HJ’s favorite so he really wanted to start with that song as well. We believe lots of people like melody, the song and it represents the Nemesea sound in a way.
How did the recording last for TQR? Your last album, “In Control”, was released over four years ago. Is there something that has forced you to such a long break? Or did you wanted to take your own time to work on this album?
To be honest, we had a bit of a difficult time after our album “In Control” since nothing really happened with that album. We worked very hard on “In Control” so we were very disappointed when the high expectations didn’t follow through. Everybody took some time off and lots of us worked on other musical projects. After a while we started to get inspired again and started writing new stuff.
Some great guests on this album were chosen, as Charlotte Wessels (Delain), Marcus Klavan and Matt Litwin (Bulletproof Messenger) and, as I said before, Heli Reissenweber (Stahlzeit). What were the foundations for these choices?
We know Charlotte personally from some gigs we did with Delain. When HJ wrote the song “High Enough” he immediately thought of asking Charlotte because he thought both voices would match nicely. Marcus and Matt recorded an album through Sellaband as well and they had sort of the same experience as we did. We always had contact through email and we love Bulletproof Messenger. When working on “It’s Over” the turntables and voice contribution of both guys seemed to finish the song, great! Heli we didn’t know but asked to sing on the song because he was the only one that was able to do it ha ha. His voice is amazing!
If you could describe this album with 3 words, which adjectives would you use?
Best so far!
Where do you find the inspiration for your lyrics?
That differs for every lyric I write. Sometimes it’s just a word or sentence, sometimes it’s a movie or things that happen to me or people I know.
How much time do you spend to train your voice?
I’ve taken singing lessons for over 12 years now and I sing every day. I love singing and developing my voice. There’s still so much to learn. I still take singing lessons and I started speech therapy also a few months ago. I love working on my voice and technical skills.
Is there any particular singer who could have been a source of inspiration for you and for your professional growth?
There are a few. First of all there’s Anneke van Giersbergen. She’s the reason I started to sing. Nowadays I listen a lot to Christina Aguilera and Kelly Clarkson. They both have such powerful voices that inspire me to work hard on my voice. Also Jared Leto is someone who inspires me. He has a very unique way of expressing lyrics and their emotions. I love his voice and way of singing.
Nemesea is a Dutch “trademark” and comes from a fact from which many important names have emerged, such as After Forever, Within Temptation, Epica, The Gathering - what do you think of these important bands? Would you love to work with one of them?
All the bands mentioned are great and have their own style and talents. The Gathering and Within Temptation are bands we would prefer to work with because we can relate to their music a bit more.
Having mentioned Charlotte Wessels from Delain before, I’d like to ask you: how was working with her? She is one of the best Dutch singers you can find around and her voice is so magical. Listening to “High Enough”, I’ve found that the duo fits your voices perfectly, you bring the listener to a magic mood, your voices take over the listener’s attention.
It was great working with her. She loved the idea of doing a duet with me and work really fast. I’d love to share stage with her one day to sing “High Enough” live. That would be just amazing.
What do you think of Dutch female fronted bands? And what is your personal opinion on all these new bands that necessarily want to have a female voice?
I’m very proud of the fact that such a small country delivers such a unique music style and bands that do very well internationally. The Netherlands has 2 big music export products, Dj’s ( Tiesto/ Armin van Buuren, etc ) and Female Fronted rock/metal bands (WT, Epica, The Gathering, Delain)
Now that TQR has been released, are you going to tour within Europe or to tour in general? In my honest opinion, I would like to see Nemesea playing in Europe, at least once…
We are doing a tour with In Extremo this December throughout Germany. We are working on more shows/tours as we speak. Playing live is why we make music, we hope to do it a lot in the future.
If you could tour with some bands, which bands would you like to support?
There are a lot of bands we like to tour with, Rammstein, Metallica, Within Temptation, Lacuna Coil, 30 seconds to Mars etc…
What’s new for Nemesea now? Do you have already some new projects or do you want to focus your attention to this album and all that follows?
All the band member or working on several musical projects next to Nemesea. We started to write some new songs for the next album already and we are preparing for live performances..
Ok, thanks so much for this interview you gave to Femme Metal. Is there something you would like to tell to all Nemesea fans out there?
We hope that everybody will check out our new album and hope they like it, let us know what you think on www.nemesea.com.
Photos by Stefan Heilemann / www.heilemania.de
Style switcher only on this demo version. Theme styles can be changed from Options page.
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