Interview by Roberta Ilaria Rossi & Miriam C.Young and talented, with a big desire of doing lots of new things, the Canadian band Mortillery is proud their second album “Origin of Extinction”, a pure thrash old school metal quite inspired by Overkill sound. In occasion of the official release sponsored by Napalm Records, we’ve got the chance to exchange a few words with the frontwoman of the band, Cara McCutchen, who brought us in a world of powerfull riffs and guitars that spit fire. Here’s our chat! Today our website has the great pleasure to welcome Cara McCutchen from Mortillery. Welcome Cara. How are you doing?
I’m doing awesome! Thanks so much for having me here!For those who still don’t know anything about you, would you like to introduce a little biography of yourself/of the band?
Sure! I am the singer for the band Mortillery from Edmonton, Canada. I started singing in metal bands 10 years ago. It has always been my and Mortillery‘s intention to play old school thrash metal. Continue reading »
Label : Curved Air Records
Review by Matteo Bussotti
Curved Air‘s foundation goes back to 70s, and many people remember them as one of the most important band in prog/folk rock at those times. So…do Curved Air have the right to come back now, in this time full of commercial, “easy listening”, electronic and computer music? Yes, they sure have. “Live Atmosphere” is a CD from old rockers for old rock lovers (like me, for example); if you hate 70s prog-rock, you’ll surely not enjoy much this album, I can tell you, and you can stop reading this review here. If you haven’t stop reading…well done! I can assure you that “Live Atmosphere” is worth at least a chance, but let me say that you’re not going to listen to it only one time. If you love the genre, you’ll love this album. Curved Air‘s song are perfect in their “old style”, they truly are beautiful. From “Marie Antoinette” to “It Happened Today” you can feel every musician’s experience in his own field, you can hear how every one of them contributes to create the perfect melody, harmony and sound in every song, with beautiful solos for every instrument, played with a grace only found after years of practicing, on and off stage. You’ll get caught up in every song’s melody, with Sonja as your guide with her beautiful, deep and very powerful voice; it’s amazing how se hasn’t got any worse since her younger days, instead she’s more confident with her voice, and she holds all the audience in her hands like a puppeteer with his puppets. Every member of the group is special in his way, and not mentioning every one of them would be a crime. As I said before, Sonja simply shines with her beautiful voice. Kit Morgan is capable of creating the perfect solos with just the right notes: he’ll leave you amazed not for his speed, but for his style, which is even a more important thing for me. Florian‘s drumming is always as it should be: powerful when it’s needed, softer when you just need to create atmosphere. Chris Harris‘s bass pumps up the tempo, defining all the variations and all the various rhythms; needless to say, Chris and Florian work perfectly together. Paul Sax gives us some really astounding violin melodies, giving that gracefully powerful imprint to all the songs, contributing to make Curved Air‘s sound even more beautiful and complex. Finally, Robert Norton‘s keyboards…well, you may not notice him all the time, but if you listen carefully to all the songs, you’ll notice he’s always there, keeping all the pieces together, and believe me, without him, none of the songs would be the same. So…what do we have to say about this album? It’s a rare masterpiece. Apart from the songs, its beauty resides in the capability to bring back to glory 70s prog rock, which so many people around the world love so much. I was very pleased, while listening to this album, to discover that we have also nowadays bands such as Curved Air. They are there for every one of us, to let us not forget from where real music comes from, and that old music (and musicians) still has got A LOT to teach us.
Rating – 85/100
- Atmospheric Overture (Intro)
- Marie Antoinette
- Hide And Seek
- Back Street Luv
- It Happened Today
- Atmospheric Overture (outro)
- Sonja Kristina – Vocals
- Kit Morgan – Guitar
- Chris Harris – Bass & Backing Vocals
- Robert Norton – Keyboards
- Paul Sax – Violin
- Florian Pilkington- Miksa – Drums
Interview by Robin Stryker
Femme Metal spoke with Leeni-Maria Hovila, frontwoman of Finnish extreme fantasy metal band, Kivimetsän Druidi, six months ago. Since that time, the band has completed a massive North American tour and released its sophomore album, “Betrayal, Justice, Revenge” (Century Media 2010). We are delighted to chat with Leeni-Maria again and get caught up on Kivimetsän Druidi’s whirlwind of activity.Hello, Leeni-Maria! We’re glad you could join us today.
First things first, please tell us about Kivimetsän Druidi’s new album, “Betrayal, Justice, Revenge”.
“Betrayal” is our second album — the first in which I have made most of the lyrics, and the first in which we have tracks composed also by our drummer Atte and lead guitarist Rinksa.
If you had to describe the new album’s sound in three words, what would they be?
Massive, symphonic, complex.
The title, “Betrayal, Justice, Revenge”, has a nice ring to it. Where does the name come from?
It is simply a summary of the things and ideas happening on this album.
From earlier interviews, it sounds as though the band was not completely satisfied with its debut album, “Shadowheart”. How much of the harder, more aggressive sound on the new album comes from a natural evolution in Kivimetsän Druidi’s music, versus lessons learned from the first album?
The compositions are all natural evolution which was not even as fast as it would seem by listening to these two albums. All the elements of the tracks on “Betrayal” were already present in the few new songs of “Shadowheart”, but most “Shadowheart” tracks were both very old and some very new material which sound quite different from one another. On the other hand, the harder, more aggressive sound in general is all about making “Betrayal” sounding how we wished “Shadowheart” would, so that was about a lesson learned.
As I understand it, you are a classically trained soprano. Did you ever consider pursuing a career in opera, instead of metal?
I don’t have a great desire for that. The opera world seems a rigid place to me, also I do not have such a big voice. If I do classic genre and I do study it at the present, I am a lied-oriented performer, that is an other-than-opera- kind of classic vocal style. I see myself in the future as a performing cross-over soprano artist, who is most probably chronically broke.
Would you introduce your bandmates, and tell us what you like best about each person?
Joni Koskinen is something of a leader amongst us, if at all it can be said that we have one. I like and sometimes even envy his confidence. He is one of the two of our main composers, who used to do all of the lyrics in the past. He is a founding member and does the growls as well as rhythm guitar. Antti Koskinen, the former’s little brother, is our keyboardist and the other main composer. Antti is also a founding member, is somewhat multi-talented, and is very much self-educated as a musician. He is very empathic. Rinksa, our lead guitarist, is also a founding member, although the original idea of Druidi was Joni’s and Antti’s. But Rinksa has been aboard from the very beginning. He is quiet and conscientious. Simo-Pekka, our bassist, is big and reliable and older than his young years would say. He is always sensible, speaks the utter unquestionable truth, and others never have to worry for him. But, if he gets hungry and there’s no food around, you’d better come up with some. Quick! Atte, our drummer, is as far as I remember the last line-up change before myself. He is very good in his area, and the only member besides myself who has at least some classic studies. He used to play the faggot – hold on, I have to check if that, in fact, is how it is written … err, no. I meant to say fagotto. Or bassoon, my dictionary seems to claim they mean the same. Atte is funny. The joker of the band. And open-minded.
“Shadowheart” was inspired by a fantasy story that Joni has been working on. What is the inspiration for “Betrayal, Justice, Revenge”?
I think it still is the same story actually, regardless of the fact that most lyrics are mine or even the fact that most stories of those lyrics I had thought about well before I joined the band. I simply decided — when Joni said I should try writing lyrics and I decided I should try using my old ideas — that fine, now all these things are going to happen in the world he made to happen and that’s it. And the truth is that in those stories, both the ones Joni wrote and the ones I’d had in my head before, some very basic things always remain the same. It is the nature of stories regarding where and when they happen. The same things, the same big truths always are the ones that people write stories about or fight wars over. Love. Honour. Justice. Betrayal. Ideals, be they false or true. Religion is the only “big thing” we haven’t touched and have no desire of doing so in the future, but I think that if you take religion down to the little pieces to find what it has eaten, what you will find are all those smaller things I already pointed out and some more of their kind. Like pride. Fear. Especially fear.
You wrote many of the lyrics for “Betrayal, Justice, Revenge”. Does singing your own lyrics feel different than singing lyrics written by someone else?
Yep. I sometimes feel pretty stupid about them, and this time I can only blame myself.
Are you a fan of fantasy? If so, what is your favourite work of fantasy?
Indeed I am. From the works of Tolkien, I prefer “The Silmarillion”. The first books I ever read from the genre were the first “Dragonlance” trilogy. Perhaps my all time favourite is Orson Scott Card’s strange little one-of-a-kind story “Hart’s Hope”.
Is “Betrayal, Justice, Revenge” mainly for fantasy fans, or does it have broader themes with universal appeal?
All the themes in our fantasy, as well as fantasy stories in general, are ultimately universal. They are always about the same things which make people move: love, ambition, ideals — betrayal, justice, revenge. Among others.
If you could select any Kivimetsän Druidi song for a soundtrack, which song would you choose and which movie would you put it in?
“Desolation: White Wolf” would be my pick — actually, we made a video for that one lately. Hasn’t been published yet. Don’t know about the movie, though … maybe it hasn’t been made yet. Maybe we should make it. A full-length Kivimetsän Druidi fantasy adventure.
Most of the songs on “Shadowheart” are in Finnish, while most of the songs on “Betrayal, Justice, Revenge” are in English. Was the language switch intentional or happenstance?
Happenstance, actually. I sort of regret that, and hope to make more Finnish ones on the Number Three, whenever that may happen.
In November 2009, Kivimetsän Druidi performed at the Heathenfest Tour in North America, playing 20 different cities and covering 15.000 kilometres in the nightliner. What stands out in your mind from the tour?
Hollywood Boulevard. Giant turkey legs. Helmuth of Belphegor making me drink whiskey. Hilly views. Ridiculously good-looking night liners. Sushi places in NYC. A university campus cafe in Cleveland. Being slightly afraid at Detroit.
When you have a hectic tour schedule far from home, do you do anything special to make sure you stay sane and healthy?
Stay in my bunk whenever I feel bored. Go for a walk outside the bus when possible. Alone! Always, always have good and reliable ear plugs which damp out as much of surrounding noise — preferably talk — as possible. I can’t always go for a longer run, sometimes I just jump or run on spot in the backstage or the hall before audience is let in. I go out, if only around the corner, to get a cup of coffee and look and listen to the local people.
Just reading about Kivimetsän Druidi’s schedule in 2009 – a Russian mini-tour, writing songs for the new album, recording, going on the North American tour, and back into the studio to finish recording – exhausts me. Were you able to relax some after all that?
We did a little too much relaxing in the summer when we were supposed to be writing songs — or at least I did a little too much “relaxing” when I was supposed to be writing lyrics — so we ended up having to hurry in the studio, again. But it was not too stressing. It’s not that all the band activity was overwhelming. It is this stupid thing called “normal life” like going to school, having to work alongside the school, paying the bills, having at least some hobbies and getting to see friends that makes things difficult.
What are the band’s plans for the remainder of 2010?
Promoting “Betrayal, Justice, Revenge”, doing as many shows as we can, perhaps getting to make a tour later in the autumn, also we have already lightly touched the idea of the Number Three Album if and whether there’s going to be one. So writing new songs.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us, Leeni-Maria. Do you have any parting words for your fans at Femme Metal?
Beware of fragile old bearded guys in strange looking clothes. They are bound to be wizards or something of the kind. Do not piss them off. Come check us out live. Get the new album, it really rocks. Rock ‘n Troll.
Interview by Ed MacLaren
In the European metal scene, Liv Kristine is an icon. From her years with the seminal gothic metal band Theatre of Tragedy to her current success with Leaves’ Eyes, she is the archetype to which all female metal singers are compared and measured against. With their fourth full-length album, “Meredead”, Leaves’ Eyes have created their magnum opus – a brilliant fusion of music, melody, rhythm and language that transcends categorization and redefines the definition of metal. After finishing a spring tour with Midnattsol and Tarja, Liv took some time to talk with Femme Metal about her creative process and the creation of “Meredead”.Since our last interview for your solo album, “Skintight”, you’ve returned once again with your fourth Leaves’ Eyes album – the brilliant “Meredead”. Could you actually get any busier without having to clone yourself? (Laughs) True, we’ve been very busy the last six years! However, I was born with a hyperactive artistic mind, so being creative – composing, writing lyrics, recording and performing – is something I really enjoy doing. It’s all a part of me and experience has made me become the person and artist I am. Concerning our latest production, we needed about one and a half years for the complete production of “Meredead”, which is only possible because we do have our own studio – Mastersound Studio. The composing process went overwhelmingly fast. It was one great pleasure writing and recording the album together with Thorsten and Alex. We actually just arrived back from tour, and I’m now looking forward to further shows and tours. In April we toured with my sister Carmen‘s band Midnattsol, and then in May we joined Tarja. Wow! Both tours were full of magic moments when the ladies got together! Busy, for sure, but very happy!
“Meredead” sounds fantastic – a full, rich musical experience from beginning to end. It has everything fans love about the band but expands the Leaves’ Eyes sound in some interesting ways. With each album your music becomes more progressively intricate and layered – complex and elaborate. Was “Meredead” a deliberate direction or an organic outgrowth of the writing and recording process?
I’d say it was an organic outgrowth of the process. We just started composing with an open mind. “Meredead” is our fourth album, and in my opinion there is no need to reduce ourselves to a certain style. The artistic development is the basic energy for the survival of an artist, and art as such. The press, fans and friends say that “Meredead” is “the most diverse, emotional and best-sounding production” by Leaves’ Eyes so far, moreover, “Leaves’ Eyes have created their own genre”. Believe me, this warms my heart! We never go with the commercial flow; we only go with the creative flow of the band! I prefer not to force Leaves’ Eyes into a specific already settled musical genre. I would rather say that Leaves’ Eyes’ music combines elements of gothic metal, classical music, folk music, with history and mythology.
True, Alexander, Thorsten and I are the songwriting and production team. Most of the time, music comes first, then vocal lines and words and then we work even more on the instruments until the three of us have a good feeling about it. Thorsten is our main composer, whereas words, concept and vocal lines are my area. Alexander is our producer meaning he’s the person in the band that gets only half of the sleep compared to Thorsten and myself. There is always a strict deadline, there a tons of different instruments in our music to take care of in the mix. Everything is recorded live in our studio except for the Lingua Mortis Orchestra from Minsk. Moreover, Alex is a perfectionist. I am really happy my husband didn’t suffer from a heart-attack yet – he’s incredible! Seeing that “Skintight” was such a departure from your band material, did it take you and the guys some time to switch gears and get into a Leaves’ Eyes groove for recording the new album? No, not at all. We compose and record in two different recording rooms. However, normally there is only one production going on at the time. Anyway, the mental “switch” is no problem at all. After all these years, doing everything by ourselves, there are enough reasons to call us professionals. I know very well that I’m surrounded by first-class musicians. You’ve also added some new members since “Njord”. How are their contributions adding to the core trio? The feeling within the band and between the band members has never ever been as positive, strong and inspiring as it is now since the latest line-up changes. That’s utterly important for the existence and the creativity of the band. I am so, so proud of my guys! It’s such a pleasure composing, recording and touring with them. We already knew Sander van der Meer and Roland Navratil for a long time before they joined the band. Sander replaced Matze on guitars, who quit because of family growth, whereas Roland replaced Chris Antonopoulus, who had different plans for his future. J.B. is our session player on bass, joining in after Alla Fedynitsch decided to pay more attention to her 9 to 5 job. After joining in, Sander and Roland were immediately members of the Leaves’ Eyes family. They travel from Holland and Austria to stay and work at Mastersound Studio as often as possible. We often hang out at my house after work, as I love cooking spicy Indian food and baking my special “Norwegian” cakes, moreover, sharing some bottles of wine.
“Meredead” integrates much more folk elements and melodies than previous albums. The pipes, fiddles, flutes – the more diverse instrumentation on “Meredead” really expands your musical palette.
For the production of “Meredead” it was highly important to us that each song had its own “face”, individuality and perfect, crystal clear sound to strengthen the emotional effect. We just let the music inspire us to add new and interesting “spices” to our music, like pipes, the nyckelharpa – a Swedish folk instrument – the fiddle, cello, classical orchestra or the flute. That’s what makes the album that diverse and exciting as you discover a different story, different instrumental combinations, different ways of singing even in various languages in each song. “Meredead” or “deadly sea” is the underlying theme of the album. How does that concept of death by water thread through the songs on the album? It’s an interesting contrast as water is also looked at as a giver of life.
The title is my own word-creation: To my grammatical knowledge, “Meredead” could mean ‘dead by the sea’, ‘or the deadly sea’. Poetically, we could add some imagination and lyrical sound and say “Sea of Death”. Secondly, the word “Meredead” sums up some of the themes rooted in my lyrics on the album. I grew up by the fjords, and I sense pure luck every time I return to my birth-place. Yes, you are so right, water is the giver of life. Again you find a whole palette of contrasts in our music, which has always been a feature for both Leaves’ Eyes and Theatre of Tragedy, my ex-band, that actually founded the “beauty and the beast” concept in metal back in 1995. Your lyrics generally look to the epic history of Norse literature and mythology for inspiration but on “Meredead” you’ve gravitated towards other cultures for inspiration. What was the genesis of that expanded outlook? I just let the music itself inspire me. If I chose a theme from Nordic mythology, I would include Norwegian lyrics. It was very intimate to sing in my mother tongue Norwegian, it makes the lyrics even more emotional and personal. Singing in Old-English meant digging my nose in my Old-English grammar books once again, however, I am very interested in historical languages, which I also studied. I think that Old-English has a very special “sound” phonetically. You’ll find Froeya, three-headed trolls, vampires, ghosts, witches, Vikings travelling on sea, Viking ladies mourning and of course many images from the Norwegian harsh weather and wild nature landscapes. I guess there is some homesickness towards Norway in my lyrics actually, it’s more than obvious that I miss my home country.
You’ve also expanding your use of language on “Meredead”. You obviously spend a long time working on your lyrics and the meaning and symbolism of the songs. Given your affinity for language are you taking the opportunity to experiment with phonetics to provide a different listening experience?
Yes, phonetics is a great help for me. I studied Old-English, Gothic, Middle-High German, phonetics, phonology, language acquisition, next to Modern English and Modern German at the university in Stavanger, Norway, and then following up at the University of Stuttgart, Germany. Sometimes I use lyrics existing only in the form of a phonetic string of sounds. Such a phonetic sequence has an important meaning: it conveys an emotional state provoked by that particular sound of my singing. My acoustic aim is not the words and a certain thematic content; it is the sound and the emotional effect of it in the listening experience.
What a wonderful idea! This would be fantastic! Let’s hope the universe hears this! I would love to do it. I have seen Elfenthal‘s “The Blue Elf’s Dream” and I am stunned. What an amazing show. Maite Itoiz and John Kelly are outstanding composers, musicians and performers. You’ve had much ongoing success in music appearing in two big bands – first Theatre of Tragedy and now Leaves’ Eyes. Does success with Leaves’ Eyes feel any different than what you achieved with Theatre of Tragedy? I always wanted to become a singer. Singing is a part of my nature. When I was little, I thought everybody was able to understand music and control their vocal chords. The fact that my parents were interested in music – listening to it – plays an important role: I grew up with Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Edvard Grieg and Tschaikowsky, and female singers like Enya, Madonna, Kate Bush, Abba, Tori Amos and Monserrat Caballe. From the very beginning, I’ve followed my musical instinct: I wanted to combine a romantic, female, angelic voice with powerful, impressive music. Then suddenly, when I was 18 years old, I found myself in the middle of writing music history with Theatre of Tragedy, being one of the founders of “gothic metal with female voices” and “the beauty and the beast concept”! I am first of all grateful to our fans and friends all over the world, who have been there for me throughout all these years! This feeling has remained the same – my gratefulness towards my fans. Being thrown out of Theatre of Tragedy was perhaps bad luck; however, sometimes bad luck leads to good luck. Today I have Leaves’ Eyes; it’s like having a family, next to my own family. For me two dreams have come true: I am a full-time singer, and I am a mother. How do you manage such a busy career as well as being a parent? Do you have any advice for women in the business that are hoping to have children one day and still pursue a music career? You need a good plan in your daily life, you need your own studio not far away from your home, moreover, a family who is there for you. My plan is strict however, and effective: when I work I am working my ass off; when my family is around and needs me, I am only there for my family, keeping our rituals. In between work and family I do a lot of sports, sauna and yoga, which is my way to recharge my battery if necessary. And then, from the business point of view, find the right people to support you, honest people. And speak out if you have an opinion. Money can be such an evil means to make you forget about your inner voice.
You’ve recently finished a tour with Midnattsol and Tarja. When do you hit the road again and where will your travels take you? We do have a few festivals this summer, then hopefully a North American and an Asian tour, including India. Your music is reaching more and more people internationally – you even toured India recently. How are you enjoying your progression towards becoming a truly global band? There is this special feeling that gives me the energy and the inspiration to travel the world – I get caught up in every moment that I am able to share with my audience. Every performance is one process of giving, and receiving, I call it “exchange of positive energy” between the band and the audience. I really have to say that we do have fantastic fans. I am looking so much forward to every gig, and to meet our fans after the show! (Famous) Last words?
Give a little bit love, and you’ll get it back. My mother taught me that. Thank you, mother.
Photos by Stefan Heilemann
Interview by Si Smith
First-time viewers of the new album by Dotma will be presented with a fantastic vista of colour and imagery – but what are the forces at work behind the image, behind the polished artwork and powerful musicality? Not ones to be pigeon-holed or typecasted, Dotma tread the line between gothic and power metal with the skill and dexterity of players well-established in the world of female-fronted metal. Yet this is only their first full-length. To understand how this remarkable feat has been achieved, I spoke to singer and lyrical crafter Johanna Lesonen….
Biographies of Dotma seem to start as many band bios do, with guitarist and keyboardist Harri deciding to form a band surrounding a particular theme or genre. Johanna, how did you join up with these guys at the very beginning?
Well I had just started to take classical singing lessons, and I was very excited about singing. I wanted to try singing in a band and my friends had just founded one. I was the one who asked if I could sing in their band. They weren’t sure if they wanted a male singer, so they hesitated a little. But since there were no other singers around, I got the job! And it seems that it was a good decision! =)
Dotma has a strong image, both musically and artistically. This image seems to draw the listener/viewer into the heart of the band experience. What were your expectations of the band from the start? Did you know in which direction the band would be going from the time of the first demo?
At the beginning I really hadn’t any specific expectations for this band, I just wanted to sing. We started with power metal and after the first demo we came to the conclusion that we wanted to develop our style. We weren’t sure in what direction. We thought it will come naturally, if it’s meant to come. And so it did.
A second demo entitled “Dances With the Shadows” was released in 2009. How had the music progressed by this time? Were you happy with the end result?
We were much happier with the result than we were with the first demo. We had grown as musicians and the songs had developed into this style which felt more like ours. It was still power metal but there were these symphonic and atmospheric elements already to be heard. But still, the process continued till the recordings of the full-length album.
It seems that all lyrics are written by yourself at this time: how do you go about choosing themes for songs? Could you take us through your creative process for writing and/or perfecting your song lyrics?
Style switcher only on this demo version. Theme styles can be changed from Options page.
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- Effloresce – “Coma Ghosts” (2012)
- Marie Fredriksson – “Nu!” (2013)
- Anneke Van Giersbergen
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- Phildel – “The Glass Ghost” EP (2013)
- Lita Ford
- Sarah Teets – MindMaze
- Susanna Vesilahti – Unshine
- Trobar de Morte – “The Silver Wheel” (2012)
- Viper Venom – “In Venom Veritas” (2012)
- Via Obscura – “Gedanken” (2012)
- The Mariana Hollow – “Velvet Black Sky” (2012)
- Storyum – “Insomnia” (2012)
- Snei Ap – “Hidden Floors” EP (2013)
- Sin7sinS – “Carnival of No Tomorrow” (2012)
- MaterDea – “Satyricon” (2011)
- Rampart – “War Behast” (2012)
- Lita Ford – “The Bitch is Back… Live” LIVE ALBUM (2013)
- Epysode – “Fantasmagoria” (2013)
- Beyond God – “Dark Light of Dawn” EP (2013)
- Ayreon – “The Theory of Everything” (2013)
- Seremonia – “Ihiminen” (2013)
- Tuomas Tuovinen & Eveelina Kojo – myGrain
- TEODASIA announces European Tour with TARJA TURUNEN
- I Left the Planet – “I Left the Planet” EP (2011)
- Grimes – “Visions” (2012)
- Грай [Grai] – “О Земле Родной” ["O Zemly Rodnoj" - "About Native Land"] (2011)
- Gin Wigmore – “Gravel and Wine” (2011)
- Funin – “Unsound” (2011)