Label : Massacre Records
Review by Tony Cannella
The excellent double female fronted Symphonic Metal band Coronatus has previously released four full length albums – with their first one being released in 2007. Now they have released a digital only best of album titled, “Best of 2007-2011”. Featuring 16-songs and over an hour’s worth of music, “Best Of…” serves as a comprehensive overview of Coronatus’ career thus far.
The track-listing on “Best Of 2007-2011” features a fair cross section of the bands best material taken from each of their albums. The songs are in reverse chronological order beginning with four songs from Coronatus’ latest album “Terra Incognita” which was released in 2011. The two female singers each brings something interesting and unique to the table. The current duo consists of Mareike Makosch who provides more of a rock style and Ada Flechtner who gives us a soprano voice. The melding of the two different styles is one of the best things about Coronatus and gives the songs a huge boost. The bands lyrics are sung in German and English with a touch of Latin as well. The musicianship is also played on a high level and is a perfect complement to the two vocalists and another check in the plus column for Coronatus.
For fans who already own everything that Coronatus has put out, this may not be of much interest, but anyone who would like to sample what this great band has done so far, than “Best of 2007-2011″ is well worth the time. Continue reading »
Interview by Alessandra CognettaAnaè is the lead singer of the French metal band Adrana, a combination of progressive metal, heavy metal and classical music, enriched by a strong literary component. The mix of different influences as well as forms of art makes Adrana a unique musical experience and we’re here to find more about them. First of all, welcome and thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, Anaè. How has 2012 been for Adrana so far?
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to present our music and artistic work! I am really thrilled! The year 2012 has been fairly quiet so far. After the release of “The Ancient Realms” and the first part of the French tour we were given a little time to work on new songs, work toward a movie clip and prepare a surprise regarding our future gigs to all of our fans!One of the things I enjoy the most about your music is the “story” (I won’t dare to call it a concept because in my opinion it’s far more than that) behind your whole production. Can you describe for us the main themes of Adrana‘s adventures?
We would like that it becomes much more than a concept. We are working on it, but we are still far from what I wish to do in terms of total art (featuring theater, music, stories, dance, and a whole fantasy world). Our music tells the adventures of the warrior princess Adrana desperate to reclaim her fallen kingdom. It contains many elements of heroic fantasy like the character’s actions or places in a rather dark atmosphere, darkening progressively with each new album. Although the story revolves around a princess, this one is more gloomy and sanguine. There are many battles, betrayals, murders and unmentionable secrets that punctuate the epic story of Adrana. Adrana talks about the difficulty of bringing people together in their diversity, and the difficulty to win the trust of others. Adrana shows us that very often we find ourselves alone with our destiny. Finally, this quest leads the Princess to ask the recursive question as to whether the pursuit of a right cause, right as it is, justifies having to kill thousands of human and nonhuman creatures to get there?We know what influenced your music, but what influenced your lyrics? How were Adrana and her Ancient Realms born?
The band name was invented, without special intention by Ludo and Maxime (guitarist and drummer, the founders of the band). They then included Grhyll, our keyboard player, and me to write the story. The first songs whose lyrics had no relationship between them (stories of vampires, putrefied nymphs, or warrior princess), have become the pillar of the epic story of Adrana. Now, Grhyll has taken charge of the story and I work exclusively on writing lyrics around the story created by Grhyll.
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.
Review by Davide Torresan
Let me start by saying that behind this project there is one of the most talentuous female singer in the metal scene: Melissa Ferlaak. I think that she is very well-known in the female fronted scene, but it is always good to do a little recap for the others. Melissa is a U.S. soprano singer, and she joined several famous bands in the gothic and symphonic metal world. She has been the lead singer of important bands like Aesma Daeva, Visions of Atlantis and Echoterra. Plus she can boast to have worked with many other bands. In the beginning of 2012 with some other renowned musicians, she decided to give birth to a new project: Plague of Stars. I have to admit that this news surprised me a lot, and also the ones that are used to listen to gothic and symphonic metal. The sound is a perfect union of death with doom metal and some small gothic hints. It’s curious the description that this new group gives of itself. Indeed the members introduce themselves as some scientists that are engineering a new virus. This biochemical weapon will be released on Earth, if all is ok, on June of the next year. I can’t deny that the first thing that came to my mind is a sort of correspondence with the story of the videogame Final Fantasy VII. In this one, there is Jenova, a sort of infection, virus, and it’s described like a calamity from the sky, ready to destroy the world. Plague of Stars is the opposite, intended to be the cure. After this little nerd digression, let’s talk about the two songs of this promo. The first is “When Morning Came”, where Melissa shows us a completely different style from what we’ve always heard. There are some small hints of her operatic voice, but here she demonstrates her true skills with a rock voice. The guitar riffs are really heavy and there is also a solo in the middle of the song. Instead “In the Pines” has a completely different mood. If the first song can be included in death metal, this one embraces doom metal, so considerable space is given to slow and decadent rhythms. The thing that astonished me the most is that at a certain point Melissa‘s voice assumes a blues connotation. I am sure that I never heard her singing in this way, and at this point I’m curious to know what else she can do. Musicians that accompany her are really capable and skilled since they come from some famous bands like Aesma Daeva and We Are Legion. However, it must be said that the proposed cure by this project is not immediate. The band plans to release an album entitled “When Morning Came” in 2013, and it will be released if they will achieve a certain sum of money. Individual donors can bid to make sure that the album will see the light. What can I say? These two songs are really good and I can’t wait to listen to a full lenght album. They’re all good musicians, and they deserve a lot. What are you waiting to give them a hand?
Rating – 88/100
- When Morning Came
- In the Pines
- Melissa Ferlaak – Vocals
- Will Maravelas – Guitar
- Christopher Quinn – Bass
- Aaron Lanik – Drums
Review by Tony Cannella
The Croatian symphonic metal band Downcast Art unleashed their debut demo in 2009. Now they are back with a new singer (Jelena Muzar) and a full-length debut called “Forbidden Memories”. The three songs that appeared on the 2009 demo have been re-recorded and now are on this full-length. They are: “Miris Proslosti”, “Chants From the Deep” and “Whisper of a Dying Rose”. New vocalist Jelena does not sound all that different than their previous one, perhaps a little more operatic but her presence does not change the band dynamic one bit. After a 4-minute instrumental intro piece (“Everlasting”), Downcast Art launches into the dramatic “Bloodred Ink”. This song features some great orchestration and choir-like background vocals. The next song “Miris Proslosti” opens with sounds of crashing thunder and an eerie keyboard intro. This is a mid-tempo number and Jelena sings in a lower range on this one. She shows that she capable of more than just the over-the-top operatic stuff. “Home of Silence” is another mid-tempo song, but Jelena’s style is much more operatic on this one. Musically, the songs have plenty of atmosphere and Downcast Art definitely comparable to Tarja era Nightwish. Other highlights include: “Face Without a Name”, “Innocence Never Dies With Desire” and “Downlight”. “Forbidden Memories” is a good debut and Downcast Art has certainly grown since their demo. Hopefully “Forbidden Memories” will be a springboard for bigger and better things; Downcast Art appears to be headed that way.
Rating – 75/100
- Bloodred Ink
- Miris Proslosti
- Home of Silence
- Forbidden Memories
- Face Without a Name
- Whisper of a Dying Rose
- Innocence Never Dies With Desire
- Chants From the Deep
- Home of Silence (Piano version)
- Jelena Mužar – Vocals
- Kristijan Radeka – Guitars & Vocal
- Zdravko Smenderovac – Keyboards
- Davor Grdic – Bass
- Lukas Šomek – Drums
Style switcher only on this demo version. Theme styles can be changed from Options page.
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