Interview by Alessandra CognettaMany of you remember her from Kamelot, but Elize Ryd‘s career is so rich I don’t think I can fit it all in an introduction. A talented artist and a really sweet person, she agreed to answer some questions for us about her latest effort with the unique band Amaranthe (their second album “The Nexus” will be in stores by the end of March, check their website to see when it’s out in your country!). You’re going to read about music, dancing, Eurovision (?!), bizarre incidents on tour and, well, I’m not gonna spoil anything, see for yourselves, you’re in for a truly interesting interview! Hello and welcome once again to Femme Metal, Elize! It’s always a pleasure to have you with us at the ‘zine. Amaranthe‘s new album is about to be released, and the band has a world live premiere planned for March 2nd in Sweden. How’s it going with the preparations for the event? What can we expect to see?
Thank you very much, it’s a pleasure for me as well! It is going great, on Monday the band are gonna meet in Gothenburg and start to rehears of the new songs. You will see Amaranthe in full and healthy shape, we all have had some time of the scene so it will be extremely fun to gather again and start this what will be an extremely intense and exiting year
Label : Spider Rock Promotion
Review by Tony Cannella
“Last Day of the Earth” is the title of the debut EP from Italian Progressive/Power Metal band Lunocode. The band lists artists such as Dream Theater, Stratovarius and Angra as influences, so it is easy to discern where Lunocode are coming from musically. Within this 6-song, 34-minute debut effort there can be no denying the musical capabilities of Lunocode. After a brief intro “Different Meaning”, the band is out the gates like a shot with the Stratovarius style opener of “Flow, My Tears”, the best song in my opinion. After the sound of thunder, a monster guitar riff begins the next track “Universal Plan”. This song continues the same up-tempo metal style that the previous track displayed. “Heart of the World” is next and it kicks off with a mini-drum solo before the track kicks in. The 9-minute ballad “Silent Thoughts” was probably my second favorite track and features a stellar vocal performance, despite its length, this song managed to hold my attention for its duration. “Last Day of the Earth” concludes on a rather quiet note with the acoustic “Invisible Tears”. The style that prevails for the most part on “Last Day of the Earth” is closer to Stratovarius style Power Metal than anything else I can think of. Vocalist Cecilia Menghi does a good job throughout the disc, she does not utilize an operatic style, like so many singers in the genre and instead she has a soaring, powerhouse metal style that really elevates the material on the album. “Last Day of the Earth” is a rock solid debut from Lunocode and one for fans who love energetic, guitar-driven power metal music.
Rating – 83/100
- Different Meanings
- Flow, My Tears
- Universal Plan
- Heart of the World
- Silent Thoughts
- Invisible Tears (Acoustic Version)
- Cecilia Menghi – Vocals
- Paride Mazzoni – Guitar
- Giordano Buoncompagni – Guitar
- Francesco Rossi – Bass
- Perseo Mazzoni – Drums
Interview by Alessandra Cognetta
Heidi Parviainen is the lead singer of the Finnish Amberian Dawn. Their latest album, “Circus Black”, has been released on the 29th of February in Europe, USA and Canada. We took this chance to ask her (and Tuomas Seppälä, AD‘s songwriter and keyboards player, as well as one of the founding members) some questions about the band, their latest work and more.
“Circus Black” is yet another step forward for Amberian Dawn. What do you think changed, was added or improved from your previous works?
Heidi: “Circus Black” is the most singable album from AD so far and I really like it.
This is the first album to feature a real orchestra and choir, which I must say is one of the additions I enjoyed the most. Was it already in your plans for earlier releases or is it an element you chose to implement only for “Circus Black”?
Tuomas: To be quite honest…we haven’t afford to use real choir before…now we had a chance to try it and it was great...
The Album Sampler states “strongest line-up so far”: what does every member bring to AD‘s sound as a whole, both in studio and live?
Tuomas: We have gathered the best musicians possible so that we can achieve the very sophisticated and highly techninally advanced sound. Every band member needs to be a true virtuoso with his own instrument. I write all music for AD, including guitar riffs, vocal lines etc. but still there’s always some free space for every musician to color the music with their own way of play.
Another highlight is the once again stellar guest appearances. Can you tell us about these collaborations?
Tuomas: We have always used some guest vocalists or musicians on our albums. I like to to do it, because that’s how I can get more variations out of AD‘s music. Those guest singers on this albums are ”hand-picked” and I tried several different singers and selected the most suitable for each and every song.
Heidi, you write all the lyrics for the band, often taking inspiration from Finnish mythology. What’s behind the lyrics of “Circus Black” and what is your usual writing process?
Heidi: On “Circus Black” there are no Kalevala lyrics at all. I wanted to take a step into a different direction with the lyrical work and this album has a kind of a psychological vibe since some lyrics talk about our fears, bad relationships etc. But there is some folklore too and even light horror. Tuomas always (except once with “Lionheart”) composes all the music first and sends the ready melodies to me and I write the lyrics.
You’ve also recorded songs in your mother tongue (“Virvatulen Laulu” from “End of Eden”), it’s surely a very different experience, for you as a singer and for the fans as well. Do you prefer singing in English or in Finnish?
Heidi: I prefer singing in English because we mostly perform to a foreign audience and it is importat that the audience understand what the lyrics are about. But it is really fun to break the rules sometimes and do something different. Who knows if there will be a new Finnish song someday…
What’s the concept behind the video for your new single, “Cold Kiss”?
Heidi: The story of “Cold Kiss” is a kind of a “Twilight” spirit lovestory between a vampire and a human.
AD recently toured Europe with Tristania, Xandria, Serenity and Van Canto, how was it sharing the stage with all these very diverse female fronted bands?
Heidi: Yes. It was! All the ladies on tour were a great company and it was kind of refreshing to once work with so many women. We had a lot of fun together. The only this I missed was a song together with all the ladies!
“Circus Black” was released for the first time in USA and Canada, too. What do you think this will mean for the band? Are there any plans for an overseas tour in the future?
Heidi: All the plans are still open and we hope to be able to tour soon. It would be lovely to go over seas but let´s see.
What’s your favourite song to perform live and why?
Heidi: From our previous albums I like “River of Tuoni” because it is the most popular song from AD so far and the audience know the lyrics and melody so they can sing along. But ther are many other I also like to sing.
Have you ever thought about pursuing a career as an opera singer, or singing something different from Amberian Dawn‘s repertoire?
Heidi: Not really an opera singer but I do study classical singing at a conservatory and I also do some classical concerts. Who knows what the future will bring, I´m all open to it!
You’re often compared to other female fronted bands, like Nightwish for example. What is your opinion on this matter?
Heidi: Well. As I often say. Maybe ther are still too few female fronted metal bands that people need to compare the bands to the only one who really has reached the big succes in this genre. Still there are much less female fronted bands that male fronted. No one is really wining about their singing styles which sound quite same to my ears in their rock technique. It doesn´t bother me but it is quite weird that is still happens after these six years and four albums with AD. In my opinion there a quite few similarities with Nigtwish and nowadays even less after Nightwish started to work with Anette. Does really the singing techique of the singer make everything- includind songwriting, other istruments- sound similar? I don´t think so.
With the new album and single out since less than a month, what do you see in the future of Amberian Dawn?
Heidi: I hope lots of gigs and touring and hopefully a wider audience too and better sales!
Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, greetings from your Italian fans!
Heidi: Grazie mille! Baci a voi!
Band photo by Toni Härkönen
Label : Spinefarm Records
Review by Tony Cannella
The Finnish symphonic metal band Amberian Dawn has come a long way since their inception in 2006 and their debut in 2008. With their 4th and latest album, “Circus Black” the band continues to emerge from the shadow of fellow Finns Nightwish and maintain a steady path to move onwards and upwards.The bombastic, beautifully lush “Circus Black” starts things off and is followed by “Cold Kiss”. For this song lead vocalist Heidi Parvainen is joined by Stratovarius front man Timo Kotipelto for an amazing duet. For the next song “Crimson Flower”, the band is joined by Stratovarius keyboardist Jens Johansson for a song that really revolves around the remarkable operatic vocals of Heidi. Guest keyboardist Jens Johansson is allowed to go off on his own for a bit in this song, he was also once upon a time a member of Yngwie Malmsteen’s revolving door of musicians and the guitar solo and keyboard part remind me a bit of the Swedish guitar wiz. “Crimson Flower” would make a great video track from this album. “Charnel’s Ball” is a slower paced song with a huge operatic/symphonic feel to it. “Fight” is just a fast paced power metal tune, which once again recalls the past glories of Yngwie as well as Stratovarius. Of course the operatic vocals are what set it apart from those two bands. Other highlights include: “Letter”, “I Share With You This Dream” and the excellent instrumental “Rivalry Between Good and Evil”. I am not really a fan of instrumentals but this is one of the better ones I’ve heard in a long time, and it is a great moment where the musicians are left alone to show their phenomenal talents. “Circus Black” is another strong achievement for Amberian Dawn and may be their most ambitious effort yet. Is it their best? That’s hard to say, each album has its own charm and “Circus Black” is a great addition to their catalog. Time may tell if this is the album that pushes Amberian Dawn over-the-top.
Rating – 85/100
- Circus Black
- Cold Kiss
- Crimson Flower
- Charnel’s Ball
- I Share With You This Dream
- Rivalry Between Good and Evil
- Lily of the Moon
- Heidi Parvainen – Vocals
- Kasperi Heikkinen – Guitars
- Kimmo Korhonen – Guitars
- Tuomas Seppala – Keyboards
- Jukka Koskinen –Bass
- Heikki Saari – Drums
Label : Napalm Records
Review by Tony Cannella
A Cappella metal. What a concept! Some may think that the idea of playing metal, minus the screaming guitars and bass would be corny and just wouldn’t fit in to what most people consider to be metal. The German metal band Van Canto are sure to change that perception with their third album “Tribe of Force”. The band includes five lead vocalists and one drummer, with one of the vocalists Stefan Schmidt performing the “guitar solos” with his voice. Stylistically Van Canto are not all that far removed from bands like Sonata Arctica or Stratovarius and other power metal bands.You would think that with a playing time of 55-minutes that Van Canto would have a hard time keeping things interesting throughout “Tribe of Force”, but the band manages to do so. From the opening track “Lost Forever” you know that you are in for a different metal experience. The band do a good job in mixing the different vocal styles together to create an interesting sound. Each singer is given a chance to take the lead on the CD with female singer Inga, taking center stage on one of the main highlights “One to Ten”. Two cover songs are included, the first one is a rendition of the Grave Digger track “Rebellion” featuring Grave Digger frontman Chris Boltendahl joining in on vocals for a great version of the track. The second cover song is a big surprise as the band absolutely tear into the Metallica classic “Master of Puppets”. They do an excellent job on this track, I know it’s hard to imagine “Master of Puppets” done a Cappella style, but they really do the track justice. Other highlights include: “I Am Human”, “My Voice”, “Last Night of the Kings” and “Hearted”. The drummer Bastian also proves to be a valuable member of the band as he provides a thunderous beat that really helps drive the CD. The limited edition version comes with a DVD of the band live at the 2008 Wacken Open-Air festival and also includes some behind the scenes footage, making it an essential release for fans of the band. With “Tribe of Force”, Van Canto prove that they are more than just a novelty act. The songs on “Tribe of Force” pack a pretty strong punch and they are heavy, even without the use of actual musical instruments. All hail Van Canto!
Rating – 95/100
- Lost Forever
- To Sing a Metal Song
- One to Ten
- I Am Human
- My Voice
- Last Night of the Kings
- Tribe of Force
- Master of Puppets
- Magic Taborea
- Frodo’s Dream
- Inga Scharf – Lead Vocals
- Philip Dennis Schunke (Sly) – Lead Vocals
- Ross Thompson - Higher Rakkatakka Vocals
- Stefan Schmidt – Lead & Lower Rakkatakka Vocals
- Ingo Sterzinger (Ike) – Doom & Bass Vocals
- Bastian Emig – Drums & Percussion
Style switcher only on this demo version. Theme styles can be changed from Options page.
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