Interview by Si Smith
Armed with a killer logo and a deceptively simple album cover, Lunocode burst onto the scene of female-fronted metal this year with a debut EP full of musical richness and progressive flourishes. Suitably apocalyptic in title, “Last Day of the Earth” will certainly not be the last word from these musical maestros, as the EP has enough variety and melody in it to keep the earth revolving for them in the near future. Femme Metal spoke to angelic messenger Daphne and rhythmic wizard Perseo to uncover more…. When you first got together in 2004 you called yourself “ANIMA” because the name was connected to the platonic meaning of “eternal and indivisible”. Since names and meanings are clearly important to the band, why call the new band “Lunocode“?
Perseo: We wanted a more personal and unique name for our band and as “Anima” was a very common name we decided to change it just before releasing the “Last Day of the Earth” EP. Lunocode is a wordplay about “Lunokhod” and “Code”. Lunokhod is the first rover to land on the moon and being radio controlled by man on Earth. I discovered that tiny rover during some personal researches I was doing on the internet and I liked the idea of this little probe exploring the unknown on another celestial body. The others too liked the idea and we started thinking about a good wordplay to transform “Lunokhod” in something more personal. In the end we found “Lunocode”, merging the Russian “Lunokhod” with the English “Code”. It sounds good and suggests something that has to do with Universe and Space, two themes that really fascinates us very much. The Russian word Lunokhod means “moon walker”. “Lunocode” could be translated in English to “lunar code” or something similar and makes me instantly think about the black monolith of “2001: A Space Odyssey”, as it was just found under the surface of the moon. Lunocode is a “new” word and has not a clear and unambiguous meaning but suggests a bunch of fascinating images and thoughts. This is the reason why we chose it: it’s a fascinating name with a strong personality and it’s definitely what we were searching for! A little curiosity: the fact that we started with Lunokhod, that is a Russian word (the machine was built by USSR), to create our monicker has something to do with our next FL too!It is clear that the band members were friends for a long time before Lunocode ever existed. How does this affect the way the band works together as a whole? Does it come with its own problems?
Daphne: I’m the last one arrived in the group. The boys have a deep friendship, strengthened in time and it has given me a pleasant sense of tranquillity since the first time I met them. They are kind and put me at my ease at personal and professional levels. This attitude, positive and constructive, is one of the things that creates the right climate to do music: it’s the ground where the expression of each personality can grow up and become more mature as a musician and as a person, through the exchange. Obviously, to be a friend means also clear honesty, then, we are free to say clearly what we think.
Perseo: I solely add that yes, we’re friends since a long time (I actually know Giordano since the early days in the nursery school so we really are friends of a lifetime, we went to school together and we live in the same little country, only a couple of kilometres divides my home from Giordano’s home and it’s really the same situation between Paride and Francesco…and Paride is my brother as well!), but we also have a common goal that goes under the name of “Lunocode” and we work together for the best for our band! So yes there are, have been and will be, here and there, some problems (and I think this is very normal for every band) but we’re strong and mature enough to rapidly solve them and our friendship is a great and unique support that helps us very much in every aspect of being together. Daphne inserted very well in the band and we’re really happy with her.Cecilia Menghi handled the vocals on this album: Daphne, what is it like having into step into her shoes? What is your vocal background? How did you hook up with the band? (sorry, that’s a lot of questions in one, but we need to know!!)
Daphne: Cecilia and me has a different singing style. She is more turned toward power metal, then, maybe, she was more at her ease than me in the old songs. My background include prog-rock, prog-metal and dark: my vocal style is oriented towards a very interpretative way. I love so much to play with dynamics like changes of vocal register and of volume. I love to feel the songs deeply in their meanings and give a special “dress” to each one. I think it’s not a question of value, but it’s a matter of feelings and of personal taste. I like to sing this way and it fits perfectly with the new style Lunocode decided to implement in future songs. How did I hook up with the band? Perseo and me meet the first time in Prato, at a rock concert, some time ago, accidentally. He was searching for a singer and then we started talking about this collaboration: it went very well just from the beginning!The album teaser you put up on YouTube at the end of the last year began with some philosophical statements about “the need to find different meanings for the same old concepts”. How does your music reflect this concern?
Perseo: I’m glad you watched the video on YouTube! “Last Day of the Earth” has a conceptual nature and the “basic theme” of the concept is about losing all the convictions and all the happiness after a tragic event. When this happens many and many questions arise in one’s mind and one could find himself searching new meanings for old concepts like pain, life, passion and, most important, death. This journey is described throughout the 4 songs composing the mini-concept and this is the reason for the statement you’ve seen on the teaser.In 2011 the new album hit the stores. Since “Last Day of the Earth” is a type of concept album, could you tell us how the concept evolves through the main tracks?
Perseo : “Last Day of the Earth” is a mini-concept album, as I said before and every song has a “job” to perform to carry forward the story behind the concept. This is made clear on the back cover of the CD-Rom version of the EP because in the tracklist each song has a “subtitle”. “Flow, My Tears”, for example is “Falling from Grace”, denoting the start of the journey: something has gone bad and we have lost certainties and convictions, everything is changed and we have no more a solid base for our life. “Universal Plan” is “transition”: after falling from grace one is generally sad and depressed and reflections start to get darker and darker and sad as well. But this is just a moment, a transition. In fact, during the song “Universal Plan”, we start from darkness but, at a certain point (I’m referring to the “special” section in the middle of the song, right after the solos) some “light” is shed upon the darkness: positive cosmic concepts are introduced (Carl Sagan, Fred Hoyle, Stephen Hawking and others are quoted here and at the end of the song with their beautiful statements about universe and man condition), something starts to evolve and the world can be re-read with different meanings for sad or happy facts of life in mind. This makes a person do the first step toward final salvation. The interesting thing is that everything happens in our minds: our approach to the Universe changes our life radically while the Universe remains the same at every moment. In “Heart of the World” (“Reflections of Autumn”, where is described the scene you can see on the cover of the cd, with the man and the tree: “I’m staring at the sunset in silence in this autumn evening, On the top of this hill sitting in the grass everything is whispering Infinity”) and “Silent Thoughts” (“Final Step (..?)”, where the concept ends…or starts again? J) this process continues and comes to an end…at least for the main character of the story, but I’ll let you interpret the end by yourselves! I don’t want to explain too much of the story ‘cause I think that, in this type of concept album, the listener should be able to build up his own vision and interpretation. What I described here are just the “basics”: in the album there is so much more and I will let you find it all!Is the EP the beginnings of an upcoming full-length, or is it a stand-alone piece?
Perseo: The EP “Last Day of the Earth” is really a stand-alone piece with its own character, story, sound, artwork and themes. It is not a preview of the FL, it’s just a “mini-concept” representing our debut!
Daphne: “Last Day of the Earth” is a “stand-alone” work, as you said. At the same time, we are working on a new EP and on a FL. The new EP will live an autonomous life with respect to the other two works, but will overlap with the FL. We’re going to enter the studio in summer and we hope to give birth to it in autumn. Surely, the FL will require more time. So, keep in touch with us!
Italy is well-known for its power metal, thanks to bands such as Rhapsody of Fire and Luca Turilli‘s work in general. How do you feel that your band stands out against these other Italian stalwarts?
Perseo: We’re a young band and we do essentially what we like to do with enthusiasm and passion. Rhapsody of Fire is a gigantic band with worldwide reputation and with many and many years of career: we watch them with great respect. Lunocode and Rhapsody are really different animals. Lunocode is basically just a small band but we’re very determined in doing what we do because we like it: we hope this is the key…doing just what we feel we have to do at our best!
Daphne: Maybe only in offering something simply different. It doesn’t mean better or worse, but only something else.On the first main track, “Flow, My Tears”, Cecilia has to reach some quite high notes. Daphne, are you going to sing the songs as Cecilia did, or are we going to see a completely new interpretation of the songs?
As I said before, I’ve got a different approach to the songs and my interpretation is something completely different. I will obviously maintain the melodies and arrangements but I will interpret them with my own sensibility.“Universal Plan” contains many queries and thoughts about the meaning (or meaninglessness) of life. Do these reflect any particular spiritual or life beliefs of any band members or is it just a great lyrical subject?
In “Universal Plan” lyrics starts with a quite “dark” image of someone under the rain reflecting about being a “nothing” in front of the vast Universe and about being just a “gear” without importance in the cosmic game of life and death. I can say this image is certainly a good lyrical subject but the truth is that all I’ve written in “Last Day of the Earth” is very autobiographic: I like to write about reflections that I do when I find myself alone and I use my time to think and think…and the Universe and the human condition really fascinate me. In “Last Day of the Earth” I wanted to share some thoughts of mine with people that listen to our music but I also wanted to try to drop a “seed” of peace, compassion and equality in the large World hoping that this seed could influence someone: also if it’s one person only I am just happy, because this means that the world has became just a little better. I’m an atheist and what I say is not, in any case, related to religion, I want to make it clear. But I think humankind has a natural spiritual side that is, when united with rationality and science, our real strength. To understand what I’m talking about when I say “spirituality” you can do a little experiment by yourself: search “pale blue dot” in google images and do a little research about this theme…surely you’ll get what I’m talking about if you listen to your feelings JI see the song “Heart of the World” begins with a drum solo: nice one, Perseo!! Do you play the drums each time the same when you rehearse as a band, or is there room for “creative interpretation” within the tracks? Do you get much time to rehearse together?
Thank you very much! I’m really happy I can say something about that drum solo: someone could hear a “quote” from a famous drum solo by Cozy Powell. Do you remember the solo Cozy does as an intro to the song “Stargazer” in the Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow album called “Rising”? The drum solo I do in “Heart of the World” is specifically composed to be a variant of THAT drum solo and it’s my tribute to one of my favourite drummers of all the time: Mr Cozy Powell! I love his rock-solid drumming and I wanted to pay tribute to such an inspiration for me. However the drum solo in “Heart of the World” is composed by two parts: the first is my tribute to Cozy, the second (starting when the guitars kicks in) is a much more subtle tribute to another drum legend and another of my top 3 favourite drummers: Mark Zonder of Fates Warning. The second part of the drum solo is freely inspired by the drum parts that Mark plays in the song “Pale Fire” by Fates Warning in the album “Inside Out”. Excuse me if I wanted to make public this tribute that I, with maximum respect, decided to pay to those great drummers…but it’s important for me! J To finally answer your question, as the drum solo is composed with this in mind, I usually play it the same every time and it’s the same for the majority of the other drum parts in the various songs even if there is, in some specific parts, enough room for interpretation and for having fun playing drums live. As a band we usually group together to rehearse 2 days a week and we group together in our studio another 1-2 days a week to write new material, to record demos, arrange new songs etc..normal band activity! JIt was quite brave to include a 9 minute ballad on such an EP! It seems at a listen that “Silent Thoughts” represents the end of the main part of the album, and the last track seems a bit different (not to mention short compared to the other songs). What was the intention of adding this acoustic track onto the end of the album?
Yes, “Silent Thoughts” represents the end of the concept “Last Day of the Earth” (for this reason it’s a lengthy song) and “Invisible Tears” (Acoustic Version) is a so-called bonus track : Lunocode is our new monicker and the previous band monicker was Anima. With the monicker Anima we published a demo-cd, called “Birth” that contained 4 songs (I think you can find it online somewhere). The song that, in various reviews, was elected as the best song of the demo was “Invisible Tears” as so, in our debut EP, we wanted to put a reference to our past by adding, as a bonus track, an acoustic version of the best song of our old demo. We rearranged and reworked the song and put it at the end of our EP: I think it’s a good ending theme for the CD.Daphne, no matter how great a band are musically, fans are often drawn to the front-person as a focal point for the band. Please tell us what kind of a person you are, and what are the things that interest you and make you happy?
Daphne: Oh, I’m sociable and I love to laugh (Perseo can confirm it…maybe I’ve hit a new world record in knowing the largest number of quotes from sarcastic and demented films!). The things that make me feel happier are: sharing good moments with the people I love (especially in concerts), singing on stage with Lunocode and having the possibility to meet people with the band, to talk with them, to exchange opinions and emotions.With such as strong musical opus behind you, are there any plans to bring the music to the live stage soon? If so, would it be limited to just Italy, or would you like to set your sights further afield?
Perseo: Yes, we made our first show with Daphne in a small but beautiful pub called “Rock Highland” in Arezzo, Italy, last March (there is actually one video on YouTube) and we played “Heart of the World” and “Universal Plan” as well as some brand new songs. We’ll play in Rome at Pictures of Prog festival (April 23, 2011) and in Barletta (Bari, June 19, 2011) at A.Live Rock Festival : you can find all the updates on our social network profiles (we have Facebook, MySpace, Last.fm, ReverbNation, Twitter…search for us!). It would be really fantastic to play outside Italy but, as we’re working on a new EP and on our FL, we’re actually concentrating on studio work. In future, maybe, we’ll also travel outside Italy: we really hope so!Finally, let me just give a big thank you from all at Femme Metal, and we wish you success with any new plans for Lunocode!!
Daphne: Thank you so much for the occasion you gave us to talk about our experience to you and to people who read your great site. Bye!
Perseo: We thank you for this great interview and we hope you all stay connected with us because we have some news to share during next months! To all the readers interested in us: for everything about the band check www.lunocode.com. Thank you again and goodbye!
Label : Magic Circle Music
Review by Tony Cannella
With their newly released EP “Darkness Visible – The Warning”, HolyHell are really, really starting to come into their own. Their debut EP “Apocalypse” and self-titled full-length were excellent as well “Darkness Visible…” is a continuation of the brilliance the band has displayed previously. The opener “Lucifer’s Warning” is a moody, bombastic opener that has an epic feel to it, even though it is just over 6-minutes long. Lead vocalist Maria Breon has an outstanding and powerful vocal delivery and guitar virtuoso Joe Stump is at the top of his game. “Accept the Darkness” is next and has a heavy opening riff that kind of reminded me of the German band Accept. The song has a great melody and chorus. This song is just huge sounding. “Haunted” is next and starts with a symphonic intro and has an eerie feeling to it. The song is mostly a heavy, slow, plodding number before really speeding up near the end, “Haunted” quickly became another favorite. The 25-minute EP is concluded with a live version of “Armageddon”. I really liked this EP a lot and at least as much – if not more so – than their previous two. It’s hard to find anything negative to say about “Darkness Visible – The Warning” – perhaps the fact that it is an EP and not a full length? But that would be nitpicking. Still, I hope that HolyHell releases another full-length sooner rather than later. This is as good as it gets in the power metal genre.
Rating – 90/100
- Lucifer’s Warning
- Accept the Darkness
- Armageddon (Live)
- Maria Breon – Vocals
- Joe Stump – Guitars
- Jay Rigney – Bass
- Francisco Palomo – Keyboards
- John Macaluso – Drums
Label : Nomadism Records
Review by Tony Cannella
As far as Progressive Rock and Metal is concerned, you take the good with the bad. Some people love the intricate arrangements and endless songs, while others may find it somewhat of a bore. That brings me to Italy’s Alchemy Room. I doubt this album – which features their 2009 debut, “Origin of Fears” and their brand spankin’ new 3-song EP “A Matter of Time” – will do anything to change perceptions about Progressive Metal, fans of the genre should love this, non fans, not so much. The first 6-songs are taken from the bands 2009 debut “Origin of Fears”, beginning with the intricate “Inside My Fear”. Musically, Alchemy Room adds plenty of heaviness and classic metal style riffs to go along with the meticulously crafted songs. The second track is the monstrous epic “La Fin Absolue Du Monde”. This song clocks in at whopping 15-minutes and really shows off the overall talent of these fine musicians, including vocalist Irene Mondino. The riffs come crashing in rapid fire succession. “Obsession Red Blood” and “Lost” are two more fine tracks, which lead us into the albums coup de grace with the two part “Waking the Child”. The first part is 13-minutes long, while part 2 clocks in at close to 10-minutes. After that we have the 3-song EP “A Matter of Time”. The songs on “A Matter of Time” are shorter and I think this is a more focused effort than “Origin of Fears”. “Into the Deep” begins with a softer approach before the song slowly builds steam and eventually becomes a powerhouse of a track. The ethereal “Indigo” begins with a dreamy vibe to it and Irene Mondino turns in her best vocal performance. This track is a bit different from the other material presented here and really stood out for me, and also shows that the band is not afraid to spread their creative wings. The 7-minute title song continues with the softer direction, before the heavy riffs once again join the fray. This song also features a number of cool tempo changes. Musically, I would compare Alchemy Room to some of the heavier progressive metal bands like early Fates Warning (John Arch era) and early Queensryche. Alchemy Room is hampered by subpar production at times (mostly on “Origin of Fears”, the production on “A Matter of Time” is much better), hopefully this is something that will be rectified on future releases. Judging by how the band has grown from “Origin of Fears” to “A Matter of Time”, it really has me looking forward to their next full-length. I would highly recommend Alchemy Room to anyone who loves all things prog, epic and grandiose.
Rating – 71/100 - “Origin of Fears”
Rating – 85/100 - “A Matter of Time”
“Origin of Fears” (2009)
- Inside My Fear
- La Fin Absolue Du Monde
- Obsession Red Blood
- Waking the Child – Part I
- Waking the Child – Part II
“A Matter of Time” (2009)
- Into the Deep
- A Matter of Time
- Irene Mondino – Vocals
- Fabio La Manna – Guitars, Keyboards
- Mauro Mana – Bass
- Andy O. Monge – Drums
Review by Tony Cannella
The UK’s League of Lights is a Melodic Rock super group with a 80s pop rock influence. The self-titled debut showcases the outfit’s strong penchant for writing memorable songs with a positive, uplifting message in the lyrical department. League of Lights are fronted by Farrah West and Threshold keyboardist Richard West, they are joined by Within Temptation guitarist Ruud Jolie, ex-Fates Warning drummer Mark Zonder and bassist, with musicians this good how can you go wrong? From the excellent opening track “I’m Alive”, it is apparent that League of Lights offers something a little bit different than a lot of today’s female fronted metal bands; they are more hard rock than metal. The music features a lot of keyboards, which is a dirty word to some people, but on their debut League of Lights use them in a way to create atmosphere within the music, similar to a lot of progressive rock bands. Throughout the 41-minute disc, League of Lights utilize seriously rich harmonies that really makes the songs memorable, a perfect example of this is the second track “Cover Me Now”. Lead singer Farrah West adds a strong, likeable vocal style to the songs. “Last Sunset” is a nice piano rich, orchestral ballad. This actually became my favorite track, thanks to its great heartfelt melody. Among the 10-songs, other highlights include: “Half Light”, “Ambertown”, “Don’t Leave Me Behind” and “Heaven Sent a Star”. I will admit, that when I first heard ‘80s pop influence’, I thought ‘uh-oh’, but from the first song, League of Lights had me. The songs carry a great deal of substance, stellar musicianship and Farrah West’s impressive vocals. Sure, it’s not strictly a metal album, but who cares, good music is good music and League of Lights has delivered a fine debut.
Rating – 81/100
- I’m Alive
- Cover Me Now
- Last Sunset
- Half Light
- You Light My Way
- Don’t Leave Me Behind
- Cool of the Day
- Heaven Sent a Star
- Farrah West – Vocals
- Ruud Jolie – Guitars
- Richard West – Keyboards
- Jerry Meehan – Bass
- Mark Zonder – Drums
Interview by Si Smith
Oh, finally after so much time we’re able to unveil this little musical jewel. Here we present you a special interview with Farrah West, the singer of this melodic rock supergroup/project that features members of Within Temptation, Fates Warning and Threshold. People we’re not talking about some random débutants, you got me?
First of all, thank you for this interview and welcome to the Femme Metal webzine.
Thanks, it’s lovely to meet you!
At first glance League of Lights is quite an eclectic mix of characters, featuring as it does members and ex members of Threshold, Fates Warning and Within Temptation. How on earth did this remarkable cast of characters come together?
We just picked the people who felt right for the project! Rich already knew Ruud Jolie from Within Temptation through his work with Threshold and they got on really well so it was an easy choice, and we knew of Mark Zonder from his drumming on Fates Warning and Chroma Key records and loved his unique sound.
When you set out to record this debut record, what specific sound did you have in mind for the band? Are there any direct influences you would quote?
We intended to make a melodic rock album, combining the best of both of us. We’re both really into bands like Shinedown, Nickelback, Evanescence and Lacuna Coil but also love mellower artists like Chroma Key and Lene Marlin, so we wanted to find some middle ground between those artists where we’d belong.
The lyrics of the album all seem to be very positive in their outlook. Are you all positive people in general or is there a darker side to the band? What kind of things get you down, for example?
We are pretty positive people and we like to look at things in their best light. What gets me down? I’d say bad manners and bad weather are a bit of a downer. I’m a big fan of sunshine and happy people!
Your first official review back in April said “This ought to do well”. How much do you consider reviews of your album by the press? What kind of fan feedback do you get for the band?
We are always really interested to hear press and fan feedback. We’ve been so pleased at the response to our debut, it would’ve been awful if nobody liked it! A lot of fans of the bands that Rich, Ruud and Mark are in have enjoyed hearing a different side to their playing, and a lot of people have appreciated the positive lyrics. We’ve had some lovely comments about those.
Ruud also released his debut solo album at the same time as yours. How has he found it splitting his time between all of his musical ventures?
I think he manages amazingly. Within Temptation are still touring, they tour in bursts though so it gives him time to work on other projects in between.
As a band it sounds like you have really got your sound together for the recording. Is the line-up a permanent one, or is this a more fluid and dynamic band based around you and Richard?
We’re hoping to keep on working with the amazing musicians that featured on our debut, but we’ve also started including more artists for the second album. We’re not ready to announce who yet, but the recordings are sounding great.
Given that the other musicians have their own commitments will we see any live performances of this material?
We hope so, we did have a support tour lined up for the end of last year but unfortunately it didn’t work out. We’re hoping that this year we’ll get out on the road & start to play the songs live.
The album begins in upbeat fashion with your longest song “I’m Alive”. The initial impact is that your voice is very clear in its prononciations and intonations. How did your own singing career begin?
I started singing when I was really tiny – my parents have an embarrassing picture of me singing my heart out while sitting on the potty! When I was in my teens I started singing in church and after I met Rich began singing in the studio.
The ideas such as “eternity” and “my spirit will carry on” imply a spiritual worldview, especially the quote from a hymn “my chains fell off, my heart was free”. How deep are the spiritual beliefs of the band influencing the music?
Our spiritual beliefs are deep held & I imagine will always influence what we write and sing about. I think you write best when you express what is most dear to you and I love to sing songs that are positive and life giving.
Many of the songs rely heavily on keyboard melodies and textures. How easy was it to decide how “heavy” you wanted the band to be, and did you all agree?
It wasn’t easy at all! We actually were aiming for a heavier sounding album, but for some reason it took us a while before we found our sound. The tracks for our new album are already a lot heavier than before and we’re really excited about them!
“Last Sunset” sings out “I don’t want to go without fulfilling my purpose here”. What would you say is the “purpose” of League of Lights? What are your plans for the future of the band?
I’d say our purpose for League of Lights is to make powerful and beautiful music with a message of faith, hope and love. I hope we’ve managed to achieve that! Our plans for the rest of this year are to record our second album and to get a record deal. We self-released the first album which was a good experience, but now we’re talking to some labels to take everything to a much greater level. We’re hoping to get out on the road and start doing some live shows, hopefully some summer festivals.
“Ambertown” doesn’t seem to represent a real town in the song. Could you explain the concept to us?
“Ambertown”’s a song about being in a place where you have to make a choice about which way to go, how the direction you choose can define your whole destiny and who you are.
“Heaven Sent a Star” is definitely my favourite song on the album. It speaks to those who have been crushed, captive and broken. Your emotional performance suggests there may be some personal experience here?
LOL, you sing about what you know right! We wanted to convey that whatever the circumstances look like you are loved.
Finally, may I thank you for making such an uplifting album! Have you a final message for any potential fans out there?
We hope you love the album, we’ve put the opening track up on our website. We hope to bring you more music soon and see you on the road. We’re look forward to sharing our exciting news about upcoming collaborations and announcing about the new album soon too. Thanks again for the interview!
Style switcher only on this demo version. Theme styles can be changed from Options page.
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- Meg Myers – “Make a Shadow” EP (2014)
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- Morena Rozzi – Macbeth (ITA)
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