Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review: Frank Roberts - Change in Motion (2012)

Frank Roberts [ Website | Facebook | ReverbNation ]
Change in Motion

Frank Roberts - Change in Motion
Just last week I remarked on my personal indifference toward instrumental albums since the majority of them are not much more than braggadocio, interesting primarily to other shred-oriented musicians. Change in Motion, the debut EP from Montreal native Frank Roberts, does not dispel the stereotype. After spending many years contributing to other musicians' albums, as well as establishing himself as a fixture behind the boards of local studios, Roberts has released Change in Motion as a means of drawing attention to his abilities as a rock guitarist and songwriter. The EP definitely proves that Roberts possesses formidable talent, but will struggle to gain traction among general audiences.

The title track, which kicks off the EP, is an uptempo composition dominated by Roberts' leads. Although he also provides the backing instrumentation (bass and drum programming), Roberts' approach on this song is clearly to establish a signature lead guitar presence. Melody and harmonized riffing take a backseat to his agile fretwork, and as such "Change in Motion" succeeds as a "showcase" song. The pace is slowed on "The Missing Element" to more of a blues-rock amble, with Robert's leads adopting a more melodic approach as they make room for the other instruments.

Frank Roberts
Roberts' begins to devote more energy to catchy accessibility with "Conflicting Ambitions". The song starts with somewhat of a pop-rock beat bolstered by strong melodies that integrate seamlessly with the leads, which themselves offer a nice variety of tones. As a general listener, the standout song for me is "Under the Cali Sun". There's a warm, embracing mellowness to the riffs that recall - ever so slightly - Satriani at his most reflective.

Change in Motion fulfills its purpose as a vehicle designed to display Frank Roberts' skill with the guitar and will raise awareness of his talents within the metal/rock community. Casual listeners may want to keep an eye out for future endeavors by this skillful Canadian axeslinger.

Track Listing
1Change in Motion3:15
2The Missing Element3:24
3Conflicting Ambitions5:00
4Under the Cali Sun5:29
Total Runtime17:08

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Review: Life Tragic - Destiny, How Are You? (2010)

Life Tragic [ Website | Facebook | ReverbNation ]
Destiny, How Are You?

Life Tragic - Destiny, How Are You?
Initially formed as a cover band, Minnesota's Life Tragic have issued their debut album of original hard rock tunes. Sporting "Suicide Girl"-inspired cover art by Spain's Victoria Francés, Destiny, How Are You? is an entertaining album of post-grunge hard rock that - at times - emulates the band's influences just a touch too well.

"Easy Enough" starts the album off with an overwhelmingly Velvet Revolver sound, particularly in the slightly sleazy tones of Tim Butler and Geoff Franz' riffs and leads. Throughout Destiny, How Are You?, Butler and Franz make it clear that they are connoisseurs of the Slash-meets-Jerry Cantrell school of guitar slinging. Typically this influence manifests as such - just an influence, resulting in familiar yet unique riffs and leads. On songs such as "Easy Enough" and the Alice In Chains-influenced "Do Me Bad Things", however, Life Tragic allows their history as a cover band to dominate the originality of their songwriting. The majority of the songs on the album fortunately avoid overt '90s grunge references and instead call attention to the band's high-energy, original rock sound.

Life Tragic
The song that stands above the rest as a uniquely Life Tragic song is, appropriately, "The Life Tragic". Comprised of extraterrestrial guitar effects, an upbeat mood, and gurgling/growling vocals,  this song is the most experimental on the album and turns out to be the standout number - which is not often the case when a band attempts to push boundaries. The more standard rock fare of the dark sounding "Sea of Red", the bass heavy "Complications", and the acoustic "Angel Lust" may not be as identifiable as "The Life Tragic", but represent the band's core blue-collar sound and serve as the granite upon which Destiny, How Are You? is built.

Life Tragic takes another risk near the end of the album with a live cover of Prince's hit "When Doves Cry". I encourage you not to snicker until you've had a chance to listen to the track, as it's an interesting take on the fellow Minnesotan's original and probably one of the band's favorite live numbers.

As a debut album of original material by a former cover band, Destiny, How Are You? reveals that Life Tragic is still holding on tightly to the sound of their past as they edge closer to establishing an identity of their own. Nevertheless, fans with an awareness of the past two decades of rock will find much about this album that is appealing as we anticipate the next chapter of Life Tragic.

Track Listing
1Easy Enough3:01
2The Life Tragic4:11
3Do Me Bad Things3:18
6Sea of Red3:46
8Angel Lust4:03
10Meant To Live3:50
11When Doves Cry3:59
12The Life Tragic (Original Version)4:05
Total Runtime47:17

Monday, November 26, 2012

Interview: Desislava Hristova of Chains

Bulgaria's Chains was a modern metal outfit that bore similarities to late-'90s era Metallica, where thrashy guitar leads blended with polished production values and growling vocals. I refer to Chains in the past-tense because the band broke up during the interview process with drummer Desislava Hristova - definitely a first for me. In spite of the strong emotions that tend to well up as a band goes their separate ways, Desislava graciously completed the interview for Harvest Moon Music.

[HMM] For readers unfamiliar with Chains, would you introduce the band and describe your role?

Desislava Hristova of Chains
[Desislava] Chains was a progressive trash metal band from Bulgaria. We had lots of concerts in our country, we took part in several festivals and competitions, TV and radio Shows with the main idea of making and performing our own music. And finally in 2012 we released our first EP, called Pieces of Reality. Ivan Munin-VANS was the lead singer and guitar player in the band, Ivailo Tsatsov was the lead guitarist, Peter Bachev – the bass player and I was the girl always smiling behind the drum set.

How and when did Chains form, and how did you come to be the drummer?

Going back in time to 2008 I see 4 enthusiastic, full of energy and ideas people, who just loved the music and spent lots of time devoted to their dream. At first thanks, to a guitar teacher who was gathering people for a band, I met Ivo (the lead guitarist), the former singer and bass player and it took us month or two to realize what we really wanted so we took things into our own hands and that’s how the band was formed. A year later Ivan joined us and in 2011 we decided that Peter was the missing link and that was no mistake.

What's the story behind the band's name?

I really can’t remember how and why we chose this name but actually Ivo had a good story about it. Once we were invited to an interview for an online magazine, when we were asked to tell the story behind the band’s name and we gave the word to Ivo as one of the former members of the band and surprisingly we were really impressed of his answer. He said that the idea came from a music forum and the name represents the power and the interaction in a chain. True story!

How long have you been playing the drums?

My love and patience for this instrument were born in Switzerland. I was student taking part in an exchange program and I had the opportunity to visit a rehearsal of one of the students there who was a guitar player and… guess what happened when I saw the drum set… I fell in love (with the drums)! I’ve never been interested in music or drums until then. I think in that moment I turned that page. Step by step and thanks to many people 4 years ago I started playing drums and after 3 months I had my band. I developed my skills and technique thanks to the invaluable support and patience of my teachers and the guys from the band.

Do you play any other instruments?

Funny story! Once we had this idea to go out on stage, playing a song with changed roles. I had to play the bass…well we tried it at home and actually decided to spare our fans and friends. So…no I cannot play any other instruments and I’m also not allowed to sing…and it is all for good!

What led to your involvement in heavy metal?

I began playing in the band with nothing but my love of drums. The first songs I played were well known rock and heavy metal classics. I think the guys from the band and the other awesome people I’ve met through all these years played an important role in my involvement in heavy metal music.

Chains' debut EP Pieces of Reality was released in 2012. How has the feedback been so far?

Well the promo show went really well with the support of two great bands named Wartime and Voltage. We principally received positive feedback about the songs and artwork of the CD and we were really happy and satisfied with this as it has been a few years now working hard for this. A few on-line media, a radio and a TV channel did great reviews of the CD claiming that we are one of the most interesting bands in Bulgaria at the moment which was the greatest acknowledgement and achievement of our short music career. Well of course there were some negative feedback about the record and some other slight details we missed but it is always good to have that as well so we know what to improve further.

Have you received much feedback from outside of Bulgaria?

Sadly we did not receive a lot of feed back outside the country as we did not promote it in foreign countries. However we did receive some positive feedback by some people from USA, Cuba (as far as we remember) and some people from Europe including a few guys from the UK.

Many of the lyrics on Pieces of Reality seem to deal with war, corruption, and environmental destruction. Are the lyrics targeted at any specific entity, or are they more about the general state of the world?

The lyrics were inspired by many worldwide issues society experiences nowadays including wars, corruption, poorness, politics and other. Also there are a bit of personal experiences, feelings and thoughts we involved as we are part of that society.

Is the songwriting process for Chains a group effort, and if so what are your contributions?

Absolutely! Each of us had the right, obligation and privilege to leave his own signature in the song.

How long was the band in the studio recording Pieces of Reality, and how was the experience?

Desislava Hristova of Chains
The process of recording the CD was really funny and we had some really good times doing it. We made some friendships, some funny jokes and funny moments and we did get the maximum of ourselves at that point. Well of course when we listen to it now we realize we could do better but when it happened it was good and we do not regret a single thing we did back then. It took us a few months as we were a bit busy but actually the recording hours were not that many.

Has the writing for the next album begun?

At the moment Chains doesn’t exist anymore. After 4 years together sharing one stage and road we made a decision 2 weeks ago to try something new. I believe the music is and always will be a priority for each one of us and this is the way we should move on.

Now that Chains is no more, do you plan to stay involved in heavy metal?

In any aspect, this music became a big part of me and my life. The journey began with Chains and the experience was strong enough to keep me not just involved but totally in love. I already have several invitations for new projects…the “Show must go on” and “We won’t betray ourselves”.

Are there any interesting stories from previous gigs that you’d be willing to share?

The first story that comes to my mind is at the same time funny and sad. We all know the series of drummer jokes…here we go…we had this concert when in the middle of the show my mind went blank, I didn’t know what should I play, and not because I couldn’t see clearly the playlist. I just forgot the song…and what was even worse…it was one of our own songs. I counted to 4 and thought to myself “It will come with the first riff”…but NO! I started with something completely different, we had to stop the song and start all over again and again…but NO memories came to scene. I felt awfully, the guys were thinking that I’m joking (I wish I was!)

Is there one song in particular that is your favorite to play live?

Desislava Hristova of Chains
Yes, this is the last song we wrote together. That happened last year, when I had to spend the summer in Germany, 2 months without drumming, live music and rehearsals. When I came back the guys played for me the new song they had created and I hardly stopped my tears. I really love this song. It’s called “Foreseeable” and it represents to me the meaning of the music – the shared feeling and emotion.

Are there any specific drummers who inspire or influence you?

One of the first drummers I heard about was Thomas Lang and I’m really happy that I met him in person this year. Amazing drummer with incredible technique and mind and really good sense of humor. I admire drummers like Mike Portnoy, Mike Mangin, George Kollias, Danny Carey, Thomas Haake, Jonas Ekdahl. Dennis Chambers, Nicko McBrain, Aquiles Priester, Marco Minnemann and many others, who inspired me and I also cannot miss names like the legendary Buddy Rich, John Bonham, Phill Collins who opened a whole new universe for me.

What are some of your favorite bands?

I will always start this list with Whitesnake, Pink Floyd and Iron Maiden and I would add now bands like Godsmack, Pantera, Evergrey, Symphony X, Death, Opeth, Dream Theater and many others.

If there was one bit of advice that you could give to a woman with aspirations to be a drummer in a heavy metal band, what would it be?

I think with the aspiration the first step is made. In my opinion there are three basic rules:
1. willing for development
2. practice1000000
3. self-confidence
Never take it too seriously, first of all it always should be fun! And one last thing…don’t be afraid to smile!

In your four years with Chains, what would you say was your most valuable experience?

Desislava Hristova of Chains
Well, that’s a hard one! I’ve learned how to listen to music, the first step toward its creation. I shared the best time of my life so far with the guys from the band and all the memories we created together will always make me smile. Тhe first song, the first concert, the first interview, the first CD … it always will be а little sentimental. The truth is that actually I cannot emphasize the most valuable experience but thinking about it at the moment I envy myself. I had the honor to go through all these firsts with amazing musicians on the stage and close to my heart persons off stage!

Finally, do you have any parting words for your fans and for those who may be reading about Chains for the first time?

I would like to thank all the great pеople who helped and supported me and the band through the years and who always made us feel just right there on the stage, sharing emotions and energy, we’ll never forget that. WE highly appreciate it, because thanks to all these people we have our story and we are proud of it!

You can check our music in our YouTube channel and visit us on our Facebook page, where the guys are representing now their new project called Fragments Of Existence, level up for sure! I wish them health and joy, inspiration and resounding success on the world scene! Stay Metal!

Thank you so very much for your great answers! I'm looking forward to hearing about where your career in metal takes you next.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's time once more for our yearly sojourn to the land of football and turkey as we reflect upon all we that have to be thankful for. Without becoming too encumbered by serious reflection, I'd just like to say that I am personally thankful for family and good health. Neither are perfect and, for some, good health is a relative term, but I cherish what I have and the time that I have left with those whose health is fading. 

Now, the heavy metal world has largely ignored this uniquely American holiday, but I did manage to scrape up this little gem from The Underwear Serpents. I truly hope you celebration turns out much better than this one!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Review: Red Sky - Origami (2012)

Red Sky [ Website | Facebook ]

Red Sky - Origami
I'm usually not a fan of instrumental albums. More often than not, the purpose of such albums tends to be more about a musician (or band) stroking their own ego than putting together entertaining melodies. Every once in a while, however, an instrumental album makes its way into my grubby hands and reminds me of the fact that for every rule there is at least one exception. Origami, the latest release from Italian multi-instrumentalist Red Sky, is one of those exceptional instrumental albums. Though he does flirt with guitar wankery now and then, it's refreshingly obvious that his goal here is to create an elaborate yet engaging auditory experience and not just showboat for showboating's sake.

Perhaps it's a bit unfair to regard Origami as a strictly instrumental album. Voices do appear briefly throughout the album, mostly in the form of poetry recitation, to humanize the lush compositions and elevate the appeal to listeners like me. The vocals also enhance the Gothic undertones of Origami through the use of sinister whispers (as on "Temporale Notturno" and the title track) and the enchanting female lead of album closer "E poi silenzio Pt. 2" performed by Aurora Rosa Savinelli of the Gothic prog outfit Ephesar. Alberto Bernasconi of Nekrosun also makes a guest appearance on the acoustic "L'Ultimo Petalo", providing a break from the male spoken-word style with a passable baritone delivery of the all-Italian lyrics.

Red Sky
As refreshing as the various vocal contributions are, they really comprise only a small portion of Origami. The vast majority of the album is an exercise in classical guitar and synth composition that forsakes grandiosity in favor of nuance. Red Sky's metallized moments have a definite Satriani influence to them, but his versatility shows in the way he blends his crisp leads with various flavors of six-string melodies. "Temporale Notturno" serves as the first indication of the effectiveness of his layering techniques, joining warm acoustic leads with electrified riffs. The next track, "Andalusia", is fittingly built upon a Flamenco-styled performance accentuated by some tasteful noodling and soothing melodies. And so Red Sky progresses through his compositions, treating listeners to favorable soundscapes as he blurs the line between classical, prog, and metal genres.

While the guitar is unquestionably Red Sky's primary weapon, his arsenal is indeed formidable considering the skill with which he wields the keyboards and bass - bolstered by the reinforcement of Laura Balbinot's mournful cello. The strings and synthesized backgrounds maintain the overall dark mood that exists throughout Origami, belying the sometimes wistful tones undertaken by the guitars. Providing a consistently enjoyable backdrop to the varied vocalizations and Red Sky's multifaceted guitar sound, these elements of Origami are nevertheless key to the album's allure.

Given Red Sky's image and the packaging of Origami, it would be easy to mistake this album as something better fit for the avant-garde scene. Instead, this is an album of pseudo-instrumental Gothic metal/rock that is accessible, interesting, and altogether enjoyable.

Track Listing
1Gocce Di Eternità1:04
2Temporale Notturno7:21
3Andalusia (Nostalgia Di Un Tramonto)5:54
4Ti Ho Sfiorata Nei Miei Sogni2:47
5Lo Notte Si Innamorò Del Sole7:01
6Il Filo Rosso2:41
7La Voce Dei Tuoi Occhi Che Mi Rende Pazzo4:18
9Alla Prossima (Forse Un Giorno Ci Rivedremo)7:02
10L'Ultimo Petalo1:54
11L'Ultimo Petalo - Acoustic2:56
12E poi silenzio Pt. 24:10
Total Runtime49:26

Friday, November 16, 2012

Interview: Sara Valente of Chaos in Paradise

Poised for a breakthrough, Portugal's Chaos in Paradise is a dark, melodic metal band with similarities to Lacuna Coil, In This Moment, and Evanescence. Fronted by Sara Valente, whose versatile voice is comprised of equal parts honey and venom, the band recently released their EP Let the Bliss Remain. Sara generously donated some of her time to answer a few questions for Harvest Moon Music's Women of Heavy Metal interview series.

[HMM] For readers unfamiliar with Chaos in Paradise, would you introduce the band?

Sara Valente of Chaos in Paradise
[Sara] Well, we are a female-fronted metal band from Oporto, Portugal. We are a group of five individuals: Quik on drums, Alex on guitar, Pedro on guitar, Bruno on bass and me, Sara, as the leading voice behind a progressive metal band based on every element’s passion for music and above all, a great friendship.

How and when did the band come together?

The first time CIP came together was in 2008, and the band started in Quik’s garage, initially with Quik and Alex, who immediately began the auditions to fill the empty spots on the band. Pedro was the first to join them, then 19 and at last me. There were other people involved in the project at the very beginning of it, including bass player Rui Ferreira and another female vocalist. So it was only in 2009 that the band found the solid and last formation. Unfortunately, early this year, 19 left the band, but then Bruno joined us and we now are all heading for the same purpose and ready to rock!

Is there a story behind the name Chaos in Paradise?

It was a little hard to choose the name Chaos in Paradise, but in the end it made total and perfect sense. The beauty in the music we make is that we have amazing and beautiful guitar riffs that remind us of "Paradise" and we mix them with those heavy catchy riffs and powerful drums creating a strong and chaotic emotion. The vocals complete it with sweet melodies and at the same time fearless screams. So, what we really want is to create an atmosphere connecting the best of these two worlds.

You mentioned that bass player 19 left Chaos in Paradise earlier this year. Do you mind sharing details about the split?

Truth is we noticed the path we wanted to carry on with was different from the one 19 wanted. At that moment we all came to an agreement and the best thing to do was continue without him. He was a great influence to the band and watching him leave was very sad, but as his friends we knew this was the right thing to do and so did he. Now he is working on other projects he already had and which he’s very happy with. We support him on this new chapter and wish him all the best.

After a fair number of auditions, Bruno Martins was brought in as your new bass player in August. What is Bruno's background?

Bruno is a self-taught musician and started playing bass 10 years ago. He is from Brasil and moved to Portugal in 2009. In Brasil he has played in six different bands, one of them symphonic metal and even had a pop-rock band too. Currently he is with Chaos in Paradise and also plays bass with another metal band from Oporto.

The band's second release, the Let the Bliss Remain EP, was released in 2011 and has received a lot of praise. Are you happy with feedback so far, and is there anything about the EP that you would have done differently?

Chaos in Paradise
The results of this EP were surprisingly good for us and the feedback was amazing, better than we expected! We feel we have done a nice job and we are certain that it was the best we could do at the time. Let the Bliss Remain is perfect as it is for us and we never felt the need of changing anything. Its result pleased us in every aspect, from the songwriting to the recording, but we always push ourselves and we know this is not as good as Chaos in Paradise gets…

Who created the cover art?

The cover art was created by the Portuguese designer Augusto Peixoto, from Irondoom Designs. After a careful search from many designers, national and international, we knew he was the right choice. He came up with the concept and we liked it since the beginning.

How do you feel the band's sound evolved from your first, self-titled demo to Let the Bliss Remain?

Our "Demo" is so much different from the EP, and considering both, you can see huge progress in every aspect. All the recording from the "Demo" was in our own rehearsal room, lead by Quik. As for the EP, it was a positive experience for us since for some it was the first time recording on a professional studio (SoundVision Studios at Vila do Conde). Song writing, artwork, lyrics, were all done by ourselves and we are proud of everything we’ve accomplished and convinced we took the right direction with this last work.

Will there be changes to the Chaos in Paradise style on your next release?

Yes, as you might know, we already started writing songs in a lower tuning. For this album we expect to deliver heavier songs, never forgetting our roots. Despite of the differences you notice between the "Demo" and Let the Bliss Remain you can find some reminiscences and similar aspects between them, we always hold this on our minds, but in this album we will also be preparing some surprises. Hopefully, we will do something special and mind-blowing.

How is the new album coming along?

We are taking our time without rushing anything. We want to be sure we’ve done everything perfectly and we want to be even more satisfied than we were with the EP. Some of the songs are completed and we are confident with the choices made so far, also, we started creating the album concept and currently we are seeking other Portuguese designers and producers. It’s a priority to us working with different people and having different experiences, but above all, creating something from our own country, doing all that has to be done involving Portuguese people in every feature.

Chaos in Paradise recently played a fourth anniversary show at Metalpoint in Porto. How do you feel that went?

It was one of the most awesome nights for us! Just amazing! We were surrounded by friends and fans that have been following us since the beginning of the band. It was a night full of surprises. We played at the spot from our very first gig, called Metalpoint, in Oporto. We gave away five special editions of Let the Bliss Remain, made a commemorating video to show at the gig, brought a huge cake and some bottles of champagne and played an exclusive new song that will be part of our first album. Of course people went nuts when they heard we were playing a new song, but we felt they deserved it. After the gig, the party went all night long and for sure is a night for us to remember!

Sara Valente of Chaos in Paradise
Most of your touring has been in Portugal, with at least one appearance in Spain. Are there any plans in the works to play shows or festivals in other locations?

We haven’t played a lot outside Portugal but we are ready to start it at least throughout Europe on a first approach. At this time it’s almost unthinkable, but once we have finished the album recordings, it’s the right step to take. We hope it’s soon because we are excited to visit and spread our music live in foreign countries!

Are there any interesting stories from previous gigs that you’d be willing to share?

Our gig at Spain, for example, was awesome but we had a huge setback! We decided to go from Oporto to Madrid with two cars so we could carry all the equipment and also bring some friends. The trip to Spain was great and the show was pretty nice but when we were returning to Portugal the day after, one of the cars broke down and Quik, Alex and I had to wait for three hours for the trailer and had to rent a car to return home. Because of the assurance company, we had to rent the car in Madrid and had to drive through all Spain to Vigo and then someone hired by the company would pick us up there and drive us home. Nevertheless we ended up having a great experience since we ended up discovering beautiful places in that trip!

Is there one song in particular that you love to perform live?

In fact, for me, there is! It’s a song from Let the Bliss Remain called "Beyond the Horizon". It’s my favorite song and every time we play it I feel we can deliver a strong and positive message and of course, we love to see the audience head banging on the breakdown! And also, we all love to play our song from the music video, "Sanzu River".

Your video for "Sanzu River" is outstanding - very professional and well-produced. How involved was the band in the concept of the video?

The whole concept was developed by Chaos in Paradise. We created the story and also produced the video, so we were deeply involved with it. We then contacted 2Spot Media to film it. They loved the project and helped us by making some changes and adding some details. We owe them so much for their great job and the results, as you can see, are just amazing, greater than we expected!

The performance scenes from the video were shot at night in the middle of winter. How fun was that?

Chaos in Paradise
Not so fun as you might think! We’ve chosen a large field, normally used for wedding parties that had a river right in front of it. We were there from 5pm to 8pm preparing the scenario and then we started shooting right away. From 8pm to 3am we faced a terrible cold weather and I remember at one time we went to check the temperature: - 2°C! We were not dressed properly to those temperatures and proof of it is our breath that you can see in the video! Already facing the cold we had another problem too because the grass was a little icy so we kept slipping! It was a great experience for us and we had a lot of fun too, but we learned our lesson, next time we will shoot our music videos in the summer!

The lyrics to "Sanzu River" are pretty dark, and the title (I'm guessing) refers to the Buddhist "River to the Underworld". Where did the inspiration for this song come from?

The lyrics on this song refer to an important person on my life, my grandma. She unfortunately passed away too soon on Christmas time, when I was 10 years old. She raised me, so I felt I needed to give back something to her and this song made it possible. If you read the lyrics you understand the pain of her loss but at the same time the will to do better and go through it letting the pain in the past.

Is the songwriting process for Chaos in Paradise a group effort?

Definitely! All the songwriting is done by us and everyone participates. We discuss every detail and if someone doesn’t like something, even if it is a little note somewhere we try to change it and make everyone happy.

Chaos in Paradise has a very strong social media presence - frequent Facebook updates, videos, etc. How important do you feel social media is to emerging bands?

Nowadays social media is a big deal and it’s our way to show our fans exclusive stuff all the time. We think it’s important to make our fans feel more involved with our work, and of course, have contact with people from all around the world. For an emerging band there’s no better way to do this than through internet.

How long have you been singing, and what led to your involvement in heavy metal?

I’ve been singing since I was 8 years old and for 10 years I sang in an amateur choir as a soprano. But at the age of 14 I started discovering metal and felt something I’ve never felt before. As I belonged to the choir, at first I started listening to symphonic metal bands with female vocals, but since then I’ve explored a lot of other metal kinds. I felt the need to start singing a different style, so I joined a rock band of covers and then another band, this time metal and with original songs. None of them were truly what I wanted at the time but then I found out Chaos in Paradise were searching for a vocalist, I applied to the audition and here I am now, 3 years later and happy with my choices.

If there was one bit of advice that you could give to a woman with aspirations to sing in a heavy metal band, what would it be?

Being a woman in a metal band sometimes leads to controversy, so what I would say is just to follow your dream, never giving up and putting your heart truly into it. It’s a tough world out there and being in the music industry can be ungrateful so many times, so whatever the style of metal it is, do it with passion!

Finally, do you have any parting words for your fans and for those who may be reading about Chaos in Paradise for the first time?

I would like to thank everyone for all the support so far that has kept us working with even more passion! For those who are hearing about us for the first time, if you like metal with heavy riffs and some nice melodies and groove, you can check our Facebook page at and also our YouTube page at You won’t be disappointed!

Thank you so much Sara!  I'm looking forward to hearing your new material.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Review: Derelict - Perpetuation (2012)

Derelict [ Website | Facebook | Bandcamp ]

Derelict - Perpetuation
Technical death metal is truly a niche sub-genre. Not everyone can weather the onslaught of blistering riffs and unrelenting beats that define the style. Those who can are often very critical listeners, able to dissect and identify subtle nuances and trends that - for the rest of us, anyway - are blurred by the outright brutality of the music. Montreal's Derelict is a band whose somewhat unorthodox style of injecting traces of melody into their tech death style has caught the attention of discerning fans since emerging onto the scene with their 2009 debut album Unspoken Words. An EP and several high-profile tours later, the band is back with their second full-length release Perpetuation. The album exists as a precarious rope bridge strung across the chasm that seperates ferocity and acessibility. With an almost reluctant attempt to push the formidable tech death boundaries, Perpetuation extends a welcoming hand to metal fans who would otherwise steer clear of the style, while at the same time posing no risk of disenfranchising Derelict's fanbase.

Perpetuation is dominated by a fairly typical tech death style comprised of trebly riffs, irregular song structures, impossibly fast blastbeats, and throat-shredding vocals that fluctuate between hellish shrieks and raging growls. Derelict bolsters this signature sound by placing an uncommon emphasis on perceptible bass lines and short bursts of six-string noodling. That's right, you can actually hear Sébastien Pittet's four-string serenade rise to the surface of the mix and share the spotlight with Max Lussier's fretboard antics. Songs such as "Olympic", the title track, and "Recreated" fit squarely in the realm of Derelict's chosen market, and offer the purest attraction for fans of undiluted technical death metal.

Based upon their history and many of the songs on Perpetuation, Derelict's goal is not to paint themselves into a stylistic corner but to reach across the aisle, so to speak, in an attempt to marry brutality with melody. It may take a determined listen to perceive all of the ways in which the band strives to achieve this goal, but once detected the nuances present an interesting experience. "Spoils Of War" is a song that opens with a blatantly classic metal lead, and at several points during the course of its runtime Lussier delivers riffs with a grinding, thrashy touch. "Digital Birthright" also sports some mosh-inducing riff action, while "Expiry" has obvious power metal undertones and a nicely executed solo. All of the tracks on Perpetuation boast soloing to one degree or another, though those on "Intricate Decay" and "Digital Birthright" showcase Lussier at his most soulful.

One of the criticisms leveled against the tech death style is an overall lack of variation from song to song. On Perpetuation, Derelict defeats auditory numbness through unusual (for the style) guitar heroics and Eric Burnet's tireless vocal performance. There's a common sound that binds the album together, of course, and picking up on the subtleties takes some work, but Perpetuation is an album that will find traction among tech death and extreme - but not so brutal - metal fans alike.
Track Listing
2Spoils Of War3:38
4Digital Birthright3:26
5Intricate Decay4:38
9Yours To Surpass2:35
10Shackles of Indoctrination4:48
11The Iridium Layer3:54
Total Runtime43:38

Monday, November 12, 2012

Interview: Beyza of Astral Tears

Based in Orléans, France, Astral Tears is a dark, melodic metal band with similarities to outfits such as Lacuna Coil and Tristania. Fronted by the charismatic Beyza, who bolsters the band's sound with interesting Middle Eastern vocal melodies, Astral Tears recently released their debut album Hypnotic to critical acclaim. Beyza kindly took a few moments to participate in Harvest Moon Music's Women of Heavy Metal interview series.

[HMM] For readers who may be unfamiliar with Astral Tears, would you introduce the band and describe your role?

Beyza of Astral Tears
[Beyza] Astral Tears is a France-based band, co-founded in the late 2009 by Max (Guitars) & myself (Vocals) . Grem (Bass) and Jelly ( Drums ) joined the band in mid 2010 and lastly Will (Guitars) joined us in 2012.

I can describe our music as "modern melodic metal with Middle-Eastern influences". The "oriental" parts are mostly restricted to the vocal lines. I'm writing the lyrics and the vocal lines, and Max does the rest :)

What brought you and Max together, and is there a story behind the name Astral Tears?

We discovered that we had similar musical tastes. With time, we started to exchange ideas, he was making me listen to the new material he was composing and I started to suggest vocal lines, then we felt that the "magic" was there :)

I guess the mix of two different cultures gave birth to an interesting sound. Concerning the name of the band,  I just liked how it sounded so we decided to keep it.

Your debut full-length album Hypnotic was released in April.  Where did you record the album, and how did the sessions go?

We recorded our album at home!!! :) Max did all of the mixing in our home studio. We tried many techniques to get to the sound we wanted on the album. Brett Caldas Lima did the mastering in his studio (Tower Studios).

How long did it take to write the songs for the album?

Astral Tears
We had spent more than 1 year on songwriting.

Is songwriting for Astral Tears a collaborative process?  If so, what contributions to the writing of Hypnotic did you make?

Max brings the main ideas of the songwriting to the band, then we all discuss them. Often Max is the one who wants to change and improve his ideas. Both Max and I work on the melodies, then I work on the lyrics.

What kinds of things inspired the album's lyrics?

Everyday life, past experiences... anything one can feel and experience in life...

How as the reaction to the album been in France? Have you received feedback from other countries as well?

People here in France like the mix of different elements in our music. We have lots of people listening to our music from other countries as well, so it’s really great for us as a 'new band' to have already a large audience.

Who created the album artwork?

Beyza of Astral Tears
Our album artwork was created by a Belgian artist by the name of Fabrice Lavollay.

Where can readers purchase Hypnotic?

People can buy the album on, etc.. For those whom want to buy the digipack, we sell it on our  online shop.

The band bio mentions "freezing cold temperatures" during the filming of the video for "Sinner". Where was it filmed, and how was the experience (besides the temperature)?

It was shot in November during the night. The days we picked to film, were the coldest of this month. We had great people working with us that didn't care about being tired and cold. We all did the best we could to forget those conditions....

Does the band have any impending tour plans in support of Hypnotic?

For now we don't have any tour plans. We have  some shows coming at the end of the year. You can find all the information on our Facebook page. So stay tuned !!

Beyza of Astral Tears
How long have you been singing, and what led to your involvement in heavy metal?

I've been singing for 2-3 years. I've always listened to Metal music, ever since I was a little girl. It's natural for me to sing in this genre.

Are there any singers in particular who inspire or influence you?

If I think about a female singer who inspired me a lot in the past, she would be Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil. I've been a huge fan of Lacuna Coil for years!!!! Also, I’m very much into Evanescence lately! I’m loving their latest album!

If there was one bit of advice that you could give to a woman with aspirations to sing in a heavy metal band, what would it be?

Just go for it and have fun, but get ready for the criticism at the same time.

Finally, do you have any parting words for your fans and for those who may be reading about Astral Tears for the first time?

If you want to listen to something new, fresh and different, then take a listen!

Thank you Beyza!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Review: A Course Of Action - Dark Before The Dawn (2012)

A Course Of Action [ Website | Facebook | ReverbNation ]
Dark Before The Dawn

A Course Of Action - Dark Before The Dawn
Rooted in the Appalachian reaches of North Carolina, rockers A Course Of Action have been steadily drawing attention to their contemporary sound through tireless performing and a strong DIY work ethic. After more than a decade, during most of which the band was known as Hybrid, A Course Of Action has put forth their debut album Dark Before The Dawn. Drawing on hard rock notables such as Tool, Papa Roach, and Sevendust for inspiration, A Course Of Action's sound integrates well with the style of rock preferred by mainstream listeners.

Dominating Dark Before The Dawn are the pinched, staccato riffs of Jonathan Byrd and John Culberson. The first song on the album, "Tell Me Why", establishes the band's direction with a sputtering pace that is complimented by nicely melodic choruses. Most songs follow this pattern, with "See You Again" offering a bit of a Papa Roach swirl and "Until It's Mine" possessing some Soundgarden qualities, but there's a rougher edge to Dark Before The Dawn that helps distinguish the band from their forerunners. The guitar tone is more jagged than the polished radio darlings which, to me, lends credibility to the band's desire to add a bit of grit to what currently passes as the rock scene. An interesting bit of trivia about A Course Of Action centers on Byrd. Back in the early 1990s, he was a member of the Southern rock outfit Copperhead, whose song "Long Way From Home" was featured in the Mickey Rourke movie Harley-Davidson & The Marlboro Man. Those were some crazy times, kids.

A Course Of Action
Anyway, things really begin to come together for the band on "Never There". The grinding, low-end riffs are more consistent here and keep the song's momentum at an even pace. Byrd and Culberson punctuate the track with several nicely placed leads and a very tasteful solo. "One Step From Down" also maintains a pleasing tempo with melodic, Tool-like riffs. Culberson provides an impassioned vocal performance here as well, adding to the genuine appeal of the song. Overall Culberson has a smokey, mid-range rock 'n' roll voice well-suited to A Course Of Action's musical direction. Never once does he sound strained or hollow.

One other track that stands out on Dark Before The Dawn, despite the halting riff patterns, is "Shadow". The band mixes things up a bit here by bringing in some synth effects which, along with a more discernible bass presence, adds a touch of menace to the track which aligns it a bit more with the dark tone of the album cover.

A Course Of Action's formula is not complicated and does not push any limits, but it does result in an enjoyable listen that modern rock fans will want to experience. I wouldn't be surprised at all to hear songs from Dark Before The Dawn on your favorite Clear Channel station alongside Alter Bridge and Chevelle.

Track Listing
1Tell Me Why4:46
2See You Again3:19
3Never There3:46
4Until It's Mine4:06
5One Step From Down3:50
7Slow Burn Out4:31
8Dark Before The Dawn4:12
Total Runtime37:16

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Interview: Silvia of Anthologies

Blending together healthy amounts of folk and Gothic metal, Italy's Anthologies has steadily built up a healthy following since first hitting the stage two years ago. Their debut release, the aptly named Alpha EP, has elicited favorable support from critics all across Europe and hints at great things yet to come for the band. The band's bass player, Silvia, recently took a few minutes out of her schedule to answer some questions for Harvest Moon Music's Women of Heavy Metal interview series.

[HMM] For readers who may be unfamiliar with Anthologies, would you introduce the band and describe your role?

Silvia of Anthologies
[Silvia] First of all, hi everybody! And thanks Dave for this interview, I confess I’m excited, for me this is the first!

Anthologies…uhm, let me think. If I say Anthologies, I mean decadence. We’re Italian, our sound starts from the passion for folk music and moves to the direction of Gothic and doom metal influences. In the last two years we shared the stage with big names of metal (Finntroll, Eluveitie, Alestorm) and in July we have published our first EP, named Alpha.

I’m the bass (and theremin) player, and also the tyrant! My mates gave me this nickname because I’m the manager of the band, hehehe ☺

How and when was the band formed?

The band was formed in 2008. Me and the singer Alessandro are the founders. We’re best friends since a long time, and with common interests in music. Like other bands, all started out with a beer in a pub and the typical sentence “why don’t we play together?!”

Why did the band choose the name Anthologies?

To recall something old and dusty. As we used to say, Anthologies is a photo that turned to yellow, a collection of asleep thoughts, a dusty ancient book, a suspended dream.

Your biography describes the Anthologies sound as a mixture of folk and Gothic metal.  What bands have influenced your style?

For folk, In Extremo and Skyclad certainly. For Gothic metal, Tiamat, Type O Negative, Paradise Lost, Opeth and Dark Tranquility. The key between the two genres are Moonspell, they have the perfect mix of Gothic and folk, especially in the album Wolfheart, I think.

Your debut album, Alpha, was released in July. How has the reaction to the EP been so far?

Silvia of Anthologies
Very good! We gained a lot of new fans, and compliments from other musicians that shared the stage with us. Also the reviews have been positive until now: we have received good grades from webzines, all above the 80/100. And seeing the people enjoying our music is the best reaction.

Have you had much feedback from other countries in Europe and elsewhere?

Yes, and this is the real surprise for us, it is more than we expected. We have received requests for reviews, interviews and purchasing from France, Hungary, Great Britain, Sweden and also from USA, thanks to you! It means that our music is “strong” enough to cross the ocean. It’s a big award and we’re sincerely happy about that.

How long did it take to write and record Alpha?

Not much for the record, actually. The songs were ready since a long time, but we have had some changes in the line-up that have stopped both the work of songwriting and of arrangement a few times. Then we entered the recording studio in March and finished in May, because for job commitments we only have two days a week for recording!

Is the songwriting process for Anthologies a collaborative one?  If so, what are your contributions?

Yes, it is absolutely open. Generally Fabrizio (guitar) introduces some guitar riffs and Alessandro chooses a lyric from his notebook, and amazingly, the lyric fits perfectly the music! It’s magic! But everyone can provide ideas and all of us work on the arrangement. Instead some songs are born from jams in warm-up exercises during rehearsals, spontaneously. My contribution is basically in the arrangement, or in the whole structure of songs (you can hear me screaming: “Noooo, this guitar solo is too long! It Is boring! And here we put a stop!” and similar!!)

The EP contains a cover of "Paura Del Demonio" - which I believe in English is "Fear of the Devil" - by the Italian neo-folk project Rose Rovine E Amanti.  How did Anthologies choose this song to cover?

Correct, “Paura del Demonio” is “Fear of the Devil”! We chose this song because me and Alessandro are great old fans of Rose Rovine e Amanti, and when I heard the song I simply thought: wow, it’s perfect for us! The atmosphere is close to the one we want to arouse, and Alessandro’s growl sounds good in the contrast between the chorus and quietness of the first verse. Also Damiano, the singer and the composer of Rose Rovine e Amanti, likes our version of his song. We met him some weeks ago at a concert and we could finally talk to him, he’s a great man!

I read that the band is searching to add a new member to its ranks.  What kind of musician are you looking for, and how do you expect him or her to influence the band's sound?

Ad: “We’re looking for a multi-instrumentalist!” ☺
We’d like to give our music much more folk influence further than Italian legends and folklore in lyrics. We already have a big number of ethnic instruments, but we can’t obviously change our instruments for every song, during live concerts it is very difficult. I think that a violin or winds would be optimal. The new member must have the will to grow with us, our music is young, help us make it complete!

Your gig schedule looks pretty full for the near future. Are there any big touring plans for 2013?

No big tours for the future, but who knows? At the moment we only have some gigs in Italy in pubs and concert halls, I hope in the future we can have a professional tour as opener for some great band.

Have you toured outside of Italy?

Not yet! But we’re programming a little tour in Switzerland for 2013, with local bands. Alessandro and me have some contacts there. I hope it succeeds!

Do you have a favorite song to play live?

At the moment I think “My Cards”. It has good changes of atmosphere, the bass arpeggio before the first chorus and the fast outro are funny to play.

Anthologies has opened for such bands as Eluveitie and Finntroll, which must have been very exciting. Are there any interesting stories from past gigs that you'd be willing to share?

Silvia of Anthologies
Oh, you mean stories like when a cable inside my bass got broken during the show before Finntroll? Aaaaargh not this, it was a poor figure! But I have a curious fact to share with you: recently we have written a song dedicated to Edgar Allan Poe. Every time we play this song live, something bad happens! It starts raining and it ends exactly at the ending of the song, the power goes down on stage, or the stage itself is confiscated (yes, I’m not kidding!). Every concert brings amazing stories…not all can be told, hehehe!

How long have you been playing bass, and what led to your involvement in heavy metal?

I started playing bass when I was 15, now I’m 26…I have been playing for around 11 years, 4 of which with Anthologies (but until 2010 the band was not active on stage). When I started I would also play other kinds of music (punk, rock, alternative and indie), but metal music has always been continuous in my musical growth.

Are there any specific bass players who inspire or influence you?

Well, when I started playing bass my influences were Steve Harris and Geezer Butler. Now I can say that my references are Sting and Bootsy Collins, but I actually go on playing bass like Geezer does! Groove and scales! Yeah!

I read on your website that Marilyn Manson was one of the artists that led you to the Gothic style of music.  Are there others that turned you on to the style, and is Gothic imagery something that carries over into your non-musical life as well?

Yes, I started listening to Marilyn Manson when I was twelve and for a child his music and his image are a great influence. But my mind was already predisposed to Gothic stuff I think, because when I was six I stole from my father a book of Poe’s poems and I only drew monsters at school! After Manson, I started listening to traditional dark wave and post punk, dressing in total black, watching horror and silent movies, reading decadence poetry…Gothic imagery is an important part of my life. I can’t see myself as not dressing in black or without heavy makeup. I can define myself with few words: dark and nerd!

If there was one bit of advice that you could give to a woman with aspirations to play guitar in a heavy metal band, what would it be?

Silvia of Anthologies
If someone tells you that you can’t play like a man, or they don’t  want a girl in their bands, take your instrument and show them what you can do!! And then, please, remind them that you have something they cannot have. Yes, we’re thinking about the same thing! LOL

Finally, do you have any parting words for your fans and for those who may be reading about Anthologies for the first time?

Thanks to everyone who supported Anthologies’ music. Without fans a band loses its reason to be. We’re so lucky to have so many people that follow and support us. If you like our music, please put  a “like” on our Facebook page!

At last I would like to thank you Dave for giving me the opportunity to participate in this interview and for your interest in our music.

See you on stage guys, cheeeeeerz from Italy!

Thank you Silvia for the enjoyable interview! I'm looking forward to the next dark chapter in Anthologies' story.