Metal Chick of the Month – Başak Ylva

Between love and hate… I’m waiting for you daydreamer…

There’s nothing better than celebrating any type of anniversary with some classy metal music, and here at The Headbanging Moose it couldn’t be any different than that as we celebrate eight years of existence supporting the underground by paying a humble tribute to our beyond amazing metal chick of the month of October. Owner of a stunningly operatic voice, she’s the singer, songwriter and founder of a fantastic Symphonic Metal act that goes by the poetic name of Dream Ocean, as well as a professional Opera singer. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the multi-talented Başak Ylva, also known as Başak C., a woman that will surely put you in a trance with her powerful vocals and stylish music. Are you ready to join Basak and The Headbanging Moose on a very pleasant symphonic journey?

Born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, but currently residing in Cologne, the largest city in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Başak began her singing career at the age of seven encouraged by her parents (although they were hoping she would sing traditional Turkish music) in the children’s choir of the TRT (Turkish Radio and Television) and continued it in 2003 as a soprano in the youth classical choir of the TRT. During her high school years, she initially pursued a scientific focus, which she followed in 2004 with a degree in business administration at the University of Istanbul, which she completed in 2008 as a bachelor’s degree. On the advice of her professors, she decided in 2008 to make music her profession and at the age of 23 she started her first bachelor’s degree for her operatic career with Prof. Ayşe Sezerman in Opera singing at the Music Conservatory of Istanbul University as a mezzosoprano. During her studies, she sang as a choir singer in various Opera projects such as Die Opernprobe and Dido and Aeneas, while in 2012 she sang for the first time in Europe at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival under the direction of Rolf Beck, later making her solo debut in 2013 as Susanna in La Nozze di Figaro.

After completing her bachelor’s degree in 2014 in the role of Giovanna Seymour from Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, she began her master’s degree at the University of Music and Dance in Cologne with Professor Mechthild Georg in 2015, where she sang in many different Opera projects such as the literary Opera of the HfMT Cologne, AscheMOND or The Fairy Queen (choir, Opera Wuppertal), Hansel and Gretel (witch, Opera studio of the HfMT Cologne), Dido and Aeneas (Sorceress, Festival of Early Music Knechtsteden) and The Clever Little Fox (Forester and Owl at the Theater Aachen). In addition to her operatic activities, she also performs musicals and film and crossover music with event orchestras. Furthermore, as a choir and solo singer, she was able to gain further experience with conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Helmuth Rilling, Tan Dun and E. Oronzo Estrada in countries such as Brazil, China, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Poland and South Korea.

An accomplished mezzosoprano and vocal coach, an admirer of makeup, interior design, fashion, movies and video games, and a huge supporter of female freedom and empowerment, Başak started her metal music career with Dream Ocean in Turkey in 2009, having “moved” the band to Germany in 2015 to pursue her career as an Opera singer. As she’s the creative mind, lyricist and composer behind the band, it was becoming really hard for her to fly all the time back to Turkey due to the fact she had been working in Germany for three years already. Currently comprised of our beloved diva together with Oz Khan and Borna Matosic on the guitars, Sebastian Heuckmann on bass, Nils Kessen on drums and Sebastian Plück on the keyboards, the band has been on a roll for the past ten years, having already released the EP Daydreamer, in 2012, and the full-length albums Lost Love Symphony, in 2018, and The Missing Stone, now in 2021. Before that, the band was “just a name” according to Başak herself, as they were just entertaining themselves without investing into anything more serious at first. In other words, Dream Ocean was a hobby band where they tried some covers with friends every now and then in the studio, and then she started to write her own songs and got encouraged to take things a lot more serious due to all the positive feedback received. As they were all working in different jobs or studying, and due to their their limited financial situation, they couldn’t record and album and the band was put on hold from 2011 to 2016. In between that they still did concerts and wrote songs, until they were finally able to record their debut album. If you want to have a very good taste of the music by Dream Ocean, you can enjoy several of their official videos on YouTube including Eterna Espera, Uyan, Daydreamer, The Great Silence, Somewhere Untouched, Everstorm, Forever and Beyond The Greed, or you can also stream all of their creations on Spotify.

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As aforementioned, Başak is also a professional Opera singer, using even a different name for her metal career (Başak Ylva, instead of Başak C.) due to the prejudice that still exists in classical music. “I actually try to hide it. Because in the past, I was told that I am dressing too much femme fatale-like, very extravagant. Or that my hair was too red for singing in a church. Or I should not make my hair blond because I am Turkish. Or that I should not wear red lipstick because this was not a job to wear red lipstick. Therefore the classical music branch, especially in Germany, not so much in Sweden or Norway, but in Germany, it is terribly backwards and conservative. And several times, I got severely bullied because of that,” commented our diva. Still regarding her career as an Opera singer, she described the dark moments experienced during the COVID-19 lockdown in Germany. “We performed a couple of performances around September and October. But then the next lockdown came, and the theatre decided to not extend the contracts. And when I thought I was just starting my job and was thinking, I landed in a good opera house, and I could slowly build up my career. And now I was jobless! Like from top to zero. Of course, for me, this is another thing. When I don’t have a job, I am at risk to lose my visa. And I am also helping my brother in Turkey. So everything went down. And I got a big depression. I could not go out for 6 months. I did not sing for 6 months. And I just started to have therapy. Because everything was falling apart in my life. I mean, in everybody’s life, in Sebastian’s too. But for me, my visa and everything is depending on my job. I thought something like, my career has ended. I’m done. They will throw me out of the country.”

Although she doesn’t have any side projects aside from Dream Ocean, Başak mentioned in one of her interviews that she would love to do her own solo crossover project with folk and Celtic touches. However, due to her very busy agenda with Dream Ocean and her career as an Opera singer, she said it will be really tough to actually pursue that. Let’s say that she already does A LOT with both Dream Ocean and her classical career (as you can see in her beautiful repertoire), and that we’re all more than fine with “just” those two projects. And lastly, regarding her influences and idols in music and what inspires her the most to compose her stunning creations, Başak said her introduction to Symphonic Metal happened with Nightwish, plus a local Turkish band called Almôra (which unfortunately split up in 2009). She said she used to listen to those bands and sing along with them, and the final result was so good that later on Almôra found her recordings online and invited her to sing with them in front of a real audience. Moreover, she also expressed her passion for Opera as well, saying that in the end her distinct influences end up complementing each other. “I love Opera because it has another challenging side and gives another satisfaction such as learning very hard, complicated music and then singing it with perfect technique. One is for technicality and the other is for my creativity.” Having said all that, how about we stop right here and go listen to the amazing creations by our metal diva and her Dream Ocean, and also enjoy her awesome performances as an Opera singer? I’m sure you’ll love every single second of her music and get addicted to her distinguished voice.

Başak Ylva’s Official Facebook page
Başak Ylva’s Official Instagram
Başak Ylva’s Official YouTube channel
Dream Ocean’s Official Facebook page
Dream Ocean’s Official Instagram
Dream Ocean’s Official Twitter
Dream Ocean’s Official YouTube channel

“I just want people to know that musicians and the audience – we complete a whole and we’re the same. Having the same struggles and happiness, the same problems and same solutions – one may find the way easier while the other needs to take a second look. But in the end, we meet at the same place, which is the concert hall. There we want to reach them, get to know them, and for them to get to know us. To see that we mean what we play and sing with our words, and while we do this we want to be speaking their words. Things maybe they could never say out loud. We just want people to know that we desire to tell stories and meet with people who ARE the heroes of those stories. We hope we can do this.” – Başak Ylva

Metal Chick of the Month – Ira Sidenko

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How to open your heart in the chaos of life? Learn to give and to share, to hustle and strive…

If you consider yourself a diehard fan of both old school and modern-day Death Metal, I’m certain you’ll have a very good time with our metal chick of the month of September. Not only she’s the owner of a potent and visceral voice, but her charisma, together with her onstage (and onscreen) performance, turn her into a must-listen and see for any admirer of first-class extreme music. I’m talking about the unstoppable Russian growler Ira Sidenko, also known as Irina Sidenko (or even Ирина Сиденко in Russian), the frontwoman for Tomsk, Russia-based Death Metal brigade Dehydrated, and a metalhead who is always expressing her passion for Heavy Metal through her music and art.

Born in the city of Tomsk, in Tomsk Oblast, a federal subject of Russia (an oblast) that lies in the southeastern West Siberian Plain, Ira studied at Tomsk State University, or TSU, known in her mother tongue as Томский Государственный Университет, or ТГУ, but it’s not clear exactly what course or courses she took at TSU. It was in 2008 when she founded Dehydrated (being named Dehydrated Entrails from 2008 until 2009, when they changed their name to the current one) together with guitarist Evgen Tsibulin, bassist Evgeny Zimin and drummer Alexey Ablayev, with only Ira and Evgen being still in the band from its original formation. Playing a fusion of classic Death Metal with other styles such as Deathcore, Grindcore, Groove Metal and even Progressive Metal, among others, the band didn’t know exactly what they wanted to play at first, but they knew it was going to be hard and aggressive, experimenting with several genres and subgenres of heavy music as aforementioned. By the way, when asked about the origin of the band’s name, Ira explained that’s how you feel after a concert, feeling dehydrated both physically and mentally after all the exchange of energy between the band and the crowd.

Having already played in several international festivals including Metal Head’s Mission (Ukraine), Metal Crowd (Belarus), Petrogrind (St. Petersburg), Metal Maidens (Kaluga), and Cieszanów Rock Festiwal (Poland), as well as tours around Russia and Eastern Europe, the band has unleashed upon humanity an array of high-quality albums and EP’s, those being the 2009 demo Suffering from Mummification, the full-lengths Duality of Existence (2011), Zone Beneath the Skin (2012) and Awake in Era (2012), the EP’s Mind Extract (2011), Piranha or Whale? (2019) and Piranha or Whale (Part II) (2020), and a 2011 split with the bands PureFilth, Grace Disgraced and Redrvm. Furthermore, in one of her interviews, Ira mentioned that her favorite Dehydrated album to date is Awake in Era, as she considers it more professional and more atmospheric than the other releases, with each of its songs representing a different story, but I’m sure that opinion will change with each of their releases just like what happens with any musician. And when asked about what Dehidrated means to her, she said that as music is her life, the band represents life to her, always showing a lot of love for her own work.

Dehydrated are a DIY band, doing everything themselves and relying a lot on the internet for sales and promotional activities just like countless underground bands worldwide. Ira mentioned that services like BandCamp, Spotify, Patreon and YouTube have been helping the band a lot with their promotion, but that at the same time they still have a hard time trying to organize tours all by themselves.  Hence, if you want to give the music by Dehydrated a try, you can stream all of their creations on BandCamp, on Spotify and on YouTube, where you can have an absolute blast with songs the likes of Hell Doesn’t Exist, Parallels, Sickness, Outlaws, Thirst of Dose, Werewolf, Alive Underground, Piranha or Whale, and their excellent covers for Motörhead’s Ace of Spades and Lake of Tears’ U.N.S.A.N.E.

Apart from her career with Dehydrated, you can also find Ira kicking some ass with a female-fronted metal band from Saint Petersburg, Russia named Fallcie for a while, and she can also be seen as a guest vocalist in the song А Время Шло, from the 2020 EP А Время Шло (or “time went on”) by Kaluga, Russia-based Melodic Death Metal band Last Trial. In addition, Ira is also an amazing online vocal coach as you can see on her own YouTube channel, not only providing some great tips to growlers worldwide, but also uploading to her channel cover versions for countless songs the likes of Slaughter to Prevail’s Hell, Rammstein’s Sonne, Linkin Park’s From the Inside, Decapitated’s Homo Sum, Death’s Without Judgement, Vader’s Hexenkessel, and Whitchapel’s I Dementia.

All those top-notch cover versions are not in vain, as all of those bands are also part of Ira’s idols and influences list. As a matter of fact, when asked about how she would define the sound by Dehydrated, she mentioned it’s a fusion of different styles from bands such as Death, Gojira, Animal as Leaders, and so on. Regarding her personal preferences, our beloved growler mentioned the first bands she fell in love with were Rammstein and Slipknot, later moving on to Black and Death Metal and getting absolutely addicted to that. Furthermore, the first time she heard a Death Metal band was when she got to know the music by Aborted, also getting hooked to the music by Whitechapel, Deicide and Vital Remains. However, Ira said she doesn’t have any limits when listening to music, being also a fan of Jazz, Blues, Grindcore and many other distinct styles, but of course always praising metal behemoths the likes of Motörhead, Manowar and Metallica.

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Ira also provided her view on how to become a metal vocalist in one of her interviews, saying that there’s no secret to that but several years of practice and studies (and tons of mistakes) and a never-ending desire to grow, always searching for the right sound and for professional development. Although she mentioned she hadn’t had an older brother to show her metal music, Ira mentioned she had a friend with whom she used to listen to Rammstein together, which inspired her to form a band and, later, as her taste for music became heavier and heavier, she naturally decided to learn how to do guttural by herself. Having the flexibility to sing in English, Russian and German, Ira believes her vocal performance and her confidence have improved a lot since the band’s 2009 debut demo Suffering from Mummification, again pointing out to the importance of constant learning to become a better vocalist.

When asked about the metal scene in Russia (and in Eastern Europe in general), she thinks the bands in Russia need to show more of their own culture and ideas when creating music instead of trying to mimic famous European or American bands, but of course she acknowledges there are tons of fantastic bands in her homeland such as Katalepsy and Arkona. Moreover, in regards to her hometown Tomsk, she said that there was a time when Siberia, where Tomsk is located, once had a very strong metal scene, but that has changed over time and today the scene is not as powerful and the attendance to metal concerts has dropped significantly. She complemented by saying that not only in Tomsk, but in the entire Russia (and maybe we can also add the rest of the world to the mix), you can only get in contact with metal music through the internet, as the radio and TV do not offer any space to bands like Dehydrated, and there aren’t any major festivals either to promote the bands. She still thinks that there are great bands coming from her hometown, though, such as Apokefale and Dark Revenge, which needless to say need our total support to avoid getting extinct.

Last but not least, our Russian growler believes that becoming a Death Metal vocalist isn’t easy at all, it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, but of course it can be a little bit tougher to girls depending on the situation due to the sexism that still happens in the metal community all over the world. She said that once in a while she’s the target of that sexism, but she doesn’t really care about it and keeps working hard to make Dehydrated a better band and to make herself a better vocalist. When asked about how she responds to those attacks, she said she simply doesn’t answer back to the haters, ignoring them on social media and focusing on what really matters, which is the opinion and support of her fans, her friends and her family. And to be fair, she’s more than right in doing so, avoiding bringing that negativity to her work as a musician, therefore keeping her haters screaming in anger (but not as greatly as her) for not engaging in a virtual battle with her. That’s how you recognize a true musician, and let’s hope Ira keeps growling in our faces for many years to come with her ass-kicking band.

Ira Sidenko’s Official VKontakte
Dehydrated’s Official Facebook page
Dehydrated’s Official VKontakte
Dehydrated’s Official Instagram
Dehydrated’s Official YouTube channel

“We are very pleased to be able to create and do what we like, we do not know for how long but the only certainty is that there is only one here and now. We look to the future positively.” – Ira Sidenko

Metal Chick of the Month – Lilita Arndt

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Eternal darkness is covering my eyes and penetrating me…

Dark skies are over us all once again here on The Headbanging Moose thanks to the raw and visceral Black Metal crafted by a multi-talented woman who will undoubtedly blacken our hearts even more. Hailing from Rivne, a historic city in western Ukraine located over 300 kilometers to the west of the country’s capital Kiev, she’s not only an amazing Extreme Metal vocalist, but she also plays all instruments including lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars, bass and drums for her stunning one-woman Occult and Depressive Black Metal project entitled Ieschure. Her poetic name, Lilita Arndt, adds an extra touch of beauty to her unique creations, and you’ll be more than pleased with her music, her view of Black Metal and how she incorporates all her influences into each one of her songs.

Lilita’s interest in writing and playing music began at a very early stage of her childhood, when she started to write lyrics and later tried to create simple melodies for them on her acoustic guitar, which by the way was her very first instrument, then learning how to play keyboards (followed by all other instruments she currently knows), all self-taught and never having any sort of formal or structured music lessons with anyone. After taking part in different projects as a singer, including an old acoustic project called Embrace of Hedera from 2007 until 2015 which played melancholic, dark and romantic music with acoustic guitars and clean female vocals (and with whom she recorded the album The Castle On The Rolling Hills in 2015), Lilita wanted to explore new territories by creating her own music with her own melodies, lyrics, singing and atmosphere, being the mastermind of her own project and experimenting with melodies and vocals, the main reason why she decided to found her own solo project Ieschure back in 2015.

A word chosen by Lilita after the whole album The Shadow was finished in 2017, Ieschure has the project’s name related to occult things and the meaning of this word is really important for her, although our multi-talented musician prefers it to be known only by herself. Dealing with classic Black Metal lyrical themes such as occultism, witchcraft and death, and using a serpent as her symbol (more specifically as a primitive symbol of power and wisdom but at the same time representing death and damnation), this one-woman Black Metal force has already released an array of bold, captivating albums since the project’s inception in 2015, those being the aforementioned full-length opus The Shadow, in 2017, the EP’s Cold Stars of Eternity and Phantoms of God, in 2020, and more recently the split album Witch’s Consecration, now in 2021, with Brazilian Black Metal horde Promethean Gate. If you want to have a very good taste of how breathtaking the music by Ieschure is, you can enjoy some awesome songs online such as Eternal Agony, Mystic Schizophrenia and Phantoms Of God, or simply go to BandCamp, to Big Cartel and to Spotify (or click HERE) to stream and purchase all of her wicked creations.

Not only the woman responsible for all vocals and instruments in all of Ieschure releases, Lilita also handles all recording, mixing, mastering, lyrics and layout of the albums, which is absolutely in line with her initial dream of having a project of her own. In addition, Lilita has also collaborated in several albums from other bands, with the most memorable for her to date being singing with the bands Detention and Restless. For instance, she recorded vocals for the songs Nidhogg (from the album Lost Souls in a Godless World) and Wolf’s Head (from the album The Battle of Tara) by American Doom/Stoner/Southern Metal band Black Mountain Thunder, both in 2015; vocals for the song The Face of God, from the 2015 self-titled album by American Stoner/Doom Metal band Clawhammer; vocals on the 2014 album Marginal, by Kazakh Depressive Metal band Detention; vocals on the song Rurel, from the 2018 self-titled EP by Italian Black/Folk Metal band Dovrefjell; backing vocals on the songs Spiritueller Selbstmord, from the 2014 album Verwüstung, and Wenn Die Sterne Nicht Mehr Scheinen, from the 2014 EP Horizont, by Ukrainian Black Metal/Ambient band Moloch; vocals on the 2017 album Funeral Impressions, by Italian Funeral Doom Metal band Restless; and vocals on the song Bride of Winter, from the 2016 album Forgotten Tales, by Italian Black Metal band Waldweg; not to mention the cover art for the 2019 EP The Wanderer, by Tuskish Atmospheric Black Metal band Akrunant.

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Regarding her first experiences with Heavy and Black Metal, Lilita mentioned in one of her interviews that she began listening to popular metal bands when she was a teenager, becoming more and more interested in the underground and, consequently, getting attracted to the world of Black Metal. In her opinion, Black Metal is not just a music style, but a dark side of art, an irrational fusion of music, theatre and philosophy, full of paradoxes and concentrating the strongest emotions, hatred and some perverted love to life, which is the main reason why she considers it perfect. She complemented by saying that she has felt the presence of hidden forces in the world since she was a little child, gradually getting more interested in those and in occultism, also saying that realizing that she will die some day was what truly attracted her to that. Apart from drawing inspiration from the works of renowned occultists the likes of Aleister Crowley, Eliphas Levi, Stanislas de Guaita and George Gurdjieff, she also enjoys reading and studying about her work as a designer, all forms of art, mythology, psychology, history, travelling and everything that can give her new knowledge about the world. And in terms of what inspires the music by Ieschure the most, she mentioned Black Metal behemoths such as early Urfaust, Behexen, Rotting Christ, My Dying Bride, Opeth and, above all, Burzum, as his music embodies the ideas of misanthropy and loneliness in the best way imaginable according to our sinister diva.

When asked about her vocal style and technique, Lilita said that her screaming vocals were influenced by classic Black Metal bands, whereas for clean vocals she gets her inspiration from non-Black Metal music, as for example Julie Christmas, her favorite female singer of bands like Battle Of Mice and Made Out of Babies, and Free Dominguez, of Kidneythieves. In addition, regarding her songwriting process, Lilita said the first thing she does is many improvisations on the guitar at her home studio, recording various ideas, listening to them again at a later stage, and if she finds any of those ideas interesting enough she rerecords them to include all other instruments. Also, she complemented by saying most of her time in that process is taken by the lyrics writing process, as she can rewrite those many times and do various vocal improvisations to find the best version, finally rerecording everything.

As a true admirer of the underground, in special the first wave of Black Metal bands, their sound and atmosphere, as well as old Doom Metal, Lilita also said that although she doesn’t listen to a lot of bands from the Black Metal scene in her homeland Ukraine she knows there are several bands and projects in the country who create true underground music, always prioritizing the music instead of fame or money. However, she said she cannot compare herself to any of those bands, as she tries to go her own way with her own opinion about music. In addition, she also mentioned in one of her interviews that she doesn’t usually attend concerts, as for her personally the best way to listen to music is to listen to it in her headphones.

Lastly, when questioned if one day Ieschure will become a full-bodied group with other members joining her, Lilita said that, although she’s always open to change, she doesn’t think that’s a possibility for now. Furthermore, she mentioned that if one day she finds that a good alternative for embodying her ideas she will definitely try working with other musicians, as long as of course they’re sincerely interested in music and follow similar or the same ideas as hers. In the end, it doesn’t matter if she continues to create music as a lone she-wolf or if she finds the perfect lineup for Ieschure, our beloved metal witch will keep experimenting with melodies and vocal styles while always keeping an evil Black Metal atmosphere in the background, playing raw and devilish sounds for our total delectation in the name of darkness, death and the occult.

Ieschure’s Official Facebook page
Ieschure’s Official Instagram
Ieschure’s Official Twitter
Ieschure’s Official YouTube channel

“For me black metal is really a dark side of Art. It’s not just a music style. Mixture of music, theatre and philosophy, more irrational than other music styles, full of paradoxes, concentrating the strongest emotions, hatred and some perverted love to life. That is why it is perfect.” – Lilita Arndt

Metal Chick of the Month – Kell Reis

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When you die… I’ll be there… ‘Cause I’m inside you… Tearing the veil of insanity!

A Brazilian singer who nurtures a deep passion for music, in special of course our beloved Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal, our metal chick of the month of July will hypnotize you with her potent and unique voice, making you addicted to her music and always eager for more of her classy vocal lines. I’m talking about Raquel Reis Gonçalves, better known as Kell Reis or sometimes as Kell Hell, the stunning frontwoman for Brazilian Heavy Metal act Sacrificed and a woman who can sing pretty much any metal or non-metal style you can think of, showcasing an undeniable talent, hard work and focus on everything she does in the world of music, therefore proving once again not only how awesome the Brazilian metal scene is, but also that there are tons of girls in Brazil who proudly carry the flag of heavy music anywhere they go.

Born on May 2, 1989 in the city of Belo Horizonte, the capital city of southeastern Brazil’s Minas Gerais state, which is by the way the same city that gave the world amazing metal acts the likes of Sarcófago and Holocausto, not to mention the one and only Sepultura, the skillful Kell, who has been singing since she was only two years old, started studying music when she was 11 at a non-credit course at UEMG – Universidade Estadual de Minas Gerais, where she spent the next four years studying classical singing. Highly influenced by her parents, as her mother is a singer and her father a singer, pianist and guitarist, not to mention her deceased brother who used to listen a lot to Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, Kell moved from Brazilian kids music like Sandy & Junior to Nirvana when she was around 13, then going straight into rock and metal bands including Black Sabbath, Metallica, Angra and System Of A Down, and joining her first ever band called No Stress, playing grunge music at school. At the age of 18 she joined a Brazilian Hard Rock band named Vienna, and at 19 she became the vocalist for a renowned act in the underground scene in her hometown named Helltown. It was after one of her several gigs with Helltown in a city called Cataguases, around 340km from Belo Horizonte, that she met the guys from Sacrificed, and that leads to our next part of our tribute to Kell.

Officially formed in 2006 in Belo Horizonte by guitarist Diego Oliveira under the name Sacriffice after changing the name from Metal Breath, when they basically played Metallica songs, the band evolved into a regular group playing their own songs influenced by names such as In Flames, Dream Theater, Evergrey, Lacuna Coil, Disturbed, Halestorm and Brazilian popular music known as MPB (plus cover songs for bands like Metallica, Megadeth and Iron Maiden) and changed their name to Sacrificed around 2009, when Kell joined them as their lead singer replacing their previous singer Fabricio just a few days after he left the band. Currently formed of the Kell on vocals and Diego on the guitars together with Sergio Barbieri also on the guitars, Gabriel Fernando on bass and Tiago Vitek on drums, Sacrificed released their debut self-titled EP in 2009, followed by the full-length albums The Path of Reflections, in 2011, and Enraged, in 2018, and more recently the EP Beyond the Gates, in 2021, plus a live album/video named Sacrificed no Release Showlivre in 2019 and appearances in two compilations named Woman from Brazil… The Brazilian Tribute to Deep Purple with the song Fireball, and Somewhere in Brazil… The Brazilian Tribute to Iron Maiden with the song Lord of the Flies, both released in 2020. You can enjoy Kell’s powerful vocals in several of Sacrificed’s songs and official videos such as Meet Your Fate, Silence is the Omen, Say My Name, Vertigo, Call of Insanity, Grudge is My Middle Name, and a cover version for Disturbed’s all-time classic Down With The Sickness, and of course you can always enjoy all of their wicked creations on Spotify.

Kell’s biggest influences in Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal perfectly depict her passion for music and singing, including names the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Dio, Bruce Dickison, Ian Guillan, Eric Adams, Doro Pesch, Lita Ford, Rob Halford and Dani Nolden as her favorite singers, bands like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Sinergy, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Warlock, Judas Priest, Deep Purple and Manowar, and non-metal singers such as Whitney Houston, Ella Fitzgerald, Elis Regina and Maria Calas. She also mentioned during one of her interviews that her influences can vary from time to time, with bands like Halestorm, In This Moment, Arch Enemy and Alter Bridge being among her favorite ones from what can be called a “newer” generation of rock and metal acts. In addition, she mentioned Halestorm’s Lzzy Hale is currently her top vocalist, being influenced not only by her voice but also by her charisma.

When asked about the life of a band in her homeland, Kell said that despite the growing number of excellent metal bands arising from the Brazilian scene, as Brazil is even sometimes labeled as “the homeland of really good metal bands”, with the Death Metal scene being considered quite huge in her hometown Belo Horizonte, unfortunately the lack of new major bands like what Sepultura were in the 90’s makes it difficult for new bands to have their work published by the media, unless of course it’s something fully oriented to the rock and metal scene. She also said that due to the fact we live in a world where the illusory number of “likes” doesn’t actually translate into real fans, a band needs to properly manage their career to attract true people to their music, something a Brazilian Heavy Metal band called Project46 does really well according to her. And despite the fact she thinks that it’s almost impossible to live out of metal music in Brazil, the scene remains strong with a lot of collaboration between bands and, of course, the passion from each musician involved.

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One thing Kell always complains about is the fact that organizing, attending and playing live concerts in Brazil has always been extremely difficult due to several facts such as exorbitant prices, lack of good public transportations, horrible roads and highways, and above all that, the lack of decent proposals that respect the band and its value. Apart from bands like Sepultura and Angra, she mentioned it’s difficult to see independent bands touring around Brazil. For instance, Sacrificed currently focuses their tours in the states of Minas Gerais and São Paulo, although they’re working on expanding their reach to the northern and southern parts of Brazil. Still regarding her life on the road, Kell said that playing alongside Kamelot, Eluviete, Blaze Bayley and The Agonist was truly amazing, but that sharing the stage with Lacuna Coil, one of their main influences, has been indeed one of the most special moments of the band’s career so far.

In addition to her up-and-coming career with Sacrified, Kell also became an active figure in terms of female representation in the Brazilian metal scene, promoting lives on her social media to discuss the theme together with special guests. When questioned how she sees the role of women in the Brazilian metal scene, she said that when she first stepped on stage over a decade ago the scene for women was completely different, having changed to something much better over time, but even today there’s still a lot of prejudice and an unbalance in terms of the number of women in roles such as roadies and sound technicians, and even band members like drummers. She commented she has been barred from entering the dressing room several times because “girlfriends” are not allowed, having to prove she was part of the band and not a groupie, complementing by saying the current women’s movement in metal will surely bring a lot of benefits to any woman worldwide who loves metal and who wants to have equal opportunities to any man, less discrimination and more respect. Furthermore, when asked what advice she would give to girls who want to pursue a career in heavy music, her message was loud and clear. “Don’t give up! Don’t be silent. Don’t settle for less for being a woman! You are not alone,” said Kell, pointing out the crucial importance of the support all girls should provide to each other.

Last but not least, our talented diva, who’s by the way crazy for pasta, whiskey, beer ad wine, strongly believes the underground should be more united in order to make a difference out there, also saying the true support from music fans by attending concerts and buying merch is also essential for the scene to get stronger and stronger. As the frontwoman for an independent band like Sacrificed, she mentioned it’s important for bands and musicians to never give up and keep working hard to make the band as professional as possible, and keep following your dreams no matter what. As Kell mentioned in one of her interviews, the lyrics form Sacrificed’s song Before a Dream, from the album The Path of Reflections, say that “before a dream a storm comes,” but your dream will get closer and closer if you keep walking even during the toughest times. Wise words from a woman that beautifully represents all the passion, talented and hard work of all Brazilians who love metal music from the bottom of their hearts.

Kell Reis’ Official Facebook page
Kell Reis’ Official Instagram
Sacrificed’s Official Facebook page
Sacrificed’s Official Instagram
Sacrificed’s Official YouTube channel

Metal Chick of the Month – Mikaela Attard

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I flew high on black wings when death looked me closer in the eye…

The Headbanging Moose is about to become The RED-banging Moose this summer with our multi-talented, sunning and rebellious metal chick of the month of June, and you better get ready because she’s out for blood. I’m talking about Mikaela Attard, a vocalist, composer, lyric writer and producer hailing from the island of Malta, in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, with a wide vocal range that allows her to easily sing in multiple rock and metal styles, known in the metal community for her time with Maltese Extreme Metal act Martyrium and more recently for her wicked solo project MIKAELA. Born on May 8, 1993, Mikaela has been singing since the young age of eight, having actually started with classical singing training as well as classical piano training and examinations. In addition, she won the Pop Idol in Malta when she was 13 and released her first Alternative Rock EP Hear Me Out when she was 15, with all the singles from the EP getting constant airplay. Do you want more? Alright, here we go.

Having performed on several stages around Malta and overseas, including cities like Los Angeles and Boston, in the United States, and several European countries, Mikaela studied Vocal Performance on campus at Berklee College of Music in Boston and furthered her education with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Production with Summa Cum Laude, always attracted to the creation and production side of the music, and also getting into the science and engineering behind it as well as into Game Audio and Film Scoring. All that passion, talent and education resulted in multiple awards in her career, including Best New Artist in 2010, Best Female Artist and Malta’s Export Artist in 2011, Vodafone Upcoming Artist and Berklee College Singer-Songwriter, and Best Metal Band in 2019.

Let’s begin her journey in our Heavy Metal universe with her two-year stint with Martyrium (or MartYriuM), an Extreme Metal band from Malta formed by Count Mortem in 1999 with the spawn of the second wave of Black Metal, offering fans of extreme music a unique blend of Black and Death Metal with a specific sound design introducing sinister orchestrations and industrial elements to the style. Our red-haired diva began her time with Martyrium back in 2018, and Mikaela herself mentioned that it was a great learning experience in the beginning. However, as time passed by she started to feel very uncomfortable inside the band, stating that things got unacceptable literally, from the conditions how they treated her as a frontwoman and how they used her pictures, never wanting to hear what she had to say about those topics, leading to her departure form the band in 2020. It is what it is, unfortunately, because as you can see in some live videos such as Martyrium playing the song Curse Of Salvation at Oskorei Midvinter Festival in 2019 and the song Vital in Willemeen, Arnhem, Netherlands during the Female Metal Voices Tour 2018 with the Butcher Babies and Kobra and The Lotus, Martyrium kicked some serious ass with Mikaela fronting the band. Not only that, Mikaela had also been part of several collaborations such as Xirka Rock, and collaborated with the legendary multi-instrumentalist Marco Minnemann on his album My Sister on the songs My Sister and A Working Town. In addition, she was also a member of a metal band called Hex Omega during part of the 2010’s.

A few months after leaving Martyrium due to the personal issues listed above with the other band members, our Maltese metal goddess founded her stunning solo project MIKAELA, having already released her debut effort Nocturne In Red in 2020 alongside guitarist and bassist Kyle Farrugia (from Maltese metal band Align the Tide) and the aforementioned Marco Minnemann on drums, bringing to our ears an electrifying and sexy fusion of Metalcore, Deathcore, Progressive, Black, Death and Nu Metal, as you can see in the excellent song Chaotic Mind. According to Mikaela herself, Nocturne In Red is a conceptual album and also comes to terms with her personal experiences. “The concept of the album is about state of the mind. In fact, even it is even portrayed in the artwork on the album. I hold on a crystal ball and assigned to it the human brain. It is dripping black blood from it, and basically what it means is that it is about six different states of the mind and it is different how we perceive them, but sometimes we still are the same in the difference. So that is what it generally is about. All the songs are about a particular episode and that is what inspired me to write a particular song,” said Mikaela, complementing by explaining the idea behind the song Bring Me Blood. “That was inspired by an extreme event I went through in the past. I was the victim of an attempted murder here in Malta. I wrote that song in literally five minutes basically, it was just spitting out the words and music. It just came right on and that is why I decided that it should be the first single on the album, because it is so authentic. It is like: I left from somewhere over there. The song speaks about the anger I felt towards the situation and also towards the misunderstanding of court. I do not think it was well dealt in court, I think justice was not delivered.” And you can watch Mikaela discussing about that in an interview to Gabriel Gignac from Grizzly Media named 10 Bites of Nocturne In Red.

When asked about what us fans should expect from her first solo album, Mikaela explained how different the music style would be from her previous years with Martyrium. “My background of influences are quite different from Martyrium’s, although obviously there’s a lot of common favorites. I, however, like a more dynamic plateau of sounds and textures. I am a lot into deathcore, jazz, classical, electronic, groove and progressive music apart from all the metal in general. Obviously, I have a fond love for Black Metal and Death Metal too as well as all sorts of rock and metal in general. But I’m not quite a one kind of music-kind-of-girl. For that matter, I also love techno and industrial.” Regarding her main influences and idols, as expected she keeps getting inspired by a vast array of distinguished musicians and bands the likes of Ronnie James Dio, Metallica, Megadeth, Rammstein, Nine Inch Nails, The Prodigy, Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, Opeth, Janis Joplin, King Crimson, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Lamb of God, Otep, Gojira, Slipknot, Thy Art Is Murder, Whitechapel, Jinjer, Bring Me The Horizon, Suicide Silence, Northlane, Chelsea Grin, Behemoth, After The Burial, Emmure, In This Moment, Arch Enemy, Wage War, ERRA and Ded, just to mention a few, which explains why the music found in her solo project is so difficult to label, so unique and diverse.

An accomplished vocalist, Mikaela can easily switch from clean singing to powerful growls and screaming vocals, and when asked about how she grew to like and practice this kind of singing and who were her heroes or inspirations that got her into that, she said that she’s a trained classical singer with a fond love for rock and metal who has always listened to those styles, having been introduced to them at a young age by her parents, and as her voice has always had sort of a rasp and natural scream it was a smooth transition for her to start doing guttural vocals. “My first experiences growling and screaming in public came gradually but once I launched some of the music at my debut, it was then official,” commented Mikaela, who’s also absolutely passionate about being on stage. “I must have been 9 singing in public, festivals, auditions, cathedrals, singing with organs and orchestras, stages, karaoke’s, we used to do it all the time when I was kid. It was fun. My first official outside country experience in public was singing in Johannesburg, South Africa though on a much larger scale and I loved it. I never feared the stage, can’t really say I got ever shy or anything… And I guess that still shows to this day.” And although she believes the pandemic might destroy metal music if nothing is done urgently, she understands the whole situation and keeps working off stage in anything that requires her attention. “We’re doing this massive sacrifice to help stop the spread of covid which now I don’t even know when that will ever stop but let’s hang on. When I’m off stage, there’s still a lot of things to do for a musical act so I keep myself entertained and focused by practicing on my own, coming up with ideas, drawing, writing, preparing orders and doing everything necessary to keep it going.”

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As a woman that performs in a genre that is always connected with power and strength, when asked about what she would say to women in general who face sexism and undermining and are considered weaker than men, she believes that all women in metal and in life in general should not go down to the level of the bullies who are being sexist, as it’s a waste of time. “If you share negativity, that’s what you’ll get. So be positive, feel it for real and just shut them and their vibes out of your life. The world is much better than that. Always be yourself and look for people who share the same ambition, who can see through you for real and what you’re after in life and music. You deserve better, we are strong and our strength should be celebrated just as any man can,” commented Mikaela, who also thinks that music shouldn’t be divided by gender or sex at all, as if we don’t all have a pair of vocal cords and we all can sound unique no matter what techniques we use to voice our hearts out.

Regarding her view of the metal scene in her homeland Malta, she mentioned that although Malta is a small island with a population of only around 500,000 people, it’s pretty much the same population as Iceland, but a lot of great artists come from Iceland. “I do not think it is quite within the culture to appreciate Metal a lot. It is not the mainstream at all. With the Metal scene, there are a lot of bands and actually, if you play here, a lot of the people in the crowd perform themselves. In general, I think it is very hard to make it, you have to skip the first step and it has to be outside of Malta, unfortunately,” said our screaming queen, complementing by saying that despite the fact there are several excellent metal bands showcasing a lot of potential on the island, the lack of a proper market or industry makes it extremely hard (albeit not impossible) for most bands to reach a decent level of success. In addition, if you want to know more about Mikaela and her beautiful home country, I highly recommend you watch two very interesting interviews with her done by local publications, one being 73 Questions Malta, where she talks about her thoughts on the metal industry in Malta and what it was like growing up there, and another called Lovin Malta Meets: Mikaela, where Lovin Malta’s resident music journalist JP Azzopardi discussed everything with her, from her musical origins to the world of metal and her future plans.

There are many TV performances of Mikaela on Youtube with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra during an event called Rockestra, a collaboration that Mikaela considers really amazing, singing in front of 13,000 fans in her homeland even with the fact that metal is still a controversial style in Malta. For instance, you can enjoy her powerful vocals in absolute sync with her country’s national orchestra in songs such as Metallica’s Enter Sandman in 2011, Guns N’ Roses’ Paradise City in 2012, Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train in 2016, and AC/DC’s Back In Black in 2018, showing her performances with the orchestra were not a once-off, but she’s a recurrent guest during such unique festival. Also, there’s another great video of Mikaela performing Black Sabbath’s Children Of The Sea live on the Maltese TV channel One on the program Q, always showing her support for metal music in Malta.

Our talented Mikaela also loves to interact with her fans and followers on social media, not only posting pictures but also writing lengthy captions and asking them questions as well as for opinions or suggestions; however, people tend to simply “ignore” her questions and give her only compliments in the comments. Mikaela said she actually appreciates all the comments and compliments, not judging anyone for not answering any of the questions posted and always valuing the interactions with her followers. She also likes to keep track of the number of streams of her songs, which countries she’s listened the most and merchandise purchases, as she believes it’s very important to know where her music is being enjoyed. For instance, she mentioned in one of her interview that Germany is amongst the top countries where her debut solo album is being listened to, as well as the United States, Canada (and The Headbanging Moose is proud to contribute to that, of course), Mexico and Russia.

Having several beautiful tattoos all over her body, Mikaela said it all started with ‘Rock and Roll’ inked on the side of her palms some years ago and she has never looked back, having her two full arm sleeves, palms, fingers, front side of the thighs, some on the neck, ass and full back all covered (and always ready for more). “I love tattoos, I think it’s like turning a house into a home. I feel confident in my body and what I represent. In my country it was still a taboo, especially on women, until a few years ago, but things slowly started changing thankfully. I used to get looks for having red hair in the past, can you imagine when I had the first tattoo sleeve? Older mentalities still judge a woman with tattoos greatly and to be fair, it is still not the norm and could get a lot of judgement,” commented Mikaela, who’s always encouraging uniqueness and trying to lead by example. Furthermore, when asked why she has chosen red as her main color, when her zodiac sign says it should have been green or pink, she answered by saying she loves red a lot along with black, representing a lot of things for her personally and becoming an important part of her identity. Mikaela also has some interesting hobbies whenever she’s not listening to music, writing, playing the piano and experimenting with mixing and sound engineering. For example, she loves to paint occasionally with pencils or acrylics and of course to take part in photo shooting sessions, among other non-music activities, but yet again she has mentioned several times already that music is her life and vice-versa. “Well, I live the cliché, yes my life is the music.” Well said, Mikaela!

Mikaela Attard’s Official Facebook page
Mikaela Attard’s Official Instagram
Mikaela Attard’s Official Twitter
Mikaela Attard’s Official YouTube channel

“Honestly, the more you know about music, and the more you know how things are done behind that, I think being a vocalist is just the tip of the iceberg. I think it is good to you have some kind of knowledge. I mean, you do not have to have a degree if you just like to read about mixing, mastering and production and you have the space to do so, I think it is just awesome. But I really wanted to get that formal degree. So that is why I applied for that degree course. It was very important for me, it was a game changer, because I have always seen music not from a vocalist perspective. I have always seen it as a musician’s perspective, since I am formally trained and piano classically trained and also jazz trained.” – Mikaela Attard

Metal Chick of the Month – Heike Langhans

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The shackles of your demons fall silent… The shackles of your demons fall…

It’s time for the skies to get dark and melancholic here on The Headbanging Moose thanks to the doomed music blasted by our metal lady of the month of May, and I bet you’ll get absolutely addicted to her music right after the very first listen (in case you know nothing yet about her and her bands and projects, of course). Though of German descent, she was born on February 9, 1988 in Cape Town, a port city on South Africa’s southwest coast, and currently resides in Sweden, where she joined Swedish Doom Metal band Draconian as the replacement to former singer Lisa Johansson in 2012. I’m talking about the multi-talented Heike Langhans, a songwriter, singer and designer well known for her work in the Gothic and metal scenes, always exploring a vast array of styles including Dark Wave, Electronic and Gothic Rock, among several others, therefore conquering the blackened hearts of the damned ones.

Drawn to melancholy Gothic music during her teenage years, Heike Langhans (which correct pronunciation is ‘hey-keh’ and ‘lung [the organ] – huns [like guns]’, as it’s a German name) began to dabble in composition, writing and singing at a very young age, already being part of school choirs at the age of eight, although she got sick of singing in groups, left that behind and started doing her own thing. She played piano occasionally, but mostly played classical guitar, which helped a lot in her writing process, and used to sing with her father when he played guitar at social gatherings. Heike joined her first band when she was around 15 years old, an all-girls band comprised of friends of her that was mainly a fun holiday thing, while she kept doing music on her own until she joined a proper band at the age of 19. Needless to say, she kept doing her own thing on the side to stay focused and as an outlet for her frustrations with the world and her surroundings.

Active since 2005, our South African started her career being associated with a few distinguished projects and bands, those being her Dark Electronic solo project :LOR3L3I:, South African Symphonic Metal band Inferium, and South African Black/Thrash Metal band Warthane, with her vocals being known to be sorrowful and her music peculiar and melancholic in nature. Regarding :LOR3L3I: (also known as LOR3L3I, LORELEI, or simply Lorelei), everything started back in 2006 as a melancholic electronic side project, with the name Lorelei having almost acted as an alter ego in a sense. According to Heike herself, the songs are raw and unpolished, a “spur-of-the-moment” type project where she just pours her heart into a song, record it and then struggle to touch it again, and you can take a very good listen at all her demos on her official BandCamp page, savoring delicate creations such as Jade Light and Fables. “I’ve said many times that I will never be able to sing these songs live, simply because I’ll be too emotional. It’s hard for me to wear my heart on my sleeve sometimes, so music is the only way. Lorelei is definitely my outlet and it’s quite revealing in many ways. Many people think me intimidating and secretive, but I’m more of an open book than what they care to realize,” commented Heike about her solo endeavor.

Inferium and Warthane are completely different stories, as they were already relatively established bands when Heike joined them. Under the moniker Heike Van Dominic, she was Inferium’s vocalist from 2005 until 2010, joining the band when they were still an instrumental group. They were the only band she knew doing Symphonic Metal at that time, with a huge influence from bands like Nightwish and Within Temptation. She said in one of her interviews that the band had a lot of potential and that they were doing quite well, but as they had a lot of issues with finding time and money to record and push it further they decided to call it quits in 2010. “I’ll always remember and enjoy my time in Inferium and I’ll forever be sad about the stellar songs that were to come, but it’s a sweet memory,” said Heike. Right after Inferium disbanded, more specifically in 2011, our diva, again under the name Heike Van Dominic, recorded the female vocals for the album Black Divine, by Warthane, which you can enjoy in its entirety on Spotify. Not only that, she also used her graphic designer skills to create the album’s stylish, somber artwork, proving how focused and talented she is it doesn’t matter which band or project she’s involved with.

Since 2012, Heike has been acting as the singer for Swedish Gothic/Doom Metal act Draconian, a cult band that started back in the already distant year of 1994 as Kerberos, playing Melodic Heavy and Death Metal with Black Metal influences, changing its name to Draconian around seven months after its inception. Heike joined the band following the departure of singer Lisa Johansson in 2011 after having made contact with guitarist Daniel Arvidsson, then with vocalist Anders Jacobsson to try an audition in Sweden. At first, she struggled to get a work visa in Sweden, which hampered the band’s ability to record an album, and until obtaining the visa she performed as a temporary singer for Gothic Rock band The Great Sleep in South Africa, as you can see for example in the song The Last Funeral. At the end of 2013, she finally received her work visa and was able to emigrate to Sweden, when she started working with Draconian while at the same time she started playing as a guest singer, guitarist and keyboardist in 2015 for Swedish Doom Metal band ISON, a side-project of Daniel Änghede (of Crippled Black Phoenix and Hearts of Black Science). She mentioned her main reasons for joining ISON were being able to play an instrument again like what she used to do in her teens, and putting a part of her own soul into it within a genre that was not electronic. You can have a very good taste of the music by ISON on their BandCamp page, with their first three albums having Heike on vocals, those being Cosmic Drone, Andromeda Skyline and Inner Space, or go to YouTube and search for their official videos such as the one for the song ISAE, as well as other precious gems like the duo playing a stunning acoustic version for The Final Cut by Pink Floyd (and you can compare their beautiful rendition with the original one HERE).

Finally, in 2015 Heike was able to record her first album with Draconian, by the way the sixth in the band’s career, the excellent Sovran, which she was not only responsible for the female vocal parts, but she also collaborated on writing the lyrics for tracks Dusk Mariner, Dishearten and The Marriage of Attaris, showing how easy it has been for Heike to connect with everyone at Draconian. “When I came to Sweden, I thought it would be very intimidating to have to all of a sudden be in this professional studio and work with world-class producers, and I underestimated myself a lot. But once I actually started doing it, I realized I was completely over-thinking everything. The guys were really laid back and easy to work with,” commented Heike. Then in 2020 she released with Draconian their second opus together, entitled Under a Godless Veil, where once again she was responsible for part of the lyrics, more specifically for the lyrics for the song Sleepwalkers, on top of her usual vocal duties. She also mentioned in one of her interviews that her work with Draconian hasn’t had any negative impact on her solo project :LOR3L3I: so far; quite the contrary, several Draconian fans kept writing her and asking her to continue to create music under her solo project, although she said nowadays she doesn’t have enough time to focus on that. It doesn’t matter if you’re a longtime fan of Draconian or a newcomer to their doomed world, you must check all of their official videos on YouTube such as the ones for the songs Sorrow Of Sophia, Sleepwalkers, Lustrous Heart, The Sacrificial Flame, Moon Over Sabaoth and Stellar Tombs, all of their creations on Spotify, as well as live footage the likes of Pale Tortured Blue live at MS Connexion Complex in Mannheim, Germany in 2019, and simply get lost in their realm of melancholy.

Apart from all of those previous and current bands and projects, you can also enjoy Heike’s unique voice as a guest vocalist in several other bands from all over the world. For instance, she played live with Finnish Atmospheric Doom/Death Metal band Hallatar in 2018, with whom she also recorded vocals for the song My Mistake and narrations for the songs Raven’s Song, Pieces and Spiral Gate from their 2017 album No Stars Upon the Bridge; she was a guest vocalist in the song Vision VII: One with the Soil from the 2017 album Visions, by Austrian Post-Black Metal act Anomalie; she also recorded the female vocal parts for the song The Path to Puya, from the 2019 album Aamamata by Spanish Doom/Gothic Metal act Helevorn; and vocals for the song Wolves at the Border, from the 2015 album Signal, by Swedish duo Hearts of Black Science. Not only that, Heike also did the layout and band photos for the 2020 album Premonitions, by International Epic/Atmospheric Black Metal band Sojourner, and was responsible for the vocals, keyboards, songwriting, lyrics, vocal recording, artwork, layout and design in the 2020 album Another World, by International Atmospheric Doom Metal band Light Field Reverie.

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When asked about her main idols and influences in music, Heike said it’s actually hard to pinpoint influences because many of her personal likes are not in any genres considered as Gothic in modern terms. However, the bands she related to early on would be Fields of The Nephilim, The Awakening, Sisters of Mercy, The Cure, Type O Negative, Dead Can Dance and Lycia, to name a few. In addition, as far as more modern Goth-inspired music goes, she has spent a great deal of time listening to Diary Of Dreams, Tiamat, Tristania, Paradise Lost, Anathema, Sins Of Thy Beloved, Katatonia, Draconian, and of course My Dying Bride. She said her passion for metal started when she was a teenager, as she used to get her father’s Pink Floyd and Meat Loaf CD’s and listen to them on repeat in her room while singing along, also watching renowned acts like Black Sabbath on VH1 and taping whatever metal she could find onto VHS or cassette. By the time she was 16, she was consuming a lot of metal from all sub-genres, gradually focusing on what suited her best emotionally speaking like Gothic, Symphonic and Doom Metal, only getting into Black Metal in her 20’s, but of course the emotional aspect and the melodies found in Doom Metal turned it into her all-time favorite genre as it certainly triggers a lot more in her personally.

In regards to touring, Heike said in one of her interviews she would love to tour around a South America, South Africa and Australia with Draconian, understanding that requires a lot of traveling and a huge investment, of course. “I look forward to traveling to countries to enjoy the scenery, food and people. The music is just our way of saying thank you for having us. It would feel slightly selfish to think our music is what made the show worth it, if you know what I mean,” complemented Heike, who also has a deep connection with the metal scene in her homeland. “Despite what most South Africans make themselves believe, Cape Town actually has a great metal scene and more bands than you might think. I can count on one hand the amount of friends I have there who ISN’T a musician. It’s a very creative and beautiful town.” She recommends Atmospheric Black Metal band Crow Black Sky, 2017 Battle for Wacken winners Megalodon, scene-legend Industrial Metal band Terminatryx and a few new-comers such as Constellatia as excellent bands from her beautiful country (and city) that we should all take a listen at.

Moving from South Africa to Sweden wasn’t an easy task for Heike, as it took around 19 months for her to receive her residence permit renewal in Sweden due to the country dealing with an influx of refugees. Based in Säffle, a municipality in Värmland County in west central Sweden, with the rest of the band since December 2019, Heike said she obviously misses Cape Town, her friends, the forwardness of people, Afrikaans jokes and Afrikaans words that you really can’t say anywhere else, but of course that she loves Scandinavia and that her head and her heart are in the North. Her Swedish might not be perfect yet, but her Afrikaans (Dutch) and German background ended up helping her a lot in understanding the language in the beginning, and she’s picking it up quite fast in her own opinion. She also commented about the fact that a lot of people in Sweden and in different parts of the world keep asking her why she’s white, which she believes that happens due to the idea the media sells that everyone in the African continent is black, complementing by saying she usually takes the opportunity to explain how things really work in South Africa.

Lastly, although Heike seems to be an unstoppable music-making machine, she’s just a regular human being like all of us who has her favorite hobbies and pastimes when she’s not singing, recording or performing on stage. As an avid gamer, she said she loves playing World of Warcraft and old school RPG’s the likes of Icewind Dale, Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights and Lionheart, as well as newer games like Skyrim, but of course she spends a great amount of time doing art, mostly digital and editing. There are days when she doesn’t want to deal with technology and she focuses of drawings and illustrations by hand, though. She also enjoys painting and photography, albeit she considers those quite expensive hobbies, and sewing, showing how versatile and talented she is. Furthermore, Heike is a big supporter of the Ubuntu Liberation Movement in South Africa, the Venus Project and the Zeitgeist Movement, always focusing on human liberation and free energy. “I will not eat or drink anything that comes from big corporations. Yes it’s difficult, but I refuse to support them. I also don’t eat meat any more, and I don’t really care what people have to say about that. I think that once people really put in the time and effort and research, not only from a health or principle perspective, but from an environmental perspective, they will realize that there is a lot that they are not being told. If they want to follow all the bullshit lies in the industry, then fine. But I will actively be against that. That’s what I think being an activist is about,” said our dauntless diva, and you can know a lot more about Heike, her bands, projects and so on by watching several online interviews with her, such as this one at FemME 2015 and this one for Metal & High Heels in 2019, letting her smooth and enchanting words and her undeniable charisma penetrate deep inside your doomed soul.

Heike Langhans’ Official Facebook page
Heike Langhans’ Official Instagram
Draconian’s Official Facebook page
Draconian’s Official Instagram
Draconian’s Official Twitter
:LOR3L3I:’s Official Facebook page

“I love slow and melancholic music. It brings my inner suffering to the surface and Doom Metal makes me feel like it’s okay to be an emotional being that suffers in this strange world.” – Heike Langhans

Metal Chick of the Month – Mary Zimmer

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It’s my time to soar… I am here to stay!

Born and raised in Madison, the capital city of Wisconsin, but currently residing in “Sin City” Las Vegas, Nevada, the multi-talented Mary Zimmer, our metal chick of the month of April, is ready to set the world of heavy music on fire with her unique vocal range, stunning looks and ass-kicking onstage performance, proving why she was chosen in 2019 to become the frontwoman for Sacramento, California-based Power Metal unity Helion Prime. Not only an accomplished vocalist who can do both clean vocals and harsh screams, known for her work with bands the likes of Luna Mortis and White Empress (not to mention her years as a touring member of Helion Prime from 2018 to 2019), Mary has also been a vocal coach and instructor for more than a decade, a session musician for some amazing underground bands, and a YouTuber who discusses about singing, screaming and music theory, as well as reviews and reaction videos. Put differently, Mary Zimmer is just awesome, and I bet you’ll have a very good time knowing a little more about such skillful musician here on The Headbanging Moose.

A classically trained singer who has a Bachelor of Music from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Mary has also studied additional techniques to shout and sing with The Zen of Screaming creator, Melissa Cross, allowing her to showcase all her vocal skills in bands from different styles as aforementioned, as well as her studies in audio engineering. “I got my degree in classical music fairly young at the age of 22. Even after my music degree, I did an absolute ton of research on the anatomy of the voice and tried to absorb all of the information that’s available out there,” commented Mary on her passion for technical singing. Long before joining Helion Prime, Mary was the vocalist for a band named A Touch of Evil between 2001 and 2002; for an American Folk/Gothic Metal/Ambient group named Earthen; for American Progressive Metal act Luna Mortis (and its previous incarnation The Ottoman Empire); for a band called Santa Marta from 2016 to 2019; and for American Extreme Symphonic Metal outfit White Empress from 2013 until 2016.

Perhaps the two most interesting projects she was involved in her pre-Helion Prime days are Luna Mortis and White Empress, with whom she recorded some excellent material and official videos. Let’s begin talking about Luna Mortis, formed in 2002 in her hometown under the name The Ottoman Empire, and as the vocalist for The Ottoman Empire she recorded the album Way of the Blade, in 2006, and the EP The Answer: Does Not Exist, in 2008. Then after the change in the band’s name to Luna Mortis still in 2008, Mary recorded with the band the 2009 album The Absence, presenting a much stronger sound and polished production compared to the band’s two previous releases. You can enjoy online the official videos for the songs Forevermore and Anemic World, and if you think Luna Mortis will be back in action one day, well, after their reunion back in 2013, which was not as great as the band itself expected as they had several internal issues (shortening the reunion considerably), and as mentioned by Mary herself, it was a failed experiment and she can pretty much guarantee they won’t try to reunite again. After Luna Mortis, Mary said she’s a completely different person on many levels, having changed mentally, emotionally, physically, visually and vocally, as you’ll be able to notice in White Empress.

It was in 2013 under the moniker “White Empress” (and later as Mary Z) that our unstoppable diva helped to found the Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Extreme Symphonic Metal unity White Empress, having recorded a self-titled EP in 2014 and the full-length opus Rise of the Empress that same year (containing the four songs from the EP plus other original tracks). When asked about the concept of White Empress, Mary said that the band was band based around the character of the White Empress herself, an empowering and a feminine power in her own right, representing the individual inner strength and power we all have within, with the original concept being created by the band’s founder Paul Allender (better known for his superb work with Cradle of Filth for over two decades). If you want to have a quick and incendiary taste of their music, you can enjoy the official video for the awesome song Darkness Encroaching.

Mary can also be seen lending her powerful voice to different bands and projects as a guest vocalist, on top of her years as a live member of Helion Prime as mentioned before. For instance, she recorded the harsh vocals for the song Goodbye to Farewells, from the 2021 album Psychosomatic by Austin, Texas-based Progressive/Power Metal band Immortal Guardian; and vocals as “President Fox” on the 2019 self-titled album by Brooklyn, New York-based Symphonic/Progressive Metal project Valcata. Not only that, Mary was also involved in the recordings of the 2018 eight-track demo The Remains of Judgment, by Madison, Wisconsin-based Death Metal act Burial of an Era, showing another side of our multi-talented musician (and we’ll talk more about her technical skills shortly). When asked about how she became a session musician, Mary said that the fact she already had the skills necessary to record her own vocals, plus her business professionalism, made it easier for people to trust and hire her, complementing by saying that it’s important to choose if you want to be an in-person guest musician or if you want to learn how to record yourself at home and work worldwide, which of course demands some investments that can be a bit expensive for beginners.

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Regarding her career with Helion Prime, after joining the band as their full-time frontwoman Mary recorded the album Question Everything in 2020 with the band, currently comprised of our electrifying diva on vocals together with guitarists Jason Ashcraft and Chad Anderson, bassist Jeremy Steinhouse and drummer Alex Bosson. When asked what attracted her to Helion Prime in first place, she said she learned to love the guys from the band during her two years as their touring singer, enjoying singing their material, and finally deciding to join forces with them after it became logistically difficult for their previous singer Sozos Michael to be involved as needed. As Question Everything contains several songs that work as tributes to influential names in the history of science, Mary was asked which one of those people was her favorite one to sing about. “I think my favorite is Katherine Johnson. She’s the subject of the song Madame Mercury. Her story really speaks to the successes people can have against daunting odds, and she’s certainly an inspiration to folks all over the world,” said Mary, providing some inspirational words to us fans.

As already mentioned, Mary is a famous YouTuber who runs her own channel called VoiceHacks, providing singing and screaming tutorials for beginner to advanced vocalists, teaching private lessons, and training people in a variety of techniques. “I kind of became a YouTuber by accident. I’m a vocal coach and vocalist first and foremost who kind of ‘fell’ into YouTube as a result of using it as a hosting place for my tutorials and other resources for the people I teach,” commented Mary in one of her interviews, also saying that “I’ve been doing all lessons online since 2013 because physical in-person lessons are out of date and relatively impractical. Most people prefer not having to leave home for their lessons.” If you explore her YouTube channel, you’ll find several videos with important tips on how to preserve your voice while doing harsh vocals, how to reach the right key, how to fix “easy-to-correct” mistakes a lot of singers and producers make in the studio, and so on. For example, did you know that getting vocalists to aim upwards into the microphone while recording is not a good idea? “It’s way easier for a singer to sing a high note while looking DOWN! This being the case, I want all engineers to stop putting the microphone above the singer, and instead to place it straight in-front, or slightly below their mouth at a 45-degree angle,” said our talented vocal coach.

As usual, such important woman to the world of heavy music was asked several times about her view of women in metal, and her answer to that question focuses on the respect she gets as a musician instead of hearing things like “you’re a chick in a band, you’re a novelty”, also saying you don’t have to be a super model to be a great vocalist, although she truly enjoys all types of singers in the end. “I think there are a lot of particularly glamorous metal singers, I think… Simone Simons (Epica), Tarja Turunen (ex-Nightwish), there is a lot of glamorous metal singers but then you also have your ones that just came in their t-shirt and jeans like Anneke (van Giersbergen) from The Gathering you know?” She also mentioned in one of her interviews when asked about the fact the recording industry is a heavily male-dominated business that it still astonishes her that all these years later she’s still one of the only women who knows anything about recording, albeit she doesn’t see it as a masculine or physically challenging task.

There were also three other interesting topics where Mary was asked to provide her insights on, those being the evolution in the music industry, what a manager can offer a band that’s proactive aside from contacts, and all environmental issues the world is facing. Mary said that what has changed most is the evolution from physical product to monetized music listening streaming and that has been a very positive change for all musicians everywhere, and she personally vastly prefers living in the digital era of music now. “It’s an utterly fantastic time to be a musician. There are so many resources at our fingertips. The only limit is our attitude, willingness to educate ourselves about the new music industry landscape and tools, and writing good music. That hasn’t changed, even with all the abundant opportunities for musicians, the songs still have to be good.” Regarding the need for a band manager or not, Mary said that there are good managers out there that have a good business sense, that are rooted in the genre that the band is playing and they have contacts and connections they can work on the band’s behalf to deal with publicists, tour planners, other things and just sort of be the mouth for the musician, and of course, that can be the a neutral face when dealing with people, avoiding exposing the band to negative feedback and opinions (in a good way, of course). And lastly, in regards to the way mankind is treating the environment, she said that she has three degrees in varying areas of Renewable Energy and from that education she has learned that sustainability is necessary for human survival. “The earth is a finite sphere with a finite amount of resources – a finite amount of matter and energy.  If we seek to live on a habitable planet, we must find totally 100% sustainable ways to live.  Unsustainable practices shouldn’t even exist.  I am a huge renewable energy advocate, as it is the most logical, safe, sustainable, abundant means of powering humanity,” suggesting we all watch the video or read the book Cradle to Cradle and learn about sustainability and how it changes the world and the environment.

If you want to have fun together with Mary, you can find several excellent interviews online with her as for example this one for Musican’s HQ podcast, episode 23; the one she did together with Helion Prime’s own guitarist Jason Ashcraft for Rustyn Rose from Metalnation where they discussed their new album Question Everything, Ronnie James Dio, special guests and the impact of Covid-19 on the music industry, among other topics; and this one for Audible.com where she discusses about her YouTube channel VoiceHacks. Having said all that, what are you waiting for to let Mary Zimmer and her powerful voice penetrate deep inside your soul in the name of Heavy Metal? I’m sure Mary will love to hear from you and to get your feedback on her undisputed work as the great vocalist she is.

Mary Zimmer’s Official Facebook page
Mary Zimmer’s Official Instagram
Mary Zimmer’s Official YouTube channel
Mary Zimmer’s Official Twitter
Mary Zimmer’s LinkTree
Helion Prime’s Official Facebook page
Helion Prime’s Official Instagram
Helion Prime’s Official YouTube channel

“I don’t think that metal is an intentionally sexist genre, I think metalheads are pretty broad thinking people and I think that most of them will give you a shot. If you can play you can play if you can sing you can sing. And it doesn’t really matter to a lot of them if you’re a woman or a man.” – Mary Zimmer

Metal Chick of the Month – Tanya Beickert

Take my guiding hand, take my guiding hand with you…

As the winter snow is starting to melt in the Northern Hemisphere, let’s turn up the heat even more here on The Headbanging Moose with another humble tribute to a woman who definitely knows how to set fire to heavy music with her unparalleled roars and clean vocals, showcasing a wide vocal range that’s not easy to find out there, allowing her to sing in pretty much any style from Metalcore to classic Heavy Metal, from Progressive Metal to Melodic Death Metal, and so on. I’m talking about Tanya Elizabeth Beickert, better known as Tanya Beickert, the stunning frontwoman for Long Island, New York-based Progressive Death Metal act Monochromatic Black, an up-and-coming metal entity that will put you to bang your head nonstop while at the same time offering fresh, innovative and intricate music for your avid ears. And let me tell you that after knowing more about our talented metal lady of this month of March and her awesome band, you’ll undoubtedly get addicted to her voice and to the pulverizing music by one of the most interesting new bands of the current American scene.

In case you know nothing about Monochromatic Black, the band was founded in January 2018 by vocalist and lyricist Tanya Beickert, guitarist and songwriter John Gribbin, and drummer and songwriter Eddie DeCesare, all seasoned musicians who had been in other previous projects in the scene, most notably Eddie’s previous band Painted In Exile, when their bands at the time were all gradually slowing down, joined on stage by guitarist Dan Rivera and bassist Arthur Erb (both found by Tanya through social media) to complete the five-piece live group. Whether it’s financial, creativity, shows or whatever decisions that need to be made, Tanya said John, Eddie and herself all come together and try to always do what’s best for the band (by the way, Tanya and John have been friends for years through their old bands), which is one of the main reasons why their music sounds so cohesive and melodic. When asked how she would define their sound, she said their genre could be considered Progressive Death Metal with Metalcore influences and even some Black Metal nuances, meshing a lot of different metal genres to keep things interesting.

There’s no denying of the talent of each band member, but it’s Tanya’s she-wolf, aggressive vocals that truly give their already brutal music an extra edge, with her soft, clean vocals also adding an extra touch of finesse to the overall result, displaying her broad vocal range and, consequently, supporting the band’s atmospheric vein. If you want to explore in more detail the metal realm ruled by Tanya and her henchmen and listen to some of their vibrant and meaningful creations, you can find Monochromatic Black on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, on YouTube and on Spotify, and also purchase their music and merch from their own BandCamp page and Big Cartel. If you want to have your mind blown by the visceral yet enthralling vocals by Tanya (and also enjoy her stunning looks, of course), you can take a very good look and listen at the official videos for the songs Warmth of the Sun, Phosphenes, The Herd, and their newest single Abbadon, or simply have a blast with their debut EP Pneuma in its entirety. There are also some very interesting interviews online with Tanya and the rest of the band, like this one for The Mosh Network where they answered some questions about how the band got started, how they write their music, and what sets them apart from other bands, among other topics, to give you an even better view of the importance of Monochromatic Black to the current underground scene.

Although Tanya acknowledges the similarities between her band and iconic acts like Jinjer and Entheos, bands which Monochromatic Black are usually compared to by fans, and of course that are a huge influence for Tanya herself, she said she doesn’t want her band to be compared to just other female-fronted bands, though, saying they have their own sound and that they want to be admired that way. In order to be on the same level as the aforementioned bands, she said Monochromatic Black have been working hard nonstop from day one, taking the whole project as serious as it can be, always touring, making new music and videos, and working hard to achieve all of their goals. Regarding her own personal influences in music, she mentioned bands like A Perfect Circle, Sikth and After the Burial as some of her top metal acts of all time, with her biggest influences as a singer varying depending on her vocal style. For instance, for clean vocals she’s a huge fan of Maynard James Keenan of A Perfect Circle and Tool, Jimmy Gnecco of Ours, Jeff Buckley (R.I.P.), and Michael Lessard of The Contortionist, while her harsh vocals are influenced by Travis Ryan of Cattle Decapitation, and Anthony Notarmaso of After the Burial. In addition, she mentioned in one of her interviews that the different past projects all members of Monochromatic Black have been in and their personal experiences have surely helped them in the long run, but it’s hard to pinpoint the one that had the biggest influence in the making of Pneuma.

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In regards to touring, due to the obvious restrictions imposed to stop the spread of COVID-19 there aren’t any upcoming concerts scheduled for Monochromatic Black in the next few months, but that doesn’t mean Tanya and the boys are not getting ready for hitting the road once all this madness is finally over. They will focus on the United States at first for obvious reasons, but based on the quality of their music and how fans from all over the world really love that style of metal music I’m sure we’ll see the band kicking some serious ass in foreign lands soon enough. Also, despite the fact Monochromatic Black is fairly new to the scene, as mentioned Tanya and her bandmates are seasoned musicians, having played with countless bands from the New York Death Metal scene and being open to playing alongside all local bands like The Machinist, Internal Bleeding, Dehumanized, Pyrexia and so on. In order to get ready to kick some ass on stage with her powerful voice, Tanya  mentioned she warms up beforehand by screaming the alphabet in low, mid and high screams, and to keep her voice fit she practices as much as possible all the time (not to mention she also took a few vocal lessons years ago).

Our skillful growler was also asked in some of her interviews to give more details about the writing process and meaning of Monochromatic Black’s debut effort, where she said that Pneuma is a concept album that walks the listener through, starting from rock bottom to finally rising to the top, as everyone has different struggles and experiences and the album is just one journey written about that. She also said together with her bandmates that their unique sound came naturally as they all write and bring material to the table, meeting up twice a week while writing on their own time and shaping the songs on the spot together, with no planned out idea, just what they sound like when they come together. She also commented a little about two of the songs featured in Pneuma, more specifically Phosphenes and Dream Catcher; while she mentioned that Phosphenes for her is about losing your confidence, inner peace or who you truly are as a person to someone extremely negative or abusive, she said that her favorite song of the album is Dream Catcher, simply because it goes from serene to eerie to brutal all in one track.

Lastly, when asked about how she sees the band in the coming years, she said that hopefully they’ll already be headlining professional level tours and releasing more records (and stay tuned as their new opus is about to hit the market in the coming year or so), a combination which as you can see seems to be the biggest passion of all band members. Hence, you can check some awesome video interviews online with Tanya (either alone or together with the rest of Monochromatic Black) to not only learn more about such promising American act, but to also see how humble, focused and entertaining the entire band is, as for example Tanya’s interview on The Metal Magdalene with Jet international radio broadcast on Metal Messiah Radio, where she talks about some of her main influences, about her clean and guttural vocals, about Pneuma and about the future of the band; and an interview to Showbiz Music where the band talks about their “preshow rituals”. Also, you might not know about this, but Monochromatic Black are affiliated with Blakhart Coffee in their mission in helping wildlife, with a portion of the sales from their branded coffee, “Monochromatic Black Roast” NY Style Dark Ground, going to a local non-profit organization. Having said that, what are you waiting for to join Tanya and the boys in their quest for metal music and wildlife, while at the same time enjoying some high-quality coffee? I’m sure Tanya would love to see us all metalheads supporting a very noble cause, raising our horns while she growls and screams the lyrics to her insanely good and heavy creations.

Monochromatic Black’s Official Facebook page
Monochromatic Black’s Official Instagram
Monochromatic Black’s Official Twitter
Monochromatic Black’s Official YouTube channel
Monochromatic Black’s BandCamp page
Monochromatic Black’s Big Cartel

“I think what makes us stand out is the genre we play. It’s all different genres and energy combined into one and a lot of people have noticed that which is awesome.” – Tanya Beickert

Metal Chick of the Month – Britta Görtz

Follow me into the fire!

In times of turbulence, violence, uncertainty, hope and despair, perhaps the best subgenre of metal music to help us express all those feelings mixed together is our good old Death Metal, and in order to do that here at The Headbanging Moose let’s pay a humble tribute to a ferocious woman hailing from Germany that roars and growls with tons of passion when fronting her ass-kicking underground squads. Born on October 20, 1977 in Hannover, the capital and largest city of the German state of Lower Saxony, the unrelenting Extreme Metal vocalist, lyricist, songwriter and vocal coach Britta Görtz has been making a name for herself in the German and international scene with her potent guttural vocals since around 2005, standing out as the frontwoman for Thrash Metal act Cripper and more recently for Death Metal squads Critical Mess and Hiraes. Having said that, are you ready to bang your head and slam into the circle pit together with such talented growler?

Let’s kick off our tribute to Britta with her main band at the moment, the ruthless Death Metal horde known as Critical Mess, a Hannover-based act formed in 2012 that has already released two full-length albums so far in their career, those being Human Præy in 2018 and Man Made Machine Made Man in 2019, as well as the EP Zombie Apocoverlypse in 2020, all with Britta responsible for the vocal duties. After the band’s inception in 2012 they underwent many changes in lineup and writing styles until Britta replaced former vocalist Simon Körber in 2016, helping her bandmates Marco Schauff and Marco “Elmo” Evers on the guitars, Lommer Wiesener on bass and Benny Komatitsch on drums establish themselves and quickly finding their own, unique sound and style, always true to the familiar and beloved sound of old school Death Metal that they had all grown up with. Bringing forward crushing riffs, insane vocals, fierce harmonies and drum chops that put any industrial slaughterhouse soundscape to shame, Critical Mess have already shared the stage with insane acts the likes of Six Feet Under and Hatesphere, having also played in some of the most important festivals in the world like Wacken Open Air and Metaldays.

In case you’ve never heard any of the wicked creations by Critical Mess until today, you can stream all of their albums and songs on Spotify and enjoy their official videos on their YouTube channel, including the awesome videos for the songs Feasting, Into Oblivion, Cut The Cord, Pansperm; the song Echo live at Wacken Open Air 2019; live-recordings of the songs Gluttony (for the Apes Enraged Re-Live Online Festival) and Preacher of Lies (for Godslaves “Access All Areas” Online Festival), both recorded in their band practice room in Hannover; and a special video dedicated to their fans for the song Demise, from conception to stage. However, if you think Critical Mess are only brutality and rage, you must check their insane cover versions for the songs Everybody (Backstreet’s Back), by the infamous Backstreet Boys, Remmidemmi (Yippie Yippie Yeah), by Hamburg’s own Hip-Hop/Electro band Deichkind, and my favorite one Blinding Lights, by The Weeknd, all as seen on the German television show Halloween Gamenight with Luke Mockridge, which aired during last year’s Halloween. Britta is flawless on all three songs, but what she does in “Blinding Lights” is beyond awesome I must say.

Our skillful growler is also involved in a brand new project named Hiraes, a Melodic Death Metal band formed in 2020 that combines the full force of all four instrumentalists from Dawn Of Disease, those being Lukas Kerk, Oliver Kirchner, Christian Wösten and Mathias Blässe, with the powerful vocals by Britta in order to create an exciting new melodic death emergence. Currently, Hiraes are working on their debut album, which will certainly be highly recommended for fans of the Scandinavian madness brought forth by renowned acts the likes of Insomnium, At The Gates, Arch Enemy and Amon Amarth, pointing to a very interesting path ahead of Britta, therefore allowing her to showcase all her vocal range and potency outside of the purely Death Metal style she’s used to with Critical Mess. I honestly can’t wait to see what she’ll be able to do when venturing through more melodic realms, and let’s hope this never-ending pandemic doesn’t stop Britta and her henchmen from releasing new, vibrant music for all of us metalheads in a not-so-distant future.

Of course, we cannot talk about Britta and her pulverizing vocals without talking about the band that launched her to stardom in the metal community. I’m talking about German Death and Thrash Metal platoon Cripper, formed in 2005 in Hannover, with whom she recorded the EP Killer Escort Service in 2006, followed by the full-length albums Freak Inside (2007), Devil Reveals (2009), Antagonist (2012), Hyëna (2014) and Follow Me: Kill! (2017), with the last two being available on their BandCamp page, and all of them on Spotify. Hence, you can also visit their YouTube channel for official videos, interviews, unboxing of their albums and tons of other amazing footage from this hard-hitting band that unfortunately split up in 2018. Having toured with renowned acts like Overkill and Onslaught, in addition to repeat performances at major European festivals the likes of Summer Breeze, Wacken Rocks, Metalfest and Rockharz Open Air, Cripper effectively converted fans to their cause with their riveting mix of old school and modern thrash, as you can see in the official videos for the songs Animal Of Prey, Mother, Into the Fire, Tourniquet, Pressure, Totmann, A Dime For The Establishment, Shortcut, God Spoken Prayer/Cocoon and Damocles, as well as in their infernal live performances at Rock Im Betonwerk in 2012, at Metaldays in 2014 and at Wacken Open Air in 2016. As you might have noticed, when Critical Mess were formed, Britta was still singing for Cripper, but according to Britta herself it wasn’t difficult at all to manage both bands at the same time. “The two bands feel completely different,” she commented at that time, complementing by saying that “lyrically, Cripper is more expressive, while Critical Mess has so far been more storytelling.”

You can also find Britta screaming and roaring like a true she-wolf in several distinct bands and projects, where she was able to add her own share of violence and creativity to their music. For instance, you can enjoy Britta’s unique guttural vocals in the song My Abomination, from the album ED, released in 2020 by German Death Metal act Corrosive; in the song Into Darkness, from the 2014 album Drone, by German Groove Metal/Metalcore unity Drone; in the song Children of the Pit, from the 2016 album Welcome to the Green Zone, by German Thrash Metal squad Godslave; and doing backing vocals in the 2009 album Marauders, by German Death/Thrash Metal act Lost World Order. Not only that, Britta also showcased her skills as a photographer in the 2007 album Hate Is the Law, by German Death Metal band Ancient Existence.

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Regarding her influences, idols and first experiences in music, Britta has a very eclectic and wide range of musicians and bands that she admires. For instance, she said the first-ever concert in her life was back in 1990 in the small town of Seelze, where she grew up, of German Pop Rock band Die Prinzen; her first record was one containing the hit Bruttosozialprodukt, released in the 80’s by Neue Deutsche Welle group Geier Sturzflug; the first CD she bought herself was a live album by Guns N’ Roses (at the same time she bought her first CD player); and she would love to share the stage with the one and only Mike Patton, especially if it’s with his insane cult band Fantômas, which is quite easy to understand why as Mr. Patton is indeed one of the most talented, one of the wildest and one of the most creative vocalists ever. Also, on a side note, if you think Britta makes any distinction between male and female vocalists, or if she cares about the term “female-fronted metal”, she thinks that’s a stupid and very sexist concept, saying that she got tired of it right after her first interview where questions about her being a girl in a Death Metal band started to come up. Having said that, let’s simply stop asking that type of question when interviewing Britta, sounds good?

As mentioned, Britta has already been in several different festivals with all of her bands like the unparalleled holy land of metal music Wacken Open Air, having toured extensively across the entire European continent as well as being part of renowned and innovative events such as being aboard 70,000 Tons of Metal, saying the vibe in each one of those unique events might be different due to the number of people that attend each one, the ticket prices, the age of the fans and so on, but that in the end it’s always a pleasure for her to show her music and art to all types of metalheads. She also said that whenever someone can’t believe how powerful and aggressive her guttural vocals are when seeing he live for the first time, that doesn’t really amuse her as she thinks if you’re a true metal fan you’re already used to women growling for ages. In addition, she mentioned in one of her interviews that she dreams of touring around South America, as (unfortunately) she’s never been there and she would love to experience all South American countries as a touring band, immersing herself in each local youth and music culture.

All that recording, touring and screaming can be extremely strenuous on one’s vocal chords, demanding a lot from the singer, and of course it couldn’t be any different with Britta. She mentioned that there are some warmup exercises she does prior to each show, such as humming and singing some scales, saying that those aren’t only important for her  vocal cords, but they also serve as a ritual to prepare herself mentally for hitting the stage, working at the same time as physical and mental warmups. In addition, our talented growler also listed lots of sleep and lots of water as necessary methods for anyone’s vocals to stay in shape, balancing her partying and avoiding drinking too much alcohol, working out regularly and eating healthy, fresh food (without stressing too much about that). If you want to have a one-hour online lesson (or even a face-to-face one after this pandemic is finally over) in growling, shouting and screaming with Britta, you can visit the LCHQ Online Shop and purchase a vocal coaching voucher, hiring her services to provide you some useful tips, teach you new techniques and warmups, and anything else related to guttural singing, and coming from such talented singer like Britta that’s definitely worth the investment.

Last but not least, Britta has a very strong opinion on populism and the tensions we’ve been experiencing worldwide, saying that it doesn’t matter which perspective you take, be it the way the media reports it or how the reporting is perceived, the desire for security paired with the abandonment of freedom, or the contribution that the so-called “western world” makes to all of this, in the end the situation is pretty tricky, leading people to think they have simple solutions to complex problems. There are countless interviews online with Britta where you can know more about her as a person, as an artist, her opinions, her likes and dislikes and so on, such as this one to Mama Goes Wacken where she talks about her passion for chocolate (among other topics, of course),  this one to The Metal Gods Meltdown where she discusses the decision of Cripper to call it quits, this one to Rock Titan and this one to DJ Vampire talking about Cripper, and this one to Metal & High Heels when they played at FEMME (Female Metal Event). As you can see, Britta is an extremely talented musician with an open heart and an open mind, always willing to share her ideas, experiences and opinions with her fans and, more important than that, always ready to scream and roar in the name of our good old Death Metal.

Britta Görtz’s Official Facebook page
Britta Görtz’s Official Instagram
Critical Mess’ Official Facebook page
Critical Mess’ Official Instagram
Critical Mess’ Official YouTube channel

“I never thought ‘oh look at what she is doing, a girl in a heavy metal, that’s what I wanna do, too’. What got me to wanting to play in a band was probably that I thought it was a good way for me to express myself and at the same time channel my energy. Energetic live shows no matter of which genre attract me. Shows where you can feel the electricity in the air, where it kicks your butt and really grabs you. I am trying to find a certain kind of flow on stage and to share my energy with the fans. That’s not easy, cause it is nothing that you can create every time, but that’s what I am aiming for.” – Britta Görtz

Metal Chick of the Month – Jeanne Sagan

Am I the monster you created?

After such a difficult year for all of us, let’s start 2021 off with a bang to the sound of the rumbling, menacing bass by a woman that has been nothing but amazing to the metal community with her refined skills, her passion for heavy music and her immensurable contribution to the Heavy Metal, Hard Rock and Metalcore scene. Not only that, she’s also a very talented singer and pianist, showcasing all her versatility and allowing her to take part in any type of band from an array of styles. Born on January 11, 1979 in Springfield, Massachusetts, in the United States, Jeanne Sagan (also known as Jeanne Wawrzyniak) is the ass-kicking bassist and backing vocalist for American Heavy Metal band Crossing Rubicon, and also known as the former bassist and backing vocalist for American Heavy Metal/Metalcore band All That Remains from 2006 to 2015, having been embellishing the airwaves with her bass since 2001 and, more important than that, being ready to make this new year that has just been born a lot more fun with her music.

Having also played for a band called The Acacia Strain in 2003, Jeanne originally worked merchandise tables for Prosthetic Records before being called to join All That Remains in 2006 to replace their former bassist Matt Deis, which was by the way a funny story according to Jeanne herself as she had moved out to Arizona thinking she was done with Massachusetts, but after meeting someone at the record label and started helping out she ended up getting back to her birth state. In addition, if you think she comes from a family of musicians let me tell you that you’re absolutely wrong. When asked if she grew up in a musical household, Jeanne said that she only started in the world of music when she was in sixth grade, picking up the trumpet as her first instrument during high school, also mentioning her younger brother is also into music, DJ’ing and touring with bands, despite the fact their parents are not musicians. It was only when she was in college that she started playing bass and jamming with bands, and from that moment on the world of heavy music gained a new badass bass player.

Jeanne Sagan is also known as Jeanne Wawrzyniak due to the fact she’s married to American vocalist Scott Wawrzyniak, better known by his stage name of Scotty Anarchy, the frontman for metal bands Crossing Rubicon and Piercing Immortality. In one of their interviews together, Scott and Jeanne said they met through two mutual friends, Ian Jones and Rusty Kupier, sometime in 2011, with Scott saying he was instantly attracted to Jeanne’s passion and kindness, but as he was married at that time it wasn’t the right thing to do (and Jeanne said she used to run away from him because of that connection she felt with him). A few years later Scott was single and playing a Buckcherry show, and Jeanne approached her after the show to talk, asking for his number, and they have not stopped talking since, saying it’s easy to play in a band with his wife as he gets to look to his right every night and see his best friend, his soul mate and the love of his life sharing his passion with him. Jeanne complemented by saying their bond is greater and stronger than they could have ever dreamed, mentioning important milestones like their mutual fight for sobriety as one of the things that strengthen their relationship every single day.

Regarding her 10-year stint with American Metalcore band All That Remains, from 2006 to 2015, as aforementioned she joined the band while working on the merch table for Prosthetics Records, having recorded her first single with the band that same year, the excellent The Air That I Breathe, proving she was the perfect choice for handling the band’s bass duties. After that first single, Jeanne recorded an array of first-class albums with the band, those being The Fall of Ideals (2006), Overcome (2008), …for We Are Many (2010), A War You Cannot Win (2012) and The Order of Things (2015), as well as a live album and DVD in 2007 simply titled Live, and you can enjoy her rumbling bass smashing your senses in songs such as What If I Was Nothing, This Probably Won’t End Well, Two Weeks, The Last Time, Chiron and This Calling, or simply go to the band’s Spotify profile to stream each one of those albums in full.

However, in 2015 Jeanne announced her amicable departure from All That Remains in order to pursue personal interests (and by that I mean playing bass and backing vocals in Crossing Rubicon alongside her husband), being replaced by Aaron “Bubble” Patrick, formerly of the band Bury Your Dead. At the time of her departure form the band, Jeanne commented, “It is with heavy heart that I depart from All That Remains. I’ve decided to follow my heart and pursue other opportunities in life. I truly appreciate the amazing experiences and the great fans over the last decade. I wish ATR all the best going forward.” She said that just like in every band there are ups and downs to everything, and in that particular case the negatives started to outweigh the good, which drove her away eventually. She does take away growing as a person and as a musician, though, becoming more outgoing and overcoming insecurities, standing up for herself and getting the courage to follow her own path.

Now as the bass player and backing vocalist for American Heavy Metal/Hard Rock band Crossing Rubicon, Jeanne seems to be enjoying a lot more freedom in her bass playing style and in contributing to the band’s writing process, having already recorded with the band their two full-length albums so far, those being  No Less than Everything, in 2016, and more recently Seeing Red, in 2019. Formed in 2009 in Bristol, Connecticut, in the United States, and having their name inspired by the expression “Crossing (the) Rubicon”, which means to pass a point of no return after Julius Caesar’s crossing of the river Rubicon in Italy in 49 BC, the band offers a molten blend of 80’s hooks and musicianship with modern rock power and relevance, having already opened for renowned acts including Mötley Crüe, Queensrÿche, Pop Evil and many more. Hence, if you want to enjoy some of the creations by Crossing Rubicon, simply search for them on Spotify or watch their official videos on YouTube for songs like The Fallen, Who’s Gonna Save You, I Will Remain and Seeing Red.

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Apart from her career with All That Remains and Crossing Rubicon, Jeanne is also featured in several other bands and projects, all hailing form the United States. For instance, she has been the bass player for a Mathcore band called Blood Has Been Shed, known for having two members of Killswitch Engage (Howard Jones and Justin Foley) in the band, since 2012, but nothing official has been released with Jeanne on the band so far (and no one knows if that will ever happen). She’s also a member of a Heavy Metal band called Piercing Immortality under the moniker Jeanne Anarchy, also with her husband Scotty Anarchy on vocals as mentioned before, playing bass and backing vocals on their 2018 EP Systematic Global Poisoning and on their 2019 EP Risen from the Ashes, and in her years before All That Remains she was the bassist for Metalcore band Ligeia, for Technical Metalcore band Light Is the Language (having recorded with them the EP The Void Falls Silent, in 2001), and for Metalcore band The Acacia Strain in 2003. In addition, you can also find Jeanne as the guest bassist for Stoner/Sludge Metal band Oxen in their 2015 album The Vanishing.

As any true rock and metal fan, Jeanne has a lot of different influences and idols regarding not only her playing style but also her looks. She said that apart from her past in the Hardcore scene, which has obviously had an impact on her style, she also considers both of Tool bass players (Paul D’Amour and Justin Chancellor) and Jason Newsted-era Metallica as her biggest influences in music. Furthermore, although she has always looked up to rock stars with larger than life personas like David Bowie, being a little envious of all his bright and vibrant hair colors, she said she’s never done anything too extreme with her appearance, considering herself more of a Janis Joplin than a Lady Gaga, and when asked about which bands or artists she enjoys listening to, she mentioned amazing options from the rock and metal scene including Hatebreed, Nine Inch Nails, The Cure, Smashing Pumpkins, The Smiths and so on. Her equipment is also a very important part of her career, and you can see her in different stages of her life using several ass-kicking pieces such as a black cherry Spector Legend 4 Classic four-string bass with EMG 35DC active pickups and Ampeg SVT bass amplifiers, a Soundgear 4-strings and an ARTB100 four-string (the latter of which can be seen in the music video for the song Hold On), Orange amplifiers and Omega speaker cabinets, Tiny Terror 1000 watt, Boss tuner, Darkglass B7K, and Shure wireless system.

Touring is obviously a crucial piece in the career of any rock and metal musician, and it couldn’t be any different than that with Jeanne. In one of her interviews, she talked about how important it is not only to put on a great show on stage, but also to hang out with the other bands, to meet new people, to do great interviews and to convince people who are seeing the band for the first time how great their music is. Apart from festivals like Graspop and Ozzfest, where not only she said she had an amazing time and was able to watch performances by bands she enjoys a lot like Dragonforce, Jeanne mentioned that she would like to return to festivals such as Download and Rock Am Ring, and to explore a little more countries like Japan. She also said that playing a lot of shows in a short span of time plus all the traveling can be a little exhausting, but that in the end she feels great after seeing so many happy fans attending the concerts. Moreover, in order to stay fit and put on a kick-ass show on stage, Jeanne and her bandmates said that they try to stay in shape by running a lot (around the parking lots), going to the gym and cooking on the bus (instead of eating junk food), usually having much healthier eating habits than if they were all at home.

Our dauntless bassist also has some interesting thoughts about the current state of metal in the digital age we’re all living in, saying that although metal is alive and kicking, a lot of people refused to change and got stuck in their old mentalities, fighting and ignoring downloading music instead of finding a way to use it as an advantage. However, if there’s one thing that annoys Jeanne is the fact that people keep taking pictures, recording everything and posting that online when her band is playing live instead of enjoying the show. “What does get annoying is people just staring at their phones when we’re playing and I wonder, are we doing our jobs right? What can we do to get their attention? We’re there to put on a show and that’s our focus,” complained our skillful bass player, and we must all agree with her that such behavior is indeed quite disturbing. Jeanne also talked about the fact she’s been doing a lot more vocals both in the studio and on stage, both clean and harsh ones, something that she used to be insecure about and learned how to overcome by practicing and preparing until making herself more confident.

Both Jeanne and her husband Scott have mentioned in several interviews about their fight against alcoholism, their struggles and how they managed to get clean and sober, something both are really proud of. Jeanne said that she used to drink to numb herself from things that were bothering her, and that after some time she talked to Scott about sobriety and they inspired each other to get sober and stay sober, having a reason to want to wake up every single day, open their eyes and live life together to the fullest. In addition, she mentioned their involvement with Road Recovery, an organization founded in 1998 that helps addiction through music, which is very inspiring and humbling from a sobriety standpoint, and we must all celebrate everything the couple has accomplished in their lives and career by getting clean and, therefore, having more energy, creativity and focus to apply to their music. Hence, if you want to know more about Jeanne, her career, her relationship with Scott, her adventures on the road and so on, go check some of her interviews on YouTube such as this one at Carolina Rebellion in 2013, this one at Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival in 2008, and this one at Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival in 2009, among several others, where you can see why Jeanne is not only a badass bass player, but also an awesome human being and a fantastic metalhead.

Crossing Rubicon’s Official Facebook page
Crossing Rubicon’s Official Twitter
Crossing Rubicon’s Official YouTube channel
Piercing Immortality’s Official Facebook page
Piercing Immortality’s Official Instagram
Piercing Immortality’s Official Twitter

“I think that Metal is alive. It seems that people are stuck in mentalities and refuse to change. The industry fought and ignored downloading rather than finding a way to make it work for them. Also because of the Internet, people think they are going to be overnight stars—that goes for TV also. No one wants to put their nose to grind, but we will. We believe in ourselves and we believe in the scene.” – Jeanne Sagan