Metal Chick of the Month – Elana Justin

Can’t believe I’m lost inside your eyes… And anything and everything don’t you know I’m up for it tonight…

As the winter might be hitting most of us in the Northern Hemisphere in full force, let’s turn up the heat here on The Headbanging Moose by paying a humble tribute to an up-and-coming lady who definitely knows how to rock, living and breathing old school and modern-day Hard Rock, and always showcasing a deep passion for music and arts in general. Owner of a beautiful voice that matches perfectly with the riffs from her own band Motive Black, our metal lady of the month of February will kick your ass mercilessly and hypnotize you with her looks and music. I’m talking about Elana Justin, a New Yorker who’s making a name for herself in the competitive American market, in special in her current city Los Angeles, California, in the United States. Having said that, are you ready for a Rock N’ Roll ride together with Elana and her Motive Black?

Elana has always been into music, growing up doing musical theatre and singing Hard Rock and Heavy Metal simultaneously. As mentioned by Elana herself, her father had a nightclub while she was growing up, and on Thursdays they would have a singer-songwriter night. “I think watching and listening to everyone during that time really inspired me to want to be a singer/performer,” commented Elana about her beginnings. Graduating from the bar band circuit in New York, Elana seized the opportunity to move to Los Angeles in 2018 to work on new music, suddenly finding herself immersed in the local scene and performing on open mic nights at the iconic Viper Room. That immersion and connections made with members of the local scene eventually led to a collaboration with Grammy-winning guitarist and producer Nick Rowe (Bloodsimple, Vampire Weekend), with the duo reworking a song from Elana’s former New York band, taking the music in a heavier direction. That’s how Motive Black was born.

Regarding the name Motive Black, Elana mentioned in one of her interviews that they had a lot of trouble coming up with a name for the band.  “David Buckner from Papa Roach actually came up with the name, and it fit perfectly. It really paired well with the music and vibe,” commented Elana, who also had a few words to say about the musical direction of Motive Black, venturing through the realms of Alternative Rock and Metal with Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll nuances. “I think the music both developed naturally and was pushed a little in a certain direction. I’ve always listened to and been a fan of this genre, and when the opportunity arose to create my own new project, I was definitely excited to really delve deep into the music I love.” Furthermore, Elana’s plan is to turn Motive Black into a full-bodied band, both in the interest of touring and future work on new music as they move forward.

Motive black are just about to release their debut opus, entitled Auburn (available on all platforms HERE), with Elena’s electrifying vocals bristling with a dynamic punch and scorching tones infusing all songs with raw, ferocious timbres and searing emotions. Regarding the album title, Elana explained that the album “is named for my sister’s beautiful auburn-colored hair. Losing her forced me to reexamine my life and make significant changes. I went through a huge transitional period which included both ugly and beautiful experiences. The album is a wild ride through that journey of anger, mania, deep love, and self discovery,” complementing by saying that “I lost my sister to her battle with addiction. She was one of the smartest women I will ever know. She was a straight-A student who aspired to be a doctor. Addiction does not discriminate. I am angry that she will never realize her dreams. This song is about loss, struggle, rage, but mostly it’s about missing my sister and all of her potential. I will never laugh with anyone like I did with Mia. We need to end the stigma associated with addiction. People are meant to be loved, not judged. I miss Mia every day, and I will for my whole life.” You can already enjoy songs from Auburn on YouTube, those being Broken, Fight Alone, and the title-track Auburn, as well as stream those songs on Spotify. Elana is extremely excited about not only the launch of Auburn, but also about the upcoming months as she plans to take the music by Motive Black to the stage, and therefore to feel the energy of the crowd reacting to her music.

Inspired by books, poetry, short stories, films and plays, Elana’s musical influences aren’t directly associated with the Motive Black sound, but they provided a solid foundation for the music to flourish. She cites Joan Jett, Alanis Morissette, and Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell as her main vocal inspirations, with bands like Halestorm pushing Motive Black’s music in the direction it has taken. “I’m a huge Halestorm fan; Lzzy Hale is a huge inspiration. I’m also really into Bring Me The Horizon lately.  I really love their creativity. Rival Sons was the last live show I saw before Covid. They were incredible. The vocals and musicianship left a huge impression on me,” commented Elana about some of the bands she enjoys the most. In addition, when asked which musician or celebrity she would date, her answer exhaled pure Rock N’ Roll. “I would have to say, Joan Jett. She oozes sex and power. She so inspires me, and just being around her would expand my consciousness.”

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One of the songs from Motive Black’s debut album, the thrilling Lift Me Up, featuring the red hot synergy of Elana performing together with Butcher Babies’ one and only Carla Harvey in a street fighting sequence fans will want to view on repeat. “I wanted the video to focus on female strength. The director and I worked together to come up with an idea that spoke to that. It was also fun to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. I’ve never done anything combat related so it seemed like it would be a fun avenue to explore. The director, Dale Resteghini, also directed the video for Broken. I’m a Butcher Babies fan, so when the song was played for Carla and she agreed to perform on it I was super excited. Carla is a great example of a badass woman killing it in the music industry. I think her vibe fits the song perfectly. She really added something special to Lift Me Up. Working together really brought the song up to a new level,” commented Elana, complementing by saying that “I think it’s really important for people to see women working together to create music and art. We keep seeing it more and more and it’s so exciting. It’s essential for women in this industry to stick together and support each other. There is so much more female visibility in this kind of music than there was even just a few years ago.”

When questioned about the differences between the rock and metal scene in New York on the lower east side compared to the music scene on the legendary Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, Elana said that she has felt really embraced by the scene in Los Angeles since moving there, jamming at the Viper Room and meeting tons of talented musicians, as there’s always a lot going on in the city. When asked about how her hometown has influenced her sound, she said that she thinks there is a rawness that runs through every song that may not be present had she been from somewhere else.  “Who knows? I’m pretty laid back in general, I think and love living here in LA now. I save all my angst for the music!”

Elana strongly believes that drawing from experience gives the lyrics legs to stand on. “When something comes from a real place it almost writes itself. People want to connect – so I think songs from experience really resonate with listeners,” commented our diva, also saying that “everything that I write is emotion or experience driven, but sometimes a cool riff inspires lyrics that come out of nowhere and you work backwards to find the truth in them. It doesn’t always work – but there isn’t just one recipe I use. Other times I have something very specific that I want to say or reference and then I work with that to express what I am trying to get across.” She also believes that to be a successful musician or artist, especially in the very competitive landscape of the current music and arts industry, one should never give up, and be willing to persevere when times are tough or when there are too many obstacles that get in one’s way. Elana is indeed a fighter ready for any battle that comes her way, as not only she’s now beginning her path with Motive Black, but she’s also an actress (as you can see in her IMDB profile), having already featured in G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013) and The Jim Gaffigan Show (2015).

Although our amazing singer has never been big into social media, she said she’s been adjusting to that as that’s going to play a big part in the way Motive Black connect to their fans and share their music for the foreseeable future. “I believe the more we can connect directly with our fans, the better chance we have not only to survive – but to thrive, long term.  Having loyal fans who are really into what we do – and are directly connected to us – the better chance we have to remain viable long term, no matter what the industry circumstances are,” said Elana, who also said that she wants people to hear her songs and reinterpret them into something that is meaningful to them. She wants us all to “be bold, be brave and always keep moving forward,” exactly like what she’s doing in her promising career in rock and metal music, and I’m sure we’ll hear a lot more from her in a not-so-distant future.

Motive Black’s Official Facebook page
Motive Black’s Official Instagram
Motive Black’s Official YouTube channel
Motive Black’s Official Twitter

“I want people to hear my songs and reinterpret them into something that is meaningful to them. I want them to empower, and be an outlet for whoever is listening.” – Elana Justin

Metal Chick of the Month – Jeanine Grob

Heavy metal is our way! Loud and fast is what we want!

Happy 2023, my dear metalheads! Are you ready for another year of underground awesomeness here at The Heabanging Moose? I’m sure you are, and in order to properly kick off such promising year for heavy music let’s continue our tradition of honoring a badass bass player as our metal lady of the month of January, just like what we did in all previous years, sounds good? And you better get ready as our ruthless bassist will crush your skull with her rumbling bass and rebellious attitude, helping to put her homeland Switzerland in the map of Heavy and Power Metal together with her also extremely talented bandmates. I’m talking about Jeanine Grob, the red-haired bassist for Switzerland-based all-female Heavy/Power Metal coven Burning Witches. Having said that, it’s time to bang our heads and raise our horns to the sound of the thunderous bass by Jeanine Grob, and let the witches burn in the name of heavy music.

Born on June 4, 1990 in Brugg, a Swiss municipality and a town in the canton of Aargau, the talented Jeanine, or simply Jay as her friends like to call her, considers herself some sort of “novice” in music, as she explained that after meeting Romana Kalkuhl (rhythm guitarist with Atlas & Axis who had been looking for a cast for an all-female metal band for a long time) at a party she actually went to her music school for guitar lessons just for fun, but after a while Romana asked if she could handle the bass guitar. Needless to say, she fell in love with that instrument, and of course Romana asked her if she wanted to be part of her all-female band, leading to the creation of Burning Witches. “Romana is something of the fun factor. She didn’t start the band to be famous or anything like that. She just wants to have fun and see how an all-female band works. For me that was great. I could stand on stage with my best friend and bang my head. Never thought it would develop this far with the band,” commented Jeanine in one of her interviews.

It was during the spring of 2015 when Swiss Heavy/Power Metal act Burning Witches was officially formed by Romana, with Jeanine becoming the band’s first official member, later being joined by vocalist Seraina Telli, drummer Lala Frischknecht and guitarist Alea Wyss. Although there have been a few changes to the band’s lineup since their inception, Romana, Jeanine and Lala have remained as its core, with vocalist Laura Guldemond and guitarist Larissa Ernst being the other two current members of the band. As you all know, Laura is from the Netherlands, which means her mother tongue is Dutch and not German like the rest of the band, but that’s not an issue at all for the band according to Jeanine. “Our band language is now English. Of course, situations can arise from time to time in which you have to ask exactly what that was meant to prevent misunderstandings. But before we quarrel about it, let’s talk about it. But it’s definitely not a problem – and then there’s Google.”

Together with the Burning Witches, Jeanine recorded their self-titled debut album in 2017, the 2018 album Hexenhammer, the 2020 album Dance with the Devil, and their 2021 opus The Witch of the North, as well as the EP’s Wings of Steel, in 2019, and Acoustic Sessions, in 2020, the live album Burning Alive, in 2018, and of course their self-titled debut demo in 2016. In addition, Jeanine has also been featured in several compilations alongside the Burning Witches, including Maximum Metal Vol. 243 (Metal Hammer, 2018), Lauschangriff Vol. 67 (Rock Hard, 2018) and Metal Hammer 1/2019 (Metal Hammer, 2019) with the song Executed; Maximum Metal Vol. 254 (Metal Hammer, 2020) and Lauschangriff Vol. 79 (Rock Hard, 2020) with the song Sea of Lies; and Maximum Metal Vol. 264 (Metal Hammer, 2021) and Lauschangriff Vol. 86 (Rock Hard, 2021) with the song Flight of the Valkyries. You can find those and plenty of other amazing songs and videos from the Burning Witches on YouTube, such as The Witch Of The North, Hexenhammer, We Stand As One, Black Widow, and Dance With The Devil, and countless live footage where you can enjoy Jeanine kicking ass armed with her bass, like the band’s performances live at Salzhaus Brugg in Swtizerland in 2018, at Hell Diest in Belgium in 2022, and at New Wave of Heavy Metal Festival in  Germany in 2018.

When asked about how the band managed the transition from Seraina to Laura on vocals, and if there was a lot of pressure to find the right replacement for a much-vaunted frontwoman like Seraina as quickly as possible, Jeanine said that because Romana writes the music to sound like Burning Witches no matter what, there were no issues nor pressure during that period of change, complementing by saying she thinks Laura sounds even more metal than Seraina (although she considers both great vocalists). “And what makes us very happy, of course, is that Laura is very well received by the fans, and that is ultimately what counts. In terms of character, Laura fits perfectly into the band, she’s just as crazy as we are,” said Jeanine, who doesn’t know exactly where the band could go, while also saying the band would never change their style just to be more successful, and that it was never their declared goal to become such popular metal band. “Hey, we were allowed to perform in Wacken – the dream of every musician who is at home in the metal scene. But we kept our feet on the ground and didn’t take off. And I’m not planning where I want to be in five years, for example to tour with Iron Maiden. We take it as it comes and enjoy every single step!”

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In terms of her idols and influences, Jeanine and the rest of the band are of course inspired by bands the likes of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Manowar, Amon Amarth, and Switzerland’s biggest metal band of all time, Celtic Frost, always listening to a variety of music ranging from Jazz to Extreme Metal. Our dauntless bassist is also a huge fan of Exodus, but of course she said the biggest dream tour for her would be with Iron Maiden or Judas Priest, saying she would probably faint if she could go on tour with Iron Maiden. Furthermore, as their musical roots are definitely in the 80’s, Jeanine said there are many parents who attend their concerts and take their kids with them, which certainly has a positive impact on the future of heavy music. Speaking about touring and the life on the road, Jeanine mentioned that playing at Bang Your Head, one of the biggest festivals in Germany, was a fantastic experience to the band and a moment that will be remembered by them. And when asked about the band’s cover version for Manowar’s classic Battle Hymn, Jeanine said that “we’re all Manowar fans and Romana had the brilliant idea of ​​asking Ross The Boss to play on our cover version. And to our delight, he absolutely loved the idea. His bassist Michael Lepond (Symphony X) also found the suggestion exciting, and that’s how the whole thing got rolling.”

Jeanine also has an interesting view on the use of Spotify, YouTube and other streaming services today, and how they impact her music. “Everything is more fast-moving today, especially with all the media platforms that are now available. But I think the real fans who are interested in our music will listen to everything online as well. What was certainly better for us musicians in the past, when everything was still released on disk or CD, is that there were no platforms from which you could simply download music for free. A lot of people are not even aware that we musicians are not doing us any favors because we don’t get anything for our work. On the other hand, these new technologies also offer completely new possibilities. Nowadays it’s much easier to reach people and make them aware of us and our music. If you used to walk into a record store and see a CD from a band you’ve never heard of in your life, you probably hesitated rather than grabbing it spontaneously. Today you’re online, just listen to one or the other song, and if you like it, then you buy it. Everything has its pros and cons.”

In one of her interviews, Jeanine said she likes the fact that the Burning Witches are known as an all-girls group, complementing by pointing out to the importance of having more women in a male-dominated scene. “As a woman, it takes a lot of courage to stand up and fight to be taken seriously. When it all started for us back then, we had to fight against the prejudice that we didn’t set it all up ourselves. It was rumored that we first got a record deal and only then gave concerts, which of course is nonsense. And you really have to want success, because the music business isn’t always a bed of roses. What I can also imagine is that female bands quickly get in each other’s hair and then the whole thing falls apart quite quickly. Luckily, that’s not a risk for us, because we’re all very direct and open when dealing with each other and discuss differences of opinion straight away,” also saying that being called “witches” makes total sense for them, as in metal music no woman wants to be a “princess”. By the way, although Jeanine said the band doesn’t have any male groupies, there’s a fun video on YouTube from when the band played in St. Louis, a major city in Missouri along the Mississippi River in the United States, where one of the guys told Jeanine he loves her, and of course the band played along to make the experience even more fun.

As it happens to many, many bands and musicians out there, the girls from the Burning Witches have what can be called regular jobs, including of course Jeanine, but she said that luckily they all have great bosses who support them, saying that if they’re absent for several weeks then they take unpaid leave. “I work in sales, where it wasn’t always easy for the last three years – a lot was promised, but when it came down to it, they suddenly said I was here to work and you couldn’t make money with music anyway. But I was lucky enough to find a new job where I am now really supported. The whole thing is always based on reciprocity. I’m willing to give a lot, but I expect something in return. But this flexibility is not a matter of course, especially in sales, so I was really lucky.” Moreover, on the music side of business, Jeanine is very happy with all the support the band gets behind the scenes from VO Pulver (Poltergeist, Gurd), Marcel “Schmier” Schirmer (Destruction) and Damir Eskic (Destruction). “It’s definitely not the case that Schmier dictates anything to us, like getting involved in the songwriting or something like that, we really enjoy total freedom there. But of course we are also extremely happy about his input, after all he has been in the scene for over 30 years and brings a lot of experience with him. In the end we design the songs the way we want them to, but we also have an open ear for tips and ideas.”

There are several interviews with Jeanine and her bandmates online, such as this one in 2019 with Metal Underground when the Burning Witches performed in the UK for the first time supporting Brujeria and Cryptopsy, talking about the origin of their name, the role of women in modern metal and much more; this one to Bloodstream TV in 2022; this one right before their show at Hell Diest in Belgium in 2022; these five question by Rockers Den Magazine in 2022; or this simple but fun backstage footage from Dortmund, Germany when they were touring with Destruction in 2020. There’s no escape from Jeanine and her rumbling bass, as you can see, because you know, our red-haired diva is a witch of heavy music, and that’s all that she needs to hypnotize us all and drag us to their metal coven for all eternity.

Jeanine Grob’s Official Facebook page
Jeanine Grob’s Official Instagram
Burning Witches’ Official Facebook page
Burning Witches’ Official Instagram
Burning Witches’ Official YouTube channel
Burning Witches’ Official Twitter

Metal Chick of the Month – Luana Dametto

I curse at their holy symbols… I laugh as they pray…

As we’re reaching the end of 2022, let’s all make a lot of noise together with our last metal lady of the year in the name of rock and metal music, sounds good? And when I say a lot of noise, I mean A LOT OF noise, because our metallic diva this month of December is undoubtedly one of the most talented drummers of the current Death and Thrash Metal scene, hammering her drums mercilessly for our total delight wherever she goes. I’m talking about the talented and charismatic Luana Dametto, the unrelenting drummer for Brazilian Death/Thrash Metal horde Crypta, and also known for her work with the bands Nervosa, Chaos Rising and Apophizys. Having said that, are you ready to know more about such unstoppable lady of the extreme music scene?

Born on November 22, 1996 in Tapejara, a municipality in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, Luana started her path in the world of music at the young age of 12 when she already began to play drums, later joining her very first band, Passo Fundo, Brazil-based Death Metal act Apophizys, at the age of 16. That’s exactly when she discovered her passion for Death Metal, and from there it was just a matter of time until she joined Brazilian Thrash Metal ladies Nervosa back in 2016. However, before becoming part of Nervosa, Luana studied Graphic Design at UPF – Universidade de Passo Fundo in Brazil in order to build a career in this field while still working as a musician in her spare time until the age of 19, which turned out to be very useful for her as she actually applied her studies into her passion for heavy music, being responsible for the artwork for the first (and only) full-length album by Apophizys.

Speaking about Apophizys, our metal lady was part of the band between 2012 and 2017, when the band split up, having recorded with them the album Into the Chaos back in 2015, which included some excellent songs such as Fear of the Unknown and Carnage (and you can enjoy a nice drum cam recorded by Luana herself for this song by clicking HERE). In one of her interviews, Luana explained exactly how she made it to  Apophizys, saying that in the city of Passo Fundo there were two Death Metal bands, one formed by brothers who wouldn’t allow her to join the band, and the aforementioned Apophizys. She said Apophizys already had a drummer at that time, but Luana didn’t give up and stayed tuned to them hoping their drummer would leave the band, opening the so much needed spot for her. As you might already know, that worked, and Luana kicked some ass behind her drums with Apophizys for six years before joining Nervosa.

Luana was still in college when Nervosa’s founder and guitarist Prika Amaral added her on Facebook and contacted her for an audition (being referred by Brazilian drummer Eduardo Lane of NervoChaos, who had already toured with Apophizys before), as at that time Nervosa had just lost their previous drummer Pitchu Ferraz. She then travelled to the city of São Paulo, passed the test, and went on to start playing live with the band that same year and to record the band’s 2018 opus Downfall of Mankind. From such intense album, you can enjoy amazing songs the likes of Kill The Silence and Never Forget, Never Repeat (and there’s also a kick-ass drum cam for this song HERE). After the album release, she traveled and toured a lot around the world, playing at several big festivals and, therefore, turning music into her main occupation.  In addition, Luana also recorded with Nervosa the single Freakshow, originally released on the Adult Swim metal compilation 2 in 2019. It was in 2020 when Luana parted ways with Nervosa, saying that the main reason for her departure was the fact that the three girls at that time felt there was no more passion for doing music together. There wasn’t any type of fighting or arguing, and she said they could have even continued with the band as is, but they all agreed they had to change something to reignite that passion and love for extreme music.

The seed for what’s known today as Crypta had already been planted before she left Nervosa, more specifically in June 2019, as a new musical project by Luana together with Fernanda Lira, also from Nervosa. As the co-founder of the band, she said the focus would be on playing Death Metal in a way that could not be done with Nervosa, inviting Dutch guitarist Sonia Anubis (of Burning Witches) to the band and later also adding Brazilian guitarist Tainá Bergamaschi (of Hagbard) to their lineup. After consolidating the band members, they started working on their debut effort Echoes of the Soul, released in 2021, and you can have an absolute blast to the sound of such incendiary album to the sound of songs such as From The Ashes, Dark Night Of The Soul and Kali (check out another awesome drum cam for this song HERE). Furthermore, earlier this year the band released the single I Resign (which also has a really cool drum cam video that can be watched HERE), once again presenting the visceral and heavy elements that are characteristic of their sound. Moreover, if live concerts are your cup of tea, you can find Luana pounding her drums in great fashion in several live videos of the band including From The Ashes live at Wacken Open Air 2022, and a 30-minute performance at Espaço Som studio in São Paulo, Brazil in November 2021.

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Apart from Crypta, Nervosa and Apophizys, you can also find Luana smashing her drums since 2021 with Chaos Rising, a collaborative international project focused on different subgenres of heavy music open to every female artist interested in metal that includes members from Brazil, France, Germany, England, Sweden, Hungary, Russia, Iran and Argentina, among others. She recorded with Chaos Rising in 2021 the single Cost of Inaction alongside Swiss vocalist Alessia Mercado (Burning Flesh, Murge), French guitarist Stéphanie Nolf (Unsafe), Italian guitarist Francesca Mancini (Sudden Death), and German bassist Tina Gruschwitz (Demorphed, Cryoblood), and the final result is a bestial Death and Thrash Metal attack that will please all fans of extreme music. In addition, Luana was also a guest drummer in the 2016 EP Souls Dragged into the Abyss of Torment, by Brazilian Melodic Black/Death Metal act Isfet,  also working in the recording of the album. If you want to listen to Luana playing a more demonic, blackened style of music, you can enjoy for example what’s perhaps the best song of the album, Perennial Pain Domain.

Regarding her idols and influences, Luana mentioned that she’s a huge fan of Thrash, Black and in special Death Metal, and that she began playing drums influenced by Joey Jordison (RIP) of Slipknot and Vinnie Paul (RIP) of Pantera, learning a lot about double bass and groove by listening to and watching them. She also mentioned Kerim “Krimh” Lechner of Decapitated and Derek Roddy of Hate Eternal as influences on the way she does her blast beats, complementing by saying that playing drums was actually a random thing that happened to her, as she was only 11 years old when she got in touch with a friend who played drums who led her to get her own set and begin playing. Not sure if her setup is still the same, but a few years ago she was using a 14″ Color Sound 900 Black Heavy Hi-Hat, a 16″ Color Sound 900 Black Heavy Crash, a 17″ Color Sound 900 Black Heavy Crash, a 18″ 2002 Giga Bell Ride “Psychoctopus”, and a 16″ Color Sound 900 Black China.

Speaking about her life on the road, although Luana might still be a very young drummer, she has already been to several different parts of the world including of course most regions in Brazil, the United States, Colombia, many countries across Europe and Asia (even recommending Singaporean Grindcore act Wormrot as one of her favorite bands of the region), and even the United Arab Emirates together with Nervosa and now Crypta. She mentioned Rock in Rio in Brazil and Altavoz Fest in Colombia as the most memorable concerts so far in her career, saying that Altavoz Fest is some sort of “Rock in Rio Colombia” where she played in front of over 30,000 people. Moreover, when asked which bands she enjoyed the most to play alongside, our dauntless drummer mentioned Havok (Brazil), Warbringer (United States) and Venom Inc. (England) as her favorite bands to tour together. There are some very interesting interviews with Luana on YouTube (most of them in Portuguese, though) where she talks about not only her touring experience but also about what’s next for Crypta, their music and so on, such as this one to a podcast named TUPFS, this one to Revista Freak, and this one to Hedflow.

There’s also another excellent interview to a podcast named Music Hero where she talks about being a woman in the extreme metal scene, and that’s how we’ll conclude this humble tribute to her. As a prominent female drummer in the world of heavy music, Luana thinks the scene is still ruled by men and that there’s a lot of sexism everywhere, saying she feels extremely disappointed when people treat her as if she knows less about her instrument than guys just because she’s a woman. Her advice to other women who are starting their careers in music is to focus on your work and ignore all the negativity that might come from some people, only doing what you truly feel comfortable doing. When asked about her favorite female metal musicians, Luana listed Canadian drummer Justine Éthier (Karkaos, Blackguard), Dutch vocalist Simone “Som” Pluijmers (Your Chance to Die, Lacerated, Cerebral Bore), and American vocalist Reba Meyers (Pray for Teeth) as the best for her, and just by mentioning only names from the underground scene we can see how much Luana is passionate about it. Hence, if you also love the underground extreme scene, you must go check what Luana and the other girls from Crypta are doing and, of course, stay tuned for when the band takes your city by storm with their pulverizing live performance, with Luana proving that you don’t need to be a big guy to powerfully smash your drums in the name of extreme music.

Luana Dametto’s Official Facebook page
Luana Dametto’s Official Instagram
Luana Dametto’s Official Linktree
Luana Dametto’s Official YouTube channel
Crypta’s Official Facebook page
Crypta’s Official Instagram
Crypta’s Official YouTube channel
Crypta’s Official Linktree

Metal Chick of the Month – Haruka Morikawa

A beautiful Japanese nightmare!

As we’re getting closer and closer to the end of another year of pure fuckin’ metal, let’s keep banging our heads nonstop to another extremely talented woman from the underground scene, this time hailing from Japan, or as several people like to call it, the “Land of the Rising Sun”. Easily switching between deep, demonic growls and an angelic, operatic voice, our metal lady of the month of November has been making a strong impact not only on the underground scene in her homeland, but her voice has been echoing all over the world and, therefore, attracting the attention of a wide variety of headbangers worldwide. I’m talking about Haruka Morikawa, also simply known as Haruka, the lead singer for Japanese Melodic/Symphonic Electro Death/Thrash Metal band Heterogeneous Andead, and just by the name of the band and the type of music they play you know you’re in for a treat in our humble tribute to such unique vocalist.

Born and raised in Japan, the skillful Haruka has been the voice of Tokyo’s own Heterogeneous Andead since April 2014, when the band’s current style reached its desired shape and form. However, the band was formed a little before that, though, starting as a project named Andead by founder and multi-instrumentalist Yusuke Kiyama in 2012, changing its name to Heterogeneous Andead in 2013 when they started playing some live concerts. Singing about caustic topics such as sorrow, grief and despair, Heterogeneous Andead have already released one EP and two full-length albums in their career, those being their 2015 debut EP Undead, the 2017 album Deus Ex Machina, and now in 2022 the album Chaotic Fragments, which will be reviewed by The Headbanging Moose sooner than you can say “Japan” and is already available for purchasing HERE. In addition to those, the band was also featured in the compilations Fear Candy 150 (Terrorizer Magazine, 2015), 嘘。(BM Records, 2015), Bad Wish (BM Records, 2015), Halloween – Trick Or Treat (BM Records, 2015), Imperative Music Compilation DVD Vol. 14 (Imperative Music, 2017), and Metal Japan Heavy Chains Vol.5 TieUp ConneXion #2 (Metal Japan Records, 2019).

Heterogeneous Andead have been suffering with several lineup changes lately, with guitarist Sho and bassist Takashi Onitake leaving the band in December 2021 and drummer Tomoyuki Nakano also leaving the band in July this year, which means Yusuke and Haruka are currently searching for a guitarist, a bassist and a drummer to join them in their quest for heavy music. I’m sure they’ll find some talented musicians to be part of the band soon, and until then you can enjoy Haruka’s unique vocals in the official videos for the amazing songs Denied, Automaton and Fission, as well as live recordings of the songs Demise of Reign, Flash of Calamity and Denied live at WildSideTokyo on September 16, 2019, and Unleashed live on February 11, 2017 at Shinjuku Head Power. Furthermore, you can always stream all of the band’s creations on Spotify as well.

An admirer of Classical Music, Jazz, Electronic Pop, Brutal Death Metal and Grindcore, the stunning Haruka doesn’t only mesmerize us all with her mezzo-soprano vocals, singing like an angel, and with her guttural growls and screeches, sounding like a devil, but she also makes sure her looks on stage are in sync with the music being played. According to her bandmate Yusuke, the concept of costumes is basically darkness or gorgeousness influenced by Japanese visual kei, a movement among Japanese musicians that is characterized by the use of varying levels of make-up, elaborate hair styles and flamboyant costumes, often, but not always, coupled with androgynous aesthetics, similar to Western Glam Rock. Simply watch the aforementioned videos of the band, as well as their live performances, and you’ll see the incredible fusion of music and visuals in their creations.

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Owner of a natural Anime voice (according to the band itself), when asked about how she manages to go from her growls to her mezzo-soprano voice (and back) in seconds without having any sort of vocal issues, Haruka said she has already found the perfect way to switch from one style to another, complementing she has never lost her voice due to that extreme change. In one of her interviews our beloved vocalist said that although she didn’t feel her voice was the most remarkable piece of her identity in the beginning, she now understands and feels the power of her voice as part of her character, saying that it was Yusuke who inspired her to sing both harsh and clean vocals when she first joined the band. It was a challenge for her at first, of course, but Yusuke made sure he adapted part of the band’s style to match with her abilities, resulting in a win-win situation for both him and Haruka as the music by Heterogeneous Andead sounds fantastic nowadays. If you’re in Japan you might be lucky enough to witness them playing live, which occurs only once or twice a month, and despite not filling up big venues yet they certainly have a decent amount of followers that always attend their concerts.

Regarding the metal scene in Japan and how well their unique type of Extreme Metal is accepted in the country, Haruka mentioned during an interview that she can see metal bands having issues playing in countries or regions where the catholic church is very strong, but that’s not a problem in Japan as most of the Japanese population doesn’t follow any religion (or at least they don’t follow it blindly, I might say). What’s interesting is that Haruka is a Protestant Christian herself (and she mentioned only 1% of the country is Christian, by the way), but fortunately music and religion are not connected in any particular way in Japan. She also said that because she follows a Christian way of living she believes she can better express herself when singing with Heterogeneous Andead, externalizing all the sorrow and grief from the lyrics in great fashion.

You can watch a few fun and informative interviews on YouTube with Haruka, who’s by the way a big fan of our beloved monster Godzilla. For example, you can enjoy this nice interview to Antichrist Magazine in 2018 where Haruka and Yusuke talk about their previous album Deus Ex Machina; and this one to the Argentinian webzine Territorio Rock, also in 2018. And last but not least, anytime you watch a live performance by Haruka with Heterogeneous Andead you’ll certainly notice her movements are very theatrical, adding an extra touch of finesse to the overall result. The reason for that is that not only Haruka was part of plays and musicals when she was a student, but she also practiced Aikido, a modern Japanese martial art that is split into many different styles, during her childhood, allowing her to improve the visual effects of her personal performance while singing at the same time. In other words, don’t mess with Haruka or you’ll get your ass kicked, got it? Simply relax and enjoy her unique vocals to the fullest, proving how much Japan is and will always be one of the most creative countries in the world when the music in question is Heavy Metal.

Haruka Morikawa’s Official Twitter
Heterogeneous Andead’s Official Facebook page
Heterogeneous Andead’s Official YouTube channel
Heterogeneous Andead’s Official Twitter

Metal Chick of the Month – Tatiana Shmayluk

Booyakah, Tatiana!

As The Headbanging Moose is celebrating nine years of existence this month of October, there’s nothing better than offering the first slice of our cake to a woman who’s undoubtedly the most important name of all time from the Ukrainian rock and metal scene, and I would dare to say even from the entire music scene in Ukraine. Born on March 15, 1987 in Horlivka, or Gorlovka, a city located in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, she’s a singer and songwriter better known as the frontwoman for Groove Metal/Metalcore act Jinjer since 2010, kicking some serious ass wherever she goes armed with both her furious roars and mesmerizing clean vocals. I’m talking about the one and only Tatiana Shmayluk, a multi-talented and humble woman who’s also a role model to countless girls out there who want to find in heavy music a way to express all of their feelings, hopes and frustrations, and I’m sure you’ll get addicted to her vocals and her music after reading this tribute to her.

Long before becoming the face of Jinjer, Tatiana was already singing and screaming according to her own mother, always listening to Russian and Ukrainian pop songs she heard on the radio. “My mother told me I started screaming when I was a very little girl. I screamed so loud I had a hernia in my belly.” Furthermore, one of her favorite songs from her childhood was the 1989 dance song Lambada, by French-Brazilian group Kaoma, which she mentioned she still sings along to it with great joy, although she doesn’t know Portuguese. She then began singing more seriously at the age of eight, taking vocal lessons for a couple of months and making her onstage debut that year in a concert hall with a choir. “The songs were accompanied with dancing. I was very nervous, and of course I screwed it up because of the dancing. So I said, ‘Never again.’ I cannot do synchronic dancing with someone else. I need to do it alone so I can control the whole thing,” commented Tatiana, who also said that it was her older brother, who was a guitar player to a Doom Metal band, who introduced her to metal music, more specifically to Aria, the long-running Moscow metal outfit hailed as the “Iron Maiden of Russia.”

Proudly carrying the flag of modern-day metal music to all four corner of the earth, Jinjer were formed back in 2008 in Donetsk, but the band considers their official start with the addition of Tatiana and guitarist Roman Ibramkhalilov in 2010. None of the founding members remain with the band, with the current lineup being comprised of the aforementioned Tatiana on vocals and Roman on the guitars, together with Eugene Abdukhanov on bass and Vladislav Ulasevish on drums. Influenced by countless renewned acts the likes of Opeth, Guano Apes, Slayer, Death, Pantera, Anathema, Lamb of God, Gojira and Twelve Foot Ninja, as well as groups across the spectrum of R&B, soul, funk, jazz, reggae, and hip-hop, such as Cypress Hill and House of Pain, the band has already released four studio albums in their career, those being their 2014 debut Cloud Factory, their 2016 sophomore album King of Everything, and more recently their 2019 opus Macro and their 2021 critically acclaimed album Wallflowers, all of which have reached number one in their native Ukraine, while also seeing a total of 16 singles, six of which reached the top of the Ukrainian charts and one of which, Pisces, became a global hit and has to date sold over 20 million copies. In addition, they’ve also released three EP’s, those being Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear (2009), Inhale, Do Not Breathe (2012) and Micro (2019), and the 2020 live album Alive in Melbourne. You can enjoy several of their best compositions on YouTube, such as Vortex, Judgement (& Punishment), Wallflower, Home Back, Sit Stay Roll Over, and Who Is Gonna Be The One, as well as their full ass-kicking performance live at Resurrection Fest in Viveiro, Spain, in 2018, among many, many other awesome videos, and don’t forget to also stream their full discography on Spotify.

Unfortunately, not long after the ongoing conflict between the Ukrainian military, anti-government protestors and pro-Russian rebels began in 2014, Tatiana and her bandmates had to escape Donetsk, moving to a suburb near the city of Lviv around 800 miles away, not far from the Polish border. “”But we got bored there because it’s a city for tourists,” explained Tatiana. “We rented a house but it was impossible to live there because there were problems with water, with electricity, heating. So that’s why we moved to a more civilized place.” Furthermore, when asked about what makes Jinjer uniquely Ukrainian, she said that because the band comes from a land where kindness equals weakness, a tough country for everyone including their parents, especially in the 90’s, the band members became really grind and tough. For instance, she mentioned that Ukrainians don’t go to a doctor if something hurts, for example, enduring the pain until the end. That’s one of the reasons why the band tries to never cancel any of their concerts and tours, even if it’s impossible to play, showing how strong and determined they are.

Apart from her undisputed career with Jinjer, you can also find Tatiana as a guest vocalist in an array of distinct albums and songs, including the songs Through the Never (I Will Return) and Horror of Daniel Wagner, from the 2022 album Horror of Daniel Wagner, by Ukrainian Heavy/Power Metal band Morton; the song Find My Way, released in 2022 by American Modern Metal band Lions At The Gate; the song Over and Out, released in 2021 by Australian Heavy Rock band Twelve Foot Ninja; and my favorite of all those tracks, the pulverizing Hello Death, from the 2022 album Cancer Culture, released by Polish Death/Groove Metal act Decapitated. Not only that, if you pay good attention to Jinjer’s song Judgment (& Punishment) you’ll notice several elements from reggae added to the band’s extreme music, and that’s something that comes from Tatiana as she was a part of a band that played reggae, ska, ska-punk and funk before Jinjer, playing several cover songs and singing in Ukrainian, Russian and English. “I was a huge fan of reggae. I wore dreadlocks and I was all about Rastafari,” commented Tatiana, who also said that, even being a huge reggae fan, she doesn’t smoke weed simply because she doesn’t like it.

Currently living in Los Angeles, California and spending as much time as possible on tour, having closed 2021 with over 70 concerts including many summer festivals, a short tour of mainland Europe and a two-month North American tour, Tatiana obviously misses her homeland, her family and friends, although she finds the region’s lingering Soviet attitudes unappealing, with the remnants of hardline communism surrounding everyone there. While she was still living in Ukraine, she said that “I was too young to remember life in Soviet Union, but the spirit of Soviet Union is still here. I’m living in an apartment built maybe 40 years ago, and my parents live in such an apartment, as well. All our shops and supermarkets are situated in buildings built then. So it is still like Soviet Union. And there are a lot of people who still have Soviet Union in their heads and their minds.” However, Tatiana mentioned she doesn’t feel safe when on tour it doesn’t matter which country she’s visiting, not only in Ukraine, saying she’s always afraid of going anywhere by herself.

In one of her interviews, Tatiana said it’s a surprise to her that people are still impressed that women can scream, mentioning for example female-fronted German thrash metallers Holy Moses, who she got to know when she was an 18-year old girl in Ukraine, and saying that despite the fact bands like Jinjer might impress the younger generations, the older generations have always known what women can do in rock and metal music. “Sometimes I’m annoyed, but then you say, ‘OK, well, I didn’t see a hummingbird until I was 35 years old.’ It’s always a right time to discover new stuff. It’s great that screaming women are a phenomenon.” She also said it’s incredible to know she’s an inspiration for many young women mainly because they don’t know she’s in fact a very shy person, also sensitive, fragile and easy to be offended, or in her own words, she’s not better than anyone, complementing by saying she’s just a performer when she’s on stage. “Of course there is some true shit, but I don’t move my head 24/7 and I don’t scream all the time. Well, I scream every night. But not every morning.” Furthermore, you can learn a little more about how Tatiana learned to scream by clicking HERE, from first hearing Otep to screaming Mudvayne lyrics, to the dominant force she is today.

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As any other metalhead in the world, Tatiana has a lot of idols and influences in her life, in her vocal style, in the way she writes the music for Jinjer and so on, but following those artists wasn’t easy at all when she was a young girl due to the aforementioned impact of the Soviet Union over Ukraine at that time. “Metal wasn’t accessible for me. Where I grew up in Donetsk, not many worldwide metal artists would come. They’d go to the capital, and it was 700km and 12 hours on the train. I didn’t have money because I was a teenager and my mom was strict; she didn’t give me much pocket money, although that stimulated me to earn it myself, for which I’m really grateful to her. My parents wouldn’t have let me out of the town, but that was for the best too. It made me want to play my own music and form my own band.” As mentioned, her brother was the one who got her into metal (although he stopped listening to heavy music when he grew up), but before that she used to listen to a lot of rock music, grunge and punk especially after the Soviet Union collapsing in 1991, as MTV hit the Ukrainian airwaves and she began listening to bands like Nirvana and The Offspring. She then found the music by Otep, and got addicted to the vocals by the iconic Otep Shamaya. “I think I was 15 when I heard Otep the first time,” said Tatiana in one of her interviews. “I said, ‘This dude is so cool!’ And my friend said, ‘This is a girl!’ I was like, ‘Jesus fucking Christ!’ This is the first girl I am hearing do this. I was shocked, and I wanted to shock people like her.”

Being a rock and metal artist in Ukraine wasn’t easy at all, taking Tatiana and the rest of the band around five years just to cross the Ukrainian border and play in Romania, and even longer to reach other European countries and the United States, but fortunately everything seems to be working for Jinjer now, with the band organically growing in the worldwide scene and gaining more and more respect from fans from all four corners of the earth. As expected, Tatiana has some important complaints about the Ukrainian metal scene, saying that most Ukrainian bands stick to playing in Ukraine or Russia, and that they don’t usually sing in English, the main reason why they just play in their motherland. “I was always inspired by western music culture in jazz, blues and then metal. I always had this love for English speaking music, even pop music; Britney Spears is one of my biggest idols! People can understand it easily and for me, it was always about spreading my own message through a language that is more available for people all around the world of different countries. That’s why we chose to sing in English and that’s how we made our own path.” Another major issue in Ukraine according to her is the post-U.S.S.R. thinking and mindset, where you’re not accepted if you’re different, as for example tattoos (and we all know she has plenty) are not acceptable for men nor women in her homeland.

However, as you might probably know, Ukraine is suffering with the Russian invasion that started back in February this year, and that has been hitting the band hard in their hearts and minds since then. In March 2022, it was reported that Jinjer had “paused” their career to focus on relief efforts in Ukraine after the war began. Right after that, in June 2022, Jinjer announced that they received permission from the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture to leave Ukraine and tour as ambassadors of the nation to raise funds and awareness. “We are very thankful to our Ministry Of Culture for the Ukraine who gave us this opportunity to do what we love to do, and play all the festivals we have announced. We’re using every festival to raise funds and spread awareness about the real war that is happening in the 21st century, which is crazy. It’s hard to believe, but this is the harsh reality. It’s heartbreaking, but at the same time we are also full of hope that soon it is all going be over. We are spreading positivity and hope, and we are dreaming about peace. I hope that no other European or world country ever experiences the same as the Ukraine,” commented Tatiana, also saying she has no idea when Jinjer will be able to play in Ukraine again, and that the band will never stop fighting. Moreover, in their most recent releases there are lyrics addressing the war in Donbas and its effects on their home region of Donetsk, and you can also find tons of amazing interviews with Tatiana and the boys talking about the war in Ukraine, just like this one conducted by Loudwire.

Regarding her relationship with social media, Tatiana said that due to her explosive nature she usually replies back to anyone that messages her, it doesn’t matter if it’s a positive or negative comment, saying she “enjoys” replying back to internet trolls because she’s easy to piss off. “Sometimes it’s just overwhelming. I feel like if I let it go, I will let them continue to do this shit again and again. It’s like I give them unspoken permission,” commented our stunning diva, also saying most of the feedback she gets online is actually positive. In addition, one of her favorite ways of interacting with her fans is to customize shirts she receives from them before a show and wear them onstage the same night. “Most of the time, these shirts are very personal. For example, yesterday I was given a shirt — it has a huge ape giving a middle finger and it says something like, ‘Humans destroy everything.’ It’s so related to our song Ape. They will see me wear it on the stage and it is a huge pleaser. They get double joy. I love all the things they bring to me at meet and greet. They are so sweet,” said Tatiana, complementing by saying that some of those fans are very shy and don’t want to talk a lot, being very happy with just an autograph and a photo.

Our unstoppable frontwoman also said that, in an effort to improve her own standing with Mother Nature, she tried to be a vegan for three years, but she went back to eating meat in the middle of a tour because she was starving. She said she still tries to be moderate in consuming meat, and that she doesn’t drink milk, though, revealing her own inner conflict. “I still try being vegan, but it’s really hard for me because I was raised in a family that was not very rich,” she explained. “We could not afford eating meat very often. So when I stopped eating meat, I realized that I loved meat a lot. When I smell meat, it drives me crazy. Something inside of me forgets about animals, suffering, health, environment, and I just want a good piece of meat.” You can get to know more about Tatiana by listening to our growler answering 10 questions asked by Metalshop TV (volume 1 and volume 2), as well as other interviews online such as Tatiana and her bandmates answering the most asked questions on the Internet about Jinjer. Lastly, just like several people out there (including myself), Tatiana also believes something went wrong in our evolution, saying mankind went wrong, and that although we are so small on this earth we act like we are gods, which makes her really sad. She’s trying to learn how to be happy, how to find the happiness inside, and to appreciate her life. “That’s my biggest ambition, to be happy and find inner peace, and for there to be justice for Ukraine.”

Tatiana Shmayluk’s Official Facebook page
Tatiana Shmayluk’s Official Instagram
Tatiana Shmayluk’s Official Twitter
Jinjer’s Official Facebook page
Jinjer’s Official VKontakte
Jinjer’s Official Instagram
Jinjer’s Official YouTube channel
Jinjer’s Official Twitter

“You know what, I’m losing my faith in music. I don’t feel like I can express myself enough to say what I really feel because there are no words to explain. So, I feel like I should give up… but then something makes me go further.” – Tatiana Shmayluk

Metal Chick of the Month – Haley Roughton

We are food for a predator… immobilized, we die this night!

Houston, we have Heavy Metal. And it’s not just Heavy Metal, but a bold and electrifying fusion of extreme music with symphonic elements and movie scores, and if you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about I’m sure our metal lady of the month of September will help you with that. Not only an extremely talented vocalist capable of flowing from the most demonic growls to clean, groovy vocals, she also works as a spacesuit instructor and flight controller at NASA, which gives you an idea of her wide range of skills and level of intellect and energy. I’m talking about the multi-talented vocalist Haley Roughton, the frontwoman for Houston, Texas-based Symphonic/Melodic Death Metal horde The Xebellian Triangle. I bet you’re curious to know more about Haley, her work with The Xebellian Triangle and with NASA, her other music projects and so on, so get ready for a wild ride with such up-and-coming name of the current metal scene.

Before we head into her current adventure with The Xebellian Triangle, let’s take a step back and know more about her studies and career, just to give you a taste of how smart and focused Haley is and how she also applies those strengths into her music. As aforementioned, Haley has been very busy with projects and assignments at her workplace at NASA, having recently been certified as a flight controller and having already been an intern at the Avionic Systems Division (Command and Data Handling), working with MSP430 microcontroller, C language, QNAP API, HTTP protocol, general computer networks and programming microcontrollers in C in the development of software/drivers for a network-attached storage (NAS) device interfacing to the MPS430 microcontroller for the Modular Integrated Stackable Layers (MISL) project. Not only that, she was also an intern a few years ago for a company called Magaw Medical, in Texas, laying the foundations for a wireless, HD video laryngoscope, and also a student researcher at Texas Christian University, where by the way she graduated in Engineering with Electrical Emphasis. Moreover, she’s awesome in LTSpice/PSpice, MS Excel, C, MATLAB and Inventor/AutoCAD, among other technical skills needed in her career.

Do you think Haley is a nerd or geek after reading about her career? Well, yes, but of course she’s proud of that, and when you listen to her vocals with her bandmates from The Xebellian Triangle you’ll then realize she’s not just a nerd, but a badass nerd. Currently formed of Haley on vocals, who joined the band in the spring of 2021, alongside Ivy Jayne Lance (Suicide Pandemic, The Crypt Alive, The Isdal Cadaver, Remnants of Izanagi) on the guitars, Hakeem De Hoyos on bass, and Aron Hetsko (Aethereus, The Crypt Alive, Dorzia) on drums, The Xebellian Triangle were formed back in 2019 by Ivy and Aron, who had their initial band together in high school and after several years  met up to talk about how it would be great to finish their old songs, put them out and play them live, leading to the birth of The Xebellian Triangle, with their sound being inspired by renowned acts the likes of Amon Amarth, The Black Dahlia Murder, Epica, Dimmu Borgir and Fleshgod Apocalypse, among several others. After releasing a few singles starting in December 2021, The Xebellian Triangle (also referred to as TXT) released in the beginning of July their debut full-length opus, entitled At the Banks of the Rubicon (which is by the way available in full on Spotify), offering us all nine songs of first-class Melodic and Symphonic Death Metal with Haley kicking some serious ass on vocals, as you can witness in the songs Dracarys, with Haley being also responsible for its lyrics and arrangements (and which also has a very nice vocal playthrough by our metal diva on YouTube), and Confirmed.

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Sometimes labeled by the band itself as “The Black Dahlia Murder meets Hans Zimmer”, the music by The Xebellian Triangle is highly influenced by fantasy books, movies and series the likes of The Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones and The Witcher, among several others, as well as games such as World of Warcraft, which Haley plays (or at least used to play) on her free time, and sci-fi and horror films including John Carpenter’s The Thing, one of Haley’s favorite horror movies of all time. As already mentioned, Haley was involved in the development of some of the album lyrics and arranging patterns during the recording process by offering different perspectives, and if you click HERE you’ll have access not only to the band’s top-of-the-line creations, but also to their tour dates, merch, social media links and so on, seeing how focused and hardworking the entire band is and how they added all of those influences into their music. As you can see in Haley’s influences as well as in the rest of The Xebellian Triangle’s, they are all kind of nerds with their own varying preferences, including the aforementioned books, movies, shows, games and other things like anime, but Hailey also brings to the band elements from R&B thanks to her vocal training, adding more clean singing spots where they fit in the music by The Xebellian Triangle. Moreover, the band also tries to speak on things that are important to them such as feminism, the fight for racial equality, gay rights, trans rights, and supporting methods that build a greener, cleaner, safer, fairer world.

Always developing a portfolio of covers to show off her vocal ranges both clean and harsh on her YouTube channel, including Take This Lonely Heart, by Nothing But Thieves, Out of Time, by Skyharbor, and Holy Roller, by Spiritbox, Haley has also been part of a Death Metal band named Dorzia since 2021, having already recorded with them the singles  Blood Portrait, Looking In and Deity’s Grasp, with all three songs demonstrating Haley’s flexibility in her extreme vocals from gutturals to piercing high screams. Calling themselves “sonic brutality from Houston, Texas”, this six-piece act fronted by Haley has a lot of potential to grow in the coming years, and I can’t wait to see if their first ever EP or full-length album will become a reality in a not-so-distant future. In addition, just like what was mentioned about The Xebellian Triangle, you can find all details, important links and other shenanigans about Dorzia by clicking HERE. Furthermore, in addition to her recent work with The Xebellian Triangle and Dorzia, Haley was also featured as a guest vocalist in the song Oubliette, released in November 2021 as a single by an Austin, Texas-based Deathcore outfit named Snake Father, and let me tell you that Haley simply stole the show with her infernal she-wolf growls.

Regarding their live performance, The Xebellian Triangle always bring a lot of energy to the stage, with Haley loving to run and jump around, therefore engaging with the crowd whenever possible, not to mention Haley and Ivy both have stage clothes they wear to keep a recurring image. The band mentioned in one of their interviews that they plan to expand further in this and always want to bring new and exciting things to the live show, and we all know that usually translates into some extra awesomeness to the performance of any band. There are no current dates scheduled for The Xebellian Triangle for the rest of 2022 due to personal reasons, though, such as Haley doing some travelling on her own, but I’m sure it won’t take long for The Xebellian Triangle to take your city by storm. Hence, I wouldn’t miss the chance to see them live if I were you simply because you’ll be able to see one of the most exciting new names of the current American metal scene, fronted by a multi-talented woman who’s eager to scream and roar in your face and show you that no matter what happens, the stage is hers.

Haley Roughton’s Official Instagram
The Xebellian Triangle’s Official Facebook page
The Xebellian Triangle’s Official Instagram
The Xebellian Triangle’s Official YouTube channel
The Xebellian Triangle’s Official Twitter

Metal Chick of the Month – Sandie Gjørtz

The resurrection of the Lilith!

As the summer solstice is gone, the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer, and here at The Headbanging Moose it’s time to darken the skies even more with our metal lady of the month of August, the stunning, enigmatic and evil Sandie Gjørtz, also known as Sandie “The Lilith” Gjørtz, Sandie The Lilith, or simply Lilith, the unrelenting frontwoman for Danish Melodic Death Metal outfit Defacing God. Her devilish roars will haunt your damned soul for all eternity, and I’m sure you’ll thank us at The Headbanging Moose for introducing you to such talented woman of the current metal scene. Be careful, though, as Lilith is the primordial she-demon as you might know, and succumbing to her enchantment means you might never see the light of day again in your life.

Growing up with Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal as both her parents are metalheads, Sandie mentioned heavy music has always been a natural part of her life. “I’ve been told that even before I could walk, I often crawled in front of the TV when my parents played a VHS live video with Ozzy Osbourne and I managed to stand up in front of the TV and shake my diaper-ass to ‘Bark at the Moon’ for example. So yeah, it is simply in my veins”, commented our mesmerizing vocalist in one of her interviews, also saying she started out “softly” with Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and King Diamond before getting to know Pantera and, with the discovery of YouTube when she was around 11 years old, being introduced to harder and heavier bands the likes of Sepultura, a band her father loves by the way. When she told her father about that, he got so excited he showed her his copy of Slayer’s ultimate classic album Reign In Blood, and once again she felt that indescribable rush flowing through her veins.

“I am eternally grateful for these influences on music in my youth. It has always been following me and helped me through dark times, many times! And since that time, I just knew that I wanted to be or do something in this kind of music. It’s a deep, burning passion that is extremely hard to even describe as said. If you know and get it, you get it. If not… You never will,” complemented Sandie, who also said that although she knew nothing about growling or extreme vocal techniques when she was young, she has always been busy with music, singing and acting in drama classes during her school years, as well as choir singing at the church, which was curiously one of her hobbies before turning into Lilith. She knew she wanted to become a vocalist, but as mentioned she didn’t know at that age that women could also do extreme singing, while at the same time she realized choir singing and clean vocals weren’t enough for her.

Having a raging fire burning inside her and dealing with anger issues, things she wanted to express somehow as she considered herself an intense and emotional girl during her youth, Sandie finally discovered bands the likes of Holy Moses and Arch Enemy when she was around 15 years old, being blown away by those women who could manage to do extreme singing just like some of her idols such as Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel. “First, it seemed a little bit extreme for me because I never saw anything like that before and for me, it was not a ‘natural’ thing for a woman to scream and sing that deep. Back then, I also don’t think that women who did growls, screams and extreme vocals, in general, was such a common or known phenomenon like it is nowadays. Not that I know at least. I just know that I adored it and decided that if they could do it, I sure as hell could do it too!”

Since then, our unstoppable growler has been investing all her talent, energy and passion into making extreme music, learning extreme techniques on her own, always trusting her feelings and saying metal music works as pure therapy for her, that it is really what she lives for. After so many years practicing and developing her vocal skills, Sandie knew it was time for her to have her own Extreme Metal band, leading to the creation of Defacing God in 2015. “I always wanted to play in a band, but only did something about it in 2015 when our drummer (Michael Olsson) and I decided to start a project together. After the decision was made, we began to search for musicians with the same intentions and passion as ourselves, and it ended up with the constellation we have today.” From that day on, Lilith was born.

Currently comprised of Sandie “The Lilith” Gjørtz on vocals (who’s also responsible for all visuals and lyrics), Signar Petersen and Christian Nielsen on the guitars, Rasmus “Kalke” Nielsen on bass, and Michael Olsson on drums, Defacing God were formed in 2015 in Aalborg, a city in the Jutland region of Denmark, but only going public in 2018. Sandie mentioned she hadn’t worked in any other projects before founding Defacing God, only focusing on her singing as well as on some other instruments like the guitar, keyboards, piano and cello, which means we can all consider Defacing God her beloved (and evil) first baby. “Since most of us in the band are experienced musicians by now, we chose to keep our project close to our bodies until we thought everything was completely clear. We didn’t think it made sense to make ourselves visible before, and none of us wanted to stand on stage and deliver something half-finished. Therefore, we have worked at high pressure to be coordinated and create something that we ourselves are proud to show off. I myself really appreciate bands that have a complete theme, stage expression, etc.,” commented our Lilith, also saying that “in addition to the above, we have had some legal construction problems with our rehearsal rooms, and we were therefore forced to take a break for a few months and have our rooms rebuilt and ready. Furthermore, we have had a change in the lineup and our band members. Everything takes time – especially when it comes to music. We have had so much in the making, so many ideas, and it is only now that I feel that we have found our right track and expression. I just think that’s how it is with art in general. It’s one big bubble of ideas, thoughts and expressions, and it can take a long time before the result of all this turns out to be something that makes sense.”

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Inspired by opulent Scandinavian metal traditions, Defacing God base their conceptual themes on the seeping darkness that moves in us all, rooted in occultism and witchcraft, but primarily the mythologically mysterious female demon Lilith and her tales of fervent defiance and perseverance. Through their storytelling, music and aesthetic, the band pulls their listeners into a dark universe of obscure myths, folklore and ancient stories, all the while weaving in often subtle lyrical inspirations from modern societal oppressions and personal demons while musically speaking they echo the styles of artists such as Cradle of Filth, Carach Angren and Dimmu Borgir, blending it with a conventional dose of Black Metal and merging these auras with infernal Death Metal. Hence, as Defacing God are gearing up for the release this September of their debut opus The Resurrection of Lilith, the band has already unleashed upon us a few songs that will feature in the album just to give us a taste of how devilish and heavy it will be, and you can already succumb to the dark world ruled by Defacing God by listening to the songs Succumb the Euphoria, Monolith Of Apocalypse Arise, The Marked Ones, and Rise Of The Trinity, all available on Spotify by the way, also showcasing stunning, hypnotizing visuals thanks to the wicked mind of Lilith. Celebrating feminist power and sisterhood throughout Defacing God’s entire upcoming album, Sandie mentioned that the trinity formed of Abyzou, Jezebel and Lilith is the kind of catalysator who speaks for all cremated witches who never got a voice through times and history, strong and wise women have been slaughtered, molested, executed and abused, just because the herd were scared of their wisdom and free spirit.

As already mentioned, Sandie is highly inspired by Scandinavian metal as well as witchcraft and occultism, also nurturing a personal love for Black Metal, all expressed through the band’s upcoming stage performances and in many of her texts, representing her view of the world and her own experiences. “In the era of witch hunting (between the 15th and 18th centuries) it was only women who stood out from the crowd or perhaps knew something. They were not considered part of normality, and so they were burned – basically because the ‘masses’ did not understand them and were afraid of them. Today it is more acceptable to fall outside the norm. Actually, I think that it has become modern to be alternative – but no matter what, there will always be those who cannot or will not understand you, and you cannot and must not please everyone. That is really what is the message in the theme and what many of the texts can be analyzed down to. Therefore, we have decided that it must be a consistent theme throughout our expression,” commented Sandie in one of her interviews. Furthermore, among her favorite artist and bands, you’ll find some renowned acts the likes of Marduk, Lord Belial, Rotting Christ, Nile, Morbid Angel, Septicflesh, Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth and Belzebubs, also being inspired by movies, books, games, ancient history and “dark places” that she has visited through time.

A proud Aalborg citizen, Sandie said that the metal community in her hometown and in the entire Denmark is quite strong, also saying that it houses a lot of talented solo musicians and great bands compared to other bigger countries. “The community is strong here in Aalborg, too, where I live. We, for example, have a big international festival, Aalborg Metal Festival, scheduled in November every year which is a great festival with lots of passionate, hard-working people behind. Through blood, sweat and tears they make this huge festival work each fucking year without complaints,” also mentioning concerts and festivals arranged by AR&M (Aalborg Rock & Metal) several times a year, where a bunch of hard-working volunteers line up for making the whole thing work as well. One interesting fact about Sandie and her Defacing God is the fact that in 2019 the band was booked for Viborg Metal Festival having only released one song at that time, which according to Sandie herself happened because some people behind the festival already knew her bandmates from other bands and trusted them to put on a great show regardless.

Although she hasn’t been involved with other bands prior to Defacing God, Sandie was a guest musician in the album To Live To Kill To Live, by Danish Heavy/Power Metal act Manticora, saying she loved the experience of collaborating with the band in their latest album. “This part I sang was supposed to be an evil Chinese aunt who killed her whole family due to jealousy. The more brutal, the better!” However, if you think her life is just surrounded by brutality, you might be really impressed by the quality work she used to do before focusing on her career as a musician. “After I finished high school, I took some exams related to business and straight after that I followed my vision (besides of the music) to become a social worker, specialized in young people with mental health diagnoses and social problems. I started to study my bachelor’s in social education and on the side I worked as a teacher,” she said in one of her interviews, also mentioning her passion for the beauty industry. She simply loves everything that has to do with makeup, skincare routines and the ways we can express ourselves in a visual and creative way, taking some exams in the beauty industry and having actually made a living off her own beauty firm, Gorgeous By Gjoertz, while at the same time taking a degree in service, hospitality and tourism management at University College in Aalborg. Not only that, she was also a self-employed insurance agent at one of Scandinavia’s biggest insurance companies, proving how unrelenting and full of energy she is. So, after all is said and done, what are you waiting for to renounce to your weak gods and succumb to the dark powers of a true goddess like Lilith?

Sandie Gjørtz’s Official Instagram
Defacing God’s Official Facebook page
Defacing God’s Official Instagram

“In the name of art there should no boundaries and everyone should have the freedom to be their own independent self, to explore and to express as they desire without being judged or oppressed.” – Sandie Gjørtz

Metal Chick of the Month – Ambre Vourvahis

I will not give up… I will not stand down!

Greece, France and Germany are three countries well known for their immensurable contributions to rock and metal music, and here on The Headbanging Moose how about we unite all three and have an absolute blast with our metal lady of the month of July? That’s exactly what you’ll get with the talented, gorgeous vocalist Ambre Vourvahis, the new frontwoman for German Symphonic Metal act Xandria, and a woman who definitely knows how to add tons of passion and feeling to her already powerful vocal lines. Having said all that, are you ready to join us and Ambre in this short but sweet tribute to one of the most promising names of the Symphonic Metal scene worldwide?

Half-Greek and half-French, but currently residing in Germany, the mesmerizing Ambre Vourvahis was already singing in choirs and musicals when she was in middle school, saying in one of her interviews that her life has always revolved around music, although she continued her studies in literature and philosophy and concluded it with a philosophy degree while at the same time she was still dreaming of making music, singing and going to concerts (which she confessed she sometimes did instead of going to class, just like all of us metalheads have already done at a given point in our lives). She said she started listening to metal music when she was around 11 years old, saying metal has been a crucial part of her whole life, and let’s say it’s quite easy to notice that by the way she sings, always putting her heart and soul into her performances.

Just a few weeks ago, our Greek goddess was announced as the new vocalist of Xandria, and in her own words, “I am beyond happy to be part of this adventure, I gave everything I had on the songs that are about to come and I love every single one of them. I hope you will do too. I can’t wait to meet you all and hear about your own musical journey.” Combining atmospheric, delicate vocals with harsh, visceral roars, her potent and versatile voice fits perfectly with the new musical direction of the band, which can already be seen in their new single title Reborn (which you can also stream on Spotify). Formed in 1994 in Bielefeld, a city in the Ostwestfalen-Lippe Region in the north-east of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, Xandria have already had in their career the impressive number of eight vocalists, those being Nicole Tobien, Lisa Middelhauve, Kerstin Bischof, Manuela Kraller, Dianne van Giersbergen, Lisa Middelhauve, Aeva Maurelle, and now our metal lady Ambre Vourvahis. Accompanied by fellow musicians Robert Klawonn on the guitars, Tim Schwarz on bass and Dimitrios Gatsios on drums, as well as of course Ambre on vocals, the newly formed outfit around band leader, main songwriter, composer and guitarist Marco Heubaum is ready to bring its impressive career to the next level.

“Xandria is reborn… and the first sign of the return to life is the respectively titled song. Like before, Xandria are taking you on a voyage to your imagination, and the emotional and varied voice of new frontwoman Ambre Vourvahis will show you the way there with more facets then ever – prepare for some surprises! The new line up around mastermind Marco Heubaum will definitely start a whole new chapter that is fascinating and fresh, but still genuinely Xandria. Because this is what Xandria always has been – a voyager and explorer in the inspiring world of symphonic and heavy music. And now it is reborn,” commented the band about this new phase in their career, with Ambre also having some words to say about her new band. “I knew the band personally for a long time now and during their break Marco and I started to work on music for a possible project, while at the same time he was writing already some new Xandria songs, and then he thought my voice would fit very well on them, too. In the end we even took some of the ideas for that project into Xandria as it was fitting also really well actually and brought some new elements and diversity.”

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Although nothing is known about the new album yet, Ambre seems to be very excited and can’t wait to meet the band’s fans on the road. “I feel grateful, especially with the overwhelming warm welcome I got so far by the wonderful Xandria fans,” said our raven-haired diva, and I bet you can’t wait to listen to the follow-up to their 2017 album Theater of Dimensions and to see Ambre taking the stages by storm when the band begins their tour to promote their upcoming album. By the way, starting this September the band will embark on a massive European double headlining tour with Austrian Melodic/Symphonic Power Metal band Visions of Atlantis, inviting fans to dive deep into breathtaking soundscapes of Symphonic Metal, and hopefully that tour will also be extended to other places such as North and South America, Japan and Australia. “We want to plan a lot of tours, in as many countries as we can. But especially continue to make music that will be exciting for us and our fans,” said Ambre, also mentioning that she wants to thank all of the band’s fans in person and discover their musical journeys and taste as well, as she really loves to talk about music. Well, I bet you don’t want to miss that opportunity when Ambre hits the road together with Xandria, right?

You can also find Ambre doing the female vocals for Fragment Soul, a Progressive Metal band formed in 2016 in Greece which has another metal lady featured already on our webzine, the charming Heike Langhans, as a special member on vocals. How can she sing in such different bands at the same time, one might ask? Well, Ambre mentioned in one of her interviews that she loves to challenge herself vocally and to try new things, and as she can do both clean and guttural vocals it won’t be a surprise if other musicians and bands start recruiting her to be part of their new albums or live concerts, consequently leading her to visit more and more cities and countries while on tour. Hence, let’s show our total support to Ambre in this new phase of her career, and hope that sooner than later we’ll be able to witness her kicking some ass onstage with her bandmates from Xandria in our hometowns, showing once again why Symphonic Metal has always been the perfect place for skillful and hard working women who rock our world like our up-and-coming Greek vocalist.

Ambre Vourvahis’ Official Facebook page
Ambre Vourvahis’ Official Instagram
Xandria’s Official Facebook page
Xandria’s Official Instagram
Xandria’s Official YouTube channel
Xandria’s Official Twitter

“I trained and developed my singing on my own (especially the harsh vocals) as well as with vocal coaches for many years, and still today – there is always so much more to learn and to achieve so I will probably never stop working with a professional vocal coach.” – Ambre Vourvahis

Metal Chick of the Month – Kristina Vega

Save me, for the punishment of my head…

Let’s turn up the heat here at The Headbanging Moose in this month of June and properly kick off the summer season in the Northern Hemisphere with a metal lady that will absolutely stun you with her powerful vocals and onstage presence. A metal singer and vocal coach known for her work with bands the likes of Born In Exile, SerapiS, and Cobra Spell, she has a fantastic vocal range that allows her to sing not only metal but pretty much any music style, which explains why she’s becoming more and more famous, respected and admired in the current music scene. I’m talking about the multi-talented Kristina Vega, also known as Kris Vega, carrying the flag of Catalan metal wherever she goes armed with her fulminating voice. I bet you’re eager to know more about such skillful musician as much as Kris is waiting for you to join her in her quest for heavy music.

Born and raised in Barcelona, Spain, Kris had her first contact with metal music when she was only eight years old, more specifically a Rammstein song which she has tattooed on her arm (which we’ll talk about shortly). When she was 16 she had a band called MOTH (which didn’t last for too long according to Kris herself), she also spent five years with a Japanese music group where she used to write music and do the guttural vocals, then three more years with a Blues band, and another metal group called Lunes 12. However, Kris had to take a break from music for a while, getting back in action in the metal scene after seeing an ad asking for a vocalist for a local band. It didn’t take long for Born In Exile to take its desired shape and form, catapulting our diva to stardom right after the band’s first release. Furthermore, growing up in the golden years of Nu Metal helped her to detect all her registers, to play with different techniques of singing and to find her way as a vocalist, having also thoroughly studied how harsh vocals, textured voice and hyper-compression techniques work in order to reach different types of sound. A formed vocal coach by Rodrigo Llamazares at Vocal Studio (a specialist in vocal coaching for teachers), she actually started studying electric bass at the age of 14, and two years later she recorded her first album as a bass player and a guttural vocalist.

Formed in 2012 in Barcelona by drummer JuanMa Ávila and guitarists Carlos Castillo and Rodrigo Baez (all from the band Corelyn) with the goal of creating a project with progressive influences inside Heavy Metal that would please fans of bands the likes of Symphony X, Opeth, Dream Theater, Rush, Myrath, Leprous and Circus Maximus, among others, the unstoppable Melodic Progressive Metal outfit known as Born In Exile has been on a roll since its inception, all of course multiplied by one thousand after Kris joined the band in August 2015 with her melodic, raspy and soaring vocals, having recorded with the band their debut opus Drizzle of Cosmos, in 2017, which by the way led the band to play at Barcelona Rock Fest in 2018, their sophomore album Transcendence, in 2020, and an EP titled Live at Vampire Fest, in 2021. Kris mentioned in one of her interviews that she recorded a cover version for Queen’s “The Show Must go On” as a reply to the band’s ad where they were searching for a new vocalist, followed by a short meeting with JuanMa and Carlos, and both were absolutely mesmerized by her vocals, which you can enjoy in all its glory in songs such as Fields On Fire, The Lighthouse of the Haunted Keeper, Enchantress, One More Line, Ziggurat, Revenant and Torch.

Apart from her career with Born In Exile, our talented diva can also be seen blasting her unparalleled vocals with the bands Cobra Spell, Uneven Frame and SerapiS, as aforementioned. As a matter of fact, Kris has just started her stint with Cobra Spell, the Dutch Heavy Metal/Hard Rock outfit led by guitarist Sonia Anubis (Burning Witches, Crypta), having replaced the band’s original vocalist Alexx Panza about a month ago, and although she hasn’t recorded anything in the studio yet with the band you can already enjoy her visceral vocals with Cobra Spell on the road, as she’s now touring with the band despite the extremely short time to rehearse with them. It’s not clear if Barcelona-based Nu Metal project Uneven Frame is still active as there are no news from the band since 2020, but it would definitely be interesting to see what Kris can do in a more alternative style (and you can take a listen at their demos on their YouTube channel); and regarding Progressive Metal project SerapiS, recently formed by Kris together with guitarist Joaco Luís (Mollitiam, Born In Exile), you can enjoy the band’s first three singles on Spotify, or go to YouTube to be stunned by Act I: Defiance, Act II: Dissidence, and Act III: Wistfulness, pointing to a very interesting future ahead of them.

Our multi-talented Kris can also be seen as a guest vocalist for the songs Our Demise, from the 2021 album The Harbour in Me, by Spanish Symphonic Power Metal act Embersland, and The Breathless Season Bane, from the 2021 album Portraits, by Spanish Atmospheric Black Metal horde Perennial Isolation; and as a metal vocal coach at the Metal Academy School of Music, the first school completely devoted to Heavy Metal and Hard Rock founded in 2017 in Barcelona, and as a voice actress for The Monster Factory, a Montreal, Canada-based company specialized in the conception of voices for monsters, zombies, aliens and many more creatures in the video game and film industries provided by metal vocalists the likes of our unstoppable diva.

Highly influenced by a wide variety of styles, from bands like Tool, Arch Enemy, Opeth, Leprous, Slipknot and Jinjer to vocalists like Freddie Mercury and Mónica Naranjo, Kris has already performed in over 500 concerts, singing not only Heavy Metal and Hard rock, but also Blues, Soul, Death, Progressive and Experimental Metal, proving not only how skillful she is, but also how experienced she already is in the music industry. As mentioned, having listened to her first metal song at the young age of eight, more specifically the song Klavier, from the album Sehnchust by Rammstein, thanks to the father of one of her neighbours, Kris quickly moved on to other bands and artists such as Linkin Park, Slipknot, Machine Head, System of a Down, Otep and Arch Enemy, being right now a huge fan of Jinjer, In This Moment, Gojira, Opeth, Devin Townsend, Myrath and Twelve Foot Ninja. When asked if she listens to any bands that she considers some sort of “guilty pleasure”, Kris mentioned Nino Bravo, from her childhood years, Azul y Negro, from her teens, and Evanescence, when she was in her 20’s. In addition, when questioned if she prefers Nightwish or Epica, she said she doesn’t really enjoy their voices, being a much bigger fan of stronger vocals the likes of Jinjer and Battle Beast.

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An avid reader of everything surrounding the voice anatomy, Kris is also writing a book to help singers who are just starting their careers and trying to find their own voice, focusing on all obstacles a vocalist might find along the way as for example not being told what’s working and what’s not, which by the way happened to her in the beginning of her career. She believes anyone can sing as long as it represents your own voice and delivers the desired message, always working not only her students’ voices but also their fears, their landscapes and so on, trying to transfer as much courage and strength to all of them during her classes.

It was right after the release of Drizzle of Cosmos that Kris and her bandmates from Born In Exile began touring on a more professional level, having played in different countries and festivals, such as Barcelona Rock Fest. She mentioned that when the band received an email informing they were selected to open that festival she almost cried of pure joy, also saying their performance at the festival was one of the most memorable moments of her life so far. She mentioned in one of her interviews how difficult it is to perform onstage for a massive festival crowd, the importance of being mentally prepared, and the energy shared with the crowd. Still talking about touring, Kris said that she loves to play alongside renowned bands as everything feels a lot more professional, and that although organizing tours (especially outside of Spain) is a lot of work, all that effort is definitely worth it.

As a prominent woman in Heavy Metal, Kris commented on how she sees the role of women in the current metal scene and the type of treatment she receives from men. She mentioned that despite a few bad experiences and situations in her career, one of the most beautiful things in her life is the fact she’s extremely well treated by her bandmates, who support her in everything and the whole feminist movement. However, she believes women in metal should stop fighting against each other for different reasons and realize that they’re stronger when united, saying it’s important to stop thinking like a man and avoid at all costs using sexist words and expressions that are stuck inside our minds thanks to the way we’re taught those things by our society. Moreover, Kris also faced some criticism and sexism when she decided to move from her hairdresser job (which she had been doing since she was 15) to pursue her career in music. She used to listen to things such as being a vocalist or working with music doesn’t pay your bills, doesn’t put food on the table, that she should get a “real” job, and so on, but that didn’t stop her from becoming the awesome vocalist she is today.

Regarding the metal scene these days, she said she thinks the musical landscape is unfair, complaining about an empty venue for an excellent band that goes all the way from Australia to Spain, for example, which is frustrating for the musicians involved. In addition, she said she would like to encourage all bands to have more respect and companionship among themselves, and to see more support to local bands by inviting them to open for the foreign headliners, just like what happened to Born In Exile during Barcelona Rock Fest where the band might have played for only 30 minutes, but according to Kris herself it was good enough to show the crowd what they got. And to be honest, even if they had played for only five minutes that would have been more than enough for the metalheads at the festival to witness how amazing the music by Born In Exile is and how powerful Kris’ vocals are, always singing about love, pain, real-life experiences and other related topics, therefore adding an extra personal touch to her thrilling performance.

As aforementioned, Kris is an accomplished vocal coach, offering vocalists not only from Barcelona but from all around the world different options to work with her, including more basic, free courses through the Metal Academy School of Music, or intensive online and in-person courses (which you can get more details by contacting her by email), and she’s waiting for you to begin a very productive and fun partnership in the name of rock and metal music. By the way, you can also click HERE to check all of her official links where you can get to know more about Kris and her career. Lastly, in case you decide to take vocal classes with Kris and it starts to rain, that might be a very good sign, and the reason for that is quite funny. When she was asked about something curious that has already happened with Born In Exile, she said that every time the band is about to do something important, it rains, it doesn’t matter if it’s the recording of a new album, signing with a record label, playing at a famous venue, or anything else. In other words, let’s join the incendiary Kristina Vega in her quest for heavy music, and may the rain fall down on us for many decades to come together with such inspiring musician.

Kristina Vega’s Official Facebook page
Kristina Vega’s Official Instagram

Kristina Vega’s Official Twitter
Born In Exile’s Official Facebook page
Born In Exile’s Official Instagram
Born In Exile’s Official YouTube channel
Born In Exile’s Official Twitter

Metal Chick of the Month – Jayn Maiven

So long in fear, I have gazed ghost tears….

It’s time to darken the skies here at The Headbanging Moose in this month of May thanks to the somber and absolutely beautiful music crafted by our metal lady of the month, and I bet you’ll get addicted to her voice after listening to her Stygian creations. Inspired by natured in all her forms, this West Yorkshire, England-based vocalist and multi-instrumentalist is known by many under her nom de plume of Darkher, one of the most interesting names of the current folk and doom scene worldwide. I’m talking about Jayn Maiven, a multi-talented woman who devotes her life to dark music for our total delight, and who has a beyond bright future ahead of her and her Darkher as all of her releases are simply awesome.

As I like to say about this type of project, there’s no Jayn Maiven without Darkher and vice-versa, with Darkher representing not only Jayn’s alter-ego but also her view of our world, using her musical creature as a catharsis that can be noticed from her painful and truthful lyrics. Conceived as the sole brainchild and solo project of our unrelenting flame-haired metal diva in 2012, whose fragile elegance lies the creator of a powerfully emotive work, Darkher brings forth an amalgamation of sounds and styles carefully embraced by the project’s trademark fusion of folk and doom music, with her compositions inviting the listener into the mystical ancient world characterized by slowly building storm clouds of guitars and Jayn’s haunting, spine-tinglingly evocative voice.

Having already released her self-titled debut EP in 2013, followed by the 2014 EP The Kingdom Field and the full-length albums Realms, from 2016, and The Buried Storm, released earlier this year, the sound of Darkher has been described as “ghostly transmissions that sound like they were delivered by lost souls in the dead of night”, leading her to support several renowned acts the likes of Robin Guthrie, Dead Meadow, Esben And The Witch, Enslaved and Chelsea Wolfe, and playing in festivals such as Roadburn Festival and Damnation, among others. Creating extraordinarily dark music full of contrasts, including both chilling loneliness and the warmth of hope, Darkher is a derivate of the words “dark” and “her”, showcasing some sort of symbolism from Jayn’s past as she wanted to find a name which she felt better described the direction she had been heading in with her solo career after a decade working with and around other musicians.

Several different guest musicians have already been involved with Jayn in Darkher, such as for example guitarist and bassist Martin Wissenberg, former My Dying Bride drummer Shaun ‘Winter’ Taylor-Steels, drummer Christopher Smith, cellists Ludvig Swärd (Forndom), Arianna Mahsayeh and Melanie Chaplin, violinist Lambert Segura and guitarist Daniel Land. If you want to see the result of the collaboration between our skillful vocalist, guitarist, composer, lyricist and producer with all those distinguished musicians, you can enjoy the official videos on YouTube for Where the Devil Waits (filmed at the stunning location of Muncaster Castle in Cumbria, within its Victorian gardens and grounds), a song of empowerment and light relating to the shadows within that lead to attachment, to what can become destructive; Love’s Sudden Death, a dark, romantic ballad which was heavily inspired by the mood of the ancient landscape as it mirrors the emotions within, being “dramatic, beautiful and sometimes bleak” as mentioned by Jayn herself; Hollow Veil, recorded in Salem Woods in October 2015; as well as Ghost Tears, Immortals, Lament, and The Dawn Brings a Saviour, or you can also enjoy The Buried Storm in its entirety on YouTube, and all of her albums on Spotify. Also, don’t forget to show your support to Jayn and her Darkher by purchasing her releases from her BandCamp page and through her Patreon.

Before forming Darkher, our unstoppable rock and metal diva was a member of Epic Dark Folk band The Steals for several years, having released with them the EP Floodlights, in 2006, and the full-length effort Stactic Kingdom, in 2009, both available on Spotify and on BandCamp. However, that wasn’t the path she actually wanted to follow in her career after a certain time. “Throughout the years I was previously working on tracks for The Steals album and EP, I was in a very sombre state and I needed to make music to lift me out of that state. By the time I was ready to start writing songs again for what would be Darkher, I felt that I needed to symbolically burn what I had in order to begin a new chapter,” commented Jayn in one of her interviews, describing the musical metamorphosis that was happening inside her.

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In addition, her inspirations in music and life in general come from very distinct sources. For instance, she always says that her father has been a huge inspiration to her growing up, with both her parents having encouraged her passion for creating music for many years. “I am mostly inspired by my inner world, emotions and imagination, which I run in parallel to the outer world. Nature and the elements are always with me when I write, and are equally as inspiring for me due to their mood and drama,” said Jayn in one of her interviews, also mentioning that her lyrics are always from her deepest depths, past, future or present, and showcasing a strong fascination for water. “When I walk each day to The Kingdom Field I pass a river, everyday is a different picture, it has its own life force and seemingly personality. Where I live is surrounded by water, I live in the basin of a valley, a hamlet which is surrounded by streams, rivers and a canal all of which have caused flooding. So I think because of this I am deeply respectful of water in its many forms.”

Heavily influenced by mood-based dark music from an early age, and having a father who performed on stage in the 60’s, not only she grew up in a musical house but she has always nurtured a deep passion for the darker exponents of the post punk indie scene. “I was really into bands like the Sex Gang Children, Virgin Prunes and Alien Sex Fiend. I’ve always suffered with a bit of a depression and as a teenager was drawn to dark music and the whole theatrical Goth thing. I loved the textures and atmosphere of guitars,” also saying that at one point she was completely absorbed by the Cocteau Twins and she used to re-play their performance of Pink Orange Red on the TV every night after school. On the other hand, if you think Amalie Bruun’s Danish Black Metal band Myrkur has had any influence on Darkher’s style, being even called “Myrkur for the Folkies”, you’re absolutely wrong. “I’ve only come across her name very recently, I haven’t listened to her music yet, so I’m not sure if there is any thread of similarity,” said our diva.

When asked about her evolution from Realms until The Buried Storm, Jayn said that she sees it as a continuation of her creativity, feeling like it has many similar elements in the instrumentation, though she puts even more emphasis on the vocal harmonies as a feature on her newest album and she believes it leans towards a more cinematic feel. Moreover, the pandemic doesn’t seem to have had a negative impact on her creative process for The Buried Storm. “The effects of the pandemic were actually quite beneficial for me, to be able to take time out from any tour dates and really focus on the writing and recording. I also spent even more time alone, which I found to be very necessary for the writing process,” commented Jayn, and we must all agree with her the whole pandemic has been positive at least for the writing process of not only Darkher but countless other bands out there, who obviously had a lot more time to focus on their creative process with the whole touring thing being on hold for almost two years.

Interested in art and photography, beautiful and inspiring imagery, animals and nature, Jayn tries to spend half of her life outdoors, also nurturing a deep passion for doing videos and photographic imagery, which for her is all part of the creative process. “When I make music I see a lot of visions and imagery, so it’s great to be able to achieve some of that in video form,” said Jayn, which can be easily noticed in the video for Ghost Tears, for example. “The environment that I am surrounded by and the vast landscape is always in my mind when I write as I see music in a very visual way. For this reason I would love to one day try to write for film or TV and I equally feel the presence of many images when I write or produce. The studio walls otherwise would not inspire me to develop the sound and present it in such a way,” complemented our multi-talented artist. And lastly, when asked what the secret is to keep her long flaming hair look so grandiose and beautiful, she simply said there’s no actual secret, just that she never cuts it and therefore it serves her well for hiding behind it. Well, of course we would love to see her face on all of her videos, but the combination of nature and her long, incendiary hair is more than enough to keep us hooked not only on her music, but on her stunning art in general.

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“I find it very healing to make music, like a form of meditation.” – Jayn Maiven