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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

Album Review – Donuts Hole / Fragmenta (2020)

Bang your heads to the third studio album by this excellent Spanish Alternative Metal crew, revolving around the human being’s own prison, isolated in the confines of his own mind.

Born in the year of 2009 in the charming city of Barcelona, Spain with a common philosophy among their musicians to create independent music without a fixed style, where expressivity rules over clichés, Alternative Rock/Metal unity Donuts Hole is set to release their third studio album now in 2020, entitled Fragmenta. Produced, mixed and mastered by the band’s own guitarist Marco A. Papiz at PlyGrnd Studio in Barcelona, and featuring a classy artwork by Spanish artist Alejandro Gómez Parker (Windbreaker Design), Fragmenta revolves around the human being’s own prison, isolated in the confines of his own mind, without knowing what he is or what he really wants, without sufficient expertise to focus the will towards a goal that transgresses yourself and that allows integrating all the fragments of our consciousness to connect with the community. Add to that pensive and contemporary theme the groovy and progressive fusion of rock and metal blasted by vocalist Ariel Placenti, guitarists Gun Sato and Marco A. Papiz, bassist Franx Jurado and drummer Sebastián Gonzalez and there you have one of 2020’s strongest albums of the European alternative scene, with the Spanish language giving the overall result a more organic and honest vibe.

The opening track Desde Las Ruinas (“from the ruins”, in English) sounds modern and piercing from the very first second, with Franx firing sheer heaviness and electricity from his bass while Ariel raps the song’s lyrics with tons of anger, therefore resulting in an excellent (and groovy) way to properly kick things off in Fragmenta, whereas Heridas, or “wounds”, is more atmospheric and metalized, blending American Alternative Metal with the band’s European twist, and with both Gun and Marco slashing their stringed axes nonstop. And they keep hammering their instruments in Fraccion De Ser, or “a fraction of being”, where Ariel sounds even more demented on vocals in another solid blast of modern-day metal music spearheaded by the crushing and rhythmic beats by Sebástian, not to mention its catchy chorus will work perfectly during their live concerts. Then a grim and heavy ambience enfolds us all in Espina (“thorn”), with the melodious guitars by Gun and Marco making a beautiful paradox with the rumbling bass by Franx, alternating between more visceral moments and serene passages, while Mapas (“maps”), one of the first singles released for the album promotion, brings to our ears the band’s trademark groove and progressiveness with Ariel venturing through more introspective lands.

Back to a more violent sonority, the band speed things up and fire the modern and exciting Revelador (“illuminating”), where Sebástian is unstoppable on drums providing Ariel all he needs to scream and roar manically from start to finish; followed by Tu, or “you”, a semi-ballad blasted by the quintet showcasing a very good job done by Sebástian on drums, while the guitars maintain the atmosphere at the same time heavy and gentle (albeit not as powerful as the previous songs, though). And you better get ready for a minimalist creation by Donuts Hole titled Pequeño Guerrero (“little warrior”), a more pensive tune compared to the rest of the album, bringing electronic elements in the background together with their usual alternative sounds, while the stylish piano interlude Calma (“calm”) sets the tone for the closing song entitled En La Tormenta (“into the storm”), bringing hints of Djent added to their core sonority. Put differently, it’s an inspiring composition overflowing hope and energy thanks to the crisp riffage by the band’s guitar duo and another passionate performance by Ariel on vocals.

The guys from Donuts Hole are waiting for you to join them in their quest for melodious, introspective and groovy music by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, by subscribing to their YouTube channel and by streaming more of their music on Spotify, and of course by purchasing a copy of Fragmenta from several locations such as their own BandCamp page or webstore and La Casa del Disco, as well as by adding it to your favorite streaming service. Fragmenta is more than just another album of Alternative Rock and Metal, but a solid statement by Donuts Hole that they are among us to stay, to make us think about our lives and decisions while enjoying their newborn creations and, above all, that the human mind is and will always be one o the most compelling sources for hardworking bands like Donuts Hole to keep embellishing the airwaves with their music.

Best moments of the album: Desde Las Ruinas, Fraccion De Ser and Revelador.

Worst moments of the album: Tu.

Released in 2020 Rock Estatal Records

Track listing
1. Desde Las Ruinas 2:53
2. Heridas 3:33
3. Fraccion De Ser 4:11
4. Espina 3:19
5. Mapas 3:22
6. Revelador 4:00
7. Tu 4:26
8. Pequeño Guerrero 4:48
9. Calma 1:04
10. En La Tormenta 3:13

Band members
Ariel Placenti – vocals
Gun Sato – guitar
Marco A. Papiz – guitar
Franx Jurado – bass
Sebastián Gonzalez – drums

Album Review – Death Keepers / Rock This World (2018)

A fresh, catchy and incredibly addicting blend of classic Power Metal with Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll influences that will rock your world like there’s no tomorrow.

Born in the fires of Barcelona, the cosmopolitan capital of Spain’s Catalonia region, in late 2011 by the fusion of the experience and talent of an array of musicians who were driven into gathering the best of Heavy Metal of yesterday and today, five-piece squad Death Keepers sticks to the all-time Heavy Metal style, that quintessential sound and energy that so many fans fell in love with back in the 80’s, spiced up by the technological developments of our era, thus, bringing to life an experience of epic proportions like what you’ll find in their debut album, entitled Rock This World, a fresh and fulfilling Heavy Metal extravaganza pushed into the next wave of Heavy Metal evolution.

Death Keepers released their debut EP On the Sacred Way in 2013, and since then they’ve been working on their debut album, developing their own sound by adding more and more Hard Rock influences to their previous Power Metal sound. Including both revamped songs from their EP as well as brand new tunes, Rock This World brings to the listener a fresh, catchy and incredibly addicting blend of classic Power Metal the likes of of Helloween and Judas Priest with Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll influences that give the whole album an unusual and tremendously infectious feel. With that said, simply put on your old school leather jacket and get ready to rock like there’s no tomorrow with those five Spanish metallers.

Ladies and gentlemen, start up your engines and join Death Keepers in their frantic race for Rock N’ Roll in the opening track straightforwardly titled Rock & Roll City, where frontman Dey Rus fires those classic metallic vocals we all love so much in heavy music, complemented by the fantastic guitars by both Eddy Gary and Antonio Maties. Fire Angel sounds and feels more melodic and epic with pure Heavy Metal flowing from all instruments, reminding me of the music by icons such as Edguy, Avantasia and Sebastien, being perfect for singing along with the band with your fists in the air; whereas in Death Keepers the band tells the world who they are by delivering an ass-kicking Heavy Metal sonority led by the fast and rhythmic beats by Miki Hunter (who’s by the way flawlessly supported by the rumbling bass by Gorka Alegre), being clearly inspired by old school Helloween. And the band’s guitar duo sounds even more Helloween-ish than before in Haven’s Heaven, showcasing great pace and dynamism among all band members in another ode to classic metal.

In the title-track Rock This World, not only the sound of the guitars by Eddy and Antonio keeps burning our skin, but their solos are also a thing of beauty, not to mention another solid performance by Dey on vocals. Put differently, Death Keepers definitely know how to rock our world in a beyond fun way, right? And it’s time to add a pinch of their Spanish musical heritage to the album through the melancholic acoustic guitars in Thriving Forcast, before all their electricity returns in this instrumental power ballad featuring some excellent guitar solos and tons of feeling; followed by Love’s Within (Yourself), where it’s quite interesting to see how the vocals by Dey feel like a fusion of Andi Deris and Tobias Sammet, while Miki keeps the sonority at full speed with his beats and Eddy, Antonio and Gorka create a thrilling onrush of metal with their strings.

If you consider yourself a diehard metalhead with true Heavy Metal flowing through your veins you’ll love Wildfire, with Dey being flawlessly supported by the song’s backing vocals. Hence, you’ll start playing some air guitar with Death Keepers without even noticing so compelling the entire song is. Then the bridge Invention IV presents one minute of pure dexterity on guitars before Metallia comes ripping our metal hearts in superb fashion, with the entire band firing the purest form of Heavy Metal you can think of with their scorching instruments. Furthermore, Gorka is a beast with his galloping bass lines, while Dey provides some excellent high-pitched vocals in this top-tier tribute to all things metal. And in the closing tune, named Smooth Hit Love, a Hard Rock-like acoustic start evolves into a passionate power ballad led by the touching riffs and solos by Eddy and Antonio, while Dey puts his heart and soul into declaiming the song’s love words until the sound of the ocean comes to end it beautifully.

You can take a full listen at Rock This World on Spotify, but if you love traditional Heavy Metal more than you love your own life and family I highly recommend you go purchase the album right now without even blinking through the Fighter Records BandCamp, through the Xtreem Music webstore, on iTunes or on Amazon, and add each one of its hard rockin’ songs to the playlist of your most electrifying moments in life. Because, you know, they are Death Keepers, and they’re among us with one single purpose in mind, to keep rocking our world like there’s no tomorrow.

Best moments of the album: Rock & Roll City, Death Keepers, Wildfire and Metallia.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Fighter Records

Track listing   
1. Rock & Roll City 3:24
2. Fire Angel 4:40
3. Death Keepers 5:08
4. Haven’s Heaven 5:21
5. Rock This World 4:25
6. Thriving Forcast (Instrumental) 4:54
7. Love’s Within (Yourself) 5:04
8. Wildfire 6:38
9. Invention IV (Instrumental) 0:56
10. Metallia 4:37
11. Smooth Hit Love 8:50

Band members
Dey Rus – lead vocals
Eddy Gary – lead & rhythm guitar
Antonio Maties – lead & rhythm guitar
Gorka Alegre – bass
Miki Hunter – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Ailyn Giménez

ailyn01

Come sleep with me, I’ll set you free…

The name Pilar Giménez García might not make a lot of sense to you, especially if you’re not a fan of Symphonic/Gothic Metal. It might even sound like a name extracted from a Mexican “telenovela” for some people. However, when I say the stage name of our metal chick this month, you’ll probably connect to her and, of course, to her beautiful voice: please welcome the stunning Spanish singer Ailyn Giménez, or simply Ailyn.

Ailyn was born on May 29, 1982 in Esplugues de Llobregat, in Barcelona, Spain, a place so close to the Camp Nou stadium that many famous players such as Piqué and Iniesta reside there. She is the current female vocalist of Norwegian Symphonic Gothic Metal band Sirenia, and her story prior to becoming a professional lead singer for a Heavy Metal band is quite unique in comparison to many other female singers from both metal or non-metal bands.

However, before we talk about her path to stardom, let’s first focus on her beginnings, in other words when Ailyn was “just” Pilar and started her career in the world of music. Our Catalan diva started singing in school when she was around 11 or 12 years old, when her music teacher inspired her to sing by playing her the song Hero by Mariah Carey. Ailyn immediately fell in love with the song and Mariah’s voice, and from that day on she started trying to sing like her, something easy to notice in the pop/romantic songs Tu Voz Se Apagará and Una Flor En La Tempestad. As hard as it’s to believe, this blonde girl shaking her booty is our Ailyn!

Then at the age of 15 she started her musical career, studying solfege and classical singing at The Albéniz School of Music, with her professional debut taking place in 2002 in Cornellà de Llobregat, also in Barcelona, Spain, in an annual benefit fashion show the city held to raise money for Alzheimer’s sufferers. As weird as it might sound, her first music contract was as part of an Anime/J-Pop/J-Rock group named Charm, with whom she released an album entitled Konnichiwa, in 2003, before parting ways with the group and starting to invest in her solo career in 2004.

Things started to get really interesting for her in 2007, when she was chosen as one of the members of the “young team” in the Spanish version of X Factor, where in the four episodes she participated before being eliminated she sang Pop/Rock classics such as Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time and Evanescence’s Bring Me to Life, among others. Almost at the same time, her sister was looking for metal bands to add them as friends on the once useful MySpace, and that’s when she got to know Sirenia. They really enjoyed the dark and heavy music played by Norwegian multi-instrumentalist and composer Morten Veland and his crew, and as if by magic, a month later the band sent Ailyn an email asking her if she wanted to audition because they needed a new singer. Check her performances in songs such as The End of It All and Lithium (her cover version for one of Evanescence’s most famous songs), and you’ll understand why she was called to be the smooth female voice of Sirenia.

In the beginning of 2008, our Spanish beauty headed to the wonderful country of Norway for a couple of auditions with Sirenia, before being selected as their new female singer in April 2008. Since then, Ailyn has recorded four full-length albums with Sirenia: The 13th Floor (2009), The Enigma of Life (2011), Perils of the Deep Blue (2013), and earlier this year the excellent The Seventh Life Path, as well as the singles The Path to Decay (2008), The End of It All (2010) and Seven Widows Weep (2013), and of course started touring around the world with the band. Moreover, it was during one of her first tours with Sirenia that she had the most memorable show of her life, at the always awesome festival Masters Of Rock, in 2008. According to Ailyn herself it was not because of her performance (as she was very nervous): she mentioned this specific concert was special because it was her first big show with Sirenia, and because she was able to enjoy all the energy and grandiosity of the festival.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Besides her career with Sirenia, Ailyn sang the song Needle Bites from the album Rejected Gods (2014), by Greek Symphonic Metal band Enemy of Reality, recorded additional vocals on the song Furia de Libertad from the album Argia (2014), by Spanish Symphonic Power/Gothic Metal band Diabulus in Musica, and female vocals on the songs The Chevalier and Prayer from the album Death & Legacy (2011), by Austrian Symphonic/Progressive Power Metal band Serenity. In addition, she performed live with German/Norwegian Symphonic Metal band Leaves’ Eyes at their 10th anniversary show in Wieze, Belgium in 2014., and she is also scheduled to take part on the Metal Opera album The Great Lie by Melted Space in October this year.

However, maybe none of her accomplishments as a metal singer would have been possible without the influence of Dutch Symphonic Metal band Within Temptation in her life. It’s not that she has ever been part of the band or anything like that, but it’s known that all her passion for heavy music started one day while she was watching TV and they played a video from Within Temptation, letting Ailyn eager for more of their music and of the music by any other band with a similar sonority. Of course, that led to Within Tempation’s lead singer Sharon Den Adel being one of her biggest idols in music, among other names such as Jared Leto (30 Seconds To Mars), Josh Groban and Sarah Brightman. Moreover, when asked about which artists she would like to sing with, our metal babe said she would love to perform a duet with  Roy Khan (ex-Kamelot), an amazing choice in my opinion.

Obviously, just as any other regular person in the world, Ailyn has her personal hobbies, including some very relaxing activities such as reading, drawing and sewing, especially sewing her stage clothes for her live performances with Sirenia, and of course she truly loves listening to music. Another interesting fact about Ailyn is that she has a condition called heterochromia iridis, meaning she has two different eye colours, one eye (right) is brown and the other eye (left) is green, which in my opinion only makes her even more attractive. And on a final note, one might ask how a Spanish woman named Pilar Giménez García ended up being called “Ailyn”, a Chinese name, and the answer to that is quite simple: not only she has always been attracted to the Asian culture, but mainly because Ailyn means “true love”. Do I need to say anything else?

Ailyn’s Official Facebook page
Sirenia’s Official Facebook Page

“Since I was a kid I dreamt about being in the music world, and as I grew up I dreamt about being part of a band, so I think my dreams have been accomplished. Of course I’ve got many dreams, but only time will tell if they become true or not.” – Ailyn Giménez

Album Review – Kilmara / Love Songs and Other Nightmares (2014)

An exciting Power Metal “gemstone”, full of heavy riffs, melody and all other elements we love in this type of music, nicely carved by this very competent band from Barcelona.

Rating4

kilmara_coverFor most of us, the word “kilmara” might mean only a semi-precious green stone (also known as jade) used for jewelry, but it has also become a synonym of high-quality Heavy Metal, especially in the past decade. After over 10 years of existence, Melodic Power Metallers from Spain and Germany Kilmara are releasing their third full-length album, Love Songs and Other Nightmares, another “gemstone” carefully polished and ready to shine in their discography.

Let me start by saying that the new album by this Barcelona-based band was produced by none other than the exceptional Roland Grapow (Helloween, Masterplan) at Grapow Studios in Slovakia and published by Sony Music, and by that you can already have an idea of the professionalism you’ll find in each and every track from Love Songs and Other Nightmares. Only talent itself doesn’t bring any good results if not accompanied by a huge amount of dedication and hard work, and Kilmara are a great example of how putting those elements together translates into amusing and captivating music.

From the very first heavier-than-usual riffs of the opening track, Fantasy, Kilmara showcase a modern Power Metal, focusing on smoother and clearer vocal lines (very well done by singer Christian Wolfgang Kohl) instead of traditional high-pitched screams from other bands of the same genre. Not only this song has an awesome chorus, but the addition of some harsh vocals makes everything even more entertaining. Quick question: would Fantasy (or maybe Fantasy’s) be a gentlemen’s club in Spain or somewhere else? At least that’s what the lyrics seem to be talking about.

The galloping rhythm, conducted mainly by Javi Morillo’s excellent work on drums, and the soulful guitar solos keep the energy level up in The Devil’s Eye, followed by the soaring intro and thrilling riffs of The Break Up, another top moment of the album, with lyrics about ending a relationship. By the way, this song would be an awesome way to do so (or at least the break up would happen with an exciting soundtrack). Cold Rain sounds like a sequence to the previous track in terms of lyrics, with highlights to the way the band “prepares” the listener for the catchy chorus.

kilmaraThen Kilmara slow things down with Believe, a semi-ballad with nice instrumental, but not as exciting as the previous tracks, before accelerating everything again with Nothing to Me, a heavy tune with hints of Thrash Metal the likes of Anthrax, with its riffs and double bass dictating the rhythm plus some great lyrics to sing along (“There’s nothing you can say / There’s nothing you can do / There’s nothing that can take away / The damage that you do”). A more traditional Power Metal can be found in Usual Strangers, especially due to its good guitar duo and solos, while Alpha is more melodic, flirting with Symphonic Power Metal. And pay attention to its funny/sexist lyrics, you might see yourself in that situation one day (or maybe many times a week).

And at long last, Kilmara saved for the final part of Love Songs and Other Nightmares three completely different tracks for all types of fans: Insomnia is another good Power Metal track with some interesting lyrics; Play to Win focuses on a more Hard Rock sonority, with its excellent instrumental parts mixed with another good vocal performance by Christian; and finally we have the beautiful ballad Time Flies, with  its powerful chorus as the “main ingredient”. There’s also a German/Spanish version of this song as a bonus track that sounds even more emotive than the regular one, especially the awesome Spanish parts. I myself speak Spanish and, in my humble opinion, I would love to see more Spanish songs by Kilmara: they sound so amazingly powerful when singing in this language.

I guess I could not finish this review without mentioning how gorgeous the “cover girl”, created by Montreal’s own Jessica Allain, in Love Songs and Other Nightmares is. Is she even real? Anyway, this excellent Power Metal album is available at Amazon and iTunes, among other places online and at physical stores, so if you’re a true fan of Power Metal don’t waste your time and go grab this “gemstone” by Kilmara for your collection.

Best moments of the album: Fantasy, The Break Up and Nothing to Me.

Worst moments of the album: Believe and Alpha.

Released in 2014 Sony Music

Track listing
1. Fantasy 4:41
2. The Devil’s Eye 4:20
3. The Break Up 3:59
4. Cold Rain 6:01
5. Believe 4:31
6. Nothing to Me 4:01
7. Usual Strangers 4:51
8. Alpha 4:04
9. Insomnia 4:47
10. Play to Win 5:59
11. Time Flies 6:19

Bonus track
12. Time Flies (German/Spanish version) 6:19

Band members
Christian Wolfgang Kohl – vocals
Jonathan Portilo – guitar
Kike Torres – guitar
Raúl Ruiz – bass
Javi Morillo – drums