Metal Chick of the Month – Gogo Melone

Forged in this world… Chained to this earth… Forced to stay where I am… Evermore…

If you’re an admirer of the darkest forms of music and arts in general, I’m beyond certain you’ll have an absolute blast knowing more about our multi-talented metal lady of the month of May here on The Headbanging Moose. Not only she owns a powerful and beautiful voice, but she’s also a keyboardist, a songwriter, and an accomplished digital artist and graphic designer who has already worked with countless bands from the metal scene. I’m talking about Gogo Melone, the lead singer and composer for Aeonian Sorrow and Elyzia, and former vocalist for Luna Obscura, with guest appearances to bands such as ISON, Mercury Circle, IANAI, Ghostheart Nebula, As The Sun Falls and others, and having worked as a graphic designer for bands such as Xandria, Insomnium, Wolfheart, Omnium Gatherum and Vintersea, just to name a few. As you can see, Gogo Melone is an unstoppable force in heavy music, embellishing the airwaves with her voice while at the same time captivating our attention with her stunning graphic creations.

Born on July 17, 1985 in Ioannina (often called Yannena), the capital and largest city of the Ioannina regional unit and of Epirus, a region in north-western Greece, but currently residing in Helsinki, Finland, Gogo Melone began her career in music back in 2000 when she founded Greek Atmospheric/Melodic Death/Gothic Metal band Luna Obscura (Latin for “dark moon”) together with guitarist Dimitris Papachristos and vocalist Aris Potonos, inspired by the music by Draconian, Trail of Tears, Tristania, Theatre of Tragedy, Crematory, Paradise Lost, and all other bands with death and gothic elements. Gogo Melone mentioned in one of her interviews that there wasn’t any major plan to create Luna Obscura in the beginning, as it was just a musical experimentation, saying that she simply joined the band during the recordings of their demo Darcanda (released only in 2004). “The idea to have male and female vocals came easily, I guess that we all loved this combination at that time and somehow we felt it was the right direction for our music,” commented our diva, describing their sound as having atmospheric, death and gothic elements with harsh male and clean female vocals. “Our lyrics talk about death, human psychology and our transitions, the mystery, the unknown. All in combination with the music and the beautiful alternations of brutal and ethereal female vocals, create a melancholic yet strong-aggressive effect.”

Although the band was put on hold back in 2017 and has been dormant since then, and with Gogo Melone no longer being part of the band, there’s a lot to enjoy from their past releases, including the aforementioned demo Darcanda (as “Gwgw Melone”), their 2007 EP Evilyn, and their 2008 full-length opus Feltia, and you can enjoy several videos of the band on their official YouTube channel including Oronar, The Burden Of Solitude, and a live version of Dance of Forsaken Souls. Moreover, when asked about the importance of the visual part of the live performances by Luna Obscura, Gogo Melone said that all they cared about was delivering an emotional show to the crowd, focusing not only on the music, but also on the atmosphere surrounding it, as that was what their music was all about.

In another one of her bands, Finnish/Greek Gothic/Doom/Death Metal act Aeonian Sorrow, founded in 2015 by Gogo Melone alongside guitarist Taneli Jämsä, bassist Pyry Hanski, drummer Saku Moilanen, and vocalist Alejandro Lotero, she’s not only their vocalist but also their keyboardist, having released with the band the single Forever Misery, in 2017, the full-length album Into the Eternity a Moment We Are, in 2018, and the EP A Life Without, in 2020, all available on their BandCamp page, containing some fantastic creations including My Solitude, The Endless Fall Of Grief, One Love, and Thanatos Kyrie.

Fast forward to 2021, and there she is, the unrelenting Gogo Melone, starting another amazing band named Elysia (now spelled Elyzia), playing a stunning fusion of classic Black Metal and Experimental/Atmospheric Black Metal with nuances of Gothic and Doom Metal. She’s also the vocalist and keyboardist of the project, alongside vocalist, guitarist, bassist and drummer Jani Berney (of bands like As the Sun Falls, Tenebrae Aeternum and Chotzä, and who’s by the way engaged to Gogo Melone), having released their debut effort, the five-track EP Numinous, in August 2022. There’s an official video for the title-track Numinous, as well as official streams of the songs Veiled Fear and Onism on YouTube, and you can also find the full EP available for streaming on Spotify. Moreover, you can find more details about the band on Instagram,  and purchase their music via BandCamp. Regarding the name change, switching the letter S for Z, the duo posted a short and sweet message on their Instagram explaining everything. “Some disrespectful idiots coming from the deathcore scene are spamming our social media with threats and hate because there is an old band using the name Elysia. Considering the fact that this other band has been inactive since 2008 and ever since they had no new releases or shows, it is a joke and a bit boring to have to read bullshit about a name when there are so many other names that have been used already three and five times. But let’s end this in a positive note. We are currently working on a new single and a new album which we plan to release in the next few months.”

You can also find Gogo Melone as a guest vocalist or keyboardist to several amazing underground bands, metal or non-metal, by the way. “So far I have met so many great musicians and bands and have done amazing collaborations worldwide so I guess the thing that counts the least is the genre of music. Although I would like to experiment more in Gothic Metal, Doom and Death Metal but the most important is to keep making good collaborations and gain more experience,” said our diva, who not only could be seen singing live with Atmospheric Doom/Death Metal band Clouds back in 2018, but she also recorded vocals for the songs In This Empty Room, from their 2017 EP Destin, When I’m Gone, from their 2018 album Dor, and an acoustic version of that same song, from their 2020 compilation Clouds Acoustic; the re-recorded version of Suffer in Darkness, released as a single in 2022 by Finnish Symphonic Death/Doom Metal band Depressed Mode; Underworld, from the 2005 EP Skotos, by Greek Black/Death Metal act Empathy; Ascension Pt. I Cosmic River, from the 2021 album Ascension, by Italian Melodic Doom/Death Metal band Ghostheart Nebula; Scaling the Summit, from the 2023 EP Scaling the Summit, by Greek Symphonic/Melodic Death Metal band Neperia; a partnership with Greek Gothic Metal act Sorrowful Angels in the cover version for Moonspell’s classic Scorpion Flower, from their 2012 EP Reborn: A Tribute to Moonspell; A Light Year Breath, from the 2020 album Empire of the Void, by Italian Death/Doom Metal band Tethra; and Where the Sun Turns to Grey, from the 2021 album Echoes of Winter, by Italian Progressive Doom Metal band Veil of Conspiracy.

Other guest appearances include the songs Drink the Effect, from the 2008 self-titled EP by Greek Industrial Black Metal band Rheinkaos; Scary Place, from the 2014 self-titled album by Vita Nova; and Winter Is Coming, a solo single released in 2014 by Stream of Passion’s Eric Hazebroek. There’s also a solo album that Gogo Melone mentioned she started working in the beginning of 2012, which should be called Black Silent Vision (or something like that), and she even mentioned in one of her interviews that a digital single was almost ready to be released that year in the summer, but so far nothing has been released maybe due to all her responsibilities as a graphic designer, which undoubtedly consumes a lot of her time.

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Speaking about her passion for arts in general and her work as a graphic designer and digital illustrator since 2007, Gogo Melone mentioned that her favorite styles are emotional, dark and surreal, nurturing a deep passion for red, black and white, as well as for digital art, photography, music and film. “I can’t be myself without freedom and creativity and with art you can have both at maximum. My work is a mixture of dark digital art and photography, highly influenced by films, dark and gothic fashion, fairytales, the beauty of fragile souls and dreamy places,” said our diva, who’s also worried about the future of album covers and booklets due to the vast majority of physical albums being replaced by their digital formats. She has already worked with countless bands in her career, being responsible for the artwork, design or layout of their albums, including for example the bands Xandria, Ablaze My Sorrow, Lutharo, Red Moon Architect, Stormbound, As the Sun Falls, Delusions of Reality, Eye of Solitude, Gallia, Mythodea, White Empress and Wolfheart, just to name a few, plus of course her own bands Aeonian Sorrow, Luna Obscura and Elyzia. Furthermore, inspired by her favorite types of music or bands, a good movie, a documentary, a walk in nature, her past memories, her fears and her dreams, Gogo Melone said in one of her interviews that it doesn’t matter the quality or technique behind an image if it captures the essence of the message that’s being sent. In addition, she also mentioned that although she can’t be considered a photographer, she finds it very inspiring to see the works of both classic and modern photographers such as Cecil Beaton, Philippe Halsman, Steve McCurry, Allan Amato, Tim Walker, Nicolas Guerin, Winter Kelly and Natalie Shau.

Regarding her idols and influences, she said that her introduction to the metal scene happened when she bought the Black Album by Metallica, leading her to take some basic non-professional vocal lessons, participating in her school choir, and starting to sing in different bands during her high school years. Among her favorite bands we’ll find some incredible names such as My Dying Bride, Theater of Tragedy, Katatonia, Anathema, Draconian, Novembers Doom, Daylight Dies, Trail of Tears, Swallow The Sun, Shape of Despair, Paradise Lost, Moonspell and many more, being a diehard fan of all things doom, gothic and death. She was also asked to list her top five albums of all time a few years ago, and if her taste hasn’t changed since then her list is formed of The Silent Enigma, by Anathema; The Angel And The Dark River, by My Dying Bride; Viva Emptiness, by Katatonia; Velvet Darkness They Fear, by Theater of Tragedy; and Arcane Rain Fell, by Draconian.

Although Gogo Melone might have never taken professional vocal lessons, she doesn’t encourage people to follow the same path. “Everything is better when you have technical knowledge and when you know how you can use your voice without destroying it,” she said, also mentioning that she warms up her voice with simple techniques and rest it for long periods. “I don’t smoke, I’m not a big alcohol drinker, I drink a lot of water, I work out a bit and I sleep well as much as possible. Thankfully I didn’t do any damage to my voice so far, but after some years, maybe many years, my voice will change anyway so I guess that a few professional lessons will help to maintain it.” She obviously loves to use her voice live, and being onstage is extremely important to her as a musician and as a person. For instance, her most memorable live performances happened during the European tour that Aeonian Sorrow did with Swallow The Sun and Oceans of Slumber in 2019, also saying that one of the best concerts she has ever witnessed was Anathema when they played in Thessaloniki, Greece in 2005.

When asked if she prefers focusing on her career or her family, as several female singers have already mentioned they would rather concentrate in their careers, Gogo Melone said she would never sacrifice her family for her career, saying that there’s no point in spending most of the time away from your family or having kids you won’t see growing up, complementing by saying that not having a family when you’re in your 20’s or 30’s might be fine, but definitely not when you turn 40 or 50. A member of Eve’s Apple, a community (that might not be active anymore) focused on uniting female metal and rock singers to share their experiences, get to know each other, chat about a variety of topics, and promote their music without any sort of competition, Gogo Melone believes that the metal scene is no longer a male-dominated space, with all female-fronted bands showing metalheads they are no different from men, deserving nothing but respect from the scene. Hence, when questioned about her favorite female singers of all time, she listed Vibeke Stene (Tristania), Liv Kristine (Theatre of Tragedy, Leaves Eyes), Anneke Van Giersbergen (The Gathering), Lisa Johansson (Draconian) and Cathrine Paulsen (Trail of Tears) as her top ones, saying that list will never change for her.

Greece has always been an amazing source of metal music, but Gogo Melone believes the scene is even stronger now, with many bands having started to act more professionaly, therefore helping the local scene grow in a healthier way. “Of course the metal music industry has the normal ups and downs but people are always interested to discover new bands and artists,” she commented about the scene in Greece, also saying that due to having lost contact with her homeland in recent years she doesn’t follow a lot of Greek bands, apart of course form renowned acts such as Rotting Christ and Septicflesh, but that she knows all bands in Greece are putting a lot of effort into their music and they definitely need the support and attention from fans worldwide.

She also mentioned in one of her interviews that working as an independent artist is more in line with her goals, as she doesn’t like the standards such has “1 album every 2 years” or “you have to go live”, relying more on the online support she receives and on crowdfunding campaigns. “The internet and especially social networks are obviously the new way of bringing people together from all over the world. So, in regards to work and how you will promote it, I think it’s one of the best and most clever ways which can give you fast results. I like to use it very often, sometimes more than I should and even if it has helped me a lot…. I believe we must be very careful. It’s very easy to fool around instead of doing serious work, so be careful.” Well, we can all agree she’s been using the internet properly, as we’re all very lucky to be able to access her music and her art from anywhere in the world, bringing endless joy to our dark and gothic hearts.

Gogo Melone’s Official Facebook page
Gogo Melone Art’s Official Facebook page
Gogo Melone’s Official Instagram
Elyzia’s Official Facebook page
Elyzia’s Official Instagram
Elyzia’s Official YouTube channel
Aeonian Sorrow’s Official Facebook page
Aeonian Sorrow’s Official Instagram
Aeonian Sorrow’s Official YouTube channel

“Music is an amazing way to express your emotions and have fun all the time when you don’t take things so seriously. I prefer to sing whenever I want to and enjoy it in a way that makes me feel something instead of making albums every year with amazing productions but without soul, which obviously no one will remember after.” – Gogo Melone

Album Review – Depressed Mode / Decade of Silence (2022)

One of the most interesting names of the underground Finnish scene returns to action after almost 13 years with a brand new album of stunning and symphonic Doom Metal.

Established in Pori, a city and municipality on the west coast of Finland, in 2005 by vocalist and composer Otto Salonen, the amazing Symphonic Death/Doom Metal act known as Depressed Mode is set to release their long-awaited third full-length album Decade of Silence, almost 13 years after ..for Death.., released in 2009. Recorded by the band’s guitarist Teemu Heinola and the aforementioned Otto Salonen at Ansa Studio, mixed by the same Teemu, and mastered by Mika Jussila at Finnvox Studios, Decade of Silence will bring a humungous dosage of symphony and doom to your avid ears, showcasing all the talent and passion for heavy music by Otto and Teemu together with their bandmates Henri Hakala on bass and Iiro Aittokoski on drums.

Death Walks Among Us is sinister and obscure from the very first second, with the orchestrations by Otto giving it a cinematic vibe while his deep guttural will haunt your damned souls for all eternity, all spiced up by the vicious riffs by Teemu. Then featuring Veronica Bordacchini of Fleshgod Apocalypse as a guest vocalist, Endless November starts in the most lugubrious way possible, evolving into a sluggish, phantasmagorical Doom Metal song with Blackened Doom nuances, not to mention all symphonic elements sound and feel majestic; whereas back to a heavier and more symphonic mode it’s time for Iiro to dictate the pace with his pounding drums in Dissociation of the Extinguished Mind, featuring a guest guitar solo by Jarkko Kokko of Mors Principium Est. Veronica is back in As the Light Dims, another bold, multi-layered creation by Depressed Mode that starts in a serene way to the sounds of the piano and cello, offering our ears nine nocturnal minutes of stunning Doom Metal.

Just as imposing and grim as its predecessors,  Parasites of Mind explodes into a brutal fusion of Symphonic and Death Metal led by the venomous riffs by Teemu and the inhumane roars by Otto, smashing your cranial skull without a single drop of mercy, whereas drinking from the darkest fountain of Doom Metal you can think of, Kaamos (Land of Winter) brings forward the pounding beats by Iiro and the crushing riffs by Teemu, penetrating deep inside your soul while more of their sluggish, grim sounds permeate the air in Serpents, with sheer darkness flowing from both Otto’s vocals and Henri’s hammering bass. Eternal Darkness is another stunning creation featuring Veronica’s mesmerizing vocals, with the orchestrations by Otto sounding beautifully haunting while Iiro pulverizes his drums in a lesson in Symphonic Doom Metal. Finally, prepare your senses for 12 minutes of atmospheric passages, darkened skies and endless heaviness in the form of Aeternus, where Otto’s deep guttural brings a touch of Blackened Doom to the overall result, flowing darkly until its climatic and Stygian ending.

In a nutshell, the guys from Depressed Mode definitely know how to blend the heaviness of Doom Metal with the finesse of symphonic and orchestral music, and Decade of Silence is not only the perfect representation of that stunning fusion of sounds, but also a beyond strong comeback by those Finnish metallers. Hence, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram to know more about their music, to stream all of their wicked creations on Spotify, and of course to purchase Decade of Silence from the band’s own BandCamp page or from the Inverse Records webstore sooner than you can say “doom”. After over a decade of silence it’s a pleasure to witness the return of such interesting name of the underground Finnish scene, and let’s hope that we don’t need to wait another ten years to listen to more of their awesome music.

Best moments of the album: Endless November, Eternal Darkness and Aeternus.

Worst moments of the album: Serpents.

Released in 2022 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Death Walks Among Us 5:53
2. Endless November 7:43
3. Dissociation of the Extinguished Mind 6:56
4. As the Light Dims 8:58
5. Parasites of Mind 6:39
6. Kaamos (Land of Winter) 6:16
7. Serpents 5:50
8. Eternal Darkness 5:46
9. Aeternus 12:09

Band members
Otto Salonen – vocals, orchestrations
Teemu Heinola – guitars
Henri Hakala – bass
Iiro Aittokoski – drums

Guest musicians
Veronica Bordacchini – vocals on “Endless November”, “As the Light Dims” and “Eternal Darkness”
Jarkko Kokko – lead guitars on “Dissociation of the Extinguished Mind”