Album Review – Fireproven / Epilogue (2022)

Let’s all say farewell to this talented Progressive Metal act from Finland to the sound of their second (and last) full-length album.

Hailing from the Finnish capital of Helsinki, the Progressive Metal outfit known as Fireproven has just unleashed upon us their sophomore effort, entitled Epilogue, which is also their last album as in January 2022 the band announced they would be disbanded, thanking their loyal fans for their support through the years. “Sadly, we have to announce that Fireproven will no longer continue. There are number of reasons that led us to this decision but we’re all still good friends, and will continue to keep it that way. We’re going to release our last album later this spring but all shows will be cancelled. We want to thank you all for your love and support during these years. None of this would have been possible without you guys listening to our tracks and showing us your love,” commented vocalist Sanna Solanterä, guitarist Janne Väätämöinen, bassist Juha Väätämöinen, keyboardist Ilari Hannula and drummer Nuutti Hannula, leaving us with the musical freedom and explorations from Epilogue embraced by a stylish cover art by Petri Lampela.

The whimsical keys by Ilari will captivate your senses in the opening track The Maze, being joined by the slashing riffage by Janne and the blast beats by Nuutti, sounding very modern, progressive and melodic from start to finish. Then blending the Melodic Metal from bands such as Epica and Within Temptation with Progressive and Groove Metal nuances we have The Addict, a pleasant, headbanging tune led by the always striking vocals by Sanna; whereas  the metallic, thunderous bass by Juha dictates the pace in King, offering more of the band’s hybrid of Melodic and Progressive Metal with the growls by Juha making a great paradox with Sanna’s vocals. And phantasmagorical keys and pounding drums generate a dense atmosphere in Haunted, sounding very theatrical while Janne extracts pure obscurity from his guitar. Moreover, it’s very different from its predecessors, but still loyal to the band’s core essence.

In Time to Heal, the tick tock on the clock grows in intensity until the music turns into a heavy and aggressive onrush with Juha roaring like a beast alternating with Sanna and her beyond melodic vocals, while sheer adrenaline flows from the breathtaking Dream Catcher, where all band members are in absolute sync spearheaded by the Melodic Death Metal keys by Ilari. After such intense tune, an epic, imposing intro to the slashing riffs by Janne evolves into more of the band’s Progressive Metal in Grace, where Janna once again beautifully declaims the song’s lyrics; and the band offers our ears over six minutes of progressiveness in the form of Waves of Extinction, with a delicate but mesmerizing vocal performance by Sanna as if Dream Theater or Opeth had a female vocalist. Lastly, the keys by Ilari add an extra touch of finesse to the nine-minute aria Unity, where Nuuutti keeps hammering his drums nonstop, providing Sanna with exactly what she needs to shine on vocals while Janne and Juha make an incendiary duo with their stringed weapons.

If Progressive and Melodic Metal with female vocals is your cup of tea, you should definitely take a listen at Epilogue, which is by the way available in full on Spotify, and although Fireproven have just called it quits you can still give a shout to the band on Facebook and on Instagram (and who knows, maybe that will inspire them to get back in action in the near future, right?), listen to more of their music on YouTube, and purchase Epilogue from Apple Music. Unfortunately, as already mentioned, Epilogue is the last album by Fireproven, which means we won’t probably hear from those talented Finnish metallers again unless they decide to come back from the ashes one day. However, they’re definitely going out with a bang thanks to the amazing job done in their new album, leaving their mark in the underground Finnish scene while also bringing a lot of fun and joy to our ears and hearts, all in line with the name chosen for their farewell album.

Best moments of the album: The Addict, Dream Catcher and Waves of Extinction.

Worst moments of the album: Haunted.

Released in 2022 Independent

Track listing
1. The Maze 4:29
2. The Addict 5:19
3. King 4:11
4. Haunted 5:08
5. Time to Heal 5:08
6. Dream Catcher 4:54
7. Grace 5:40
8. Waves of Extinction 6:29
9. Unity 9:02

Band members
Sanna Solanterä – vocals
Janne Väätämöinen – guitar, backing vocals
Juha Väätämöinen – bass, vocals
Ilari Hannula – keyboards
Nuutti Hannula – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Tanya Beickert

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

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

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

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

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

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

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

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

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

Metal Chick of the Month – Kobra Paige

kobra01

I am, I am all that’s inside you… I am, I am evil burning through!

Have you ever been bitten by a cobra? If not, this is probably the best opportunity you will ever have in your life to finally feel the powerful venom of a spellbinding snake flowing through your veins in the form of old school Heavy Metal, and I’m sure you’ll just love the experience. I’m talking about the stunning Canadian metaller Brittany Paige, better known for her onstage moniker Kobra Paige, the fiery frontwoman of Canadian Heavy Metal band Kobra And The Lotus. Are you ready for a metallic snake bite?

Born and raised in Calgary, Canada, Kobra is a classically trained singer and pianist, having completed Grade 8 in vocals and Grade 6 in piano with The Royal Conservatory of Music, before forming Kobra And The Lotus in 2008 together with guitarist Chris Swenson and drummer Griffin Kissack. She said she was doing classical training from when she was very young until she lost interest in it, getting into Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll during her high school years especially because there was something in heavy music with a strong connection to what she loved the most in classical music, allowing her to explore her true voice. “I felt it was an extremely natural progression because metal allows for that chest voice to be used”, she explained. In addition, she mentioned she was going to university without a real intention of doing music seriously, although she truly wanted to start her own metal band anyway. After starting singing and writing music she felt so passionate and alive she decided to go ahead with her music career, which also meant the end of university for her.

Despite not pursuing a career in classical music, the classical training was essential for our blonde bombshell to learn the art of singing and how to properly take good care of her voice. “I’m so scared of that because I can’t just buy a new guitar. I only have this one instrument and you don’t want to blow it, so absolutely the breath exercises and the tools that I learned from it have very much helped, made me more knowledgeable”, she said in one of her interviews. Well, she said she was blown away at a Judas Priest concert after the band played their thunderous classic Painkiller, and she also fell in love for the powerful multi-layered voice by Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant, so it makes total sense for her to be so worried about her voice as we all know how demanding singing like Rob Halford and Robert Plant can be to any mortal person, right?

Still under the name Brittany Paige, she released with Kobra And The Lotus their debut album Out of the Pit, in 2009, before adopting the name Kobra Paige and releasing two more albums with the band, the self-titled Kobra and the Lotus in 2012 and their most recent full-length album High Priestess in 2014, as well as an EP with cover versions for renowned Canadian rock bands entitled Words of the Prophets in 2015, and a 7″ vinyl EP named Zombie also in 2015, released as a Halloween treat and containing the songs Zombie and Remember Me. She also took part in the Heavy Metal/Hard Rock project Tony Gabriele’s Orbynot, recording vocals for their 2012 album Try to Stop Me, and is constantly lending her voice to the metal army known as Metal All Stars, sharing the stage with iconic musicians such as Tim “Ripper” Owens, Ross the Boss, Vinny Appice and Paul Di’Anno, and more recently to the cult Melodic Power Metal act Kamelot during their latest world tour. And you better get ready, because Kobra And The Lotus announced back in November 2015 they are gearing up for their fourth full-length album, a double disc entitled Prevail, to be released in a not-so-distant future (you can pre-order it HERE).

There are several videos on YouTube where you can enjoy her electrifying vocals and looks, and more important than that, feel the remarkable shift in her voice through the years. As a “few” suggestions, I believe you can take a listen at the old school thrashy tunes Snake Pit, Ride Like Sugar and Cynical Wasteland, the thunderous Welcome To My Funeral and I Am, I Am, the sexy heavy ballad Black Velvet, the Power Metal epicness of 50 Shades Of Evil and Forever One, the band’s thrilling cover versions for Motörhead’s all-time classic Ace of Spades and Rush’s groovy anthem The Spirit Of Radio, and their awesome performance at the famous festival Bloodstock Open Air in 2012. When asked about that change, Kobra said it happened mainly from their first to their second album, when she started following a direction where she felt more comfortable with her voice, sounding more organic, honest and authentic, and also evolving with the other band members in terms of skills and songwriting.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Based on her vocal style and the music played by Kobra and The Lotus, you might think her biggest influences come only from traditional Heavy Metal, like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, who obviously had a huge impact on her life and who she would simply love to tour with. However, our gorgeous Kobra is a fan of all types of music, from old school metal the likes of Ronnie James Dio (R.I.P.) and Iced Earth, to Folk/Viking Metal such as Eluveitie and Amon Amarth, to obviously classical music, in special German composer and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven. As pretty much all successful musicians, she doesn’t stick to only one music genre, which helps her evolve as a singer and songwriter by expanding her horizons and bringing to her mind huge amounts of creativity and passion.

As expected for such a charismatic persona like Kobra, she was invited to take part on an interesting documentary called Soaring Highs and Brutal Lows: The Voices of Women in Metal after her performance at the famous Metal Female Voices Fest in 2013, touring then with other female vocalists in different festivals and telling their own stories in the world of heavy music. Talking about the life on the road, Kobra said once that “any person obviously has to be really into heavy metal, living and breathing for it, in order to be on the road constantly”, and in regards to being a beautiful woman among so many male metalheads, she said that one of the funniest things that ever happened to her on tour was when Kobra and The Lotus were touring around Canada the first time and she got a lot of questions like “are you the merch girl?”, surprising them all the minute she got onstage.

Her hobbies and interests are also very common for most of us, especially if you enjoy more physical stuff such as kickboxing and hiking on a mountain. Moreover, as she’s so focused on her music career and loves all things music so much, she has also nurtured an interest in musical theater, something she used to do at a younger age, looking into some Broadway scoring to improve her skills and capacity for innovation. One curious detail about her is that, even after spending so much time on the road with the band, she’s an avid traveler, always searching for exotic destinations to visit and new cultures to learn about.

Lastly, in case you haven’t noticed yet, our metal viper has the tattoo of a dream catcher on her arm, something very meaningful to her since she was a little girl. Her mom used to take her to sun dances, increasing Native American influences on her while she was growing up. Besides, she used to have constant nightmares until she was 13, when her parents put a dream catcher over her bed as a protective symbol, which ended up working really well for her. I’m pretty sure her nightmares are long gone by now, not due to the dream catcher but mainly because of her badass attitude and inner strength. In other words, I can’t think of any entity brave enough to disturb the peace of our headbanging cobra, and if anyone or anything dares to do so, they will mercilessly have their asses kicked pretty bad.

Kobra Paige’s Official Facebook page
Kobra Paige’s Official Twitter
Kobra Paige’s Official Instagram

Kobra And The Lotus’ Official Facebook page
Kobra And The Lotus’ Official Twitter

“I am who I am and this is my voice; if it’s not bad-ass enough for some people, that’s just too bad.” – Kobra Paige