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

Album Review – Thundermother / Black and Gold (2022)

You better watch out as these Swedish girls are the light in the sky that turns black into gold in their new album, always loud and free in the name of Rock N’ Roll.

Two years after their highly acclaimed album Heat Wave, the unstoppable Stockholm, Sweden-based Hard Rock brigade Thundermother is back with a fantastic new album titled Black and Gold, a roar for all it’s worth. Not only musically rough and loud, but also controversial and honest, the band currently formed of the ass-kicking Guernica Mancini on vocals, Filippa Nässil on the guitar, newcomer Mona “Demona” Lindgren on bass, and Emlee Johansson on drums sounds beyond sharp and flammable throughout their entire new album, proving why they’ve become one of the most admired and respected bands of the current Hard Rock scene and, therefore, attracting the attention of diehard fans of renowned acts the likes of AC/DC, Airbourne and Rose Tattoo, among others.

Just hit play and be stunned by The Light In The Sky, a Rock N’ Roll anthem perfect to be played at the biggest stadiums in the world where Guernica is simply flawless on vocals while Emlee dictates the pace with her pounding beats; whereas the title-track Black And Gold is just as electrifying and vibrant, with Filippa delivering her usual rockin’ riffs and, therefore, resulting in another hymn for hitting the road. Raise Your Hands is a more rhythmic, headbanging tune by Thundermother paying a tribute to our beloved rock music, with some Jazz-ish influences showcasing the classy kitchen by Mona and Emlee, and after three breathtaking songs the quartet slows things down and offer us the Blues-infused ballad Hot Mess, with Guernica melting the hearts of her fans with her beautiful vocals. Getting back to a more incendiary mode it’s time for Wasted, a beer-drinking extravaganza where those four rockers are in absolute sync until the very last second, with Filippa kicking some serious ass with her riffs and solos, followed by Watch Out, where Guernica sends a fun message through the lyrics (“I’m beautiful with looks that kill / You better watch your words / You run around and talking shit /At least that’s what I heard”) while her bandmates smash their instruments in the name of Rock N’ Roll.

I Don’t Know You offers to our avid ears more of their classic lyrics (“I met you, a rainy day / In June, I met you / With a backstage pass / Like a fool / Drinking all our booze / With the crew / But who the fuck are you”) spiced up by an AC/DC-like sound and vibe, while All Looks No Hooks brings forward their usual fusion of Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll where Filippa and Mona deliver pure melody and groove from their stringed axes. Then it’s time for an AC/DC and Airbourne-inspired hurricane titled Loud And Free, one of the most exciting of all tracks with Guernica and Filippa kicking us hard in the head with their superb performances; and it’s pedal to the metal as those Swedish girls won’t stop rockin’ our world in Try With Love, where Emlee once again speeds things up with her incendiary beats. Stratosphere keeps the album at a high level of adrenaline, with Guernica leading her bandmates with her undisputed soaring vocals, whereas the closing song Borrowed Time is a ballad that feels more like a bonus track. It’s not bad at all, but they could have ended the album in a much more exciting way with the previous song.

Thundermother Black and Gold Limited Boxset

When Black and Gold was released just a week before I was going to see Thundermother live for the first time ever in Montreal, I already knew their concert was going to be fantastic (and, of course, they lived up to the hype). All of the songs from Black and Gold, which is by the way available for a full listen on Spotify, are pure gold, with the girls always playing loud and free wherever they go. Hence, don’t forget to give them a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, to subscribe to their YouTube channel, and above all that, to purchase Black and Gold from their official webstore or by clicking HERE, and if you consider yourself a true servant of rock music you should definitely go for the limited boxset (limited to a thousand units) packaged in a backpack, containing a digipak CD, a 100x150cm flag, a pair of socks, a DIN A5 fake tattoo, a sweat band, an autograph and a certificate of authenticity. Thundermother are the light in the sky of rock music, and their new album will undoubtedly help them strike fast and hard all four corner of the earth for our total delight.

Best moments of the album: The Light In The Sky, Black And Gold, Watch Out and Loud And Free.

Worst moments of the album: Borrowed Time.

Released in 2022 AFM Records

Track listing
1. The Light In The Sky 3:34
2. Black And Gold 3:19
3. Raise Your Hands 3:40
4. Hot Mess 4:25
5. Wasted 3:24
6. Watch Out 3:11
7. I Don’t Know You 3:35
8. All Looks No Hooks 3:41
9. Loud And Free 2:50
10. Try With Love 3:29
11. Stratosphere 3:21
12. Borrowed Time 4:08

Band members
Guernica Mancini – vocals
Filippa Nässil – guitar
Mona “Demona” Lindgren – bass
Emlee Johansson – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Ira Sidenko

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Album Review – Onirik / The Fire Cult Beyond Eternity (2020)

A unique Black Metal album that is the consequence of the descent and return from below carrying the flames and lava on its scales, giving it back to the world in posthumous vengeance.

Following up on his highly-acclaimed 2015 album Casket Dream Veneration, Lisbon, Portugal-based Black Metal one-man horde Onirik, the brainchild of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Gonius Rex, returns with yet another distinct and heavy-as-hell album entitled The Fire Cult Beyond Eternity, the fifth studio album in his solid career. Active since 2002, Onirik has been exploring Black Metal in several approaches, always faithful to its original purpose, the emission of unordinary, dissonant and raw outputs with trance-inducing atmospheres, typically very cold and bathed in magic. With the special guest participation of none other than Dirge Rep on drums (Gehenna, Enslaved, Orcustus, The Konsortium), and mixed and mastered by Semjaza of Thy Darkened Shade at Sitra Ahra Studio, who also took care of the album’s ambient elements, The Fire Cult Beyond Eternity is the consequence of the descent and return from below carrying the flames and lava on its scales, giving it back to the world in posthumous vengeance.

Prepare your senses for six minutes of a classic Norwegian Black Metal inferno in the opening tune Cult Beyond Eternity, where Gonius Rex extracts sheer malignancy from his guitar while gnarling demonically at the same time, and it’s impressive how he is capable of adding so much groove and progressiveness to his Stygian creations such as Trapped in Flesh, Blood and Dirt, piling up additional layers of awesomeness to his already scorching sound while guest Dirge Rep takes care of the violence and brutality with his blast beats. Then our avid ears are penetrated furiously by over nine minutes of a downward spiral into the pits of the underworld together with Gonius Rex entitled Assigned to the Inexorable Flames, with his bass lines sounding utterly demented, groovy and wicked, proving how talented and focused he is at what he does, with the entire song feeling as grandiose and somber as it can be from start to finish.

In Melodies of Reflections and Praise this unearthly entity offers us all a modern yet old school version of Melodic Black Metal infused with Progressive Black Metal elements where Dirge Rep continues to deliver insanity and intricacy through his beats, providing Gonius Rex all he needs to distill his Jazz-inspired bass jabs.  And venturing through the sluggish realms of Doom Metal, Onirik blast the heavy and thunderous Granted the Vision, Molded into Stone, with the bass punches by Gonius Rex allied with the slow and steady beats by Dirge Rep punching us all in the head mercilessly. After such dense extravaganza, and again blending traditional Black Metal with modern-day sounds and a demented atmosphere, we’re treated to an avalanche of darkened sounds for our vulgar delectation in Murmurs of the Aging Vessel, with both Gonius Rex and Dirge Rep being on fire with their respective sonic weapons, whereas back to a more berserk mode Onirik haunt our souls one last time with their infuriated Black Metal in Apathy of Might, and they keep hammering their instruments nonstop until the song’s grand finale.

You can show your support and admiration for Gonius Rex’s alter ego Onirik by following the project on Facebook, and of course by purchasing a copy of such incendiary album from the underground Portuguese scene from the I, Voidhanger Records’ BandCamp page or from the Metal Odissey webstore in CD or in LP format.  “I have travelled beyond the casket and returned only to illustrate the certain retribution. This time the old ways flow deep like liquefied lava, ready to break the wounds of this earth and resurface in arsonists’ bliss,” cryptically said Gonius Rex about his newborn album, and even if you have no clue what exactly he wanted to say, let me tell you that the best way to understand his eerie words is by playing The Fire Cult Beyond Eternity at top volume and enjoying one of the best releases of the Portuguese underground scene in this obscure year of 2020.

Best moments of the album: Trapped in Flesh, Blood and Dirt and Assigned to the Inexorable Flames.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 I, Voidhanger Records

Track listing
1. Cult Beyond Eternity 6:15
2. Trapped in Flesh, Blood and Dirt 4:35
3. Assigned to the Inexorable Flames 9:00
4. Melodies of Reflections and Praise 7:32
5. Granted the Vision, Molded into Stone 6:18
6. Murmurs of the Aging Vessel 6:47
7. Apathy of Might 5:32

Band members
Gonius Rex – vocals, guitars, bass

Guest musicians
Dirge Rep – drums
Semjaza – ambient

Album Review – Intercepting Pattern / The Encounter (2020)

A free-flowing 30-minute long composition ebbing and flowing between heavy syncopated grooves, Jazz fusion flourishes, ethereal synth-layered passages and cybernetic Death Metal.

Formed in 2016 in the city of Berlin, Germany, a distinguished Progressive Metal unity known as Intercepting Pattern is comprised of vocalist Daniel Sander, guitarist and keyboardist Marte Auer, bassist Clemens Engert and drummer Lille Gruber, all seasoned musicians known for their time in projects such as Defeated Sanity, Infecting the Swarm and Cerebric Turmoil. Produced, mixed & mastered by Tom ‘Fountainhead’ Geldschläger at FountainheadHQ and featuring a stunning artwork by Niklas Sundin (Mitochondrial Sun, Dark Tranquillity), Intercepting Pattern’s debut effort, entitled The Encounter, was created and designed as one free-flowing 30-minute long genre-bending composition, ebbing and flowing between heavy syncopated grooves, Jazz fusion flourishes, ethereal synth-layered passages and cybernetic Death Metal with seamless ease, appealing to fans of groups such as Meshuggah, Cynic and Panzerballett, among others. For release purposes, The Encounter is split into 10 “song” sections, although it is strongly suggested to listen to it in one session as it was intended when being created.

Clearly inspired by classic TV shows and movies that dealt with alien forms of life, the opening track Extragalactic Radio presents Lille and Clemens bringing endless groove and intricacy to the music with their beats and bass punches while Marte adds a touch of finesse to the overall result with his riffs and solos, flowing into the Progressive Death Metal feast titled Signal-to-Noise, where Daniel fires anguished, raspy roars accompanied by the always blazing guitars by Marte, resulting in an excellent option for breaking your neck headbanging. And their mysterious, otherworldly story goes on in Interlude I, an atmospheric and futuristic creation by Intercepting Pattern that will certainly send shivers down your spine before Eigenlicht offers us all Jazz and Blues united with the band’s hybrid of Progressive and Groove Metal, or in other words, a complex and extremely enjoyable tune where Marte and Lille are in absolute sync with their incendiary riffs and beats, whereas Hypnagogia is another wicked instrumental creation by the quartet with Clemens’ bass jabs making your head tremble in awe, all spiced up by background voices and ethereal keys, and running smoothly until its whimsical conclusion.

Interlude II is a cinematic bridge created to keep the listener hypnotized and eager for what’s next, as Daniel returns in full force with his rabid growls in Rebiogenesis, with the band’s razor-edged guitars and rumbling bass together with the sick drums by Lille generating a multi-layered wall of sounds for our total delectation. Then featuring guest Jimmy Pitts (Eternity’s End, Eynomia, NorthTale, NYN, The Fractured Dimension) on keyboards we have Fuga Finalis, an explosion of Progressive Groove Metal infused with Jazz and other idiosyncratic sounds and tones. Not only that, can you feel the anger bursting from Daniel’s roars? It’s sick and amazing at the same time, of course. And the music makes an instant bridge with the also demented and progressive Asmodeus, sounding as bold and weird as possible while led by the jamming beats by Lille, being therefore highly recommended for musicians who love the fusion of metal and Jazz, before the outro Epilogue ends the album in a cryptic and again atmospheric manner, with its instrumental pieces exhaling melancholy and heaviness until all is said and done.

“Having played in various metal bands before, we were kind of drawn to modern jazz and fusion records at the time and wanted to challenge ourselves with a more complex and improvisational approach to music. Of course, being the metal kids that we are, we couldn’t totally hide from our roots, but overall we tried to emphasize extended harmonic concepts and recurring rhythmic motives common to a Jazz/Fusion context”, commented the band about their newborn spawn, and after listening to the album in its entirety it’s easy to understand exactly what they wanted to accomplish in The Encounter. Needless to say, they more than succeeded in their quest, and if you want to give Intercepting Pattern a try you can grab your copy of The Encounter from the Rising Nemesis Records’ BandCamp page, and soon also from the Rising Nemesis Records’ Big Cartel and from IndieMerchstore. You can also get to know more about the band by following them on Facebook, showing your appreciation for their wicked hybrid of Heavy Metal and Jazz, and inspiring them to keep exploring the outer space and alien life with their refined music for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: Signal-to-Noise, Rebiogenesis and Fuga Finalis.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Rising Nemesis Records

Track listing
1. Extragalactic Radio 3:26
2. Signal-to-Noise 1:56
3. Interlude I 1:38
4. Eigenlicht 3:07
5. Hypnagogia 3:56
6. Interlude II 1:46
7. Rebiogenesis 4:48
8. Fuga Finalis 2:34
9. Asmodeus 4:35
10. Epilogue 2:15

Band members
Daniel Sander – vocals
Marte Auer – guitars, synths
Clemens Engert – bass
Lille Gruber – drums

Guest musician
Jimmy Pitts – guest keyboards solo on “Fuga Finalis”

Metal Chick of the Month – Seraina Telli

Don’t leave me out in the cold…

She’s by far one of the best rock and metal singers of the current scene hands down. Owner of a beautiful, stunning and extremely potent voice, she’s also a songwriter, pianist, guitarist, vocal coach and designer, known for her awesome contributions to bands such as Dead Venus, Burning Witches and Surrilium, among other very interesting bands and projects, always ready to rock our hearts with her mesmerizing vocal lines. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome our metal chick of the month of August, the ravishing Seraina Telli, the unstoppable musician from Aargau, one of the more northerly cantons of Switzerland, who can flawlessly translate all her passion for music and art into emotional and inspiring compositions that will certainly captivate your hearts from the very first second. Having said that, are you ready to rock together with Seraina here on The Headbanging Moose?

A self-employed musician and vocal coach, Seraina has always wanted to make music and sing, and although she’s a team player who loves to play in bands she sees independent people as their role models, saying that she didn’t want to be a singer who just needs a band to play with her, but that she wanted to learn what it’s like to make music herself, playing different instruments and therefore being independent. Her looks and attire are also an important part of her musical persona, with all of her piercings, tattoos and her dyed hair providing a unique look that more than fits in the world of rock and metal music, but you’re wrong if you think Seraina is only a beautiful woman, as she has years of formal and professional study that provided her an invaluable background, allowing her to become the exceptional performer she is. Just to give you an idea of her undeniable talent,  she took classical singing lessons between 2007 and 2008, studied at the Jazz & Rock School in Freiburg, Germany from 2010 to 2011, achieved a Bachelor of Arts at hKDM and International Music College also in Freiburg, with focus on Jazz, Rock and Pop, between 2012 and 2013, and attended the Musik- Akademie Basel in 2015.

In regards to her career with Swiss Heavy/Power Metal band Burning Witches, Seraina was the band’s frontwoman between 2015 and 2019, having recorded with the band their debut self-titled album in 2017 and their sophomore effort Hexenhammer in 2018, as well as a four-track live album released in 2018 titled Burning Alive, recorded on September 30, 2017 at the Z7 Club in Pratteln, Switzerland. There are a few official videos on YouTube from when Seraina was the band’s vocalist, such as Hexenhammer, Black Widow and Executed, and also some unofficial live footage including a concert in Mannheim, Germany in 2018, and a pocket show at Salzhaus Brugg in 2018. I’m not going to extend this tribute to Seraina with the origins of the Burning Witches, but as already mentioned when their guitarist and founding member Romana Kalkuhl was our metal chick of the month in July 2019, during a party at a festival she met Seraina, starting a very healthy and productive partnership between them, with Seraina’s ideas and experience from her studies at the Music Academy and her bands being exactly what Romana wanted for Burning Witches. Furthermore, although Seraina always mention Heavy Metal as one of her passions, at the moment she is determined to go full throttle with her own band Dead Venus, saying Progressive Rock has always been her thing; however, we can expect to see Seraina venturing through heavier and faster lands in a not-so-distant future without a shadow of a doubt.

As we already started talking about Seraina’s brainchild, female-fronted Progressive Rock unity Dead Venus, where she’s not only the band’s vocalist but she also plays acoustic guitars, keyboards and piano, let’s discuss a little about the origins of the band, their goals and what their music represents to Seraina. Formed in early 2015 by Seraina herself around a year after being singing for a German Neo-Progressive Rock band named Surrilium, Dead Venus is a triumvirate currently comprised of Seraina on vocals, obviously, together with bassist André Gärtner and drummer Mike Malloth, delivering music that’s at the same time charming, passionate and incendiary, applying her multidimensional vocals to bring the desired message with each and every song, that being through her piercing vocals or just by whispering the lyrics. As a matter of fact, Seraina mentioned that it’s difficult to tell when Dead Venus actually started, as she began writing songs at some point and then began studying music and developed it further with music theory, learning the instruments and techniques better, which helped in the development of the songs, before she started looking for people to play them with. Seraina placed an advertisement recruiting musicians for Dead Venus, getting a reply from Mike, who also referred André for the band, whom by the way she already knew through her father (who had always spoken very well of him).

Apart from a couple of singles, the trio recently released at the end of 2019 their debut album, a 12-track Progressive Rock extravaganza titled Bird of Paradise (available for a full listen on Spotify), pointing to a bright future for Seraina and her bandmates. In addition, Seraina said that their goals with Dead Venus do not include appealing to a broader or more demanding audience, saying their music already has enough pop character in it despite not being disco dance music, of course. She complemented by saying that what Dead Venus and any other band needs is an audience that listens and that feels inspired by the music being played, as long as the music is authentic like what she does with Dead Venus, putting no boundaries to what the trio can do. You can listen to their music and purchase their debut album by visiting the MUSIC page on their official website, or by subscribing to their YouTube channel, where you’ll find some amazing compositions (and videos) for the songs The Sirens Call, Bird of Paradise and Redemptionless in both regular and acoustic versions.

You can also enjoy Seraina’s unique voice in other interesting bands and projects, showcasing all her versatility and skills it doesn’t matter if it’s a rock band playing covers or a full-bodied progressive and symphonic act. For instance, she did female vocals for Swiss Melodic Heavy/Power Metal band Rizon from 2010 until 2014, having recorded with them the album Masquerade in 2012, which you can listen in its entirety HERE; and she’s been the vocalist for German Progressive Rock/Metal band Surrilium since 2011, having recorded with them the album Sir William in 2015. Seraina is also the vocalist for a distinct cover bands called Hit Grinder, taking hits that everyone knows and performing them in a unique way with heavy guitars, rocking drums and hard driving bass, giving those songs a more aggressive edge. The band is formed by Seraina on vocals, Stefan Schroff on the guitars, and a rotation between Yannick Schmidt and Emmi Lichtenhahn on bass and Franceso Gasparini and Alain Ackermann on drums, and you can get in touch with them and listen to more of their music on Facebook, on Instagram and on YouTube, with their renditions of Sia’s Chandelier and Michael Jackson’s Bad showing you all of the band’s awesomeness.

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Perhaps one of the most delicious works by Seraina is her personal YouTube channel, where she puts her heart and soul into delivering beautiful versions of several rock, pop and metal classics, usually only accompanied by her own piano. Simply visit her YouTube channel and you’ll be able to enjoy our talented singer kicking ass with her versions for Red hot Chilli Pepper’s classic Under the Bridge as a studio project band from the hKDM Music High School in Freiburg, Edgar Alan Poe’s The Haunted Palace, Rush’s masterpiece Closer to the Heart together with a children’s choir, Nancy Wilson’s The Nearness of You, The Misfits’ Dig Up Her Bones live at a pub in Zurich, Jason Mraz’s I Won’t Give Up, Sting’s The Hounds of Winter, Lady Gaga’s Million Reasons, John Lennon’s Imagine, and a very special version for Christina Aguilera’s Keep on Singin’ My Song, as according to Seraina herself Christina Aguilera was one of her teenage heroes and one of the reasons she started singing when she was around 13 years old. And let’s keep talking about her idols and influences, with bands like Opeth, Pain of Salvation and the almighty Judas Priest being among her favorite bands of all time. Seraina even mentioned in one of her interviews that playing with one of those three bands would be a dream come true for her, complementing by saying it would be beyond fantastic to be able to talk, interact and especially sing with the one and only Metal God Rob Halford.

When questioned about the fact she was in an all-girls band during her time with Burning Witches, our striking banshee said in the beginning the idea of only playing with other women in a band was quite funny for all of them, and that they never expected it to be such a big topic, having to face sexist comments and other situations related to the male/female gender differences. Needless to say, that didn’t have any impact on the way Seraina performs on stage, saying the most difficult part is actually dealing with her own emotions and feelings to make sure her voice perfectly sends the desired message. In addition, she said she usually has it under control, using the appropriate techniques to have the best results while playing live. Seraina is also responsible for designing her own outfits, saying it’s actually more like a hobby for her despite the fact she wanted to become a fashion designer before singing, mainly because it’s very time consuming. And regarding metal festivals, she said during her time with Burning Witches they always wanted to play something big such as Wacken Open Air, Sweden Rock Festival and Hellfest, but we must all agree that now with Dead Venus her focus is a lot more on smaller, more intimate venues and crowds.

When asked about her singing style, her limits as a vocalist and her writing and composing process, Seraina said she always puts her heart and soul into singing, it doesn’t matter if it’s a heavy-as-hell metal song or a serene rock ballad, complementing by saying that it’s all a matter of practice to know and understand your limits and what’s causing that barrier, such as breathing techniques and discipline. For example, she said she doesn’t do much Opera singing as she’s not professionally trained in it, but maybe with some time and by applying the right techniques she can reach a good performance singing it. Her process for writing and composing her songs is also very detailed and honest, with Seraina usually writing something on the piano and then complementing it with the guitar, not working with sequences and, therefore, sounding a lot more organic. She also said the order in which she writes the lyrics and the music is never the same, always depending on the song being composed and the situation she’s in, with most of the ideas for the music by Dead Venus coming from her past experiences, especially due to her anger, energy and creativity as a teenager, saying it wasn’t easy in the beginning for her as she doesn’t come from a family of musicians like several other artists.

If you also enjoy watching Seraina perform and not only listen to her powerful voice, you’ll notice she always carries a special chain or necklace, a symbol of luck that’s linked to her family. She said she had a very strong bond with her sister when they were kids, which by the way lasts until today, with the necklace being a gift she got for her 12th birthday from her stepfather that symbolizes two parts that are connected together and forever. As a matter of fact, the Dead Venus logo is a variation of that symbol, a Celtic cross knot with an “S” at the end. Talking about stunning looks in rock and metal, Seraina was asked what she would say if one day a band like Arch Enemy invited her to sing for them, and albeit she said she simply loves the charisma, the voice and the looks by the she-wolf Alissia White-Gluz, she said she couldn’t see herself fronting such distinct band.

Lastly, as an artist that has been making  music for a long time despite her young age, Seraina said she will always pursue a career in music no matter what, saying she got to know a lot of good people with both Dead Venus and Burning Witches that provide her all the support she needs to keep moving forward. She sees a lot of potential with Dead Venus, the type of music she has always wanted to do, but you can also hire her to feature on your next album doing backing vocals or singing one or more songs, for example, as she has already done a few studio and advertising jobs in her career. She can even sing in German (or Swiss German) if you prefer, and you can actually check Seraina speaking (not singing, though) in her mother tongue in a short interview where she talks about what it means for her to be from Aargau, how much she loves her hometown, and her life in the city. I guess after knowing about her personal life, her career and her passion for heavy music, there’s nothing better than banging our heads to Seraina’s piercing vocals or simply sitting down, relaxing and enjoying her more delicate creations, resting assured we’ll hear a lot more from such talented artist in the coming years.

Seraina Telli’s Official Facebook page
Seraina Telli’s Official Instagram
Seraina Telli’s Official YouTube channel
Dead Venus’ Official Facebook page
Dead Venus’ Official Instagram
Dead Venus’ Official YouTube channel

Album Review – Bouquet of Dead Crows / Hemispheres Part 1: Celestial EP (2020)

Adopting a more progressive sound, this unstoppable UK-based Alternative Rock unity is more than ready to rock your world with the first half of their third full-length album.

After embellishing the airwaves with their refined fusion of Alternative Rock and Metal with nuances of Rock N’ Roll and Hard Rock in their previous efforts, those being their 2015 debut album Of The Night and their 2018 release Motus Octo, Cambridge, UK’s own Bouquet of Dead Crows are back from outer space with the first part of their third full-length album Hemispheres, the six-track EP titled Hemispheres Part 1: Celestial. Adopting a more progressive sound with their trademark riffs with big melodies approach being enhanced to incorporate more layered and nuanced elements, the band currently comprised of Antoinette Cooper on vocals, Neil Bruce on the guitars, newcomer Karen Gadd on bass, and Andrew Coxall on drums and synths is more than ready to rock your world with Celestial, also preparing us all for the second half of their musical journey, Cerebral, scheduled for a late 2020 or maybe even an early 2021 release.

Recorded at the beginning of the year at Parlour Studios, mixed and produced by Neil Haynes, and featuring a stylish artwork by longtime collaborator Stewart Harris, from Stewart Harris Designs, Celestial has an overall theme of mental health, which is a topic all band members are very passionate about. With each song, they’ve written about issues that affect them individually and personally. There’s been a lot of stigma about depression and anxiety over the years, and as the mood slowly shifts, this album captures the zeitgeist of our current unpredictable day-to-day life, the fears we are all experiencing right now. In addition, although written before the pandemic that the world is currently experiencing, a lot of the lyrics do seem strangely prescient and also very relevant, such as the chorus of the title track which says that “it’s not the end of the world this time, it feels like the end of the world every time.”

Atmospheric and eerie from the very first second, the Sci-Fi intro Terraformer will captivate your senses and warm you up for the British Rock extravaganza titled Before The Storm, where Neil and Karen are in absolute sync with their riffs and bass, respectively, providing Antoinette exactly what she needs to shine on vocals while also bringing elements of Jazz to their core alternative essence, flowing smoothly into the gentle and enfolding Caged, where Andrew does a superb job with both his beats and his ethereal synths. In addition, Karen brings the groove to the overall result, also full of nice breaks and variations, whereas Neil begins slashing his strings in great fashion in the fast and thrilling Left to Rot, the most metallic of all songs of the EP with Antoinette adding a touch of finesse to the rumbling sounds blasted by her bandmates with her piercing vocals. Then it’s time to celebrate all giant monsters from the Japanese culture like Godzilla and Gamera in Kaiju Hijinks, another explosion of groove and adrenaline by the quartet presenting elements from Stoner Rock and Jazz to make things more interesting, not to mention the razor-edged riffs by Neil, followed by the title-track for the full album, Hemispheres, an introspective and futuristic song that evolves into a gentle Hard Rock ballad led by Andrew’s rhythmic drums and Neil’s classic riffs, ending the EP on a high note and setting the bar high for the second act Cerebral in the coming months.

Celestial, which is available for a full listen on YouTube (as six very entertaining visualizers) and on Spotify, is definitely a step forward in the career of Bouquet of Dead Crows, and in order to show those rockers your true appreciation don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and on Instagram, to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their music, and of course to grab your copy of the EP from the German Shepherd Records’ BandCamp page, from Music Glue, from Apple Music or from Amazon. After putting your hands on this excellent EP, you’ll have the perfect soundtrack for rockin’ around your house or in your car during such strange times we’re living, while we all wait for Antoinette, Neil & Co. to deliver more of their stylish Rock N’ Roll with the next chapter in their evolutionary career, Cerebral.

Best moments of the album: Left to Rot and Kaiju Hijinks.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 German Shepherd Records

Track listing
1. Terraformer 1:32
2. Before The Storm 2:34
3. Caged 3:49
4. Left to Rot 3:31
5. Kaiju Hijinks 2:36
6. Hemispheres 5:22

Band members
Antoinette Cooper – vocals
Neil Bruce – guitars
Karen Gadd – bass, backing vocals
Andrew Coxall – drums, synths, programming, backing vocals

Album Review – Goatchrist / Pythagoras (2019)

Like a phoenix arising from the ashes, one-man project Goatchrist returns with a thrilling melding of Black Metal, Jazz and progressive music, exploring the various metaphysical and occult philosophies of Pythagoras.

After a huge and cryptic hiatus that lasted for three long years, the talented multi-instrumentalist Jacob Guilherme, or J. Guilherme if you prefer, previously known as Dominator Xul’Ahabra, is back in action with his Leeds, UK-based one-man project Goatchrist, now venturing through the realms of Experimental Black Metal instead of the Blackened Death Metal from his early days. If you’re familiar with Goatchrist’s discography, let’s say the more vicious and austere music found in his previous albums, those being She Who Holds the Scrying Mirror, from 2014, The Epic Tragedy of the Cult of Enlil, from 2015, and Discipline and Terror (The Timeless Praxes of the Drakon Covenant), from 2016, gave place to a much more experimental and melodic sonority with a focus on metaphysical philosophies, and that new era of Goatchrist can be fully appreciated in his brand new opus, entitled Pythagoras, a conceptual full-length album about the Greek metaphysical philosopher, father of the Western philosophical tradition and ideological precursor to occultism.

Dedicated to R. R. Givens (also known as Proscriptor McGovern, from American Black/Thrash Metal band Absu), a man of great talent and understanding and a significant inspiration in the creation of the album, Pythagoras features a thrilling melding of Black Metal, Jazz and progressive music, exploring the various metaphysical and occult philosophies of the ancient Greek sage, such as the ontology of all existence, the five three-dimensional solids whose faces are regular polygons and their links to the five pre-scientific “elements” (air, fire, earth, water and aether), and the Pythagorean attitude towards reincarnation. Written, recorded, mixed and mastered between J. Guilherme’s home studio and V. Calin’s home studio, who by the way lends his musical talents to a couple of songs in the album, Pythagoras might be one of the best fusions of extreme music (and other styles) with science and philosophy from the underground and independent scene of the past few years, proving why although Jacob shouldn’t have stopped making music under his project Goatchrist a few years ago, his break was more than healthy and inspiring as we can all enjoy now with Pythagoras.

The Initiation of Pythagoras by Thoth Hermes Tresmegistus is an instrumental, epic intro that sets the stage for Worlds, a lot more melodic and ethereal than Goatchrist’s previous endeavors, where Jacob does a great job on the guitars and drums, generating an enfolding and experimental atmosphere and also presenting an interesting paradox between demonic screeches and clean, anguished vocals. Moreover, right from the beginning you can sense the aforementioned hints of Jazz added to the music, which is also the case in The Tetractys, offering more experimentations and idiosyncratic sounds from Jacob’s (un)usual instruments and, consequently, feeling a lot more Progressive Metal than Black Metal, with its lyrics being some sort of lecture about what the title of the song truly means (“Tetractys of the Decad: / One, two, three and four / in union; musica universalis – / Unity; Dyad; Harmony; Kosmos.”).

Back to a more berserk and violent mode, Jacob slashes his strings while at the same time he blasts delicate and futuristic sounds and tones in Pythagorean Solids, with his harsh gnarls and whimsical keys being in absolute sync form start to finish, whereas in Introduction to Numbers we’re treated to one minute of madness flowing from his keys before all hell breaks loose in Numbers, reminding me of some of his oldest creations in terms of fury and heaviness, blending old school Black Metal with tons of progressiveness and the gentleness of Jazz. In other words, this is a full-bodied creation that lives up to Goatchrist’s own legacy, and undoubtedly one of the best moments of the album.

Then we have Harmony of the Spheres, a somber, atmospheric and minimalist composition that works like an extended bridge to Metempsychosis, bringing forward elements from the Stygian music by Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir and Rotting Christ, with the hellish growls by Jacob matching perfectly with the instrumental pieces and also presenting a lot of groove flowing from his wicked bass lines and intricate piano notes. And lastly, The Death of Pythagoras is a very introspective tune spiced up by deep, dark lyrics (“Then the sun will set over Croton, / The folk tire of his ways – of his ways. / The greatest mind in all of time, / Approaches the end of his days – of his days. / Enemies travelled in the dead of night, / To the meeting house in Milo, setting it alight.”) and nuances of R&B and Indie Rock in the vocal lines, and if you are a patient person simply wait for a while as after a few minutes of silence Jacob offers us all nothing more, nothing less than his own bizarre and fun “cover” version for American singer Billie Eilish’s hit Bad Guy. I bet you’ll be surprised with the final result of this moment of relaxation by Mr. Guilherme.

As already mentioned, I’m quite happy and excited with the return of Jacob Guilherme to the world of extreme music under his one-man army Goatchrist, and let’s hope the feedback he receives from metal fans like us is enough to inspire him to release more and more Goatchrist albums in the future, always dealing with the most diverse and interesting themes like what we see in Pythagoras. Hence, don’t forget to show him your support by following Goatchrist on Facebook, and by purchasing Pythagoras from his own BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon. Amidst the seriousness of all the metaphysical and occult philosophies by Pythagoras there’s still room for the crushing and experimental sounds of Black Metal, and fortunately we have Mr. Jacob Guilherme to channel that amalgamation of styles and topics through his inner beast Goatchrist, exactly how underground extreme music is supposed to be.

Best moments of the album: Worlds, Pythagorean Solids and Numbers.

Worst moments of the album: Harmony of the Spheres.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. The Initiation of Pythagoras by Thoth Hermes Tresmegistus 1:12
2. Worlds 8:44
3. The Tetractys 4:00
4. Pythagorean Solids 4:19
5. Introduction to Numbers 1:01
6. Numbers 5:45
7. Harmony of the Spheres 4:14
8. Metempsychosis 8:28
9. The Death of Pythagoras / Bad Guy (Billie Eilish cover) (Hidden track) 10:50

Band members
J. Guilherme – vocals, all instruments

Guest musicians
V. Calin – lead guitar on “Worlds”, vocals (chorus) on “The Death of Pythagoras”
D. Tann – vocals on “Worlds”