Known to locals as “the Hammer” or “Hammertown” due to its industrial roots, the city of Hamilton has always been a mandatory stop for countless metal bands form all over the world. Names like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motörhead and so on have played at least once in their careers in such important city for the Canadian industry, and one of the bands that always returns to Hamilton to kick some serious ass is of course our beloved Megadeth. That’s exactly what happened last night at FirstOntario Centre when guests ONI and BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE, together of course with the one and only MEGADETH, took the Hammer by storm as one of the Canadian stops of their Crush the World Tour 2023, and I must say it was indeed another memorable night of heavy music for the thousands of fans at the venue.
The first band to hit the stage, precisely at 7pm, was Windsor, Ontario-based Progressive Metalcore/Djent act ONI, and although there was still a lot of people outdoors those guys put on an excellent concert, properly warming up the fans of both Bullet For My Valentine and Megadeth with their harsh and clean vocals, thunderous and intricate bass lines, sharp riffs and headbanging drums. Still promoting their 2022 album Loathing Light, the band spearheaded by frontman Jake Oni, who’s by the way a fantastic vocalist capable of switching from demonic growls to stylish clean vocals without any actual effort, put everyone to jump up and down with them during their short and sweet performance, already igniting some fun mosh pits for the delight of lovers of such unique sport. I’m definitely going to take a more detailed listen at their music on Spotify, and you should do the same to get to know more about such interesting band of the current Canadian scene.
Heart to Stone
Jake Oni – vocals
Brandon White – guitars
Martin Andres – guitars
Johnny DeAngelis – xylosynth
Chase Bryant – bass
Joe Greulich – drums
After ONI finished their solid performance, and after a quick bathroom/beer/merch break, it was time for Welsh Melodic Metalcore icons BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE (or just BFMV, if you prefer) to begin their incendiary performance for their several fans at the venue, and I must admit there was a huge chunk of the audience that was there to see BFMV first and Megadeth as a bonus, and not the opposite. Despite not being my cup of tea, I had a good time watching Matthew “Matt” Tuck, Michael “Padge” Paget, Jamie Mathias and Jason Bowld delivering a solid show on stage, mixing their classics with newer songs from their 2021 self-titled album. Songs like Waking the Demon, Knives and the closer Scream Aim Fire worked really well last night while the band had a strong chemistry with the audience during their entire set, and of course although the mosh pits (full of young kids) were not as violent as the ones from Immolation and Obituary the night before, they were still decent enough for a band that lots of people don’t consider metal.
Waking the Demon
Piece of Me
4 Words (to Choke Upon)
You Want a Battle? (Here’s a War)
Tears Don’t Fall
Scream Aim Fire
Matthew “Matt” Tuck – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Michael “Padge” Paget – lead guitar, backing vocals
Jamie Mathias – bass, backing vocals
Jason Bowld – drums, percussion
The moment most fans in Hammertown were waiting for finally arrived at 9:15pm, when one of the most important names in the history of heavy music, Mr. Dave Mustaine, supported by his henchmen Kiko Loureiro on the guitars, Steve Di Giorgio on bass and Dirk Verbeuren on drums, collectively known as American Thrash/Speed Metal institution MEGADETH, kicked off their performance overflowing classics, heaviness and speed, all spearheaded by our beloved “MegaDave” as usual. The last time Megadeth played in Hamilton was 11 years ago, during their Gigantour 2012, and one of the bands that night was the unparalleled Motörhead, which is why I think the band’s diehard fans ignored ONI and BFMV yesterday and spent all the time prior to Megadeth outside smoking and having some beers.
Anyway, back to the concert, it was simply electrifying from the very first notes of Hangar 18, with flammable hits the likes of Sweating Bullets, She-Wolf, Trust and Tornado of Souls, plus newer songs like Dystopia, inspiring us all to scream the lyrics together with Dave, banging our heads and raising our horns nonstop, and even venturing inside the sick mosh pits formed in the centre of the floor section. I also loved the fact they played Dread and the Fugitive Mind, a very underrated metal classic in my opinion, and I wish they had kept Angry Again in their setlist, but overall it was a lecture in heavy music by Megadeth, with kudos to Kiko once again for revitalizing the band and bringing so much energy, charisma and intricacy to their studio albums and live performances. In other words, Dave knew exactly what he was doing when he invited one of the best metal guitarists of the past 20 years to be part of the Megadeth family.
However, it was when Dave gave a short speech about how Covid-19 and his cancer delayed the release of the breathtaking The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead! (and he received a huge shout and a round of applauses from his fans when he proudly said he beat cancer) before playing the incendiary We’ll Be Back, when Vic Rattlehead joined the band onstage during the hard-hitting classic Peace Sells, plus of course his all-time masterpiece Holy Wars… The Punishment Due, that drove all fans mental at the venue, creating a beautiful connection between the band and the crowd. Needless to say, I don’t care if the play in Hammertown, in Toronto or anywhere else in the area, I’ll be there, and based on Dave’s final words they’ll be back to this part of the world sooner than you can say “Wake up dead! You die!”
Setlist Prince of Darkness Hangar 18
Wake Up Dead
Dread and the Fugitive Mind
A Tout Le Monde
We’ll Be Back
Conquer or Die!
Tornado of Souls
Symphony of Destruction
Holy Wars… The Punishment Due Silent Scorn
Dave Mustaine – lead vocals, lead and rhythm guitar
Kiko Loureiro – lead guitar, backing vocals
Steve Di Giorgio – bass
Dirk Verbeuren – drums
Do you know those events called “celebration of life”, a time when people come together to celebrate the unique personality and achievements of the deceased without the more formal and traditional funeral service? Maybe that’s exactly how we can call The Verminous Remnant Tour 2023 with the bands PHOBOPHILIC, FUMING MOUTH, FROZEN SOUL, TERROR and THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER, celebrating the life of Trevor Strnad (RIP), the iconic frontman for The Black Dahlia Murder who passed away on May 11, 2022. All bands have some sort of connection with Trevor, as he was a huge supporter of the underground and did A LOT to those bands and to heavy music in general during his amazing life, and fortunately several fans of heavy music in Toronto had the pleasure of taking part in that celebration this Friday at The Phoenix Concert Theatre.
After the doors opened at 6pm and fans had their special time to purchase some merch, grab a beer and chat with friends, Fargo, North Dakota-based Death Metal band PHOBOPHILIC kicked off the celebration at 7pm with a short and sweet performance promoting their 2022 album Enveloping Absurdity, getting all concert goers into the mood to start all the pit action, sounding not just great but also engaging a lot with the crowd. If you know nothing about the band go check their stuff on BandCamp or on Spotify, as I’m sure you’ll enjoy their straightforward, ass-kicking Death Metal, and who knows, maybe you’ll be caught in a mosh whenever those four metallers storm your city with their undisputed heaviness.
Band members Aaron Dudgeon – vocals, guitars
Josh Poer – guitars
Christian Alm – bass
Vincent Tweten – drums
It was around 7:40pm when the second band of the night, Milford, Massachusetts’s own Death Metal/Crust outfit FUMING MOUTH, hit the stage with their fast, thrashing and heavy music, again getting a nice mosh pit going, blending songs from their 2020 EP Beyond the Tomb, such as the title-track Beyond the Tomb and Master of Extremity, with others form their 2019 album The Grand Descent, like Out of the Shadows and Visions of Purgatory. Needless to say, they also dedicated their performance to Trevor, which of course got a warm answer from the audience. Hence, if you haven’t ever heard of this band either, you should go to BandCamp or Spotify and bathe in their demolishing creations.
Band members Mark Whelan – vocals, guitars
Andrew Budwey – guitars
James Davis – drums
After another short break, it was time for Fort Worth, Texas-based Death Metal horde FROZEN SOUL to smash the cranial skulls of all fans at the venue with another amazing performance. Playing songs from their 2021 album Crypt of Ice, including Encased in Ice, Arctic Stranglehold and Crypt of Ice, as well as the new tunes Death and Glory and Arsenal of War, from their upcoming 2023 album Glacial Domination, Frozen Soul delivered their trademark fusion of Death Metal with heavy doom and fast thrash elements, having the house turn the lights all blue, and the reaction from the crowd was nothing but a huge mosh pit. Their lead singer Chad Green even asked the fans to do push ups, and they didn’t disappoint at all, so if you’re searching for a heavy soundtrack for your push ups at the gym you know what to do, right? Simply visit BandCamp or Spotify, and voilà!
Setlist Encased in Ice
Beat to Dust
Death and Glory
Arsenal of War
Crypt of Ice
Chad Green – vocals
Chris Bonner – guitars
Michael Munday – guitars
Samantha Mobley – bass
Matt Dennard – drums
One more memorable show was provided to all fans at the venue by Los Angeles, California-based Hardcore act TERROR, delivering their fast-paced creations highly inspired by the fantastic LA thrash scene from the 80’s and 90’s. Right after they started their concert at around 9pm the entire floor section turned into a massive circle pit, keeping the security guys busy and even photographers like my buddy Keith Ibbitson of Lower Eastside Photography, who helped the staff in between taking shots to steer the crowd surfers out of the pit. Alex and Liam (and their front stage crew) did an amazing job holding it down and making sure everyone was safe, by the way. Terror released a short but fulminating album in 2022 titled Pain into Power (available on BandCamp and on Spotify), with songs like the title-track Pain Into Power, Can’t Help but Hate and Boundless Contempt being part of their setlist for the delight of all fans at The Phoenix Concert Theatre.
Setlist Pain Into Power
Spit My Rage
Lowest of the Low
Can’t Help but Hate
The 25th Hour
One With the Underdogs
Keep Your Mouth Shut
Keepers of the Faith
Scott Vogel – vocals
Martin Stewart – guitar
Jordan Posner – guitar
Chris Linkovich – bass
Nick Jett – drums
It was a little past 10pm when the main attraction of the night, Detroit, Michigan’s Melodic Death Metal institution THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER, began their infernal performance, and everyone at the venue was blown away by their heavy and catchy sounds as expected. Now fronted by Brian Eschbach, who used to be the band’s guitarist until the death of Trevor, the band named their current tour after their 2020 album Verminous, adding the word “remnant” to it for obvious reasons, with songs like the title-track Verminous and Sunless Empire, mixed with their older material including Everything Went Black, I Will Return and Deathmask Divine, driving all fans crazy.
The crowd chanted Trevor’s name between songs during their entire performance, an emotional gesture in honor of the great Trevor, whose lyrics, onstage presence and contributions to the metal scene will always be missed. As aforementioned, what he did for all openers that are part of this tour was amazing, helping all bands get signed. He was a voice of reason to the labels, said one concert goer, and the response from all fans to The Black Dahlia Murder during their entire performance only proved how much everyone will always love Trevor and his music. Thanks once again to Noel Peters from Inertia Entertainment for organizing such incredible night for metal fans in Toronto, and of course for allowing all Torontonian fans to celebrate the life of the one and only Trevor Strnad.
What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse
Kings of the Nightworld
Carbonized in Cruciform
Child of Night
On Stirring Seas of Salted Blood
Everything Went Black
I Will Return
Band members Brian Eschbach – vocals
Ryan Knight – guitars
Brandon Ellis – guitars
Max Lavelle -bass
Alan Cassidy – drums
Can’t believe I’m lost inside your eyes… And anything and everything don’t you know I’m up for it tonight…
As the winter might be hitting most of us in the Northern Hemisphere in full force, let’s turn up the heat here on The Headbanging Moose by paying a humble tribute to an up-and-coming lady who definitely knows how to rock, living and breathing old school and modern-day Hard Rock, and always showcasing a deep passion for music and arts in general. Owner of a beautiful voice that matches perfectly with the riffs from her own band Motive Black, our metal lady of the month of February will kick your ass mercilessly and hypnotize you with her looks and music. I’m talking about Elana Justin, a New Yorker who’s making a name for herself in the competitive American market, in special in her current city Los Angeles, California, in the United States. Having said that, are you ready for a Rock N’ Roll ride together with Elana and her Motive Black?
Elana has always been into music, growing up doing musical theatre and singing Hard Rock and Heavy Metal simultaneously. As mentioned by Elana herself, her father had a nightclub while she was growing up, and on Thursdays they would have a singer-songwriter night. “I think watching and listening to everyone during that time really inspired me to want to be a singer/performer,” commented Elana about her beginnings. Graduating from the bar band circuit in New York, Elana seized the opportunity to move to Los Angeles in 2018 to work on new music, suddenly finding herself immersed in the local scene and performing on open mic nights at the iconic Viper Room. That immersion and connections made with members of the local scene eventually led to a collaboration with Grammy-winning guitarist and producer Nick Rowe (Bloodsimple, Vampire Weekend), with the duo reworking a song from Elana’s former New York band, taking the music in a heavier direction. That’s how Motive Black was born.
Regarding the name Motive Black, Elana mentioned in one of her interviews that they had a lot of trouble coming up with a name for the band. “David Buckner from Papa Roach actually came up with the name, and it fit perfectly. It really paired well with the music and vibe,” commented Elana, who also had a few words to say about the musical direction of Motive Black, venturing through the realms of Alternative Rock and Metal with Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll nuances. “I think the music both developed naturally and was pushed a little in a certain direction. I’ve always listened to and been a fan of this genre, and when the opportunity arose to create my own new project, I was definitely excited to really delve deep into the music I love.” Furthermore, Elana’s plan is to turn Motive Black into a full-bodied band, both in the interest of touring and future work on new music as they move forward.
Motive black are just about to release their debut opus, entitled Auburn (available on all platforms HERE), with Elena’s electrifying vocals bristling with a dynamic punch and scorching tones infusing all songs with raw, ferocious timbres and searing emotions. Regarding the album title, Elana explained that the album “is named for my sister’s beautiful auburn-colored hair. Losing her forced me to reexamine my life and make significant changes. I went through a huge transitional period which included both ugly and beautiful experiences. The album is a wild ride through that journey of anger, mania, deep love, and self discovery,” complementing by saying that “I lost my sister to her battle with addiction. She was one of the smartest women I will ever know. She was a straight-A student who aspired to be a doctor. Addiction does not discriminate. I am angry that she will never realize her dreams. This song is about loss, struggle, rage, but mostly it’s about missing my sister and all of her potential. I will never laugh with anyone like I did with Mia. We need to end the stigma associated with addiction. People are meant to be loved, not judged. I miss Mia every day, and I will for my whole life.” You can already enjoy songs from Auburn on YouTube, those being Broken, Fight Alone, and the title-track Auburn, as well as stream those songs on Spotify. Elana is extremely excited about not only the launch of Auburn, but also about the upcoming months as she plans to take the music by Motive Black to the stage, and therefore to feel the energy of the crowd reacting to her music.
Inspired by books, poetry, short stories, films and plays, Elana’s musical influences aren’t directly associated with the Motive Black sound, but they provided a solid foundation for the music to flourish. She cites Joan Jett, Alanis Morissette, and Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell as her main vocal inspirations, with bands like Halestorm pushing Motive Black’s music in the direction it has taken. “I’m a huge Halestorm fan; Lzzy Hale is a huge inspiration. I’m also really into Bring Me The Horizon lately. I really love their creativity. Rival Sons was the last live show I saw before Covid. They were incredible. The vocals and musicianship left a huge impression on me,” commented Elana about some of the bands she enjoys the most. In addition, when asked which musician or celebrity she would date, her answer exhaled pure Rock N’ Roll. “I would have to say, Joan Jett. She oozes sex and power. She so inspires me, and just being around her would expand my consciousness.”
One of the songs from Motive Black’s debut album, the thrilling Lift Me Up, featuring the red hot synergy of Elana performing together with Butcher Babies’ one and only Carla Harvey in a street fighting sequence fans will want to view on repeat. “I wanted the video to focus on female strength. The director and I worked together to come up with an idea that spoke to that. It was also fun to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. I’ve never done anything combat related so it seemed like it would be a fun avenue to explore. The director, Dale Resteghini, also directed the video for Broken. I’m a Butcher Babies fan, so when the song was played for Carla and she agreed to perform on it I was super excited. Carla is a great example of a badass woman killing it in the music industry. I think her vibe fits the song perfectly. She really added something special to Lift Me Up. Working together really brought the song up to a new level,” commented Elana, complementing by saying that “I think it’s really important for people to see women working together to create music and art. We keep seeing it more and more and it’s so exciting. It’s essential for women in this industry to stick together and support each other. There is so much more female visibility in this kind of music than there was even just a few years ago.”
When questioned about the differences between the rock and metal scene in New York on the lower east side compared to the music scene on the legendary Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, Elana said that she has felt really embraced by the scene in Los Angeles since moving there, jamming at the Viper Room and meeting tons of talented musicians, as there’s always a lot going on in the city. When asked about how her hometown has influenced her sound, she said that she thinks there is a rawness that runs through every song that may not be present had she been from somewhere else. “Who knows? I’m pretty laid back in general, I think and love living here in LA now. I save all my angst for the music!”
Elana strongly believes that drawing from experience gives the lyrics legs to stand on. “When something comes from a real place it almost writes itself. People want to connect – so I think songs from experience really resonate with listeners,” commented our diva, also saying that “everything that I write is emotion or experience driven, but sometimes a cool riff inspires lyrics that come out of nowhere and you work backwards to find the truth in them. It doesn’t always work – but there isn’t just one recipe I use. Other times I have something very specific that I want to say or reference and then I work with that to express what I am trying to get across.” She also believes that to be a successful musician or artist, especially in the very competitive landscape of the current music and arts industry, one should never give up, and be willing to persevere when times are tough or when there are too many obstacles that get in one’s way. Elana is indeed a fighter ready for any battle that comes her way, as not only she’s now beginning her path with Motive Black, but she’s also an actress (as you can see in her IMDB profile), having already featured in G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013) and The Jim Gaffigan Show (2015).
Although our amazing singer has never been big into social media, she said she’s been adjusting to that as that’s going to play a big part in the way Motive Black connect to their fans and share their music for the foreseeable future. “I believe the more we can connect directly with our fans, the better chance we have not only to survive – but to thrive, long term. Having loyal fans who are really into what we do – and are directly connected to us – the better chance we have to remain viable long term, no matter what the industry circumstances are,” said Elana, who also said that she wants people to hear her songs and reinterpret them into something that is meaningful to them. She wants us all to “be bold, be brave and always keep moving forward,” exactly like what she’s doing in her promising career in rock and metal music, and I’m sure we’ll hear a lot more from her in a not-so-distant future.
Rock on to the debut album by this promising Los Angeles-based band, peeling back the layers to reveal the dark and turbulent emotions that dwell in the heart of vocalist Elana Justin.
Peeling back the layers to reveal the dark and turbulent emotions that dwell in the heart of vocalist Elana Justin, Los Angeles, California-based Alternative Metal/Hard Rock group Motive Black is about to release their debut album, entitled Auburn. In collaboration with Grammy winning guitarist and producer Nick Rowe (Bloodsimple, Vampire Weekend), the duo have reworked songs from Elana’s former New York band, taking the music in a much heavier direction while also having guitarist Marcos Curiel (P.O.D.), drummer Ray Luzier (Korn), and vocalist Carla Harvey (Butcher Babies) as very special guests in the album. Produced by Nick at the legendary NRG Studios and mixed by Josh Wilbur, Auburn, which name was inspired by Elana’s sister’s auburn-colored hair (as losing her forced Elana to reexamine her life and make significant changes to it), will appeal to fans of Evanescence, The Pretty Reckless, Halestorm and In This Moment, among many others, representing a wild ride through that journey of anger, mania, deep love and self-discovery.
Nick wastes no time and begin an incendiary riff attack in Lift Me Up, featuring the she-wolf Carla Harvey as a guest vocalist, with the screams by Carla beautifully complementing the striking vocals by Elana; and featuring Ray Luzier on drums and Marcos Curiel on the guitars, Broken is another onrush of Alternative Rock and Metal that will please all admirers of the music by In This Moment and Halestorm. It’s then time for a headbanging tune titled Let Down, with Elana’s vocals alternating between Nu Metal and modern-day Hard Rock, not to mention how awesome Nick’s bass punches sound, and if you enjoy Halestorm’s modern sound you’ll have a blast with the rockin’ tune Bloodsport, showcasing hints of Punk Rock while Elana keeps kicking ass on vocals. Ray crushes his drums in the heavy and thrilling Caged, supported by the incendiary strings by Nick and, therefore, resulting in one of the best moments of the album. Such groovy and dark atmosphere continues in the Nu Metal feast Purge, again spearheaded by Elana’s strident vocals while Nick extracts tons of electricity from his guitar.
Supported by the frantic beats by Ray, Elana screams and roars in the name of Rock N’ Roll in Cellophane, an electrifying song perfect for slamming into the circle pit, followed by Bad Decisions, one of the most modernized of all songs, blending elements from the music by Korn, Nine Inch Nails and other renowned acts from the 2000’s rock scene. After that, Elana sounds insane in Fake, speeding things up to the classic beats by Ray while Nick’s riffage sets fire to the song’s already flammable vibe in an ass-kicking Alternative Metal extravaganza; whereas despite the solid job done by Ray on drums and the heavy riffs by Nick, the song Fight Alone sounds a bit generic compared to the rest of the album. The title-track Auburn offers our ears a passionate performance by Elana on vocals declaiming its pensive lyrics (“Who are you / When you’re all alone / When there’s no one looking / Do you still feel whole / What’s been living inside your soul / Are you empty inside / Are you empty inside”) while Ray dictates the pace with his pounding beats in a powerful heavy ballad, and lastly as a bonus we’re treated to the radio edit version of Lift Me Up, keeping the same energy of the original version.
The stunning Elana and her Motive Black are waiting for you on Facebook and on Instagram with news, tour dates, more of their music and other nice-to-know details about the band, and don’t forget to also stream their classy creations on Spotify and to purchase your copy of auburn by clicking HERE. “I’m not an aggressive person,” Elana says. “But my music is very to the core; everything goes into it. I do most of my venting through music. It’s definitely a collaboration with Nick. We feed off each other and we’ve created some really cool music,” and we must all admit their partnership has been very productive and exciting so far, with Auburn becoming a must-listen album in the current American rock and metal landscape.
Best moments of the album:Lift Me Up, Cellophane and Fake.
Worst moments of the album:Fight Alone.
Released in 2023 AFM Records
Track listing 1. Lift Me Up 3:45
2. Broken 4:05
3. Let Down 3:36
4. Bloodsport 3:22
5. Caged 2:50
6. Purge 3:42
7. Cellophane 3:54
8. Bad Decisions 3:07
9. Fake 4:19
10. Fight Alone 3:40
11. Auburn 4:00
12. Lift Me Up (Single Edit) 3:34
Elana Justin – vocals
Nick Rowe – guitars, bass
Guest musicians Carla Harvey – vocals on “Lift Me Up”
Ray Luzier – drums on “Broken”, “Caged”, “Cellophane”, “Fake”, “Fight Alone” and “Auburn”
Marcos Curiel – guitars on “Broken”
The sophomoric album from young Los Angeles based trio Diabology, Father of Serpents is the band’s first opus with new bassist Destin Treu who replaces previous bass player Joseph Mazisyuk. Another significant change is that whilst debut album Nobody Believes Me was self-released, Father of Serpents has label backing through Dissonant Hymns Records.
Their debut album was nothing short of an out right banger. Playing an insanely catchy brand of Blackened Thrash Metal, Diabology came out of the blocks with all guns blazing and laid a foundation with which to build something really special. Two years on and their second opus sees the band effect a stylistic shift. Gone is the Blackened influence and in comes a more modern sounding Thrash Metal with a huge amount of Groove Metal influence.
Diabology also pulls off something for the second time that a lot of bands never manage, and that is creating an album that gets stronger and stronger the further in you get. For the first few tracks they hammer out some impressive but steady tracks that are in the process of feeling out the bands new more mainstream direction. However, by the time they kick into the superbly melodic Eat My Heart Out they are well and truly at home. During March to the Sea there is something about the vocal structure that kept bringing System of A Down to mind, whilst the chugging ferocity of Ode to Ogtha has an almost Sludge like quality to the riffs as well as a little Death Metal influence around the guitar leads. New bassist Destin Treu also becomes far more prominent as the album progresses and has some impressive bass leads during this track and the equally powerful Chimera.
Their debut album is a nasty blackened slice of filthy thrash with a lot of stank on it. Father of Serpents is a far more progressive and mature offering that grows in power and intrigues the further into the journey you venture. Plus you have to love an album that features a song about fucking cockroaches!
Best moments of the album: From the start of March to the Sea until the album’s climax is spectacular.
Worst moments of the album: Nada!
Released in 2022 by Dissonant Hymns Records
Track listing 1. Father of Serpents 4:15
2. Writhe 3:21
3. The Softest Grave 4:15
4. Eat My Heart Out 5:03
5. Spoil 2:03
6. Blackblood 3:35
7. March to Sea 4:58
8. Ode to Ogtha 5:20
9. Chimera 5:37
10. Lighthouse Hymn 5:41
Jesse Bergen – vocals, guitars, bass
Jack Kleinman – guitars, bass on “Spoil” and “Chimera”
Matt Morales – drums
As The Headbanging Moose is celebrating nine years of existence this month of October, there’s nothing better than offering the first slice of our cake to a woman who’s undoubtedly the most important name of all time from the Ukrainian rock and metal scene, and I would dare to say even from the entire music scene in Ukraine. Born on March 15, 1987 in Horlivka, or Gorlovka, a city located in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, she’s a singer and songwriter better known as the frontwoman for Groove Metal/Metalcore act Jinjer since 2010, kicking some serious ass wherever she goes armed with both her furious roars and mesmerizing clean vocals. I’m talking about the one and only Tatiana Shmayluk, a multi-talented and humble woman who’s also a role model to countless girls out there who want to find in heavy music a way to express all of their feelings, hopes and frustrations, and I’m sure you’ll get addicted to her vocals and her music after reading this tribute to her.
Long before becoming the face of Jinjer, Tatiana was already singing and screaming according to her own mother, always listening to Russian and Ukrainian pop songs she heard on the radio. “My mother told me I started screaming when I was a very little girl. I screamed so loud I had a hernia in my belly.” Furthermore, one of her favorite songs from her childhood was the 1989 dance song Lambada, by French-Brazilian group Kaoma, which she mentioned she still sings along to it with great joy, although she doesn’t know Portuguese. She then began singing more seriously at the age of eight, taking vocal lessons for a couple of months and making her onstage debut that year in a concert hall with a choir. “The songs were accompanied with dancing. I was very nervous, and of course I screwed it up because of the dancing. So I said, ‘Never again.’ I cannot do synchronic dancing with someone else. I need to do it alone so I can control the whole thing,” commented Tatiana, who also said that it was her older brother, who was a guitar player to a Doom Metal band, who introduced her to metal music, more specifically to Aria, the long-running Moscow metal outfit hailed as the “Iron Maiden of Russia.”
Proudly carrying the flag of modern-day metal music to all four corner of the earth, Jinjer were formed back in 2008 in Donetsk, but the band considers their official start with the addition of Tatiana and guitarist Roman Ibramkhalilov in 2010. None of the founding members remain with the band, with the current lineup being comprised of the aforementioned Tatiana on vocals and Roman on the guitars, together with Eugene Abdukhanov on bass and Vladislav Ulasevish on drums. Influenced by countless renewned acts the likes of Opeth, Guano Apes, Slayer, Death, Pantera, Anathema, Lamb of God, Gojira and Twelve Foot Ninja, as well as groups across the spectrum of R&B, soul, funk, jazz, reggae, and hip-hop, such as Cypress Hill and House of Pain, the band has already released four studio albums in their career, those being their 2014 debut Cloud Factory, their 2016 sophomore album King of Everything, and more recently their 2019 opus Macro and their 2021 critically acclaimed album Wallflowers, all of which have reached number one in their native Ukraine, while also seeing a total of 16 singles, six of which reached the top of the Ukrainian charts and one of which, Pisces, became a global hit and has to date sold over 20 million copies. In addition, they’ve also released three EP’s, those being Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear (2009), Inhale, Do Not Breathe (2012) and Micro (2019), and the 2020 live album Alive in Melbourne. You can enjoy several of their best compositions on YouTube, such as Vortex, Judgement (& Punishment), Wallflower, Home Back, Sit Stay Roll Over, and Who Is Gonna Be The One, as well as their full ass-kicking performance live at Resurrection Fest in Viveiro, Spain, in 2018, among many, many other awesome videos, and don’t forget to also stream their full discography on Spotify.
Unfortunately, not long after the ongoing conflict between the Ukrainian military, anti-government protestors and pro-Russian rebels began in 2014, Tatiana and her bandmates had to escape Donetsk, moving to a suburb near the city of Lviv around 800 miles away, not far from the Polish border. “”But we got bored there because it’s a city for tourists,” explained Tatiana. “We rented a house but it was impossible to live there because there were problems with water, with electricity, heating. So that’s why we moved to a more civilized place.” Furthermore, when asked about what makes Jinjer uniquely Ukrainian, she said that because the band comes from a land where kindness equals weakness, a tough country for everyone including their parents, especially in the 90’s, the band members became really grind and tough. For instance, she mentioned that Ukrainians don’t go to a doctor if something hurts, for example, enduring the pain until the end. That’s one of the reasons why the band tries to never cancel any of their concerts and tours, even if it’s impossible to play, showing how strong and determined they are.
Apart from her undisputed career with Jinjer, you can also find Tatiana as a guest vocalist in an array of distinct albums and songs, including the songs Through the Never (I Will Return) and Horror of Daniel Wagner, from the 2022 album Horror of Daniel Wagner, by Ukrainian Heavy/Power Metal band Morton; the song Find My Way, released in 2022 by American Modern Metal band Lions At The Gate; the song Over and Out, released in 2021 by Australian Heavy Rock band Twelve Foot Ninja; and my favorite of all those tracks, the pulverizing Hello Death, from the 2022 album Cancer Culture, released by Polish Death/Groove Metal act Decapitated. Not only that, if you pay good attention to Jinjer’s song Judgment (& Punishment) you’ll notice several elements from reggae added to the band’s extreme music, and that’s something that comes from Tatiana as she was a part of a band that played reggae, ska, ska-punk and funk before Jinjer, playing several cover songs and singing in Ukrainian, Russian and English. “I was a huge fan of reggae. I wore dreadlocks and I was all about Rastafari,” commented Tatiana, who also said that, even being a huge reggae fan, she doesn’t smoke weed simply because she doesn’t like it.
Currently living in Los Angeles, California and spending as much time as possible on tour, having closed 2021 with over 70 concerts including many summer festivals, a short tour of mainland Europe and a two-month North American tour, Tatiana obviously misses her homeland, her family and friends, although she finds the region’s lingering Soviet attitudes unappealing, with the remnants of hardline communism surrounding everyone there. While she was still living in Ukraine, she said that “I was too young to remember life in Soviet Union, but the spirit of Soviet Union is still here. I’m living in an apartment built maybe 40 years ago, and my parents live in such an apartment, as well. All our shops and supermarkets are situated in buildings built then. So it is still like Soviet Union. And there are a lot of people who still have Soviet Union in their heads and their minds.” However, Tatiana mentioned she doesn’t feel safe when on tour it doesn’t matter which country she’s visiting, not only in Ukraine, saying she’s always afraid of going anywhere by herself.
In one of her interviews, Tatiana said it’s a surprise to her that people are still impressed that women can scream, mentioning for example female-fronted German thrash metallers Holy Moses, who she got to know when she was an 18-year old girl in Ukraine, and saying that despite the fact bands like Jinjer might impress the younger generations, the older generations have always known what women can do in rock and metal music. “Sometimes I’m annoyed, but then you say, ‘OK, well, I didn’t see a hummingbird until I was 35 years old.’ It’s always a right time to discover new stuff. It’s great that screaming women are a phenomenon.” She also said it’s incredible to know she’s an inspiration for many young women mainly because they don’t know she’s in fact a very shy person, also sensitive, fragile and easy to be offended, or in her own words, she’s not better than anyone, complementing by saying she’s just a performer when she’s on stage. “Of course there is some true shit, but I don’t move my head 24/7 and I don’t scream all the time. Well, I scream every night. But not every morning.” Furthermore, you can learn a little more about how Tatiana learned to scream by clicking HERE, from first hearing Otep to screaming Mudvayne lyrics, to the dominant force she is today.
As any other metalhead in the world, Tatiana has a lot of idols and influences in her life, in her vocal style, in the way she writes the music for Jinjer and so on, but following those artists wasn’t easy at all when she was a young girl due to the aforementioned impact of the Soviet Union over Ukraine at that time. “Metal wasn’t accessible for me. Where I grew up in Donetsk, not many worldwide metal artists would come. They’d go to the capital, and it was 700km and 12 hours on the train. I didn’t have money because I was a teenager and my mom was strict; she didn’t give me much pocket money, although that stimulated me to earn it myself, for which I’m really grateful to her. My parents wouldn’t have let me out of the town, but that was for the best too. It made me want to play my own music and form my own band.” As mentioned, her brother was the one who got her into metal (although he stopped listening to heavy music when he grew up), but before that she used to listen to a lot of rock music, grunge and punk especially after the Soviet Union collapsing in 1991, as MTV hit the Ukrainian airwaves and she began listening to bands like Nirvana and The Offspring. She then found the music by Otep, and got addicted to the vocals by the iconic Otep Shamaya. “I think I was 15 when I heard Otep the first time,” said Tatiana in one of her interviews. “I said, ‘This dude is so cool!’ And my friend said, ‘This is a girl!’ I was like, ‘Jesus fucking Christ!’ This is the first girl I am hearing do this. I was shocked, and I wanted to shock people like her.”
Being a rock and metal artist in Ukraine wasn’t easy at all, taking Tatiana and the rest of the band around five years just to cross the Ukrainian border and play in Romania, and even longer to reach other European countries and the United States, but fortunately everything seems to be working for Jinjer now, with the band organically growing in the worldwide scene and gaining more and more respect from fans from all four corners of the earth. As expected, Tatiana has some important complaints about the Ukrainian metal scene, saying that most Ukrainian bands stick to playing in Ukraine or Russia, and that they don’t usually sing in English, the main reason why they just play in their motherland. “I was always inspired by western music culture in jazz, blues and then metal. I always had this love for English speaking music, even pop music; Britney Spears is one of my biggest idols! People can understand it easily and for me, it was always about spreading my own message through a language that is more available for people all around the world of different countries. That’s why we chose to sing in English and that’s how we made our own path.” Another major issue in Ukraine according to her is the post-U.S.S.R. thinking and mindset, where you’re not accepted if you’re different, as for example tattoos (and we all know she has plenty) are not acceptable for men nor women in her homeland.
However, as you might probably know, Ukraine is suffering with the Russian invasion that started back in February this year, and that has been hitting the band hard in their hearts and minds since then. In March 2022, it was reported that Jinjer had “paused” their career to focus on relief efforts in Ukraine after the war began. Right after that, in June 2022, Jinjer announced that they received permission from the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture to leave Ukraine and tour as ambassadors of the nation to raise funds and awareness. “We are very thankful to our Ministry Of Culture for the Ukraine who gave us this opportunity to do what we love to do, and play all the festivals we have announced. We’re using every festival to raise funds and spread awareness about the real war that is happening in the 21st century, which is crazy. It’s hard to believe, but this is the harsh reality. It’s heartbreaking, but at the same time we are also full of hope that soon it is all going be over. We are spreading positivity and hope, and we are dreaming about peace. I hope that no other European or world country ever experiences the same as the Ukraine,” commented Tatiana, also saying she has no idea when Jinjer will be able to play in Ukraine again, and that the band will never stop fighting. Moreover, in their most recent releases there are lyrics addressing the war in Donbas and its effects on their home region of Donetsk, and you can also find tons of amazing interviews with Tatiana and the boys talking about the war in Ukraine, just like this one conducted by Loudwire.
Regarding her relationship with social media, Tatiana said that due to her explosive nature she usually replies back to anyone that messages her, it doesn’t matter if it’s a positive or negative comment, saying she “enjoys” replying back to internet trolls because she’s easy to piss off. “Sometimes it’s just overwhelming. I feel like if I let it go, I will let them continue to do this shit again and again. It’s like I give them unspoken permission,” commented our stunning diva, also saying most of the feedback she gets online is actually positive. In addition, one of her favorite ways of interacting with her fans is to customize shirts she receives from them before a show and wear them onstage the same night. “Most of the time, these shirts are very personal. For example, yesterday I was given a shirt — it has a huge ape giving a middle finger and it says something like, ‘Humans destroy everything.’ It’s so related to our song Ape. They will see me wear it on the stage and it is a huge pleaser. They get double joy. I love all the things they bring to me at meet and greet. They are so sweet,” said Tatiana, complementing by saying that some of those fans are very shy and don’t want to talk a lot, being very happy with just an autograph and a photo.
Our unstoppable frontwoman also said that, in an effort to improve her own standing with Mother Nature, she tried to be a vegan for three years, but she went back to eating meat in the middle of a tour because she was starving. She said she still tries to be moderate in consuming meat, and that she doesn’t drink milk, though, revealing her own inner conflict. “I still try being vegan, but it’s really hard for me because I was raised in a family that was not very rich,” she explained. “We could not afford eating meat very often. So when I stopped eating meat, I realized that I loved meat a lot. When I smell meat, it drives me crazy. Something inside of me forgets about animals, suffering, health, environment, and I just want a good piece of meat.” You can get to know more about Tatiana by listening to our growler answering 10 questions asked by Metalshop TV (volume 1 and volume 2), as well as other interviews online such as Tatiana and her bandmates answering the most asked questions on the Internet about Jinjer. Lastly, just like several people out there (including myself), Tatiana also believes something went wrong in our evolution, saying mankind went wrong, and that although we are so small on this earth we act like we are gods, which makes her really sad. She’s trying to learn how to be happy, how to find the happiness inside, and to appreciate her life. “That’s my biggest ambition, to be happy and find inner peace, and for there to be justice for Ukraine.”
“You know what, I’m losing my faith in music. I don’t feel like I can express myself enough to say what I really feel because there are no words to explain. So, I feel like I should give up… but then something makes me go further.” – Tatiana Shmayluk
It’s time to turn up the heat and beat the bitterly cold winds of winter in the Northern Hemisphere here at The Headbanging Moose with one of the most electrifying women from the current metal scene worldwide. Owner of a beyond powerful, dynamic and versatile voice, she will crush you like an insect not only with her deep roars and stunning clean vocals, but also with her high-octane onstage performance. I’m talking about the multi-talented Lauren Hart, the unstoppable frontwoman for Los Angeles, California-based Groove Metal powerhouse Once Human, setting fire to this month of March and keeping the flames of heavy music burning bright wherever she goes for the total delight of us metalheads.
Born on April 8, 1986 in Anaheim, California, but raised in Australia, Lauren self taught piano as a toddler and guitar by the age of 14, proving she was more than ready for stardom at a very early stage in her life. It was in 2014 when she was discovered by former Senior Vice President of A&R for Roadrunner Records and record producer Monte Conner, who put her in touch with Canadian-American record producer and guitarist Logan Mader for a production deal; after the two met, they decided to start a whole new band and started to work on Once Human. That being said, there’s no Lauren Hart without Once Human and vice-versa, which means we’ll focus on the history of the band for a while before talking about some other specific details about our metal diva.
As aforementioned, Once Human was formed in 2014 in Los Angeles, California by Lauren and Logan, with the band’s current lineup being comprised of guitarist Max Karon, bassist Damien Rainaud and drummer Dillon Trollope. In a few of her interviews, Logan explained how Once Human came together. “It all kind of started as soon as I met Logan. I was sent to him because of my video I made, a guitar playing video which was actually pretty shit. I don’t know how I ended up in the hands of these big people but I sat down in the studio with I think was my $99 guitar and my crappy amp and I just started playing these metal riffs and recorded it and put it up on Youtube and Facebook and next thing I know, I’m getting to go into Logan Mader’s studio because I guess Monty Connor (A&R) saw it and he said, ‘Why don’t you try and build something around this girl, let’s have her in and see what happens’. So I came in and straight away we really hit it off and started writing together and I guess he’s normally used to people coming in and wanting to do radio music and a lot more commercial things and I didn’t want any part of that. In fact I didn’t want to do any career singing, I just wanted to do the metal riffs that I love so much and so I think he was taken aback by that because he spent so much time doing the radio stuff and yet he comes from heavy metal, that’s his soul. So when he was able to write heavy metal again with me, I feel like something awoke in him and we just started writing and never stopped,” said Lauren, who also mentioned the original name for the band was going to be Once We Were Human just because of the way the world is going nowadays, because the fall of humanity and the uprising of social media.
Mixing aggression with vulnerability and downright gut-wrenching growls with ethereal clean vocals, Once Human have already released three studio albums, all of course with Lauren on vocals, those being their 2015 debut The Life I Remember (where she also played piano and additional guitars), their 2017 sophomore opus Evolution, and more recently Scar Weaver, not to mention their 2018 live album Stage of Evolution and their 2022 EP Erasure. Furthermore, Once Human also appeared in the compilations Maximum Metal Vol. 210 (released in 2015 by Metal Hammer) and Le Sampler RockHard 159 (released by RockHard in 2015), both with the song The Life I Remember, and in the compilation Le Sampler RockHard 172 (released by RockHard in 2017) with the song Gravity. If you want to have a very good taste of the power, groove and electricity flowing from the music by Once Human, as well as the mesmerizing visuals of their official videos, you can enjoy on YouTube the songs Eye Of Chaos, Erasure, Cold Arrival, Deadlock, Sledgehammer, Only In Death, Gravity, Dark Matter, a live version for Flock Of Flesh, and tons of non-official videos of their live performances all around the world, as well as stream all of their furious creations on Spotify. On a side note, there’s one song and video, for the title-track Scar Weaver, that means a lot to Lauren. “The Scar Weaver track is about dealing with my anxiety and catastrophic thoughts. I give a bad thought (which is ONLY in my head) a true reality by feeding it energy – thus, giving it life, to grow and completely engulf my mind. I sew the flesh on my fears,” she commented.
Apart from her career with Once Human, Lauren can also be seen doing additional vocals for American Progressive/Melodic Power Metal band Kamelot live since 2018, having also recorded additional vocals for the songs Phantom Divine (Shadow Empire), Mindfall Remedy and The Proud and the Broken, from their 2018 album The Shadow Theory, and participated in their 2020 live album I Am the Empire: Live from the 013 singing the song Phantom Divine (Shadow Empire) live with the band. Another band that had the pleasure of having Lauren doing some vocals together with them was International Blackened Death/Groove Metal act Sinsaenum, with whom she recorded the song Sacred Martyr, from their 2018 album Repulsion for Humanity.
Lauren also mentioned in some of her interviews how she ended up singing with Kamelot. “Well I was on tour with Kobra and the Lotus and Kobra Paige told me that Thomas Youngblood (Kamelot) had his eye on me for a while because, as you know he’s taken other girls on tour, like Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy) and Elize Ryd (Amaranthe) as they always have a guest feature. He always has his eye out for someone he can take for the next record. Kobra came up to me after one show in somewhere like Arizona and says ‘Hey, do you want to go and play a show with Kamelot?, you’re going to be opening up for Iron Maiden and Ghost’… I was like ‘uhm yes’!” Moreover, the experience with Kamelot also had a huge impact on her singing style. “Well, in the very beginning of Once Human, I didn’t want to clean-sing. I was scared. I said, ‘Screaming only.’ And Logan made me sing – I guess he heard something in me and knew I could do it — but on the first two albums, you can hear me singing, but it’s quite reluctant. I think it sounds held back and unsure. But on this album, on Scar Weaver, it’s full force. And that is definitely 100% because of Kamelot. You gotta come out of your shell with that band. You’re filling some big shoes – you’re filling Alissa White-Gluz, you’re filling Elize Ryd, you’re filling the shoes of these big amazing singer. So I couldn’t be shy about my vocals anymore. So doing it every night onstage, singing songs like “Liar Liar’ and ‘Sacrimony,’ you will come out of your shell. You’re thrown in the deep end. I became really familiar with my clean-singing voice, and my own style.”
Still regarding her vocal technique and style, Lauren said that apart from the growth from the years with Kamelot and her daily singing she tries to stay fit, to be really connected with her voice and to know her limits, learning how to breathe and speak to an audience without a microphone, and learning how to project in a healthy way and becoming aware of diaphragm support. In addition, she also mentioned her work with vocal coach Melissa Cross, and with laryngologist Dr. Michael Johns to make sure everything stays healthy. “The style that I do, false chord screaming, is a lot of air, all the time. You have to be in really good shape to pull it off. So for me, I feel like being really fit and staying in the gym and making sure your cardio is up to par – I think that helps me onstage. I also did a lot of voice work – not singing, but voice, which is like breathing work, in a theater school. That’s what I incorporate into my screaming and my singing, to not do any damage and keep my breath down in my diaphragm,” she said, also mentioning a not-so-fun experience she had in her teens. “So when I was a teenager listening to metal, I had an ex-boyfriend who was in a band and I would always go to his rehearsals and after they were done rehearsing, I would always come in and they’d free jam and I’d scream on the microphone and I remember always tasting blood in my throat afterwards. Back then there was no YouTube, no internet really to look up whether or not that was okay so I thought ‘I’m doing it right because I taste blood’! Obviously, though there was something very wrong there.”
Lauren has several idols in her career and in her personal life, of course, including huge names the likes of Angela Gossow (Arch Enemy), Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth), Joe Duplantier (Gojira) and Layne Staley (Alice In Chains), also mentioning Black Metal in general as one of her influences when writing and composing music. When asked about her favourite European bands, she said “well my favorite metal album when I was a kid was Dimmu Borgir’s Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia. I learned to drive to that album and I don’t recommend learning to drive to that album because you’ll get a lot of speeding tickets! But them and Opeth and I love Strapping Young Lad, loved Devin Townsend and Meshuggah. My first ever album that got me into metal was Yngwie Malmsteen’s Trilogy and that was sort of the gateway as I wanted to be a guitar player and that was, ‘Wow listen to this guy!’ I listened to that record over and over again and quickly it went from that to Dimmu Borgir, I don’t know how it happened but that’s how it went.”
Having already toured with renowned acts such as Dragonforce, Cradle Of Filth, Kobra And The Lotus, and Fear Factory, our beloved vocalist said that she still dreams of touring with other bands, of course, including Devin Townsend, Opeth, Arch Enemy, Dimmu Borgir, and Meshuggah, and of playing in Wacken Open Air with her band Once Human, complementing by saying she really enjoys to be on the road and that she would love visiting South America. In one of her interviews, Lauren talked about the beauty of screaming in small venues, where she can make eye to eye contact with the crowd and closely feel the reaction from her fans. Also, when questioned if the female-fronted label in metal should continue or cease to exist, she said that “I can see how that separation can cause that, I see the conflict but I also see a lot of my fans, I’ve gotten to know a lot of my fans on Patreon – a lot of them are huge fans of female-fronted metal, they’ll go to every show, they’ll buy all the merch and it’s a genre they are just in love with, I don’t know, there are good points and bad,” mentioning she would love to work with other prominent women in metal such as Angela Gossow, Alissa White-Gluz, and Noora Louhimo of Battle Beast.
One of the most distinctive and destructive metal bands of the modern era strikes again with a breathtaking new opus, showcasing their own mutation into an even more devastating beast.
Formed in 2014 in Los Angeles, California, in the United States by guitarist Logan Mader (Machine Head) and vocalist Lauren Hart, the ruthless Groove Metal act known as Once Human has steadily established themselves as one of the most distinctive and destructive metal bands of the modern era. Now in 2022, Logan and Lauren, together with guitarist Max Karon, bassist Damien Rainaud and drummer Dillon Trollope, are ready to kill once again with Scar Weaver, their third full-length album following up on the highly acclaimed releases The Life I Remember (2015) and Evolution (2017), showcasing the band’s own mutation into an even more devastating beast. “It was not an easy path to reach this point, I’ll tell you that,” says Logan Mader. “The original masterplan for the band was really passion-project driven. The first two albums, we were still finding our way. Where we’re at now is with a really strong posture and by far the best album we’ve done. Over the years we’ve done a lot of groundwork and some smaller tours, just grinding things out, sometimes even in a DIY fashion. But now we have legit team around us, the band is firing on all cylinders and everything seems to be lining up this time.”
Dillon begins smashing his drums mercilessly in Eidolon, with Logan and Max extracting sheer violence from their guitars, all of course spiced up by the venomous roars by our she-demon Lauren. Needless to say, it will be an awesome opener for their live concerts. Then we have the menacing Deadlock, featuring Robb Flynn of Machine Head, who makes a pulverizing duo with Lauren on vocals in a modern-day Melodic Death Metal feast with Metalcore nuances, or in other words, a true headbanger by Once Human; followed by the title-track Scar Weaver, which sounds more devilish and darker than its predecessors with Damien hammering his bass nonstop, adding endless groove to the band’s core sonority (not to mention how sharp the riffage by the band’s guitar duo feels). After that the band brings forward Bottom Feeder, sounding infernal and utterly heavy from the very first second while presenting another great job done by Logan and Max with their riffs and solos. Moreover, the metallic bass jabs by Damien will knock you out in the name of Groove Metal, and you better get ready to slam into the circle pit like a true metalmaniac in Where The Bones Lie, with Lauren stealing the show with her flammable growls and vociferations while Damien and Dillon make the earth tremble with their evil kitchen.
More introspective and somber than the rest of the album, Erasure showcases the band’s trademark sound with its first half feeling a little bland while the second half gets back to their usual sonic devastation. And the massive bass lines by Damien attack our senses once again in Deserted, accompanied by the sick, razor-edged riffs by Logan and Max. The high-octane We Ride is a brutal, hellish and absolutely aggressive display of Groove Metal by the band where Lauren is on fire from start to finish, supported by the demented drums by Dillon, whereas in Cold Arrival we’re treated to poetic lyrics growled by Lauren (“I ran so blind / Into the blades of your life / Gray and disguised / And peeled my eyes / As they unfurled”) amidst another thunderous display of Groove and Melodic Death Metal. Lastly, Lauren keeps vociferating wicked words (“No shoulder that won’t cut like a blade / When they’re cold / Turned their backs / I beg them to take your words / Off my chest, take them / Take your worth from my headache / In death”) in Only In Death, putting a beyond sinister ending to the album.
When Logan mentioned Scar Weaver is their strongest album to date he was not joking nor exaggerating at all. Scar Weaver is indeed a powerful and very detailed album of modernized metal music where all band members are in absolute sync until the very last second, providing us fans a very good reason to raise our fists and bang our heads in the name of Heavy Metal. Hence, don’t forget to give Once Human a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, to stream all of their awesome creations on Spotify, and to obviously purchase your copy of Scar Weaver by clicking HERE or HERE. Blessed (or perhaps cursed) with plenty of additional time during the last year’s lockdown situation, Once Human have been able to refine and redefine their sound in Scar Weaver, turning the band into one of the driving forces of modern-day heavy music and, consequently, inviting us all to rock like there’s no tomorrow with Logan, Lauren & Co. for many years to come.
Best moments of the album: Deadlock, Where The Bones Lie and We Ride.
Worst moments of the album:Erasure.
Released in 2022 earMUSIC
Track listing 1. Eidolon 4:06
2. Deadlock 3:39
3. Scar Weaver 4:36
4. Bottom Feeder 5:21
5. Where The Bones Lie 3:50
6. Erasure 5:01
7. Deserted 4:13
8. We Ride 2:50
9. Cold Arrival 4:20
10. Only In Death 5:14
Band members Lauren Hart – vocals
Logan Mader – guitars
Max Karon – guitars
Damien Rainaud – bass
Dillon Trollope – drums
Guest musician Robb Flynn – additional vocals on “Deadlock”
Seasoning their psych-doom cauldron with tribal percussion and prog rock arrangements, this American trinity is ready to cast a spell on us with their excellent new album.
Convoking crushing riffs drenched with lush harmonies and hypnotic eastern themes, Los Angeles-based Doom Metal trinity High Priestess was formed in 2016 by bassist and vocalist Mariana Fiel when she recruited Katie Gilchrest on guitar and vocals and Megan Mullins on drums, crafting a sound that echoes both past and future incarnations of doom and psychedelia since then. After the release of their highly-acclaimed self-titled debut album in 2018, it’s time for High Priestess to captivate our senses once again with their sophomore opus Casting The Circle, featuring a dark and sexy artwork by Jill Colbert at Manfish Inc. and seasoning their psych-doom cauldron with keyboards, tribal percussion, signature harmonies and grandiose prog rock arrangements. “After playing these songs live for many months, we are pleased to have captured them in their definitive recorded versions for the whole world. We honor gods and goddesses, ancestors and spirits from the past, present and future and sing songs of misfortune,” commented Katie Gilchrest herself about the band’s amazing new album.
A tribal, dark mass is about to start in the deep and embracing Casting the Circle, led by Megan’s ritualistic beats while Katie and Mariana begin blasting their enthralling vocal lines in a true psychedelic and doomed manner. Put differently, it’s absolutely impossible not to get hypnotized by their music, which is also the case in the fabulous Erebus, where the trio leans towards the most obscure side of iconic acts like Black Sabbath and Candlemass, but with a delicious feminine touch added to the overall result. It’s almost ten minutes of enfolding passages, crisp riffs and the sluggish beats by Megan, all spiced up by Katie’s astounding, piercing guitar solos, whereas The Hourglass is a Psychedelic and Progressive Rock extravaganza blending the trademark sound from the 70’s with the band’s more contemporary doom, with Katie’s stunning riffs being complemented by the low-tuned bass by Mariana and the classic drums by Megan, not to mention the song’s fiery vocal lines.
Then it’s time to surrender to the most Stygian side of life in Invocation, offering our avid ears over 17 minutes of ethereal and somber passages led by Katie’s primeval, mesmerizing riffs while Mariana and Megan dictate the rhythm with their thunderous but delicate instruments, summoning the prince of darkness with their scorching Doom Metal. Flowing like an arrow on fire through the night and getting heavier and more imposing halfway through it, the song remains tribal and dense until its demolishing grand finale, with Katie heightening our senses with her cryptic organ keys. And lastly we have Ave Satanas, an ethereal and obscure outro by the trio where their somber vocalizations will drag you into their sinister lair in the name of Satan (which in the case of High Priestess is a beyond awesome opportunity for any metalhead, of course).
The circle of what the band itself likes to call “Heavy-Psych Doom” has been cast by Katie, Mariana and Megan in their newborn opus, and in order to join those three undeniably talented women in their quest for such unique style of heavy music simply follow them on Facebook and on Instagram, and grab your copy of Casting The Circle from Ripple Music’s BandCamp page or webstore (US and Europe), as well as from Amazon. The high priestesses of heavy and lustful Doom Metal are among us to stay, and as they conjure each and every one of us to become part of their devilish kingdom, there’s only one question left, and it’s indeed a very simple one. Who are we to say no to such distinguished and dexterous triumvirate of doom?
Best moments of the album: Erebus and The Hourglass.
Worst moments of the album: None.
Released in 2020 Ripple Music
Track listing 1. Casting the Circle 5:10
2. Erebus 9:37
3. The Hourglass 6:46
4. Invocation 17:22
5. Ave Satanas 3:26
Katie Gilchrest – vocals, guitars, organ
Mariana Fiel – bass, vocals
Megan Mullins – drums, percussion
As part of our annual tradition here at The Headbanging Moose, the first metal chick of the year must be a badass bass player to properly kick things off with a lot of thunder and heaviness just the way we like it in Heavy Metal, and in 2020 that couldn’t be any different than that, of course. Having said that, get ready to venture through the realms of Alternative and Nu Metal with the one and only Nadja Peulen, a German-born bassist and backing vocalist currently based in Los Angeles, California, in the United States known for bringing tons of groove to our avid ears as the bassist for American metallers Coal Chamber from 1999 to 2000, again between 2002 and 2003, and one last time after a huge band hiatus from 2013 until 2016 when the group disbanded once and for all.
Born on January 10, 1975 somewhere in the always beautiful Germany, our 1.73m-tall blue-eyed, red-haired bassist started her life in music at a very early age due to her family travelling a lot and staying at several different places, always on the road in the name of Rock N’ Roll, always surrounded by distinct people, and always attending music concerts. Of Polish and German descent, Nadja grew up in the Netherlands and listened to a lot of 70’s music such as Motown, disco and classic rock at home because of her parents, being highly influenced by those styles in her current way of playing bass. Originally starting out studying art with aspirations to be a painter, Nadja naturally decided to switch to music, playing drums before becoming a bassist and continuing her career as a drummer after moving to Los Angeles when she was only 18, learning from renowned drummers and jamming with several different musicians (while at the same time working in different jobs such as tiling bathrooms and working as a waitress in a strip bar).
After a while, when Nadja decided she wanted to get more into songwriting, she was given a bass guitar (a cheap $100 one, by the way) and started playing with one finger only, gradually evolving to a couple more fingers and never having a single lesson in her life. Three months later, she was already in an all-girl band named Tail, playing around Hollywood for a couple of years at Whisky a Go Go, The Viper Room and whatever clubs were there at the time. After a couple of years, Nadja was invited to join Los Angeles-based Nu Metal outfit Coal Chamber in 1999 while bassist Rayna Foss-Rose was on maternity leave, and again after the recording of the 2002 album Dark Days when Rayna left the band for good, playing live with the band in several domestic and international tours with bands like Drowning Pool co-headlining the tours. Despite not having recorded the bass lines in Dark Days, Nadja is featured in the official video for Fiend, one of the band’s most well known songs which is thought to be about how the band and the Nu Metal genre were getting heavily criticized at the time. In addition, Nadja was also featured as the band’s bass player in the excellent concert Live at the Maritime Hall, San Francisco, CA, 1999 in the bonus DVD from the 2005 special re-release of their 1997 debut album Coal Chamber.
Then after a long period of silence from 2003 until 2011, Coal Chamber reunited for a short run of international shows with bassist Chela Rhea Harper instead of Nadja, but our talented red-haired bassist officially returned to the band in October 2013 shortly before the band signed to Napalm Records to record a new album. “Beyond happy and excited today to announce my return on bass with Coal Chamber,” Nadja wrote on the day of her official return to the band. “I’ve missed my brothers and can’t wait to rock the stage with them again and see all of you!” It was in May 2015 that Coal Chamber released their fourth album in thirteen years and their only studio album with Nadja on bass, entitled Rivals, adding a touch of Groove Metal to their musicality while at the same time distancing themselves from their previous Gothic Metal style. From Rivals, you can enjoy Nadja’s rumbling bass punching you in the face in songs like Another Nail In The Coffin, Suffer In Silence (featuring Ministry’s driving force Al Jourgensen on guest vocals), and I.O.U. Nothing.
Apart from her awesome stints with Coal Chamber, Nadja was also the bass player and backing vocalist for a Los Angeles-based Theatrical/Alternative Avantgarde Rock duo known as Vera Mesmer, together with vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist Christopher Mesmer, formerly of Reveille, as well as guest drummer Bones Elias (Julien K, formerly of Dead by Sunrise), from 2010 until 2013. Vera Mesmer left two very interesting releases to the world before the duo parted ways in 2013, those being the 2012 EP Orphans and the 2013 single Down the Hole, showing a different and very theatrical storytelling side of both Chris and Nadja, as you can see for example in the official video for the song Back from the Dead. “We’re constantly brainstorming and creating. We’ve completely let go of templates and we don’t stick to the genre game,” said Nadja about the artistic freedom she found with Vera Mesmer while the band was still active. “We encompass all music styles while still undeniably retaining that Vera Mesmer sound.”
You can also find Nadja lending her thunderous bass lines to a project entitled Roadrunner United from 2005 to 2008, having recorded the excellent single and video The End together with Dino Cazares (Fear Factory), Roy Mayorga (Stone Sour) and Matt Heafy (Trivium), among others, for the 2005 album The All-Star Sessions, as well as the 2008 DVD featuring a making of and a live concert with several artists such as Ville Valo (HIM), Scott Ian (Anthrax) and Tim “Ripper” Owens, with Nadja kicking some serious ass in songs like Type O Negative’s all-time classic Black No. 1 together with Ville Valo on vocals, Andreas Kisser on lead guitar, Dino Cazares on rhythm guitar, Joey Jordison on drums and Rob Caggiano on keyboards, and Tired ‘n Lonely together with Mina Caputo on vocals, Matt Baumbach on lead guitar, Acey Slade on rhythm guitar, Joey Jordison on drums and Rob Caggiano on keyboards. Furthermore, between 2004 and 2006, Nadja was also featured in the music videos for the songs (Rock) Superstar and What’s Your Number? as part of the backup band with Tim Armstrong (Rancid) and Christian Olde Wobbers (Fear Factory), both by American Hip-Hop group Cypress Hill.
As already mentioned, Nadja has a wide and eclectic taste for music, with her primary influences lying along the Trip Hop, Industrial and Alternative Rock and Metal vein the likes of Massive Attack, Killing Joke, The Cult, Faith No More, Jane’s Addiction, Ministry, Iggy Pop and The Stooges, David Bowie, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Grand Funk Railroad and Stevie Wonder, with the one and only Iggy Pop being part of one of the most exciting moments in her career. A friend of hers called Whitney, who used to play guitar for Iggy Pop, invited Nadja for a jamming session one day, but she initially said no. “Why don’t you come down to the Swinghouse and jam with me and a couple of friends?”, said Whitney, and she promptly answered “Well I’m in bed. My bass is dusty and I’m watching TV. I really don’t feel like jamming with you right now.” Whitey called back a couple of times and finally said, “Well, it’s Iggy and he wants to jam with you.” Nadja didn’t believe her friend, saying “Yeah you’re fucking with me. You just want me to come down there and hang out.” Then she got another phone call from Iggy’s manager, which turned out to be his son Eric. He said, “Yeah, Iggy Pop is down here and he really, really wants to jam with you.” She still thought it was a prank, when she finally got a phone call from Iggy himself where she recognized his voice and nearly pissed her pants. Iggy said, “Nadja, I have heard a lot of really good things about you. I want to jam with you. Come down here – can you be here in 10 minutes?” Needless to say, Nadja joined her idol and they jammed for a few hours, with Nadja later saying in one of her interviews that she was always afraid to meet someone like Iggy Pop because she believed a person like that would probably be an asshole and she would never be able to listen to his music the same way. However, he was really nice to her, a humble guy exactly how anyone would expect.
Regarding her life on the road with Coal Chamber, Nadja mentioned in one of her interviews that she really loved playing the songs Another Nail In The Coffin and Bad Blood Between Us live with the band, both from the album Rivals, and that she would have loved to be in a tour co-headlined by Coal Chamber, System Of A Down and Korn, the latter with whom Coal Chamber only played at the same festivals such as Heavy Montreal in 2015 and Graspop Metal Meeting in 2013. When questioned about the fact she was the only female on the tours with Coal Chamber, she said that it was indeed challenging as she had for example to get dressed in the bathroom of the bus, which was a very small space. However, Nadja also said she was fine being the only girl in a “boy’s club”, complementing by saying that being utterly professional was what kept everything working well. Also, on a side note, Nadja mentioned being on stage, being in that moment, is when her mind stops and she can achieve some peace of mind, having also achieved that peace by doing yoga, more specifically Kundalini Yoga, a school of yoga influenced by Shaktism and Tantra schools of Hinduism.
Nadja also launched in 2003 her own T-shirt and apparel company called CruelTees, selling her products not only online but also through stores such as Hot Topic. Owner and head designer of CruelTees, Nadja has always loved painting and sketching, having even been in Art Academy before quitting it to move to Los Angeles, with her designs fusing dark Gothic and wild Rock N’ Roll images with clever slogans. However, if you click on the official website for CruelTees, it will redirect you to her website Sonic Dominion without any products available. There are a few items in her webshop, though, but nothing related to CruelTees. Perhaps Nadja is working on a new collection for the future? If you’re curious to know more about CruelTees and ask Nadja for any updates on the brand, you can message her directly through her official website contact form, and who knows, maybe you’ll be one of the first to receive news on a new series of CruelTees shirts and apparel.
Endorsed by Schecter Guitars, Mesa Boogie, Dean Markley Strings, Monster Energy Drink and Monster Cable, our skillful bassist, who by the way thinks labeling a music style is not really that relevant, commented in one of her interviews that she’s happy to see an increasing number of female bass players (as well as guitarists and drummers) out in the market playing with their bands, which is always a good thing in heavy music, also saying she likes the fact that several of those bassists are adopting the finger style when playing their instruments, something that was a taboo in the past. Nadja herself is a finger bass player, as mentioned before, and the fact this old school technique is becoming popular again brings a lot of joy to her heart. And last but not least, Nadja’s relationship with her fans is quite healthy, with some of her fans even becoming her personal friends. She said that she can’t obviously answer everything to everyone due to her busy schedule, as she doesn’t consider herself an Internet person with enough time for social media. She actually doesn’t enjoy engaging on social media on a personal level, focusing on her work as a musician and as a designer instead. We have to agree with Nadja on that, and if you want to know more about her professional career you can either follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or watch some of her interviews and other videos on YouTube like the BIAS FX demo, an interview during Heavy Montreal in 2015, an interview to INDIEPOWER TV! in 2015, or an interview she gave to Dean Markley at NAMM also in 2015. What are you waiting for to let one of the most badass female bassists of all time show you all she got? Nadja kicks some serious ass, and she will crush you like an insect with her thunderous bass, no doubt about that.