Metal Chick of the Month – Ambre Vourvahis

I will not give up… I will not stand down!

Greece, France and Germany are three countries well known for their immensurable contributions to rock and metal music, and here on The Headbanging Moose how about we unite all three and have an absolute blast with our metal lady of the month of July? That’s exactly what you’ll get with the talented, gorgeous vocalist Ambre Vourvahis, the new frontwoman for German Symphonic Metal act Xandria, and a woman who definitely knows how to add tons of passion and feeling to her already powerful vocal lines. Having said all that, are you ready to join us and Ambre in this short but sweet tribute to one of the most promising names of the Symphonic Metal scene worldwide?

Half-Greek and half-French, but currently residing in Germany, the mesmerizing Ambre Vourvahis was already singing in choirs and musicals when she was in middle school, saying in one of her interviews that her life has always revolved around music, although she continued her studies in literature and philosophy and concluded it with a philosophy degree while at the same time she was still dreaming of making music, singing and going to concerts (which she confessed she sometimes did instead of going to class, just like all of us metalheads have already done at a given point in our lives). She said she started listening to metal music when she was around 11 years old, saying metal has been a crucial part of her whole life, and let’s say it’s quite easy to notice that by the way she sings, always putting her heart and soul into her performances.

Just a few weeks ago, our Greek goddess was announced as the new vocalist of Xandria, and in her own words, “I am beyond happy to be part of this adventure, I gave everything I had on the songs that are about to come and I love every single one of them. I hope you will do too. I can’t wait to meet you all and hear about your own musical journey.” Combining atmospheric, delicate vocals with harsh, visceral roars, her potent and versatile voice fits perfectly with the new musical direction of the band, which can already be seen in their new single title Reborn (which you can also stream on Spotify). Formed in 1994 in Bielefeld, a city in the Ostwestfalen-Lippe Region in the north-east of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, Xandria have already had in their career the impressive number of eight vocalists, those being Nicole Tobien, Lisa Middelhauve, Kerstin Bischof, Manuela Kraller, Dianne van Giersbergen, Lisa Middelhauve, Aeva Maurelle, and now our metal lady Ambre Vourvahis. Accompanied by fellow musicians Robert Klawonn on the guitars, Tim Schwarz on bass and Dimitrios Gatsios on drums, as well as of course Ambre on vocals, the newly formed outfit around band leader, main songwriter, composer and guitarist Marco Heubaum is ready to bring its impressive career to the next level.

“Xandria is reborn… and the first sign of the return to life is the respectively titled song. Like before, Xandria are taking you on a voyage to your imagination, and the emotional and varied voice of new frontwoman Ambre Vourvahis will show you the way there with more facets then ever – prepare for some surprises! The new line up around mastermind Marco Heubaum will definitely start a whole new chapter that is fascinating and fresh, but still genuinely Xandria. Because this is what Xandria always has been – a voyager and explorer in the inspiring world of symphonic and heavy music. And now it is reborn,” commented the band about this new phase in their career, with Ambre also having some words to say about her new band. “I knew the band personally for a long time now and during their break Marco and I started to work on music for a possible project, while at the same time he was writing already some new Xandria songs, and then he thought my voice would fit very well on them, too. In the end we even took some of the ideas for that project into Xandria as it was fitting also really well actually and brought some new elements and diversity.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Although nothing is known about the new album yet, Ambre seems to be very excited and can’t wait to meet the band’s fans on the road. “I feel grateful, especially with the overwhelming warm welcome I got so far by the wonderful Xandria fans,” said our raven-haired diva, and I bet you can’t wait to listen to the follow-up to their 2017 album Theater of Dimensions and to see Ambre taking the stages by storm when the band begins their tour to promote their upcoming album. By the way, starting this September the band will embark on a massive European double headlining tour with Austrian Melodic/Symphonic Power Metal band Visions of Atlantis, inviting fans to dive deep into breathtaking soundscapes of Symphonic Metal, and hopefully that tour will also be extended to other places such as North and South America, Japan and Australia. “We want to plan a lot of tours, in as many countries as we can. But especially continue to make music that will be exciting for us and our fans,” said Ambre, also mentioning that she wants to thank all of the band’s fans in person and discover their musical journeys and taste as well, as she really loves to talk about music. Well, I bet you don’t want to miss that opportunity when Ambre hits the road together with Xandria, right?

You can also find Ambre doing the female vocals for Fragment Soul, a Progressive Metal band formed in 2016 in Greece which has another metal lady featured already on our webzine, the charming Heike Langhans, as a special member on vocals. How can she sing in such different bands at the same time, one might ask? Well, Ambre mentioned in one of her interviews that she loves to challenge herself vocally and to try new things, and as she can do both clean and guttural vocals it won’t be a surprise if other musicians and bands start recruiting her to be part of their new albums or live concerts, consequently leading her to visit more and more cities and countries while on tour. Hence, let’s show our total support to Ambre in this new phase of her career, and hope that sooner than later we’ll be able to witness her kicking some ass onstage with her bandmates from Xandria in our hometowns, showing once again why Symphonic Metal has always been the perfect place for skillful and hard working women who rock our world like our up-and-coming Greek vocalist.

Ambre Vourvahis’ Official Facebook page
Ambre Vourvahis’ Official Instagram
Xandria’s Official Facebook page
Xandria’s Official Instagram
Xandria’s Official YouTube channel
Xandria’s Official Twitter

“I trained and developed my singing on my own (especially the harsh vocals) as well as with vocal coaches for many years, and still today – there is always so much more to learn and to achieve so I will probably never stop working with a professional vocal coach.” – Ambre Vourvahis

Album Review – Xandria / Sacrificium (2014)

Listening to this album is far from being a sacrifice. Quite the opposite, it’s a true pleasure.

Rating4

CoverChanging the lead singer of any band has always been considered a very a bold move, and when the music genre in question is Heavy Metal the impact of that change is even more significant due to the loyalty and connection all diehard fans usually have with the most “traditional” members of the band. In other words, this change can be a very welcome breath of fresh air to the band’s musicality in some cases, or a complete disaster in others depending on how much the voice influences their music direction. Fortunately for German Symphonic Metal band Xandria their choice for the band’s new lead singer, the very talented Dutch soprano Dianne van Giersbergen, ended up being better than anyone could have imagined, which can be verified in their excellent brand new album Sacrificium, the sixth in their career.

Dianne, who is also the frontwoman for Dutch Smyphonic Metal band Ex Libris,  replaced German singer Manuela Kraller (who was with the band from 2010 to 2013) just before the recording of Sacrificium began, which made fans really apprehensive of what would happen with the band then. It’s also the first with bassist Steven Wussow, and add to that “the choir of the sacrificed” by the PA’dam choir (from the Netherlands) and some narration by American singer Amanda Somerville and Mark Burnash, and the amount of changes and new elements compared to their previous records is even higher. However, as aforementioned, it’s all for a very good purpose.

To begin with, if Sacrificium, the 10-minute epic track that opens the album, is not the most awesome “business card” Dianne could offer us, then I have no idea what could be. Xandria seems to be in very good hands (or voice) now based on what we can see in this song: after a symphonic intro, it turns into great and fast Power Metal, with Dianne’s voice sounding gorgeous when blended with more modern riffs. Moreover, the good rhythm variations and breaks, the “movie soundtrack” chorus halfway through the song and all solos make it easy to follow the “story” being told, turning it into an instant fan favorite. Nightfall, the second track of the album, keeps the energy level up. It is definitely another top moment of the album with its choir intro, heavy riffs, beautiful vocals and chorus giving the song an epic touch, and it will sound amazing live without any doubt.

Then we have the semi-ballad Dreamkeeper, which despite its more melodic riffs and delicate lyrics (“I will send a dying rose / For you all to be close / To its scent that has never been”) is not really an exciting song, and Stardust, where Dianne’s voice is nicely complemented by some Progressive Metal elements; but it’s the next song, The Undiscovered Land, which really helps elevate the overall quality of the album: this “medieval” ballad has some sort of “Lord of the Rings” intro that works pretty well, an awesome instrumental, and of course another brilliant vocal performance by Dianne. Sacrificium goes on with the pure Symphonic Power Metal song Betrayer, which takes the album back to a stronger and faster sonority, and Until the End, a “video-game” track that albeit not bad, sounds too generic compared to the rest of the album.

xandriaThe last part of Sacrificium is composed by a sequence of shorter songs with a very traditional approach, where the goal seems to be showcasing Dianne’s skills as a soprano. Come With Me is a very rhythmic Symphonic Metal tune with a chorus full of emotion, which can also be said about the next song, Little Red Relish, and Our Neverworld, a smooth ballad with heavier passages. Finally, we have the totally boring Temple of Hate, the worst song of all, and closing the album we have one last ballad, the melancholic and captivating Sweet Atonement, another lesson in singing by Dianne, who puts so much passion in her voice it’s hard not to get thrilled with her performance.

In summary, Sacrificium is a highly recommended album for all types of female singers (not only Heavy Metal), or for lovers of bands with female vocals, but it might be too much sometimes for more traditional metal fans. I myself was going to give it a 3.0 mainly because it’s not the most creative album in the world, but the choir, all the narrative, and especially the addition of the stunning Dianne to the band were so amazing it actually deserved a 3.5 in the end. Only time will tell if Dianne will be able to balance her career between Ex Libris and Xandria, but for now I’m impressed with her abilities as a musician. And what can I say about the album art? It’s not only beautiful, but would it also be a message to their oldest fans saying the band’s music has been reborn like a phoenix from the ashes? At least one thing we know for sure: listening to Sacrificium is not a sacrifice at all, but a very delightful experience.

Best moments of the album: Sacrificium, Nightfall, The Undiscovered Land and Sweet Atonement.

Worst moments of the album: Dreamkeeper, Until the End and Temple of Hate.

Released in 2014 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. Sacrificium 10:21
2. Nightfall 4:02
3. Dreamkeeper 4:36
4. Stardust 4:00
5. The Undiscovered Land 7:34
6. Betrayer 6:15
7. Until the End 5:47
8. Come With Me 3:46
9. Little Red Relish 4:39
10. Our Neverworld 3:51
11. Temple of Hate 5:59
12. Sweet Atonement 4:20

Band members
Dianne van Giersbergen – vocals
Marco Heubaum – vocals, guitar, keyboard
Philip Restemeier – guitar
Steven Wussow – bass
Gerit Lamm – drums