Album Review – Dark Funeral / We Are The Apocalypse (2022)

One of the pillars of Swedish Black Metal returns from the underworld with a new opus to prove once and for all that they’re the apocalypse.

The year of 1993 was when it all began, when Lord Ahriman and Blackmoon founded the infernal war machine we now know as Stockholm, Sweden-based Dark Funeral, one of the most intense and prominent Black Metal acts ever. Now in 2022, vocalist Heljarmadr, guitarists Lord Ahriman and Chaq Mol, bassist Adra Melek and drummer Jalomaah are back from the underworld with another opus of sheer obscurity and hatred, beautifully entitled We Are The Apocalypse. Mixed by Daniel Bergstrand at Dugout Productions, mastered by Paul Logus at PLX Mastering, and displaying a devilish artwork by by Marcelo Vasco, the band’s long-awaited seventh full-length album is a lecture in Swedish Black Metal not recommended for the lighthearted, proving why the band has been haunting our damned souls for almost three decades.

The evil guitars by Lord Ahriman and Chaq Mol will pierce your minds in the infernal opening tune Nightfall, a classic Scandinavian Black Metal onrush with no artificial elements, only our good old darkness and hatred, while the tribal beats by Jalomaah ignite the Stygian aria Let The Devil In, with Heljarmadr vociferating the song’s wicked words rabidly (“I take a deep, good look inside myself / I open up the gates to let the Devil in / He’s riding on the shadow of my soul / And everywhere I go, he’ll be there walking beside me”). Then get ready to be pulverized by Dark Funeral in When Our Vengeance Is Done, a fast, furious and demented creation by the band showcasing those old school Black Metal riffs we all love so much, whereas Nosferatu carries a beautiful name for another blackened sonic attack by the quintet, with Jalomaah being on fire behind his drums with both his rhythmic and demented beats.

Slowing things down a bit it’s time for the Blackened Doom-infused chant When I’m Gone, perfect for the darkest days of your useless lives, with Adra and Jalomaah making our heads tremble to the sound of their respective bass and drums. Their evil sounds keep permeating the atmosphere in Beyond The Grave, with Jalomaah’s hellish blast beast providing Heljarmadr all he needs to growl like a creature from the underworld. A Beast To Praise brings forward absolutely dark, psychological lyrics barked by Heljarmadr (“In solitude I am talking to ghosts / And while the netherworld is being ripped open wide / My human flesh is still keeping me / Between these walls, and I am eager to die”) while Lord Ahriman and Chaq Mol slash our senses with their otherworldly riffs in a lecture in Black Metal; whereas cryptic guitar lines kick off their second to last breath of obscurity titled Leviathan, not as inspiring nor as visceral as the other songs form the album, albeit still extremely violent. And last but not least, it’s time for one final explosion of pure Black Metal in the form of We Are The Apocalypse, with the demolishing drums by Jalomaah walking hand in hand with the strident riffage by the band’s guitar duo.

Such beast of an album can be enjoyed in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but if I were you I would certainly purchase your favorite version of this devilish masterpiece by clicking HERE. We Are The Apocalypse, which will undoubtedly feature among the best metal albums of the year in countless lists from all over the world, has no artificial elements added to it, just the wrath of five insanely talented Swedish black metallers who remain loyal to the foundations of the genre even after so many years on the road. Hence, don’t forget to follow Dark Funeral on Facebook and on Instagram, and to subscribe to their official YouTube channel for more of their disturbing Black Metal. Because you know, when it comes to Black Metal, Dark Funeral are indeed the apocalypse.

Best moments of the album: Nightfall, When Our Vengeance Is Done, Beyond The Grave and A Beast To Praise.

Worst moments of the album: Leviathan.

Released in 2022 Century Media

Track listing
1. Nightfall 5:13
2. Let The Devil In 4:40
3. When Our Vengeance Is Done 4:20
4. Nosferatu 4:41
5. When I’m Gone 5:46
6. Beyond The Grave 5:08
7. A Beast To Praise 4:49
8. Leviathan 4:34
9. We Are The Apocalypse 4:33

Band members
Heljarmadr – vocals
Lord Ahriman – guitars
Chaq Mol – guitars
Adra Melek – bass
Jalomaah – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Mia Wallace

Hecate awaits where crossroads split…

If there’s a woman that loves heavy music from the bottom of her (darkened) heart, more specifically our always controversial and blasphemous Black Metal, as well as music in general, that lady has to be the unrelenting Italian-born bassist Mia Wallace, who you’ll also find in several bands and projects under the names Michelle Mia Wallace, Mia W. Wallace, White Wallace or even Winter Wallace. As a matter of fact, either being a coincidence or not, the name Mia Wallace was given to the fictional character portrayed by the stunning Uma Thurman in the 1994 Quentin Tarantino cult movie Pulp Fiction, just to give you an idea of how mysterious, sexy and provocative our metal chick of the month of May can be, exactly how we expect from any true Black Metal musician. Known for her work in distinguished metal projects such as The True Endless (under the controversial moniker Soulfucker), Abbath, Triumph of Death and Niryth, among several others, Mia will undoubtedly hypnotize you with her obscure looks and smash your senses with her thunderous bass, proving once and for all Black Metal is and will always be home for some of the most talented women in the history of music.

Born somewhere, sometime in the always gorgeous Italy, Mia Wallace started playing bass in the now distant year of 1994. She said in one of her interviews that her boyfriend at the time, Italian multi-instrumentalist Marco De Rosa (R.I.P.), also known as simply M., who would become her bandmate in distinct bands and projects and best friend for over 25 years, encouraged her to try his white Fender Squier Vintage bass. She mentioned it was extremely heavy, but she immediately became passionate about that amazing instrument. Her first bass was then a four-string Hoyer SG-type from 1970, helping Mia become most probably the first female bass player in the entire Italy to wear corpsepaint, to play Black Metal on stage, and to perform fire-breathing during her live concerts. Among her gear, you’ll find some amazing stuff such as the Epiphone Nikki Sixx Blackbird, the BC Rich Beast and the Clover BassTard bass guitars; the Boss ODB-3, Boss DD-3 and Marshall Reflector RF-1 effects; and the Warwick Profet 5.2 amps.

There are several bands and projects where you can enjoy Mia kicking some serious ass with her rumbling bass, and in order to tell you a little about each one of those let’s start with the most recent or active ones and then move on to her previous bands which have either disbanded or have been put on an indefinite hiatus. Right now, we can say Mia is involved in two main projects, those being an Italian Electronic/Industrial/Alien/Darkwave Pop/Rock project entitled Kirlian Camera, where not only she plays bass but also keyboards (also doing backing vocals), and a mysterious Swiss project that goes by the name of Niryth, where she’s a co-founder, songwriter and lead bassist. There might be a third project which could be called her solo band Mia Wallace, but as there’s nothing online anywhere about it let’s just say there’s no reason for extending the topic on it.

Anyway, her role with Kirlian Camera (which name was taken from what’s known as Kirlian photography, a collection of photographic techniques used to capture the phenomenon of electrical coronal discharges) obviously goes beyond her usual bass playing duties, providing a unique support to the band’s mastermind Angelo Bergamini and frontwoman Elena Alice Fossi during their live performances. The band was founded in the distant year of in 1979 in the city of Parma by Angelo Bergamini and was a pioneering act of the Italian synthpop scene, featuring musicians from four distinct locations (Piombino, Marciana, Parma and Novara, all in Italy), and after a few ups and downs the duo now shares the stage with obviously Mia and other renowned musicians form the Italian scene such as Alessandro Comerio, Davide Mazza and Falk Pitschk. Having released a good amount of albums since their inception, starting with their 1983 debut effort It Doesn’t Matter Now until their most recent installment Hellfire, released in 2019, the project has always pushed the boundaries of experimental and electronic music, winning several awards through the years, with Mia bringing her share of heaviness and creativity to the band on stage. You won’t be able to listen to Mia in any of their studio albums, of course, but you can certainly enjoy some awesome live footage on YouTube such as this soundcheck in 2018 at a festival in Switzerland, this live version of the song V2K in Leipzig, Germany in 2020, or this 30-minute footage of the band live in Torino, Italy in 2018 playing some of their songs such as Holograms, Black August and News.

Her other project is considerably unique and I can’t even say if it’s still going on or if it has been archived by its band members. I’m talking about Nyrith, a distinguished metal project founded by Mia together with the one and only Tom. G Warrior (Hellhammer, Celtic Fost, Trypticon) with tastes of heavy and obscure doom, blending different styles from the music by Sisters of Mercy to Pink Floyd, all performed by not only one, not two, but three bass players. In one of her interviews Mia mentioned that Nyrith were ready to release their debut album depicting their visions of life and death, their struggles and pains, but so far nothing has been made official yet. She also said the idea of Nyrith came from Tom after Mia was left without a band a few years ago (and we’ll talk more about that later), including the idea of having three bass players on the same band, as at that time nobody was comfortable giving a woman the control of a new or existing band. In this project, Mia mentioned she was working on all the music which was refused by her previous band, a very restricted and traditional Black Metal act by the way, with all of her ideas being pretty much outside the Black Metal world. As aforementioned, there’s nothing officially released up to now, but we should all keep an eye on Nyrith as this is a very promising metal project (if it truly happens one day, of course). In addition, as an accomplished bass player, Mia has been asked several times about her technique, about how she enjoys playing bass and other nice-to-know details. For instance, when questioned about the fact she would play a five-string bass with Nyrith, she said that “I’ve been playing four-string basses for 20 years, but with Niryth, it is absolutely essential to play five-string bass, as the music requires far more versatility. I always felt good vibes with BC Rich basses. Among my favorite basses is a BC Rich Beast, in fact.”

Now it’s time to talk about all of her previous bands, starting with the one that’s in my opinion her most interesting and powerful project to date, Italian Black Metal horde The True Endless, founded in 1997 by M. and Mia (under the moniker Pollon, and later under her most controversial moniker Soulfucker) with the main goal of crafting violent and trendkiller music. After a couple of rehearsal tapes and some shows, The True Endless recorded their first studio work in 1999 called The Trendkiller EP, followed by an array of EP’s, splits, compilations, livr albums and obviously some very interesting and heavy-as-hell full-length albums, those being Wings of Wrath (2003), A Climb to Eternity (2005), Buried by Time and Dust (2006), 1888 from Hell (2008), An Year in Black (2009), Legacy of Hate (2013), and last but not least, Blacklight Inferno (2017), all with Mia kicking ass on bass and even working in the mastering of their 2008 album 1888 from Hell. Featuring lyrics in English, Italian and Novaras, a dialect of the Piedmontese language (Piemontèis) that was used to give their sound a more ancestral feeling, the scorching Black Metal played by The True Endless led the band to share the stage with some of the most important names of the extreme music scene such as Marduk, Deicide, Vader, Helheim, Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult, Besatt, Morrigan, Vesna, Mortuary Drape, Opera IX and many more, playing through countless countries across Europe. You’ll “only” be able to find their latest released Blacklight Inferno on their official BandCamp page, but you can enjoy several of their songs and live footage by visiting their official YouTube channel (as well as other channels), as for example their cover version for Hellhammer’s classic Massacra, the songs Pale Waves, Under The Horned Waning Moon, Black Swamp, I Drink The Devil’s Blood and Nightfall, and this live version of Freezing Moon in the Czech Republic in 2011.

Unfortunately, after months fighting against a deadly cancer, the multi-talented M. sadly passed away on November 16, 2017 at the age of 43, and due to such tragic loss Mia and the band’s drummer Algol decided to end the project after 20 years of intense activity. However, as Mia herself always says, “the flame will burn forever.” And the skillful M. was also the founder of many other amazing projects such as Darkness, Huggin, Skoll and Teuta, most of them featuring our dauntless Mia on bass and/or on keyboards, and usually under the moniker Pollon. For instance, she played bass on the 2013 album Anti Human Life, by Italian Black/Thrash Metal band Darkness, on the 1998 demo Tales (from the Ancient Times), by Italian Black Metal horde Huginn, and played keyboards on the 1999 album Through the Mist We Come Back and on the 2000 split Keep Alive Your Heathenfolk/La oss slakte Guds lam, both by Italian Pagan Black/Viking Metal band Skoll. After listening to such amazing bands, we must all agree with Mia that the flame of M. will always burn bright through his classy and dark music across the centuries, no doubt about that.

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Another memorable moment in Mia’s undisputed career happened between 2019 and 2020 when she joined the iconic Norwegian Black Metal act Abbath, spearheaded by one of the co-founders of Immortal, one of the trailblazers of the infamous Norwegian Black Metal scene. When asked about how the invitation to join Abbath in 2019 happened, Mia said that she always been part of the Bergen family, and as Abbath needed a strong figure to replace his previous bassist he noticed her as an experienced musician who would fit perfectly into his lineup. Mia was the bass player in Abbath’s latest opus, his 2019 album Outstrider, and you can enjoy her thunderous and menacing bass lines in songs like Harvest Pyre and Calm in Ire of Hurricane. Mia mentioned Outstrider was pretty much written when she joined the band, with Abbath asking her to write the bass lines and then they decided together about some adjustments on them, also saying that she didn’t feel any real pressure as the replacement of one of the most recognizable bassist in Black Metal, the iconic King ov Hell (God Seed, Gorgoroth), as they’re two musicians with different skills that were not actually competing nor anything like that. However, on January 28, 2020, Mia revealed that she was no longer part of the band, being informed over the phone by the Abbath’s manager shortly before the beginning of the Outstrider 2020 European tour. No formal announcement was made by the band, but she was replaced on bass by touring member, Rusty Cornell. As you can check HERE, Mia was not happy about the way things happened. “I am disappointed that none of my former colleagues have contacted me in this process except for the five minute phone call from Abbath’s manager in which I was told I would no longer be needed. I was told not to contact anyone in the band. The explanation for this had no substance and just made more questions and confusion for me. Up until then I had been preparing for the European tour as I had been told to do. I had to cancel other plans, and get time off work for the tour which I spent much time preparing for,” said Mia, also citing her comments to the media after the disastrous Abbath two-song concert in Argentina in 2019 as one of the probable reasons for being fired from the band.

Another amazing project where we were all able to enjoy Mia’s crushing bass lines between 2018 and 2019 was Tom G. Warrior’s Triumph Of Death, a tribute to his former group Hellhammer, consisting of playing the legendary music by Hellhammer from their  three demos (Death Fiend, Triumph of Death and Satanic Rites) and the EP Apocalyptic Raids onstage after 37 years, starting in the summer of 2019. According to Tom and Mia, Triumph of Death is a Zurich, Switzerland-based open-ended project playing only select concerts and festivals, basically choosing the songs from the band’s small but rich catalog depending on how they felt at that moment, always open to change from time to time. When asked about how she felt playing those songs together with Tom and therefore continuing the legacy of one of the pioneers of Black Metal, she said it was a true honor for her as she’s been highly influenced by Hellhammer throughout her entire career, and you can see how happy Mia truly was by watching her interviews together with Tom in 2019 at some of the best metal festivals in the world such as Hellfest, Wacken Open Air and Brutal Assault, always talking about how it feels to play with Triumph of Death, the legacy of Hellhammer and why the name Hellhammer wasn’t used, as well as performing at the same time with Tom and Abbath. In addition, if you want to experience the music by Triumph of Death live, you can check some awesome live footage on YouTube such as the song Vision of Mortality at Kilkim Žaibu (the biggest ancient traditions and Extreme Metal festival in the Baltic States), Blood Insanity at Hellfest, Triumph of Death in Essen, Germany, or this full concert at Psycho Fest in Las Vegas, Nevada, in the United States.

Lastly, there’s one more metal project that’s worth mentioning, which is Swiss Goregrind/Death Metal band Embalming Theatre, where Mia didn’t play bass or keyboards, but instead she was the one responsible for crafting the intros and outros to pretty much all of their releases from 2000 until 2006, such as the intro, intermezzo and outro to the 2003 album Sweet Chainsaw Melodies, and the intro to the 2004 split Death Metal Karaoke/My Flesh Creeps at Insects. One curious thing is that if you go to the band’s official BandCamp page you’ll notice most of the albums there do not contain the intros and outros by Mia, and I have absolutely no idea why those pieces are missing. Anyway, Embalming Theatre are a very entertaining Goregrind act, with all of their albums being worth a shot with or without Mia’s insane collaboration.

Regarding her main influences and idols in music and in life in general, as mentioned a couple of times already she sees the iconic Tom G. Warrior as her master and mentor, even saying that “he is the one who unleashed the dormant beast inside me.” Without him, Mia said she would not have been able to effectively express her music and her creativity, complementing by saying her writing and composing process is very similar to his due to the huge influence his music has always had on her since her childhood, even before knowing him in person.  According to our badass bassist, there would be no Black Metal without Tom, with his classic bands Hellhammer and Celtic Frost being obviously among her favorite metal acts of all time. Mia also mentioned in some of her interviews the huge influence she also had from Abbath himself, whose real name is Olve Eikemo, always acknowledging the humongous importance his former band Immortal has always had on the birth and evolution of our beloved Norwegian Black Metal. I guess even after being fired from Abbath’s solo band the way it happened, Mia still sees him as a legend and as a true inspiration, and I’m sure she’ll always keep those moments onstage with him among her best memories in her musical career. Furthermore, in regards to bass players, Mia always mentions the enigmatic and multi-talented Peter Steele (R.I.P.), the lead singer, bassist and composer for Gothic Metal band Type O Negative, as her personal bass hero, but she also said she has always been fascinated by the onstage charisma of Martin Eric Ain (R.I.P.), the former bassist for Extreme Metal titans Celtic Frost, proving Mia definitely knows how to choose her music idols.

Finally, as much as we all see Mia as the talented and indestructible Black Metal bass player that she is, needless to say she’s also a human being like the rest of us, having to handle her own issues and struggles just like any regular person. As you can see in this article by Blabbermouth from the end of February, Mia mentioned in a special and very personal Facebook post that the past few months have been the been the darkest and most painful period of her life, with all recent events leaving her physically and emotionally destroyed. “I tried to face hell trying not to crack, always holding hard in front of events which, daily, were destroying my soul and my emotions, unfortunately, also physically, by pushing up that strong Mia everyone knows,” she wrote, complementing that by saying that “these terrible experiences are always destructive, but they also left a positive note: the ability to see who stayed, who, day after day, try to be close to me, without judging me or making me feel wrong, without making me feel the weight of my reactions dictated by despair, but simply making me feel that even though Mia is going through a negative phase, something good in her is still there, holding my hands and telling me that it will pass, listening to my pain, drying my tears and looking for the best way not to make me collapse.These people are the people who love me, my family, the people to whom my gratitude and love will remain as long as I am alive, and to whom I will give all of myself, with my strength and, unfortunately, flaws.” Those were the honest and austere words by “the imperfect” Mia, who we all wish a quick and healthy recovery and, of course, who we wish to see on stage smashing our skulls with her thunderous bass as soon as possible.

May 6, 2020 UPDATE: As you can see HERE, the unrelenting Mia Wallace has just been announced as the new bass player for Brazilian all-female Thrash Metal band Nervosa! The band’s mastermind Prika Amaral couldn’t have made a better choice to take care of their bass duties! Congratulations, Mia!

Mia Wallace’s Official Facebook page
Mia Wallace’s Official Instagram
Mia Wallace’s Official Twitter

“As I have often been wont to do, I’ll quote Friedrich Nietzsche: ‘Without music, life would be a mistake.’ That has always been my modus vivendi.” – Mia Wallace

Metal Chick of the Month – Dagny Susanne

Malice, come closer to me!

The month of November in the Northern Hemisphere is always a synonym to colder temperatures and darker days, a sign that winter is coming and that all the happiness and warmth of the summer are long gone and will take even longer to return. Having said that, there’s nothing better than listening to some old school, menacing Scandinavian Black Metal to “celebrate” the Stygian season that’s about to begin, especially if it’s the Black Metal crafted by our metal chick this month, the multi-talented Swedish Valkyrie known as Dagny Susanne, the mastermind behind the top-notch extreme music project Nachtlieder. By the way, Nachtlieder is German for “night songs” or “songs of the night”. Do I need to say more?

Born on September 9, 1986 in Kiruna, the northernmost town in Sweden, situated in the province of Lapland, but currently residing in the multi-cultural Swedish city of Gothenburg where she moved about a decade ago, Dagny Susanne (whose real full name is Karin Dagny Susanne Hansson) mentioned she never had any friends who were into heavy music nor could buy any albums in her hometown because there wasn’t a record store there at that time, being “forced” to download music using Napster with a modem, which obviously made her discovery of metal painfully slow. Furthermore, growing up in Kiruna affected her personality and the way she currently sees things both in good and bad ways, but her interest in metal, in meeting musicians and starting a band motivated her to move to Gothenburg. However, nowadays Dagny feels a little nostalgic when talking about her beloved Kiruna, saying that not only it’s a beautiful and serene place, but it also inspires you to work, clearing your head and putting you in a good state of mind due to its calmness and distance from bigger cities like Gothenburg and Stockholm. For instance, just to give you an idea of how isolated Kiruna is, Luleå, the biggest town in the same region, is nothing more, nothing less than three hours away from it.

Since 2008, Dagny has been embellishing the world of extreme music with her Black Metal outlet Nachtlieder, being responsible for the songwriting, the lyrics, all vocal parts and pretty much all other instruments except for the drums, played in almost all her releases by her longtime friend Martrum (also known as Dödsdyrk, from bands such as Minion and Wicked). After the release of two demos in 2009 and a promo album in 2010, Dagny and her Nachtlieder became a much bolder and intense entity after unleashing upon humanity the full-length albums Nachtlieder, in 2013, and more recently The Female of the Species, in 2015, with the latter having the Biblical character of Eve, the female of the species, as the central character in the album’s narrative as mentioned in our review for the album. However, the original idea of the album was taken from the book “The Female of the Species”, by American writer Joyce Carol Oates, a collection of novellas about women committing different acts of violence for various reasons, slightly changing to the narrative about Eve after Dagny began to reference the phenomenon of “Satanic feminism” where Satan, a symbol for liberation, is also used as a feminist icon in her lyrics. In addition, Dagny said that, as she used to work in a public library, she reads a lot and that has a significant influence on her lyrics (but not on her music, thought), starting with small text fragments before coming up with what the lyrics should be about.

If you want to take a good listen at the music by Dagny and her Nachtlieder, I highly recommend you go to BandCamp, YouTube or Spotify to do so, being suddenly embraced by her visceral Black Metal such as in the excellent songs Eve, Beyond Death, Leave the View To the Rats and A Meager Escapism. The only “issue” with Natchlieder is that you won’t be able to find any live material or footage online, as Dagny hasn’t been able to form a full-bodied band yet. She obviously wants to perform live some time, but there are a few barriers to that such as the availability of musicians in her circle of friends that would be willing to play her music, and if those musicians would be reliable enough to replicate her music to an acceptable level to her.

Prior to becoming Nachtlieder, our Swedish black metaller was the bass player for Gothenburg-based Death/Black/Thrash Metal band Wicked from 2006 to 2010, having recorded with them a demo titled Chaos in 2007, the single Gospel of Sickness in 2009 and the split album Abominations, Chaos and Bestial Warfare in 2009 together with the bands Adokhsiny, Land of Hate, Надимач and Wargoatcult. She mentioned that she learned a lot from that time as it was her first extreme band, in special about arrangements and the role of the bass guitar in a band. The band unfortunately disbanded after their lead singer moved out of town with his family, but all three members are still friends and try to meet as much as possible whenever they’re in the same city. Apart from Wicked and obviously Nachtlieder, you can find Dagny in a couple of bands and projects as a guest musician, being the bassist and guitarist for the 2016 album Winds of Transilvania, by American/Swedish Black Metal project Nattsvargr (led by American vocalist Noctir); and doing some vocals and violin for a German Ambient Black/Doom Metal band named Black Autumn.

Dagny also has a very interesting (and obviously strong) connection with Black Metal from her homeland, having discovered the genre in her teens and consequently listening to Swedish bands for hours and hours, in special her favorite of all, Dissection. For instance, she mentioned that Dissection’s first gig after guitarist, vocalist and main songwriter Jon Nödtveidt (R.I.P.) got out of prison was the first big concert she ever went to. When asked about the general concept of cold and dark winter days being the reason why Scandinavian Metal is so unique, our Swedish diva said that there are of course bands that succeeded in portraying the extreme conditions and contrasts that exist in the northern parts of Scandinavia through their music, but that you can also see a significant difference between the metal scene in Norway, Sweden and Finland. Furthermore, when asked what defines Black Metal as a genre, Dagny said that when she wrote her bachelor in musicology about Black Metal she tried to identify the elements that define the music, finding that certain intervals were used both in chord progressions and melodies, therefore making Black Metal a music style for her no matter what the lyrical content is. For example, she said that if Black Metal is all about Satanism as several people think, then a band like Immortal, one of the biggest and most influential exponents of the genre, wouldn’t be Black Metal.

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As usual, I love to know about our metal girls’ opinions about women and sexism in the metal universe, and Dagny has a strong position about those topics, especially for playing a music style vastly dominated by men. First of all, she mentioned that gender isn’t the only thing that matters, citing other details such as age, profession, place of birth and residence and ethnicity, among others, as reasons why different people doing the exact same thing will certainly receive very distinct feedback from the society. However, she said she has already faced some not-so-subtle sexist comments directly to her face such as “chicks can’t play”, as well as the feeling of not being fully respected by guys whenever she was the only woman in the group. In addition, she said that although she doesn’t know for sure why the number of one-woman Black Metal bands is extremely low compared to one-man Black Metal projects, she feels that it might be due to the different networks between men and women and the conscious and subconscious differences in social sex. “From the day we’re born we’re not encouraged to do the same things and this includes the music we should listen to and perform and the instruments we should play”, said Dagny. Also, she thinks the well-established expression “’female-fronted metal” (which I confess I end up using quite often i my reviews and discussions) doesn’t really make sense at all, like the term “female vocals” instead of “clean vocals” when the singer is not a man, and that applies to Nachtlieder as very few people would associate those expressions with the type of music she plays.

As any musician in our modern-day society, Dagny also has to deal with illegal downloads of her music, but she doesn’t see those as a huge threat to music in general as many others do. She said that the biggest trouble for artists like her concerning illegal downloading is that they can’t keep track of their listeners, and knowing who her listeners are and that there are people out there who appreciate her music is always a boost to her creative process. She thinks that people who can afford it should prioritize paying for their music consumption, and the ones who can’t pay for it should at least be part of an informal “marketing campaign” by sharing the bands’ Facebook and BandCamp pages, leaving positive comments on YouTube, among other small but meaningful acts. The only thing that really bothers her in this case is when an album leaks before the release date, as she finds that really disrespectful towards the hardworking labels and artists. Furthermore, Dagny also considers the way music is shared by fans on the internet extremely positive for independent artists like herself, saying that for example fan initiatives like the Facebook community Death Metal Girls and the YouTube series The Female Vocalists of Extreme Music are great options for headbangers who want to broaden their knowledge of female artists in metal.

Lastly, one might think that a musician like Dagny, coming from the northernmost part of Sweden and playing the ominous Black Metal by Nachtlieder, must draw most or all of her inspiration in the night, but in reality that’s not what happens to her during her creative process. Dagny said she’s inspired by her instrument and what she’s playing at the moment, with the calm and relaxed feeling from the middle of the night being of course something she loves but that due to her working schedule is not something she can fully enjoy anymore. For instance, one of my favorite songs from The Female of the Species, the fantastic Nightfall, was written at night and had parts of its lyrics inspired by the first part in the Arnold Schoenberg opera Pierrot Lunaire, also known as “Moonstruck Pierrot”. I guess everyone reading this tribute to Dagny has already gotten “moondrunk” in life, feeling dizzy or lightheaded after staying awake for an entire night, but of course very few of us are capable of delivering such vibrant and captivating music by ourselves like this high-skilled woman who left her hometown, the distant city of Kiruna, to conquer the world of extreme music with her undisputed, raw and totally awesome Black Metal.

Nachtlieder’s Official Facebook page
Nachtlieder’s Official YouTube channel
Nachtlieder’s Official BandCamp page

“My own purpose with feminism is not to blame the trouble in the world on a specific group of people, but to raise the questions. Make people think about how they treat others and why. It’s all about recognizing human value, in the metal scene, but most of all outside of it. I’m certainly responsible too and no one is without flaws. We’re all products of the societies we live in.” – Dagny Susanne

Album Review – Nachtlieder / The Female Of The Species (2015)

The Swedish Valkyrie of Black Metal returns with her aggressive night songs to tell us the spiteful story of Eve, the female of the species.

Rating5

IVR048_NACHTLIEDER_The_Female_Of_The_Species_1500pxThere couldn’t be a more suitable name than Nachtlieder for the Black Metal storm spearheaded by the skillful Swedish multi-instrumentalist Dagny Susanne. Nachtlieder is German for “night songs” or “songs of the night”, an epitome of the music found in The Female Of The Species, which is not only the brand new release by this talented Valkyrie from Gothenburg, Sweden, but also a concept album that will tell you the resentful story about Eve, the female of the species.

Unleashing her fury upon mankind since 2008, our female warrior has clearly expanded her horizons and aggressiveness from their debut album in 2013, evolving from feelings of desolation, loneliness and misanthropy to a much bolder and controversial theme. “The Garden of Eden is decaying,” she says, “and Eve’s sudden revelation of desolation and mortality has grown into spite. Stepping barefoot in the soil, she finds her path under the frozen leaves.”

In Malice, Come Closer, an incandescent Black Metal aria with hints of Atmospheric Doom, Dagny proves within less than two minutes how powerful women can sound in extreme music by offering the listener stunning sinister growls and sharp guitar riffs. And sounding even heavier and darker, Nightfall disseminates a sense of sorrow and despair that darkly reeks in the air, with lyrics that couldn’t be more Black Metal (“Stillness, sinister, crystal clear awakening / Open hands in a wordless prayer / A chilling pulse violently beating within / The silent horizon”) and a precise drumming by Martrum (by the way, drums are the only instrument not played by Dagny in the entire album).

IMG_3658-1Including elements of Doom Metal and Blackened Doom, which end up making it sound more obscure than raw Black Metal, Fatale keeps the album at a good level of quality, with highlights to its mesmerizing and diabolical riff; and if you enjoy faster and more extreme metal music, the amazing Lonely Mortal, a very well-crafted chant where Dagny shines brighter than a lonely star on a deadly winter night, will satisfy your most devilish cravings. Then, Eve gets back to a doom-ish sonority, a nefarious song with stronger keyboard notes by Dagny while the beats by Martrum get a lot more rhythmic.

You’ll need only a few seconds to know Silence And Devastation is going to be a blast of old school Black Metal from start to finish, not to mention how interesting it is to notice the way Dagny blends riffs and keyboards into one unique “entity”. Following all that heaviness we have the somber Cimmerian Child, with its grim rhythm and low-tuned riffs. Moreover, as “Cimmerian” relates to members of a mythical people who lived in perpetual mist and darkness near the land of the dead, the lyrics in this tune are spot-on to depict the result of their inbreeding (“Follow a path toward the light / Through the dense dark forest / Pretty little one / Brush the thorns from your cloak”). At long last, the album wouldn’t be complete without its title-track The Female Of The Species, closing the album in the most obscure and violent way possible. This is not only a thrilling 8-minute Black Metal opus, but also an excellent display of what our multi-instrumentalist diva of darkness is capable of and the direction her music might probably follow in her future releases.

In short, although The Female Of The Species might be considered by many as a raw Black Metal album, there’s a lot more than that offered by Nachtlieder both musically and thematically speaking. In case you want to know more about the Swedish Valkyrie of Black Metal and her distinct music, she can be reached directly via her Facebook page, and if you’re eager to relish the vindictive story told by Dagney in The Female Of The Species through her rampant and enthralling songs of the night, you can find it for sale at her official BandCamp page, as well as at the I, Voidhanger Records’ BandCamp page or official webshop.

Best moments of the album: Nightfall and Lonely Mortal.

Worst moments of the album: Fatale.

Released in 2015 I, Voidhanger Records

Track listing
1. Malice, Come Closer 4:20
2. Nightfall 4:34
3. Fatale 4:14
4. Lonely Mortal 4:39
5. Eve 5:16
6. Silence And Devastation 3:58
7. Cimmerian Child 4:34
8. The Female Of The Species 8:25

Band members
Dagny Susanne – vocals, all instruments
Martrum – drums

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