Metal Chick of the Month – Elli Berlin

Freiheit! Suche ich… Freiheit! Komm ans Licht… Sei mir unendlich!

Even if you don’t understand a single word in German, I bet you’ll fall in love with the talent, the charisma and the energy flowing from our metal chick of this month of September. Owner of a beyond versatile voice, which allows her to deliver from the most serene, cleanest lines to truly demonic growls and roars, German vocalist and alternative model Elli Berlin will rip your heart out and mesmerize your senses with her stunning looks and incendiary performance, showing you why her fantastic Alternative Metal band, which goes by the stylish name of Null Positiv, is on a constant rise in the world of heavy music. After reading more about Elli and listening to her wicked creations, you’ll be absolutely addicted to her voice and to her music, placing Null Positiv among one of your favorite bands of our modern times hands down.

Elli started her career as a vocalist at a young age, more specifically when she was around 13 years old, as she became aware of her skills and capabilities when different people started to approach her and compliment her for her talent. She then went to take singing lessons, starting with classical music and gradually moving on to pop and rock music, making her first recordings in a professional studio, and then forming her first band when she was only 16 years old. Elli said in one of her interviews that was a really hard time for her, with over 150 shows per year, but she’s very thankful for all that as she simply loves her touring life. At first her band only played cover songs, but of course they started writing their own music as time passed by, and although metal music has always been an important part of her life, she only began growling and screaming a few years ago.

It was in 2015 in Lübbenau, a small town in the Oberspreewald-Lausitz district of Brandenburg, Germany, when Elli began looking for like-minded musicians to join her project and work on powerful, modern metal music, resulting in what is known today as her very entertaining and electrifying band Null Positiv, bringing to our ears an incendiary hybrid of Alternative and Nu Metal with Neue Deutsche Härte. Since their inception a few years ago, Null Positiv have released an array of unique and vibrant albums, including their debut EP Krieger, in 2016, followed by the full-length albums Koma (2017), Amok (2018), and their 2020 brand new opus Independenz (which will be reviewed here at The Headbanging Moose sooner than you can say “Scheiße!”), having also toured extensively with over 100 shows in just a few years, having played with renowned acts the likes of Anthrax, The Raven Age and Life of Agony, while also having in their short but solid career an appearance at the Wacken Open Air Festival in 2017 and an European tour with the iconic band Therion.

Currently comprised of our gorgeous frontwoman Elli Berlin, guitarist Bene Gugerbauer, bassist Manu Altendorfer and drummer Flo Schnablo, Null Positiv got its name from 0+, one of the most common blood types, as Elli herself explained we all share it, we all have it flowing within our veins, being essential to keep us alive and, therefore, becoming a synonym to the general equality all band members believe in. “Furthermore, it also translates to the mindset within the band, lyrically and musically. We believe in telling things how they are, without sugar-coating stuff and digging deep into the sentiments, good or bad, that motivate or prevent people to do things. We do this intending to rouse people, to give the initial spark to start to deal with the problems that we as humanity are facing in modern times,” commented our multi-talented diva.

In addition, Elli and her henchmen are one hundred percent, purely independent from any label or management company, having founded their own label, named Triplebase Records, from which they have released all of their albums. Not only that, Null Positiv also shoot and produce all of their official videos, available through their YouTube channel. For instance, you can see Elli kicking some serious ass with her potent vocals and her ravishing looks in songs such as Freiheit (one of my favorite Null Positiv songs), Turm Der, Trauma, Amok, Kollaps, Koma, Hass, Hoffnung Ist Ein Suesses Gift, Friss Dich Auf, Wo Rauch Ist, Ist Auch Feuer, Unvergessen, Zukunft Ungewiss, and a short and eerie film called Puppets Of Hate. Furthermore, if live performances and everything that surrounds them are your cup of tea, you can also enjoy Elli and the boys blasting insane performances at Rock Am Stück in 2019 and at Near Castle Festival also in 2019, playing the song Labyrinth on a live tour rehearsal in 2019, or go behind the scenes with them during their European tours in 2018 and 2019, during Wacken Open Air in 2017, and during Gefle Metal Festival in 2018. Also, don’t forget to show Elli and her Null Positiv your utmost support by purchasing their music and merch from their official webstore, by streaming all of their insane albums and songs on Spotify and YouTube, and by following them on all social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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Highly influences by several renowned rock and metal acts including Korn, Slipknot, In This Moment, System of a Down, Papa Roach, Marilyn Manson, Linkin Park and Prodigy, among many, many others, as well as obviously by her countrymen Rammstein, Elli mentioned in a recent interview that the first album she’s ever bought was Life is Peachy, the second studio album by American Nu Metal band Korn, released in 1996, saying she deeply loves that album, and complementing by saying she got to know the other aforementioned bands through festivals she used to attend as a fan in her early days, and that nowadays it would be a dream come true to tour with bands the likes of Korn, Rammstein or Arch Enemy, and that her playlist currently includes Slipknot, I Prevail, Korn, Parkway Drive, Asking Alexandria, Infected Rain, Amon Amarth and Arch Enemy. Moreover, you can sense how much all those modern metal bands have influenced her taste and her style by taking a listen at the cover songs she uploaded to her own YouTube channel, like her version for German Neue Deutsche Härte/Medieval Metal band Tanzwut’s Ich bin der Nachtwind, and mainly her gorgeous version for American music duo Simon & Garfunkel’s all-time classic The Sound Of Silence, drawing inspiration not from the original song but from Disturbed’s majestic version released in 2015.

Elli also said that it’s hard for her to choose her favorite song or songs to play live, as she feels that a concert is like one single, big explosion, hitting the stage and then leaving it at the end without “paying attention” to each song played, feeling like one huge energetic track. When asked how she manages to stay healthy while on tour, Elli said that as tours can be lengthy and exhausting, she has to integrate a daily fitness program to them, being very disciplined despite the fact there are tons of parties to attend and have fun. Also, in early 2019 Elli suffered an unfortunate back injury which forced her to take a break for a few months before getting back to touring, and she said that although it was a very difficult time for her, she always got the support from her bandmates. The final result was that not only Elli returned in full force to play with Null Positiv in countries like Switzerland, France, Belgium and Italy, but the band also won an award as best new band at the Mera Luna Festival in 2019.

When questioned about the fact that women still face a lot of sexism both in our everyday life and in the metal community, Elli said that fortunately in her own case she has never experienced any negative experiences like that in her career, complementing by saying that she has always felt very comfortable and welcome in Heavy Metal, a very positive environment where people are united in the name of good music, in her opinion. In addition, when asked about who she considers the most influential women in metal today, her answer included the talented and unrelenting ladies Angela Gossow, Doro and Amy Lee, mainly for their hard work, technical capabilities and their persistence, and let’s say it’s easy to sense their influence on Elli’s vocal style, looks and taste for rock and metal, don’t you agree? Furthermore, besides her career with Null Positiv our dauntless vocalist said that among her hobbies we’ll find things like painting, editing the band’s videos and designing their own attire, saying she’s then an actress, director and alternative model beyond her vocal duties who loves to play with fashion and makeup and, therefore, showing how powerful and dynamic a woman can be.

Among other topics that Elli has already discussed in her career are crowdfunding, politics and social networks, and her opinion on all those subjects proves why she’s been experiencing such high level of success and admiration in the world of heavy music. First of all, when questioned about crowdfunding, she thinks it’s a great idea that gives interested people the direct possibility of influencing the market by supporting the artists, bands or any other projects they like, complementing by saying that as everybody knows the music business can be extremely hard in the beginning, and due to lack of funding many bands cannot put into practice all of their amazing ideas, which is why the band has an option for fans to financially support them directly through their official website (where you can also buy their music and merch). Regarding politics in music, Elli believes music is, and has always been throughout history, a very powerful tool for bringing positive change to the world and problems to the light, saying that writing about political issues is as useful and valuable as writing about human emotions like love, suffering or hate. And last but not least, our unstoppable, multi-talented artist considers social networking a beautiful way to communicate and to keep in touch with her fans, complementing by saying it’s a powerful way to receive love and encouragement and, therefore, to get all strength and inspiration needed to keep moving forward. However, she said people must not be obsessed with it, searching for what truly motivates you, being honest all the time and selective of who you follow. Well, I wonder who would dare to make any negative comments on social media about one of the most talented, promising and hardworking women from the current German rock and metal scene, right?

Elli Berlin’s Official Facebook page
Elli Berlin’s Official Instagram
Elli Berlin’s Official YouTube channel
Null Positiv’s Official Facebook page
Null Positiv’s Official Instagram
Null Positiv’s Official Twitter
Null Positiv’s Official YouTube channel

“I believe that music is, and has been throughout history, a very powerful tool for bringing positive change to the world and problems to the light.” – Elli Berlin

Metal Chick of the Month – Seraina Telli

Don’t leave me out in the cold…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Album Review – Graveyard Strippers / Crawling (2017)

This creepy Canadian quartet brings to you the perfect soundtrack to your next party, an experimental and never-ordinary crossbred of Industrial, Gothic and Punk Metal with elements from rock, pop and electronic music.

A phoenix reborn from its ashes. That’s how Canadian Industrial Metal critters Graveyard Strippers call themselves, being born in Montreal, Quebec in 2013 with guitarist Riff (Projekt F), vocalist Holy Decay (Gotherfall, Magnum Stallion) and bassist Carl Puzzle (Sade Slavey). Since their creation, Graveyard Strippers recorded three excellent EP’s, those being Burn My Soul in 2013, Free The Monsters in 2015, which was by the way when the band recruited Dany Burton (Projekt F) as their new permanent drummer, and Burn The Monsters in 2016, culminating with the release of their first ever full-length spawn, the idiosyncratic and rousing Crawling, now in 2017.

The music by Graveyard Strippers might be considered an experimental and never-ordinary crossbred of Industrial, Gothic and Punk Metal, spiced up by hints of Rock N’ Roll, Hard Rock and even electronic and pop music. And let me tell you that those four rockers do it almost to perfection, sounding at the same time sexy and gruesome, gentle and aggressive, straightforward and progressive. You’ll notice that each one of the twelve songs featured in Crawling, which by the way portrays a fantastic artwork by renowned Canadian illustrator Felix LaFlamme, are independent from each other, presenting a unique sonority, but that they need each other for the whole album to make sense to your ears. Well, as you can see it’s not an easy task to summarize the work by Graveyard Strippers in just a few lines, and that’s why I recommend you hit play and enjoy their industrialized and sensual sounds in your own way.

The eerie and dark intro Filth invites us to the demented world ruled by Graveyard Strippers, before an industrial and metallic feast begins in full force with Broken, a song highly recommended for fans of Rammstein and Ministry where Holy Decay bursts his lungs by screaming in an insane and rabid way. After that frantic hurricane of industrialized sounds the bands offers us a more melodic tune titled Pretty, blending Gothic and Industrial Rock with elements from Neue Deutsche Härte. Moreover, Riff lives up to his monicker by delivering truly catchy riffs, while Dany keeps the song’s pace and speed at a very pleasant level with his precise beats. And then we have the title-track Crawling, which begins in a dark 80’s Gothic Rock and Metal-inspired way, gradually evolving into an imposing musicality led by the deep and lunatic vocals by Holy Decay, remaining vibrant until its climatic ending.

Featuring the seductive Natasha Nebula as guest vocalist, Freak Show sounds a lot more mechanized and sexier than its predecessors, presenting the darkest and most depraved form of Industrial Metal you can think of. In addition to that, Riff and Dany do a great job with their samples and electronic sounds, turning it into the perfect soundtrack for a real-life freak show. And if you think that after such amazing song you’ll be free from Natasha’s devilish voice, you’re absolutely wrong, as she’s back with the band in Deadsex, an ominous blast of Neue Deutsche Härte with Gothic Rock where the deranged screams by Holy Decay create a gripping paradox with the smoother but still diabolical moans by Natasha, not to mention the song’s first-class official video which perfectly epitomizes what Graveyard Strippers are all about. The “piercing assembly line from hell” titled Apocalypse Now brings forward another eccentric intro that morphs into a fantastic Industrial Metal extravaganza, showcasing rabid growls mixed with heavy-as-hell riffs and tons of wicked elements in the background in what sounds as a hybrid of Marilyn Manson and Ministry; whereas their electronic vein arises stronger than ever in Walking Dead thanks to the excellent job done by Riff and Dany once again, while Carl Puzzle adds his share of heaviness to the song with his sick bass lines, keeping the album at a high level of eccentricity.

Savior is another modern Industrial Metal composition led by the somber vocals by Holy Decay, despite not feeling as crushing and vibrant as the rest of the album, sounding a bit repetitive at times. On the other hand, Krash This Up is one of the weirdest and most fun creations by this talented quartet that should work really well if played live. Dany is simply amazing with his beats, being flawlessly accompanied by the rest of the band during the song’s two minutes of insanity. Then in King Me the band gives a lesson in how to blend Industrial Metal with Punk Rock, offering the listener a neck-breaking, electrified tune where Riff steals the show with his sensational guitar lines. Needless to say, this is another serious candidate to be part of their live performances. And lastly, madness takes control of the band in the closing tune of the album, named Serial Killer, where symphonic elements from Gothic Metal are added to create an even crazier atmosphere. Furthermore, Holy Decay sounds like a demonic entity with his Stygian gnarls, while Riff and Carl keep bringing thunder to the musicality in this top-notch ending to such electrified album.

The somber and bewitching realm of Graveyard Strippers can be further explored through their Facebook page and YouTube channel, and you can listen to and buy Crawling on Spotify, at their own BandCamp page, on iTunes, on Amazon or at the Onkyo Music webstore. Let’s say that, if you were desperately looking for the best and darkest soundtrack to your next Halloween, Gothic, Dark Electro or any other type of party not recommended for the ordinary person, I believe your hunt is finally over, as Graveyard Strippers are more than ready to put you and your guests into a lustful and mechanized trance with the high-end music found in Crawling.

Best moments of the album: Broken, Freak Show, Apocalypse Now and Serial Killer.

Worst moments of the album: Savior.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Filth 1:04
2. Broken 3:09
3. Pretty 3:40
4. Crawling 4:08
5. Freak Show (feat. Natasha Nebula) 3:29
6. Deadsex (feat. Natasha Nebula) 3:51
7. Apocalypse Now 4:07
8. Walking Dead 3:50
9. Savior 4:02
10. Krash This Up 2:07
11. King Me 2:46
12. Serial Killer 4:48

Band members
Holy Decay – vocals
Riff – guitars, programming, backing vocals
Carl Puzzle – bass, backing vocals
Dany Burton – drums, programming, backing vocals

Guest musician
Natasha Nebula – female vocals on “Freak Show” and “Deadsex”

Album Review – Novallo / Novallo II EP (2015)

A wicked fusion of metal, rock, pop, electronic, jazz and tons of other contrasting genres, crafted by a talented and promising American band.

Rating4

cover artRanging from the delightful turmoil brought forth by Progressive Metal to the catchy tunes from modern Pop/Rock, the vibrant experimentations by American Alternative/Experimental Metal band Novallo will definitely hit you like a bullet train at full speed and put you to dance, bang your head or simply move your body in any unconventional way you might enjoy. And let me tell you that such a weird sounding ends up making the task of putting a label to Novallo extremely hard. I personally can’t say if they’re a pop version of Dream Theater or a heavier version of Justin Timberlake, if not both at the same time.

Founded in the city of Columbus, Ohio (the 15th largest city in the United States) in 2006, Novallo released their self-titled debut EP in 2012, earning them some considerable recognition and appreciation by a growing fan base, as well as a spot on the 2015 edition of the Rock on the Range festival (as the only unsigned band on the bill, by the way), playing on May 16 alongside renowned acts such as  Saxon, Ministry, Babymetal, Godsmack, In Flames and Judas Priest. Now, after beginning to solidify their path to stardom, they’re back with a brand new EP entitled Novallo II, another wicked fusion of unlike music genres crafted by these talented and professional musicians.

How crazy, electronic and innovative can an intro be? Take a listen at Wake and you’ll see, right before Betty Phage Goes to Bronxton offers you a  unique mix of Alternative and Progressive Metal with hints of Jazz and electronic music. Put differently, it’s a very fun tune that’s appealing and complex all at once, something not so common in music nowadays. Drummer Nick Salvatore kicks ass behind his drum set hands down, which is also the case in the even more electronic I AM, a well-crafted rock-ish version of dance music where it’s pretty easy to notice their influences from the King of Pop Michael Jackson.

novalloA lot heavier than all other tracks from the EP, Sideways Bird nicely blends elements from Groove Metal with Alternative Rock. Besides, I dare you to try to make any sense out of the song’s loco lyrics (“First ride hitched on a glitch – am I coming or going? / Insanity photographed consciousness flowing. / Discount tricks shaped like bits from the back corner store man. / Liquid crime – amplified to extract and delete even more.”). In contrast, Give Gravity a Choice is significantly smoother and more progressive, with its calm passages and stronger soundings creating together a relaxing environment enhanced by the solid vocals by Sam Gitiban, who provides the song all the necessary energy and balance.

Showcasing freakish electronic effects that sound like something you would find in a Mario Bros. videogame, White Phoenix keeps the madness rolling thanks to the sick riffs by Gino Bambino and the precise breaks by Nick Salvatore, not to mention the brilliant work done by Brandon Johnson with his metallic bass lines. And although the movie-ish outro Sleep might put an end to the album, we all know the band is just starting their promising journey through the world of eccentric music.

To sum up, what Novallo has to offer in Novallo II, available at their BandCamp page (or you can take a peek at what the band can do at their YouTube channel, if you prefer), is indeed unique, or maybe I should say substantially distinct when compared to almost any other band or artist you can think of. Their music will most probably suit you no matter if you’re one of those orthodox fans of Progressive Metal that looks down on anything that doesn’t contain a billion intricate notes and riffs, or if you don’t give a shit about complexity as long as you can feed your inner dancer with the music. In other words, whilst you have a craving for a special type of music, Novallo definitely have the righteous tunes to fulfill all your needs.

Best moments of the album: Betty Phage Goes to Bronxton and Sideways Bird.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Independent

Track listing
1. Wake 0:29
2. Betty Phage Goes to Bronxton 3:07
3. I AM 3:35
4. Sideways Bird 3:35
5. Give Gravity a Choice 5:18
6. White Phoenix 4:21
7. Sleep 1:05

Band members
Sam Gitiban – vocals
Gino Bambino – guitar
Brandon Johnson – bass
Nick Salvatore – drums, percussion

Metal Chick of the Month – Orianthi

orianthi01

Shut Up & Kiss Me!

She is a singer, a songwriter, and an amazing guitar player. Not only that, she has already shared the stage with worldwide renowned music icons such as Steve Vai, Alice Cooper, Richie Sambora, Carrie Underwood and even with the King of Pop, the unparalleled star Michael Jackson (R.I.P.). But if you think I’m talking about some old or classic guitarist, you’re absolutely wrong: our “Metal Chick” this month is the Australian beauty Orianthi Panagaris, or simply Orianthi.

Born in Adelaide, Australia on January 22, 1985 and of Greek and Australian descent (which explains her name), Orianthi started really early in the world of music at the age of three, when she began playing the piano, then moving to her true passion, the guitar, when she was around six. Besides the piano and the guitar, she can also sing and play bass and drums, showcasing her unquestionable talent as a multi-instrumentalist and already explaining why she reached success so early in her life.

Orianthi attended the Cabra Dominican College in Adelaide, Australia, and when she was about six or seven years old she wrote her first song and played it in front of the whole school. Thanks to her father, she grew up listening to many Rock N’ Roll classics like Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Santana, most of them from North America, which then became her biggest motivation to move to the United States to build her career there. Besides all those artists, she also mentions Darren Hayes and Keith Urban as two of her biggest influences in music.

She started playing with different bands when she was around 14 or 15 years old, which was when she left school, and kept playing with cover bands until she was 21, when she finally moved to America to pursue her dream as a musician. Since then, as a solo artist, Orianthi has already released three full-length albums and one EP (although none of her albums are really Heavy Metal or Hard Rock): Violet Journey, Believe, Fire EP, and Heaven in This Hell; her debut single According to You went to No. 3 in Japan, No. 8 in Australia and No. 17 in the US; in 2009 she was named one of the 12 Greatest Female Electric Guitarists by Elle magazine; and in 2010 she won the award as “Breakthrough Guitarist of the Year” by Guitar International magazine. Do I need to say that her dreams came true?

Furthermore, as already mentioned, her involvement with some music giants has just elevated her status as a successful artist. For example, Orianthi appeared at the 51st Annual Grammy Awards, which took place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles in February 2009, as the lead guitarist for American country music singer Carrie Underwood, and more recently toured the world as the lead guitarist for American Hard Rock master Alice Cooper. I had the pleasure to see Orianthi live three times in 2012 with Alice Cooper, as the opening act for Iron Maiden during their Maiden England North American Tour here in Canada in the cities of Toronto, Ottawa and Sarnia, and it was amazing to witness how she managed to fit in his band so smoothly and professionally, especially considering the abysmal difference of their years on the road. You can check lots of cool videos from Orianthi performing with different bands and artists at her official YouTube channel, like this live version of her 2013 single Frozen.

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However, being the lead guitarist for Michael Jackson’s This Is It concert series, which later became a documentary, was probably the most outstanding moment of her music career. In one of her interviews, Orianthi tried to explain how she was chosen by the King of Pop, and the impact that had on her life. “I don’t know exactly why he picked me, but he watched my YouTube videos and loved them. He had his choice of guitar players, but I came in and played the ‘Beat It’ solo for him. Afterward he was so happy he got up and grabbed my arm and started walking up and down the stage area with me. He said, ‘Can you play once for me?’ and hired me that night. I wish he was still around. He made me believe in myself more, and I learned so much. Going into it, I thought it would be all about playing guitar solos. But the majority of it was playing chords and funky rhythms.”, she said. After Michael’s death, she played and sang at his memorial, globally televised live on July 7, 2009.

Finally, being an artist always provides the person some good stories to tell the others, and it hasn’t been different with Orianthi. For example, the blonde guitarist said that during one of her concerts she got up on one of the speakers, and didn’t realize that right behind her there was a confetti canon that could shoot probably 20 feet right across the audience, which would have sent her to the hospital that night with a pretty bad injury in the butt. Fortunately for Orianthi (and for all of us), one of the sound guys warned her and she jumped off just a few seconds before the canon went off. I’m pretty sure Orianthi herself would agree with me that, although she has a great onstage performance and Rock N’ Roll actually demands some crazy stunts to be perfect, being blasted in the ass might not be the best way to please her fans.

Equipment
PRS Custom 22 (Manos)
PRS Custom 24 (Pepper)
PRS SE Custom 24
PRS SE Singlecut
SE signature model (SE Orianthi)
EVH 5150III
ENGL
Mesa Boogie
Marshall Amplifiers

Orianthi’s Official Facebook page
Orianthi’s Official Twitter

“You know just go and find your own voice, whether its playing guitar, singing, song writing, working hard, I love what I do, I love playing guitar, I love performing, you have to love it, there’s just so many hours you have to put into it, you can’t be in this industry if you don’t love it.” – Orianthi

Album Review – Orisonata / Orisonata (2014)

Beautiful vocals, superb saxophone solos, classical guitar, jazz, piano and many other elements make this Progressive Symphonic Metal album a very fresh and attractive alternative in the world of heavy music.

Rating4

orisonata-cover-artIf anyone asks you about Symphonic Metal, you automatically think of bands from countries like Finland, Netherlands, Italy, Germany or any other European country, but never of American bands, right? Well, that’s about to change with the self-titled debut album from American Progressive Symphonic Metal band Orisonata, a project by composer and guitarist, Jason Lee Greenberg, and his wife, vocalist Jennifer Grassman.

Orisonata can be compared not only to bands such as Nightwish, Within Temptation, Kamelot, Tarja Turunen and Blind Guardian, but also to the progressive musicality from Dream Theater and even to the Pop/Rock from Evanescence, Sarah Brightman and Muse. And the band was able to generate that high quality mix of classical guitar, jazz, and heavy music in a very solid and professional way, which in my opinion is the biggest strength of this project: being so diverse without losing their value proposition. In other words, Orisonata deliver what they promise, which is some very creative and unique heavy music.

And as the music is what really matters here, let’s get down to it. The album might have only 7 songs in total, but together they are responsible for over 50 minutes of music, highlighting the band’s progressive vein. The first track of the album is also the longest one: with almost 9 minutes, Journey to the Center of the Earth is a pleasant Heavy Metal voyage the likes of Nightwish, with amazing saxophone solos, changes in tempo, breaks and everything else you want to see in a progressive heavy song. Then come Once And Future King, a very progressive tune with interesting riffs and guitar solos, and The Great Baptism, a song that mixes the sonority of Dream Theater and Tarja Turunen in a way that would make both band and artist very proud of Orisonata.

The following track, Unholy Creation,  can be considered the most Heavy Metal one of the album with its fast drums, heavy riffs and many hints of Nightwish from their Oceanborn times, accompanied by the amazing piano from jazz artists Pamela York. Furthermore, the vocals and lyrics fit the song perfectly, making it the best track of the album in my opinion.

Oath Breaker keeps the energy level up with the great singing done by Jennifer, together with some awesome solos and music variations, while Robin Hood offers us more delightful saxophone solos amidst pure Symphonic Metal. The album ends with the beautiful ballad The Muses, a very “medieval” tune with highlights to the amazing contribution by Cynthia Butler on flutes.

orisonata-jennifer-grassman-photo-by-laughlin-photographyRegarding the lyrics, they’re all based on literature, legend and ancient mythology, and remind me of some old Nightwish songs such as “Sacrament of Wilderness” (you can check the lyrics from Onisonata’s “Unholy Creation” in the video at the bottom of this review), and in terms of the album art, it is also very well-done and matches with the album’s proposal and musicality.

And finally, all musicians involved in this project are extremely talented, but we have to salute the couple Jason and Jennifer for their brilliant work with all instruments and beautiful operatic vocals, respectively. Although they’ve been on the road for quite some time and won many awards for their previous music creations, it’s amazing to see the amount of passion they still have for composing new material. Besides the “dynamic duo”, I would say the most important piece of the music found in Orisonata are the stunning solos by world-renowned classical saxophonist Todd Oxford. What this guy does with his saxophone is unbelievable and adds so much value to the music that it’s hard to imagine any of the songs without it.

So far, the album as had a soft release on CD Baby and on Orisonata’s official website, but will shortly be available through Amazon, Spotify, and other major retailers, and you can also check more information about the band on their official Facebook page and on Twitter.

Of course, the band has yet a long way to go and only time will tell if they’ll succeed or not, but two lessons can already be learned from Orisonata: for all other independent bands in the world, this is the level of work, professionalism and creativity you need to put on your music in order for it to be successful, otherwise you’ll be just “one more band” in the market; and for heavy music lovers, Orisonata show how good the indie scene can be and that we should support it as much as we can if we want to keep the flame of Heavy Metal alive.

Best moments of the album: Journey to the Center of the Earth, Unholy Creation and Oath Breaker.

Worst moments of the album: Once And Future King.

Released in 2014 Independent

Track listing
1. Journey to the Center of the Earth 8:42
2. Once And Future King 6:35
3. The Great Baptism 8:04
4. Unholy Creation 7:18
5. Oath Breaker 5:01
6. Robin Hood 7:55
7. The Muses 5:07

Band members
Jason Lee Greenberg – all guitars & instruments
Jennifer Grassman – all vocals

Guest musicians
Todd Oxford – saxophone
Wade Vandesande – bass on “Oath Breaker”
Brad Shearhart – bass on “Robin Hood”
Pamela York – piano on “Unholy Creation”
Cynthia Butler – flutes on “The Muses”
Marco Bayarena – synth solo on “Journey to the Center of the Earth”