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 – Of Blood and Mercury / Strangers EP (2019)

A mix of dark pop and ambient with a touch of synthetic nostalgia from the 80’s by a Belgian duo not afraid of experimenting in music, giving us a hint of the concepts and harmonies to be feature on their upcoming album.

Brought into being in early 2018 in the city of Brussles, Belgium by vocalist Michelle Nocon (Bathsheba, Leviathan Speaks, Serpentcult) and multi-instrumentalist Olivier Lomer-Wilbers (Enthroned, Emptiness), Avantgarde Noir Rock project Of Blood and Mercury is not exactly what you would expect from the fusion of musicians from extreme bands such as Enthroned, Pro-Pain, Bathsheba and Luminance, but that doesn’t mean it’s bland or tiresome. Quite the contrary, Michele and Olivier united their creativity in a very vibrant and detailed musical style that could be described as a mix of dark pop and ambient, with a touch of synthetic nostalgia from the 80’s.

As their first adventure through the realms of avantgarde music, Of Blood and Mercury are offering us an enthralling three-track EP entitled Strangers, where Michelle and Olivier have the support of bassist David Alexandre Parquier (Soror Dolorosa) and drummer Jonas Sanders (Emptiness, Pro-Pain, Resistance) to help them give life to their very distinct project. Recorded in the caves of Brussels’ Blackout Studio, Strangers gives us a hint of the concepts and harmonies to be feature on their upcoming 10-track album to be released later this year, with the melancholic tones of Michelle’s voice beautifully depicting the shadows that drag the wonders of nature to their ghostly forms.

Ethereal sounds ignite the mesmerizing Strangers, where you’ll feel embraced by Michelle’s vocals while she recites the song’s delicate lyrics (“Dusty words remember a lost cause. A feeling of a half filled glass. / Half poison, half wine. Half bitter, half sweet. some steel, some rust, some victory.”), with an extra kick added to the musicality thanks to the precise drums by Jonas. Put differently, this is first-class heavier-than-usual Dark Wave penetrating deep inside our hearts and souls, which can also be said about the following tune, titled Walk the Void. Inspired by the music by Enya with a modern and melodic twist, Of Blood and Mercury generate an inebriating atmosphere throughout the entire song, with Olivier doing a great job with his precise synths, keys and guitar lines. Furthermore, it definitely feels like the band is focusing a lot more on the atmosphere rather than just the music itself, and the final result is absolutely amazing. And the last song of the EP, Estranged, continues to wander between the rock and electronic genres in a very gentle and serene way, inviting us to simply close our eyes and let the hypnotic waves crafted by Michelle, Oliver & Co. invade our senses. In addition, some people like to say that musicians are the poets of the modern era we’re living in, and based on the lyrics crafted by Michelle and Olivier that statement is more than valid (“Estranged one, / in oblivion. / The disease has sprung. / Wear the mask of Cain. / ‘Cause you still haven’t learned to exit the dream. / And I still feel numb. / Estranged one, / in oblivion. / Symmetry gone wrong, / infertile brain.”).

You can listen to the entire EP by clicking HERE, follow Of Blood and Mercury on Facebook, and obviously show your true support to this classy duo by purchasing their debut EP directly from their BandCamp page. Now it’s just a matter of waiting for a full-bodied release by Of Blood and Mercury in the coming months, and until then we can satisfy our craving by listening to Strangers again, again and again, letting our minds and souls wander through the vast and melancholic lands of the distinct Avantgarde Noir Rock presented to us all by two veterans of the extreme music scene who are not afraid of experimenting and trying new musical styles and nuances, consequently showing the world there is no such thing as boundaries for musicians who create music from the bottom of their hearts.

Best moments of the album: Strangers.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Strangers 4:54
2. Walk the Void 5:30
3. Estranged 4:58

Band members
Michelle Nocon – vocals, programming
Olivier Lomer-Wilbers – guitars, keyboards, programming

Guest musicians
David Alexandre Parquier – bass
Jonas Sanders – drums, percussion

Metal Chick of the Month – Fallon Bowman

Then we lay there… Embracing our last stare… On a moonlit afternoon…

As The Headbanging Moose is based in Toronto, Canada, probably the most multi-cultural city in the world, there’s nothing better than having as our last metal chick of the year of 2017 a woman of Dutch and Indonesian descent that was born in Cape Town, South Africa, but that currently resides here in Toronto, playing an also diverse range of musical styles such as Alternative Metal, Nu Metal, Rock, Industrial and even Electronica. This woman, who’s a skillful vocalist and guitarist, goes by the name of Fallon Bowman, known for her involvement with the bands Kittie, Pigface and Amphibious Assault, as well as a solo career which she’s been pursuing since around 2011. Having said that, are you ready to bang your head to the electrifying music by the exotic Fallon?

Born on November 16, 1983 in Cape Town, a port city on South Africa’s southwest coast, on a peninsula beneath the imposing Table Mountain, Fallon has been active in the world of alternative and heavy music since 1996, when at the age of fourteen years old she helped to form Canadian Alternative Metal act Kittie with classmate Mercedes Lander and Mercedes’ sister, Morgan Lander, playing guitar and performing backing vocals for the band from their inception in 1996 until August 2001, when she left the band. As a matter of fact, her passion for music actually started a few years before Kittie, when she was around 10 years old, when she was fascinated with a guitar her grandfather had at his home in South Africa. However, she mentioned the guitar was not her first choice, as at first she wanted to be a drummer when she was around 12, but her parents were against it and she ended up getting a guitar from them after they saw her performance playing the song Violet, by Hole, at a school assembly with a friend using a friend’s guitar. Getting back to Kittie, Fallon has already explained several times in different interviews why she left the band, saying she was unhappy with some things in the band so she felt that maybe it was time for her to depart. Our dauntless guitarist recorded two albums with Kittie, those being the full-length Spit, in 1999, and the EP Paperdoll, in 2000, comprised of a remix of Spit’s song Paperdoll and five songs from Spit recorded live on June 15, 2000 at the Hultsfred Festival in Sweden.

Regarding the writing and meaning of the song Choke in Spit, Fallon said that it is “about someone telling you that they love you so much, and they put you up on a pedestal and make you feel great, then they turn around and say “screw you”, and you can sense that feeling while listening to the song (which you can do HERE). Furthermore, just to give you an idea of the impact of the release of Spit, right after that Kittie went on tours with bands such as Chevelle, Slipknot, Suicidal Tendencies, and Shuvel, also performing at Ozzfest and at the 2001 SnoCore festival. Hence, if you want to listen to Fallon playing her flammable guitar with Kittie, I recommend the songs Brackish and Charlotte, both taken from Spit.

Right after her departure from Kittie, Fallon experienced a period of stress due to splitting up with her friends from the band, but she managed to overcome that difficult situation after a while and got involved with her two next endeavors, the distinct bands Pigface and Amphibious Assault. Pigface is an industrial music supergroup formed in 1990 by Martin Atkins (Ministry, Killing Joke) and William Rieflin (Ministry, KMFDM, R.E.M., King Crimson), featuring tons of guest musicians such as our metal babe Fallon. She ended up recording several tracks with Pigface for their 2003 album Easy Listening…, which led her to begin writing music again due to the enjoyment she had during the recording process. She then purchased a sequencer and began exploring the industrial music genre that she admired but had never actively pursued, also filling her basement in the following months with drum machines and synthesizers, which in the end led to the writing of the songs for District Six, the debut album by her upcoming industrial project Amphibious Assault, mixing lots of heavy elements and aspects with her passion for industrial music. The name of the project was chosen during a flight from Toronto to New Jersey, when Bowman, at the age of seventeen, was skimming through a Tom Clancy novel when she came upon the term “amphibious assault”, with the whole project being, according to our talented musician herself, her personal “homage” to her KMFDM days, when she was obsessed with them. Amphibious Assault went on for a few years, from 2003 until 2007, with two full-length albums released, the aforementioned District Six in 2003 and On Better Days and Sin-Eating in 2006. If you want to take a listen at this more electronic side of Fallon, I recommend you check the songs Tears In Rain, District 6, The Importance Of Finding Narcissism, Mistakes, Breaks, Way Too Lates, and Benedictine, among many others.

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After the end of Amphibious Assault, Fallon mentioned that a new project was about to become a reality, tentatively named “Oh No, Torpedo!”, but that in the end became her solo project Fallon Bowman & The Grace Dynasty (with The Grace Dynasty being a five-piece band that included Rhim of The Birthday Massacre on drums), playing a series of live shows before announcing their forthcoming debut album, titled Human, Conditional, from 2011. However, right after the recording of the album was done, it was decided that the project would drop “The Grace Dynasty” from its name, being then just known as Fallon Bowman. You can take a detailed listen at Human, Conditional at Bowman’s own BandCamp page, with songs like the title-track Human, Conditional and Rio de Janeiro being a good sample of how her latest project sounds like.

Regarding her vocal range and her skills as a musician, Fallon mentioned in one of her interviews she’s highly influenced by R&B (thanks to her sister and parents), which allows her to do more than “just” scream and yell while singing, and that she hadn’t taken any singing lesson until she left Kittie. She said that her vocal teacher taught her all sorts of essential lessons about maintaining pitch while moving, and that she incorporated those into her performances to give it a more theatrical vibe. In addition, she also mentioned the emotion she transpires during her live performances is something that just happens, it’s very organic and it arises from the same place her lyrics and pain come from. And even in the middle of that sea of emotions, Fallon has time to sharpen her playing skills, being able to play guitar, keyboards, bass and sing (and getting there in regards to the piano), all helping her become a better composer. And did you know she has a degree in archeology? Well, that’s something almost no one actually knew until she was the subject of a prank for an episode of the short-lived Animal Planet series Freak Encounters a few years ago.

Fallon’s influences in music are just as diverse as her own background, with our talented multi-instrumentalist being highly influenced by R&B when it comes to her vocal style, but of course she also draws a lot of inspiration from electronic and rock music, saying that she loves the contrast between angelic singing and harder music. In terms of names, she said her taste for music varies from Whitney Houston to Deftones, from Calvin Harris to VNV Nation to Nirvana, and so on, mentioning that there’s beauty in all types of music. When asked about a band that she would have loved to tour with from the past, she promptly mentioned Nirvana, saying that meeting Kurt Cobain would have been a mind-blowing experience and that Nirvana, alongside with Hole, were the bands that made her want to be a musician. Furthermore, Fallon still had time to create her own dream band, that being David Gahan from Depeche Mode on vocals, Danny Carey from Tool on drums, Ryan from Mudvayne on bass, and Jimi Hendrix on guitar. How awesome do you think that supergroup would sound?

When asked about all changes that have impacted the music industry since she started her career back in 1996, she said when Kittie started they had almost no focus on the internet, as there wasn’t Facebook or anything like that at that time, saying it was all about street teams made up of fans that would spread the word about each band, something that doesn’t happen anymore nowadays. Fallon has been trying to learn about new apps and platforms to promote her music, and you can find her in several places, as for example you can buy her music on BandCamp, something that didn’t exist at all in the 90’s. Well, she’s also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, so let’s say she has adapted to this new reality in the music business as much as her taste in music has changed and evolved, right? Well, now let’s wait and see what the future holds for this young and restless musician, hoping that she keeps “invading” all current and new types of social media sites and music apps with her uniqueness and electricity.

Fallon Bowman’s Official Facebook page
Fallon Bowman’s Official Twitter
Fallon Bowman’s Official Instagram
Fallon Bowman’s Official YouTube channel
Fallon Bowman’s Official BandCamp

“I didn’t consciously think of what I was doing as a step for me as a woman of colour – it was more simple than that – being a teenager wanting to be a rockstar. In retrospect however, no one besides maybe Skin was doing that style of music and was also a woman of colour. It’s a bit mind blowing really. There was really no one else doing that at that level.” – Fallon Bowman

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 – Noora Louhimo

noora01

Let It Roar, Noora!

It is a well-known fact that all Finnish women are pretty and charming, absolutely no doubt about that. But it’s when a girl from the land of ice and snow releases her inner beast that things get even more exciting, which is exactly the case with our Metal Chick of the Month, the ravishing Noora Louhimo, lead singer of Finnish Heavy Metal band Battle Beast. And if you don’t like the voice and the looks of this blonde “warrior princess”, honestly, I don’t know what to say.

Noora was born on November 6, 1988 in Tampere, Finland, around 180km north of the capital Helsinki, and she has been singing since she was only 4 years old. She had many hobbies before she started focusing on singing, such as dancing, acting, drawing, painting and anything else she could do to express herself. When she was around 13 years old, she had her first band at school, singing Finnish pop songs as well as love ballads from artists like Whitney Houston and Celine Dion.

Despite being a huge fan of Heavy Metal from the 80’s when she was a teenager, when she was 16 years old she had some classical singing lessons, before starting to study music in a more Pop/Jazz-line and doing some jam sessions at bars at the age of 19. That was also when she found her first band, called Admiral Octopus, at a place called BluesBar. The band used to play Rock N’ Roll and Blues from the 60’s, 70’s, and also songs from Janis Joplin, which according to Noora herself is the reason why she got the rasp in her voice. After Admiral Octopus, Noora took part in a singing competition called “Wanna Be A Rock N’ Roll Star” at a place called Henry’s Pub, also in Tampere, and guess what? She won the competition singing Janis Joplin’s classic Piece of My Heart. That’s how her single Relax was born, and that’s pretty much her history before joining Battle Beast.

It was during autumn in 2012, right after Battle Beast finished touring some summer rock festivals in Finland, that singer Nitte Valo, who was with the band since its inception in 2008, announced to be leaving the band due to family issues. In September 2012, guitarist Anton Kabanen found Noora by accident on YouTube when he was searching for a new vocalist for Battle Beast, and after a couple of calls Noora accepted the challenge to be the new frontwoman of the band. In 2013 our blonde diva recorded her first full-length release with the band, the powerful self-titled album Battle Beast, and more recently the also amazing Unholy Saviour, in January 2015.

The Finnish lioness mentioned in one of her interviews that she does many different exercises with her voice, rest it when needed and then a lot more, and also that working out is a very important part of keeping her vocals in a good shape. Whatever she’s actually doing with her voice, it’s working more than perfectly, as we can notice in her excellent performance on a Finnish television program in 2014 singing the song Into the Heart of Danger, her contributions to the good song Satans of Swing by Finnish band Somehow Jo! and to the inspiring Eye to Eye by Swiss Melodic Power Metal band Crystal Ball, and also singing one of her favorite songs from Battle Beast, the electrifying tune Let It Roar. One interesting fact about her singing style is that, as much as she wants to sound like a female singer with “balls”, she wants to sound feminine and sexy at the same time.

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In regards to her main influences in life, our warrior princess doesn’t only sing Heavy Metal, but a huge variety of music genres such as Soul, Rock, Blues, among others, and those different styles are what keep her in balance and inspired as a singer. As aforementioned, she started listening to metal music when she was 16 years old, and that “fire” started actually with Guns N’ Roses. When she heard Welcome to the Jungle for the first time, she knew there was no coming back. Then there came Dio, Judas Priest, W.A.S.P. and of course Iron Maiden. Although her list of influences is endless, including names such as Robert Plant, Freddie Mercury, Ronnie James Dio, Whitney Houston, Blackie Lawless, Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson, Michael Jackson, Axl Rose and many more, her biggest idols in music are first Janis Joplin and second Ann Wilson.

And last but not least, when asked if she’s addicted to any bad habit or guilty pleasure, her answer couldn’t be more feminine than that: chocolate. Well, our “blonde ninja” is an extremely talented and beautiful woman, and Finnish chocolate is by far one of the best in the world. I guess there couldn’t be a better combination than that to celebrate two years of The Headbanging Moose, right?

Noora Louhimo’s Official Facebook page
Battle Beast’s Official Facebook page

“My passion has always been music and different ways of expressing myself as an artist.” – Noora Louhimo

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”

Website Review – Metal Travel Guide

Worldwide Rock and Heavy Metal Location Guide.

Rating4

mtgIf you’re visiting a different city, province or country for the holidays, or if you’re already booking all your flights, trains and hotels for your vacations next summer, you might want to add to your trip some good Heavy Metal, right? Why not having a beer or two (or three, or four…) at a Metal pub, maybe watching a cover band or an original new band playing, instead of going to the same boring restaurants and pubs everyone goes during holidays?

An excellent source of information in terms of pubs, venues and some festivals is the Metal Travel Guide, a pretty straight forward website that lists many different Rock and Metal locations all around the world, divided by continents, countries and cities, and where users can review the locations and rate them on a scale from 0 to 5 (similar to what I use in my reviews). This is what they have on their homepage explaining what MTG is:

“The Metal Travel Guide (MTG) is the internets largest and longest running worldwide directory of places for rock music and heavy metal music fans.

MTG is a continuously growing database of bars, venues, clubs, events & shops from across the globe, added and reviewed by people like you!”

mtg01By reading the reviews you can have a good idea of the places, if they’re still open, the prices, type of music etc. For example, take a look at the MTG page for the rock pub called ROCK & NUBBE, located in Lisbon, Portugal: it has its full address, opening hours, phone number, Facebook page, and a couple of reviews saying it’s a nice option for any day of the week. Some locations even have a picture to make it easier for travelers to identify them as soon as they get there.

Of course I haven’t been to most of the locations listed on MTG. however, I can talk about the ones located in São Paulo, Brazil as I used to live there and have a beer at all those places at least once a month, like Blackmore Rock Bar and Manifesto Bar, where by the way I saw Blaze Bayley playing live twice. Those two pubs are awesome for Friday and Saturday nights, always with a good selection of tribute bands from a variety of Metal giants such as Iron Maiden, Metallica, Black Sabbath, Pantera, Slayer, Judas Priest, Nightwish, among others. Another place I would recommend from the list is Galeria do Rock, a huge Rock and Metal shopping mall located in the heart of the city, offering all kinds of Metal stuff and memorabilia. The only issue with this one is that the neighborhood is extremely dangerous, but if you go with some friends during daylight that’s fine.

mtg02The page for the Canadian pubs and venues unfortunately doesn’t seem to be updated regularly, with very few options and almost no reviews, especially in Toronto (Montreal is a little better, with a lot more places and reviews added). What a shame for such a big and beautiful country, where Rock and Metal have always been part of its history. Without any doubt, the best selection of Rock and Metal pubs can be found in the page dedicated to Europe, of course. It’s an almost perfect source for metalheads that are backpacking around the Old Continent during the summer.

You can also visit their Facebook Page, where there are lots of headbangers from all continents discussing about good Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal pubs and parties to go when you’re visiting a different city or country, and also keep updated with new additions to the website by following their official Twitter.

In summary, I recommend you take a look at all options from MTG before packing your bags. Because travelling can be awesome, but travelling with Heavy Metal is a true celebration of awesomeness.