It’s time to get lost in the musical and lyrical universe developed around a pervasive feeling of “weltschmertz” by this distinguished Romanian Funeral Doom act.
Founded in 2010 in Rădăuți, Suceava County, in Romania, but currently located in Cluj-Napoca, Cluj County, also in Romania, an idiosyncratic Doom Metal/Funeral Doom entity known as Descend into Despair has been gradually rising from that point into one of the most noteworthy bands in the local scene, fusing together Death, Black and Sludge Metal with Electronica and Dark Ambient elements to further refine what they like to call “Introspective Doom Metal”, pushing creative boundaries and taking pride in experimenting as much as they can. The band currently comprised of Xander Coza on vocals, analogue synthesizer and guitars, Florentin Popa on clean and choir vocals, lap steel guitars and field recordings, Dragoș C. and Cosmin Farcău on the guitars, Alex Costin on bass, Flaviu Roșca on keyboards and piano, and Luca Breaz on drums developed a musical and lyrical universe around a pervasive feeling of “weltschmertz”, a brooding and ever-looming feeling that physical reality can never fully satisfy the demands of the mind. Now in 2020 the band returns with their third full-length opus, simply titled Opium, offering fans of Funeral Doom almost one hour of cryptic and melancholic passages split into three unique compositions, all embraced by a stunning cover artwork conceptualized by Xander himself, featuring model Melinda Nagy, painting by István Bába and bodypaint by Brigitta Adorjan. “Opium’s conceptual driving force is, we believe, fully grasped within this image, blurring the lines between painting and photography. Twisting classical beauty into modern obsession, weaving harmony of proportion into the disharmony of meaning that soaks through the fabric of existence, our Venus rises forth from horror and remembrance, drained by her rebirth, as murky as the sea that bore her,” commented the band about the connection between the concept of the art and the musical content of their newborn opus.
Featuring guest female vocals by Tara Vanflower, an atmospheric and peaceful start slowly and gradually evolves into a lugubrious feast of doom in ensh[r]ine, with the band’s guitarists Dragos and Cosmin meticulously smashing their stringed axes while Luca brings the thunder with his potent beats. Furthermore, Xander sounds like a beast from the pits of hell with his deep guttural gnarls, with the crisp and crystalline background keys and synths by Flaviu adding a touch of finesse to their mournful musicality. In other words, it’s truly impressive how they fill every single space in the air with tons of heaviness but sounding melodic and ethereal at the same time, ending such massive composition in a beyond enfolding way. Then sinister, atmospheric sounds and tones permeate the air in the also extensive, multi-layered and utterly doomed antumbra, where Xander’s gruesome roars get even more introspective and grim accompanied by the sluggish and melancholic beats by Luca, while the raw sounds of the guitars generate a beautiful paradox with all background keys and synths, also presenting several breaks and variations throughout its 17 lugubrious minutes, and once again bringing an orchestral, cinematic vibe until the very end. Lastly, an array of guests doing choir vocals and spoken pieces are one of the main ingredients in the pensive and obscure closing tune dis[re]member, where the delicate piano notes by Flaviu and the slow and steady beats by Luca walk hand in hand in a hypnotizing Doom Metal voyage. It’s by far the most intricate and the darkest of all three songs, with Dragos, Cosmin and Alex bringing an otherworldly vibe to the music with their sonic weapons, not to mention the breathtaking final act showcasing grim spoken words, crisp guitars and infernal roars amidst a perturbing sense of hopelessness.
In summary, if you can’t live without your daily dosage of Funeral Doom, then this excellent album made in Romania is exactly what you need to fulfill your darkest needs. Hence, don’t forget to show your true support to the guys from Descend into Despair by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, and above all that, by purchasing Opium (which is also available in full on YouTube and on Spotify) from Funere’s Bandcamp page, or go to DistroKid for all options where you can buy or stream the album. Mixed by Indee Rehal Sagoo in London, UK, and mastered by Greg Chandler at Priory Recording Studios in Birmingham, UK, Opium will certainly please all admirers of the most introspective and funereal side of Doom Metal, leaving a scathing mark in the hearts of those who dare to venture through the album’s 59 minutes of sheer obscurity, solitude and sorrow.
The year of 2019 might be coming to an end, but not before we fill the airwaves with the stunning vocals by Aura Dănciulescu, the winged frontwoman for Romanian Symphonic Heavy/Power Metal band Scarlet Aura and our awesome metal chick of the month of December. Born Aura Gabriela Danciulescu on October 28, 1985 in Fălticeni, a city in Suceava County, north-eastern Romania, situated in the historical region of Moldavia, Aura is a multi-talented singer, lyricist and songwriter, always passionate about music and writing. Of light brown hair (but currently dyed blonde) and brown eyes, Aura has all the attributes fans of heavy music look for in a vocalist, and I’m sure after reading a little about our gorgeous metalhead you’ll get addicted to her music and be quite impressed with her skills, transparency and deep love for our good old Heavy Metal.
Aura, who by the way has a famous sister, Mihaela Pohoaţă, a Romanian aerobic gymnast who won five world championships medals (three gold and two bronze) and three European championships gold medals during her career, started singing when she was just a little kid, and her initial performance was so bad her parents actually decided to put her in vocal lessons to improve her skills. By the way, her parents have always supported her decisions, letting her be free, believe in herself and have her own goals. She then naturally decided to become a singer after the vocal lessons when she was around 10 years old, developing her voice through the years until reaching the superb level she sings nowadays. Although she’s always been a rock and metal fan, it was when she met her now husband, Mihai Danciulescu, lead guitarist and backing vocalist for Scarlet Aura, that she really started to adore it, with Mihai explaining to her all the different styles of rock and metal music and introducing her to some of his biggest idols. Furthermore, before dedicating her life to music from the year of 2011 onward, Aura went to University of Bucharest and studied political science and law school, also holding a few extra courses on diplomacy and national defense and having worked for a few years at the Romanian Senate.
After numerous music projects and her first rock band Steelborn, having recorded with the band the EP’s Un Nou Inceput and Intr-Un Vis, both in 2010, and the full-length album Trup De Apa, in 2012, all in her mother tongue Romanian (and if you want to listen to Aura beautifully singing the band’s pleasant Rock N’ Roll you can check a couple of YouTube videos with the songs Orice Ar Fi & Suflet Furat live and Ratacire), it all eventually led to creation in 2014 of Scarlet Aura, the exotic rising metal star of the East that quickly got the attention of promoters and fans worldwide. By the way, if you would like to enjoy a very interesting “fusion” of Aura’s past and present, Scarlet Aura recorded in 2018 a heavier version of one of Steelborn’s oldest songs, Un Nou Inceput, the title-track to their 2010 debut EP. Having already toured with renowned acts like Tarja Turunen, Beast in Black and Soto, the band comprised of our unstoppable Aura on vocals, the aforementioned Mihai on the guitars and backing vocals, Rene Nistor on bass and backing vocals, and Doru Gheorghita on drums are on a roll since their inception, positioning them as one of the most promising names in the current European scene.
As a matter of fact, the name scarlet Aura was only adopted in 2015, with the band’s original name AURA being used only during their first year of existence, having released under their old name the album The Rock Chick. In addition, as you might have noticed, Aura and Mihai met in 2010 while playing with Steelborn, and after a few years they fell in love, got married and decided to pursue a career together as Scarlet Aura. Under their new and powerful name, Aura and the boys have already released the full-length albums Falling Sky in 2016, Memories in 2017, and Hot’n’Heavy in 2018, as well as the EP The Beast Within Me in 2017 and the CD/DVD box set Scarlet Aura in Concert (recorded live at Quantic Pub in Bucharest on April 27, 2017) in 2018. Moreover, Scarlet Aura are set to release in 2020 their fifth album, entitled Stormbreaker, and the second one in the trilogy The Book Of Scarlet, once again combining metal music with fantasy literature, and if you want to show your true support to Aura and the boys you can help them make the album come true by participating in their Indiegogo campaign. also, the band’s official YouTube channel is and endless source of awesomeness, providing us metalheads several first-class videos for the best songs form all of their albums, such as Hail To You!, High in the Sky, Hate is Evanescent, Violence is Forever, My Own Nightmare, You’re Not Alone, Immortal In Your Eyes and Fallin’ to Pieces, not to mention other interesting videos from the band playing songs like In The Name Of My Pain at a Romanian TV show called Antena 1, and their full performance at Transalpina Rock Fest in 2018.
In addition to all of the band’s original material, I would also recommend you take a very good listen at their 2017 album Memories, which is pretty much a tribute to all of their idols and influences in music, mixing some of the biggest metal hits in history with non-metal cover songs as well. For instance, you can enjoy Aura giving her own feminine twist to all-time Heavy Metal and Hard Rock classics like Judas Priest’s Breaking the Law, Blind Guardian’s A Past and Future Secret, Europe’s The Final Countdown, Iron Maiden’s Wasting Love, Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger, Twisted Sister’s We’re Not Gonna Take It, Ozzy Osbourne & Lita Ford’s If I Close My Eyes Forever, and Dio’s Don’t Talk To Strangers, or maybe you fancy listening to her personal interpretation of hits by female-fronted bands from the most diverse styles like Skunk Anansie’s My Ugly Boy, Doro’s All We Are, and The Cranberries’ Zombie. You can obviously find these and all of their own original songs by directly visiting their Spotify profile, bringing to your metallic ears hours of first-class metal music made in Romania.
Apart from her life with Scarlet Aura, was also a guest vocalist in a song called Plecăciune Zăului, from the album Zăul Moș, released in 2017 by Romanian Symphonic Black Metal band Syn Ze Șase Tri (with the name of the band translating as “I Am With Triple Six”, just to give you an idea of how dark their music is). Not only that, Aura has also been working as a moderator at Wacken Radio since April this year, spearheading the first ever English show of the radio called Go Wild. “I was invited to give an interview on Scarlet Aura in the S.T.U.N.T.S. metal show, for Wacken Radio, held by TinU and SlayerOfMadness. We connected immediately and the invitation to join them as host came naturally and I couldn’t be more honored and happy to say Yes! And soon I discovered that Wacken Radio supports radio hosts applicants that can join the family by applying and going through some tests and if they pass, they can be also part of Wacken Radio! I passed the tests too so here I am!”, said Aura about her new experience as a show host. Furthermore, this is not the first connection with Wacken organization for Scarlet Aura, as the band was supported by Wacken Foundation in 2018.
Aura doesn’t use only her voice as her instrument of work, as her brain also seems to be a nonstop source of great ideas and projects. For example, Aura is the managing director for a Tallinn, Estonia-based record label named Silver City Records, founded by Aura herself together with her husband and bandmate Mihai and Tatyana Shubina (from Outlanders Productions), exclusively for rock and metal bands, and if you have a band looking for an up-and-coming label you can contact them directly via Facebook or by e-mail at email@example.com. She was also a guest speaker at an event held by Mastering the Music Business, the leading Romanian music conference and showcase event, where she talked about her music, her business and her vision as a a successful performing artist, manager and record label CEO that she is, and you can also hire Aura for marketing and advertising purposes as a voice actor through a website called Voices.com, where you can see our multi-talented diva has already worked for Vodafone România, real estate companies and other local advertising companies, being able not only to sing classical, rock and metal music, but also to impersonate voices from all ages in English, Romanian, French and Italian for an array of projects like animations, documentaries, movie trailers and video-games, among others. Well, in the end I think the question should be “is there something she CAN’T do?”
A lover of the simple things that make our lives more fun such as pizza, red wine, yoga, cats, writing, reading, carpentry and painting, with her favorite movie of all time being the 1939 classic Gone with the Wind and her favorite books being from English author Terry Pratchett, Aura has among her biggest idols some of the most iconic names in the history of Heavy Metal, including the one and only Ronnie James Dio (R.I.P.), the unstoppable Mr. Bruce Dickinson, and Slayer’s own roaring engine Tom Araya, as well as bands like German institution Helloween, and on a more feminine side she always mentions names like the unparalled Tarja Turunen and Doro. However, Aura mentioned in one of her interviews that she always searches inside herself for the power she needs to print her own convictions, her own beliefs and of course her own voice, also mentioning her own mother as her biggest idol of all, which is just fantastic, don’t you agree? She also considers scarlet as her favorite color (which makes total sense to me), My Own Nightmare as her favorite Scarlet Aura song, and the day she married Mihai, on September 22, 2012, as the best day of her life.
Just like any other true metalhead, our Romanian bombshell simply loves touring and performing live, always eager to promote her music to the four corners of the earth and to inspire all girls out there to join her in her female-fronted metal movement. When asked about her experience sharing the stage with her idol Tarja Turunen in 2016, considered by many as the most influential woman in modern-day metal music, she said that meeting her was really overwhelming at first, and that she was able to learn a lot from her during that tour. One funny (and somewhat stressful) episode during the tour with Tarja happened when Scarlet Aura’s crew crew lost their stage clothing luggage, forcing the band to improvise by borrowing belts, T-Shirts and make up. Moreover, Aura also has very good memories of other conerts with renowned acts of the metal scene like Accept, Doro, Nazareth, Gotthard, Helloween and Europe, showing how much all members of Scarlet Aura are connected to metal and how much they admire and are influenced by their music idols. And last but not least, when Aura was asked about the current metal scene in her birthplace Romania, she said that it has been continuously growing, getting bigger and shinier as the years go by, and that she expects it keeps getting more and more important to the world of heavy music. She complemented by saying that growth, especially her own band’s rise to stardom, wouldn’t be possible without the support of metalheads in Romania and worldwide, always praising fans like us for all support and passion we have for our good old Heavy Metal.
“As an artist I’m not afraid to dig into the unknown by approaching sensible subjects in our songs, subjects like the difficulty of being honest with others but also with yourself regarding your own feelings, the need of overcoming a huge sufferance that troubles you, the lack of courage when it’s about doing the right thing, the lack of love or the crying for it… subjects that make ourselves human, subjects that are in each one of us and that makes us who we are and maybe throughout our music, we get recovered, healed or better, we discover ourselves for who we really are because with any doubt music heals the spirit, metal heals the heart.” – Aura Dănciulescu