Album Review – DSKNT / Vacuum γ-Noise Transition (2021)

One of the most unique projects of the Swiss metal scene returns in full force with a reality-destroying album that takes shape as a dark and multidimensional hallucination deep into reality’s most cryptic and terrifying truths.

Fully conceived, recorded, produced and mastered by the band itself within the confines of their own studio, the brand new album by Swiss Black Metal monstrosity DSKNT, the horrific Vacuum γ​-​Noise Transition, can be seen as a devouring nightmare of omnipotent sonic annihilation conceived at the most liminal edges of sanity, pushing the boundaries of Experimental Metal further and further. Formed in 2013 in Sion, a city in the southwestern Swiss canton of Valais, DSKNT first emerged in 2017 out of total obscurity in their native homeland with an unexpected and insanely crushing self-recorded debut album titled PhSPHR Entropy, but it’s now in 2021 that vocalist Quasar and multi-instrumentalist Asknt are ready to pulverize our senses with Vacuum γ​-​Noise Transition, a reality-destroying album that takes shape as a dark and multidimensional hallucination deep into reality’s most cryptic and terrifying truths, embraced by a primeval yet darkly futuristic artwork by AntïGraphic.

Eerie and cryptic from the very first second, the disruptive and atmospheric noises from the intro Spin set the stage for DSKNT to crush our minds in Deconvolution J/ψ [Part I], with Asknt smashing his guitars and drums mercilessly in great Black Metal fashion while Quasar vociferates the song’s otherworldly words manically, sending an austere message to mankind (“Bend the Origins. Destructurate. / Behind the sporadic affliction of Negated, the utter halogenic radiance. / Crawling mechanics of void disturbance. / Degenerating. Ravenous partial reconfiguration of abscond deity.”). After such infernal and experimental start, it’s time for the duo to keep hammering our souls in Transition K0 [Part I], showcasing infernal blast beats and fills, countless breaks and variations and an endless sense of dementia, all spearheaded by the inhumane roars by Quasar in order to make things even more hellish and dissident.

There’s no time to breathe as DSKNT’s thunderous sounds keep permeating the air in the Death and Black Metal extravaganza Θ-Noise – Phase Shift, presenting elements from Avantgarde Black Metal in the piercing riffage blasted by Asknt; whereas an absolute feel of despair impregnates each and every instrument in the also noise-fueled aria Transition Ω- [Part II], where the duo continues to mix the past, present and future of extreme music, resulting in a wicked and fulminating sound that could be labeled as “Apocalyptic Black Metal”. Then get ready for a 9-minute dissonant Black Metal voyage together with DSKNT entitled Deconvolution Ξ*0 [Part II], sounding and feeling noisy and distorted from the very first second, with Quasar’s demonic gnarls walking hand in hand with the hurricane of riffs, bass jabs and beats brought forth by Asknt. Put differently, it couldn’t have sounded more tormenting nor more austere than what it already does, darkly morphing into the vile outro Spore, as dissonant as the album’s intro, putting the perfect “full circle” conclusion to such entertaining album of extreme music.

The music by DSKNT is all around us, and you can experience such distinct metal voyage by purchasing Vacuum γ​-​Noise Transition from a vast array of locations including the band’s own BandCamp page, the Sentient Ruin Laboratories’ BandCamp page or webstore, Apple Music, Season of Mist (CD and cassette), Midheaven Mailorder, Cargo Records, and ebullition.com, or simply stream it as many times as you want on Spotify. Needless to say, you should also start following DSKNT on Facebook and on Instagram to stay up-to-date with all things surrounding this insane project, including new music, new videos and tour dates. And after knowing more about DKSNT and their disturbing creations, you’ll then realize metal music can go much further than the boundaries and limits you’re accustomed to.

Best moments of the album: Θ-Noise – Phase Shift and Deconvolution Ξ*0 [Part II].

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Sentient Ruin Laboratories

Track listing
1. Spin 3:03
2. Deconvolution J/ψ [Part I] 7:38
3. Transition K0 [Part I] 6:39
4. Θ-Noise – Phase Shift 5:59
5. Transition Ω- [Part II] 7:20
6. Deconvolution Ξ*0 [Part II] 9:17
7. Spore 3:23

Band members
Quasar – vocals
Asknt – all instruments

Album Review – Black Diamonds / No-Tell Hotel (2021)

These talented Swiss hard rockers are finally back in action with their fourth full-length album, inviting us all for a massive load of rock and glamour once we step through the door of the band’s own hotel.

Following up on the success of their 2017 album Once Upon A Time, Rhine Valley, Switzerland-based hard rockers Black Diamonds are finally back in action with their fourth full-length album entitled No-Tell Hotel, inviting us all for a massive load of rock and glamour once we step through the door of the band’s own hotel. Currently formed of Michael Kehl on vocals and guitar, newcomer Chris Johnson on lead guitar (replacing the band’s former guitarist Andreas Rohner), Andi Fässler on bass and Manuel Peng on drums, Black Diamonds tell gripping stories of the guests at No-Tell Hotel, leaving no detail out in their new album and, more important than that, offering our ears pure, kick-ass Rock N’ Roll that brings back the fun and rebellious attitude of the Sunset Strip of 1986, being therefore recommended for fans of Mötley Crüe, Poison and the early years of Bon Jovi, among others.

Chris and Michael ignite the band’s rockin’ machine with their classic riffs in No-Tell Hotel, where the whole band sounds sharper and more melodic than in their 2017 album, all spiced up by wicked guitar solos and a catchy chorus, while in Evil Twin we’re treated to lyrics about the dangers of alcoholism (“I am a married man, the nice guy next door / A valued member of community / I lead a quiet life, yet I’m far from bored / Because my job can be sheer lunacy / And in the nighttime, when the mood is right / A few drinks are all it takes to turn the tide”) embraced by a true headbanging rhythm where Manuel is bestial behind his drums. Then acoustic guitar generate an introspective ambience for Michael to shine on vocals before the electricity level goes through the roof in Lonesome Road, an old school Rock N’ Roll tune infused with 80’s Hard Rock; and putting the pedal to the metal the band delivers a Hard Rock and Glam Metal hymn titled Forever Wild, spearheaded by the slashing guitars by Michael and Chris while Andi hammers his bass in great Duff McKagan-inspired fashion.

It’s time for a pure, unfiltered Hair Metal chant titled Saturday (and don’t forget to check their South Park-themed official video as it kicks ass), where although its lyrics are a bit odd they make total sense if you’re into 80’s rock and metal, with Manuel dictating the pace with his stylish beats. Then slowing things down the quartet delivers a passionate ballad named Anytime, a bit cheesy (but in a good way), with their soulful solos adding an extra touch of finesse to the overall result, not to mention its delicate piano notes; while pounding drums and endless stamina are the main ingredients in The Island, with Michael being absolutely on fire with his raspy vocals accompanied by the razor-edged and very melodic guitars by Chris, resulting in a song highly recommended for a day at the beach. And their Rock N’ Roll steamroller continues to crush us all in the melodic My Fate, where the rumbling bass by Andi and the headbanging drums by Manuel will put you to dance together with the band.

Hand In Hand is another serene and atmospheric ballad by Black Diamonds where Michael takes the lead with his classic vocal lines while Chris provides him a solid support with his Bon Jovi-like acoustic guitars, whereas back to a more thrilling sound it’s time to get down to the Sunset Strip in Reaching For The Stars, with Andi and Manuel delivering sheer thunder with their a heavy kitchen while Michael sends a positive message through his vocals. And as we all know, it’s not a true Hard Rock album without some cowbell, offered by Black Diamonds in the exciting Turn To Dust, presenting hints of the music by icons such as AC/DC, Motley Crüe and Guns N’ Roses, consequently being perfect for singing along with the band; whereas a Western-ish intro evolves into a dancing tune entitled Outlaw, showcasing a galloping rhythm, endless fun and a very entertaining performance by all band members incorporating traditional country music elements to their core Hard Rock.

Black Diamond’s Rock N’ Roll party is just starting inside No-Tell Hotel, and if you want to join those talented Swiss rockers in their celebration of life, death, love and hate you can follow them on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details about the band, subscribe to their YouTube channel and stream their catalogue on Spotify for more of their 80’s Hard Rock, and of course purchase No-Tell Hotel from their own webstore, or by clicking HERE to buy or stream your favorite version of the album. Having said all that, what are you waiting for to spend a few nights at No-Tell Hotel together with Black Diamonds? I’m sure you’ll have nothing but a good time relaxing at such respectful hotel to the sound of their inspiring music.

Best moments of the album: Evil Twin, Forever Wild and The Island.

Worst moments of the album: Hand In Hand.

Released in 2021 Metalapolis Records

Track listing
1. No-Tell Hotel 4:01
2. Evil Twin 5:12
3. Lonesome Road 3:50
4. Forever Wild 4:22
5. Saturday 3:20
6: Anytime 4:45
7. The Island 3:58
8. My Fate 3:31
9. Hand In Hand 5:17
10. Reaching For The Stars 3:57
11. Turn To Dust 3:50
12. Outlaw 3:55

Band members
Michael Kehl – vocals, guitar
Chris Johnson – lead guitar
Andi Fässler – bass
Manuel Peng – drums

Album Review – Chaoseum / Second Life (2020)

After taking their first step to hell, it’s time for those Swiss metallers to stun us all with their sophomore album, showcasing a thrilling fusion of Metalcore and Nu Metal with a theatrical twist.

Founded in 2018 by Loïc Duruz and Valery Veings, both former guitarists of Symphonic Metal band Elferya, the up-and-coming Lausanne, Switzerland-based Metalcore act Chaoseum is back in action in 2020 with their sophomore album entitled Second Life, presenting the band’s trademark amalgamation of styles including Metalcore, Power Crossover and Nu Metal, among others. Recorded at both Chaos Studio and Conatus Studios, mixed by Gwen Kerjan from Slab Sound Studio, and featuring a beautiful artwork by Brazilian artist Gustavo Sazes, Second Life brings forward a new (and more theatrical) era in the career of Chaoseum, with its 11 original compositions thoroughly crafted by Loïc and Valery together with fontman CK Smile and drummer Greg Turini appealing to all fans of the modern metal music played by bands such as Lacuna Coil, Korn, Trivium, Killswitch Engage and Slipknot, among others.

The creepy, cinematic intro XXV-IX-MMXX (or September 15, 2020, the official release date of the album) will send shivers down your spine before the quartet comes crushing with their vicious Metalcore in Hell Has No Way Out, with Greg sounding like a machine gun on drums while Loïc and Valery fire melodious riffs for our total delight and CK roars and sings with tons of anguish. The melodic and aggressive title-track Second Life starts in an atmospheric way before exploding into a visceral fusion of Metalcore and Melodic Death Metal, with the rumbling sounds of the bass by Loïc punching us hard in the head, followed by Into My Split, a fulminating Alternative Metal tune tailored for banging our heads nonstop or simply enjoying the gentle guitars and beats by the band, all spiced up by CK’s introspective performance. Then we have the excellent Smile Again, clearly inspired by Nu Metal masters Korn, with CK doing his best Jonathan Davis impersonation while Loïc and Valery keep delivering pure metallic lines through their riffs and bass punches; whereas it’s time to speed things up and offer the listener the sinister and alternative Scream, with Loïc, Valery and Greg bringing tons of progressiveness to their wicked sonority, and with its futuristic and modern vibe being all CK needs to shine on vocals.

Stick Under My Skin is another song with a cryptic, mesmerizing intro, evolving into a feast of Alternative, Groove and Progressive Metal where CK’s clean and harsh vocals are nicely supported by his bandmates’ backing vocals, while Burn My Eyes is a solid rock and metal creation by Chaoseum, albeit a bit generic if compared to the rest of the album, with both Loïc and Valery doing a great job with their flammable guitars. And you better get ready as there’s still a lot more of the music by Chaoseum, starting with Feel, a modern, industrialized party perfect for their live performances where the quartet enhances their rage, punch and insanity. Put differently, this is a heavier version of traditional Alternative Metal led by the classic beats by Greg, while things can’t get more alternative nor groovier than in Sex In Hell, a suggestive song name that matches perfectly with the heavy but sexy music played by the band, resulting in a dark ballad where CK steals the spotlight with his devilish vocals. Lastly, there’s more of their groovy bass punches and rhythmic beats intertwined with futuristic background elements and the raspy vocals by CK in Frozen, a song which fans of Korn, Lacuna Coil and other modern metal bands will surely love.

In a nutshell, it doesn’t matter if you’re a longtime fan of Alternative and Nu Metal or if you’re taking your first steps in this more modern side of heavy music, you should definitely add Second Life to your daily playlist (and you can do so by streaming the album in full on Spotify). Chaoseum put their hearts and souls into the making of their new opus, and you can sense that passion and hard work in each and every track of the album, proving those Swiss metallers are o the right path to stardom. Hence, don’t forget to show them your support by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, by subscribing to their YouTube channel and, above all that, by purchasing their new album from their own BandCamp page or webstore (where you can by the way find tons of ass-kicking merch as well), from Apple Music or from Amazon. Chaoseum’s “first step to hell” was already solid and vibrant, but it’s under this new era, or maybe I should call it their “second life”, that the band is ready to show the world what their music is all about.

Best moments of the album: Hell Has No Way Out, Scream and Stick Under My Skin.

Worst moments of the album: Burn My Eyes.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. XXV-IX-MMXX 0:58
2. Hell Has No Way Out 4:07
3. Second Life 4:18
4. Into My Split 4:18
5. Smile Again 4:27
6. Scream 3:38
7. Stick Under My Skin 4:51
8. Burn My Eyes 3:31
9. Feel 4:39
10. Sex In Hell 5:41
11. Frozen 4:41

Band members
CK Smile – vocals
Loïc Duruz – guitars, bass
Valery Veings – guitars
Greg Turini – drums

Album Review – Calarook / Surrender Or Die (2020)

On a quest for booze we go together with those unstoppable Swiss pirates and their debut full-length album.

On a quest for booze we go! That’s what frontman Philipp Wyssen, guitarist Nico Wiget, bassist Flavio Pompeo, drummer Yves Locher and violinist Lukas Mischler, collectively known as the unrelenting Winterthur, Switzerland-based Pirate Metal crew Calarook, promise to deliver in their debut full-length album Surrender Or Die, mixing rabid Melodic Death Metal with Folk Metal parts and sometimes a pinch of wonderful nonsense, therefore inviting us all to celebrate, mosh and headbang like there’s no tomorrow. Calarook have been on a roll since the band’s inception in 2014 (under the name Calico), firing an endlessly captivating seafaring sound that leaves no one standing still or even sober, starting with their 2017 EP Calico, but it’s now with Surrender Or Die that the quintet is ready to take us all on a full-bodied adventure across the seven seas, offering our avid ears over 69 minutes of first-class metal music while at the same time being always ready for more booze, pillaging and partying in the name of heavy music.

The tolling bells in the epic intro 47°30’18”N 8°51’52”E warn us all their festivities are about to start in A Cursed Ship’s Tale, sounding furious and imposing thanks to the crushing beats by Yves and the guttural roars by Philipp, while Lukas brings his share of lunacy with his whimsical violin, flowing smoothly until its climatic finale. They offer more of their visceral fusion of Melodic Death Metal with classic Death Metal and pirate music in Quest For Booze, an ode to all alcoholic beverages where Nico is unstoppable with his riffage accompanied by the rumbling bass by Flavio and the once again magical violin by Lukas, whereas it’s time to break your necks headbanging to the sound of Into The Storm, with Yves pounding his drums like a cannon from a pirate ship while Philipp continues to blast his inebriate, unfriendly growls. In the title-track Surrender Or Die the “captain” vociferates the song’s sailing lyrics rabidly (“We change the course / To pursue the prey / The distance gets smaller / The target turns away / But we can catch up / Prepared to fight / The cannons are loaded / Everyone is quiet”) while his bandmates generate a strong ambience with their respective instruments, inspiring us all to fight side by side with the band; and Flavio and his metallic bass ignite the rhythmic, dancing tune curiously titled Invisible Pineapples, showcasing an amazing job done by Nico with his slashing riffs. Put differently, simply  grab your beer and your sword and get ready to rock together with those metal pirates.

And those buccaneers keep delivering heaviness, speed and harmony in the excellent Kraken’s Chest, the epitome of Pirate Metal overflowing electricity and fury, also presenting an interesting paradox between Lukas’ classy violin and Yves’ thunderous beats, before it’s time to slam into the circle pit to the fun Paul The Parrot. Let’s all be honest, no one can stand still to a metal song about a parrot, with Nico and Yves making sure the rhythm remains as vibrant as possible in a great display of modern-day Melodic Death Metal, while Jack Rackham is another song exhibiting a pleasant speed and pace, with the violin by Lukas adding tons of finesse to the overall result while his bandmates continue to invite us all to prance around the fire pit. Kicking Flamingos is what I call a weird name for a song, but they’re pirates which means all makes sense; however, musically speaking it’s not on par with the rest of the album, sounding a bit generic despite Flavio’s great performance on bass. Fortunately, Calarook get back on track with their trademark Pirate Metal in Davy Jones’ Locker, a lot more introspective than its predecessors while Nico dictates the pace with his classic riffs, accompanied by Philipp’s deep growling.

In Tentacle Explosion we have less than three minutes of hammering Melodic Death Metal infused with the stylish violin by Lukas, resulting in a great option for their live performances which will certainly inspire us all to raise our horns and grab a pint in the name of metal music; and their loyalty to drinking and piracy goes on in Loyal To None But Rum, where all Calarook are telling us is to simply get drunk and slam into the circle pit to the sound of their thrilling music. Then venturing through more traditional lands, they fire their most Heavy Metal of all songs, The Legend Of Liquor Island, bringing forward a galloping rhythm led by Yves and his old school beats while Philipp keeps roaring and growling like a true pirate, whereas in The Feast Of Emerald Meadows the band fills our ears with a more vicious and violent sonority while Nico’s riffs walk hand in hand with Lukas’ violin. Hence, it will certainly urge you to sing its chorus along with Calarook while crushing your skull into the mosh pit once again, and closing this 69-minute pirate quest the band fires the classic The Undying Sailor, where despite the great job done by Yves and Lukas with their beats and violin, the final result is a bit messy, not to mention the song goes on for way too long.

If you’re ready to set sail together with the drunk and talented Swiss pirates of Calarook and support them in their epic adventures, you can follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram, subscribe to their YouTube channel for their fun and fresh official videos, stream more of their rebellious music on Spotify, and obviously purchase a copy of Surrender Or Die from the band’s own webstore (and soon enough from several other locations). In a world where people have the attention span of a goldfish, we must admit releasing a 69-minute album is a beyond bold move by Calarook, but yet again, as already mentioned they are not just musicians, but metal pirates, and as the great privateers they are they know exactly what they are doing by releasing such imposing and epic album. Or do you think only 20 or 30 minutes of music would be enough for all the action you can have together with Calarook on board of their ship in their quest for metal, rum, flamingos, parrots and pineapples?

Best moments of the album: Quest For Booze, Invisible Pineapples, Kraken’s Chest and The Feast Of Emerald Meadows.

Worst moments of the album: Kicking Flamingos and The Undying Sailor.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. 47°30’18”N 8°51’52”E 2:02
2. A Cursed Ship’s Tale 4:33
3. Quest For Booze 5:36
4. Into The Storm 7:05
5. Surrender Or Die 4:27
6. Invisible Pineapples 5:09
7. Kraken’s Chest 5:46
8. Paul The Parrot 3:36
9. Jack Rackham 3:22
10. Kicking Flamingos 3:33
11. Davy Jones’ Locker 3:47
12. Tentacle Explosion 2:34
13. Loyal To None But Rum 4:38
14. The Legend Of Liquor Island 3:03
15. The Feast Of Emerald Meadows 4:34
16. The Undying Sailor 5:37

Band members
Philipp Wyssen – vocals
Nico Wiget – guitar
Flavio Pompeo – bass
Yves Locher – drums
Lukas Mischler – violin

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 – Burning Witches / Dance with the Devil (2020)

The witches are back to mesmerize us all and put us to dance with them forever and ever to the sound of their incendiary Heavy Metal.

Swiss Heavy/Power Metal outfit Burning Witches is by far one of the hottest exports from the Alpine Republic since the release of their self-titled debut album in 2017, receiving a very positive feedback from fans and critics from all over the world. Formed in 2015 in Brugg, a Swiss municipality and a town in the canton of Aargau, the band currently comprised of Dutch newcomer Laura Guldemond on vocals (replacing the band’s original singer Seraina Telli in 2019), Romana Kalkuhl and Sonia Nusselder on the guitars, Jeanine Grob on bass and Lala Frischknecht on drums is ready to show the world everything they got once again with their third full-length installment Dance with the Devil, the follow-up to their highly acclaimed sophomore album Hexenhammer, released in 2018, and a lesson in Heavy Metal by five talented ladies who have always loved and breathed heavy music that will certainly inspire you to raise your horns and bang your head like there’s no tomorrow.

An eerie, mesmerizing intro titled The Incantation captivates our senses for the infernal Lucid Nightmare, with Romana and Sonia blasting sheer adrenaline through their sick riffage. Put differently, it’s classic Heavy Metal from the 80’s with Laura kicking some serious ass with her witch-like, soaring vocals, setting the bar really high for the rest of the album. Then it’s time to dance with our beloved Swiss witches in the title-track Dance with the Devil, a Hard Rock extravaganza led by Lala’s spot-on beats and Laura’s stunning vocals while the band’s stringed trio fills every single space in the air with adrenaline and electricity; followed by Wings of Steel, originally released in their 2019 EP Wings of Steel, a pure Heavy Metal tune showcasing the band’s dexterity and passion for what they do, all spiced up by Romana’s and Sonia’s classy guitar solos.

And Laura keeps blasting her high-pitched, piercing vocal lines in Six Feet Underground, another solid tune where Jeanine and Lala make the earth tremble with their low-tuned, metallic weapons, whereas in Black Magic we’re treated to an introspective, melancholic intro where Laura beautifully declaims the song’s words, evolving into a stunning ballad presenting passionate guitar solos and an ethereal atmosphere, showing a more delicate side of the band. Less visceral than the previous songs but still heavy-as-hell, Sea of Lies is a good composition bringing to our ears a great performance by Lala on drums, providing her bandmates a solid base for them to effectively slash their strings, while a Judas Priest-inspired riff kick off the metallic anthem The Sisters of Fate, perfect for banging your head nonstop with the girls or for hitting the road with your loved ones. This is the epitome of the band’s killer Heavy Metal with a Rock N’ Roll twist, with their guitar riffs and solos penetrating deep inside our minds.

Necronomicon is one of the darkest and most devilish of all songs, with Laura impersonating a true witch with her raspy, demonic vocals while Jeanine doesn’t stop hammering her bass strings, also presenting more of the band’s razor-edged riffs and solos, and bringing forward Helloween-inspired riffs blended with the classic Hard Rock by bands like Europe and Survivor we have The Final Fight, another lesson in charisma and vocal potency by Laura, therefore highly recommended for singing along with the band. Then taking their heaviness to a new level the quintet blasts the battle anthem Threefold Return, presenting an old school shredding infused with rumbling bass punches and rhythmic drums which will please all fans of classic Heavy and Power Metal without a shadow of a doubt, and lastly we have their cover version for Manowar’s classic Battle Hymn, featuring guest guitarist Ross the Boss (Manowar, Ross the Boss) and guest bassist Mike LePond (Symphony X, Ross the Boss). This is a sensational rendition by the witches with a welcome feminine touch, and still as strong and insurgent as the original version (which you can take a listen at HERE).

If you consider yourself a true metalhead and you think you have what it takes to face the stunning metal witches from Switzerland, go check what they’re up to on Facebook and on Instagram, and of course go grab your copy of the breathtaking Dance with the Devil (also available for a full listen on Spotify) from the Nuclear Blast webstore in different formats by clicking HERE or HERE. Hence, after putting your hands on such entertaining album of heavy music, you’ll quickly realize the unrelenting Burning Witches have taken over your mind for good, inspiring you to dance with them forever and ever to the sound of their undisputed Heavy Metal.

Best moments of the album: Lucid Nightmare, Dance with the Devil, The Sisters of Fate and The Final Fight.

Worst moments of the album: Sea of Lies.

Released in 2020 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. The Incantation 0:57
2. Lucid Nightmare 4:50
3. Dance with the Devil 4:26
4. Wings of Steel 4:29
5. Six Feet Underground 4:31
6. Black Magic 5:06
7. Sea of Lies 4:56
8. The Sisters of Fate 3:31
9. Necronomicon 4:12
10. The Final Fight 4:35
11. Threefold Return 3:56
12. Battle Hymn (Manowar cover) 6:55

Band members
Laura Guldemond – vocals
Romana Kalkuhl – guitars
Sonia Nusselder – guitars
Jeanine Grob – bass
Lala Frischknecht – drums

Guest musicians
Ross the Boss – guitars on “Battle Hymn”
Mike LePond – bass on “Battle Hymn”

Album Review – Chotzä / Tüüfuswärk (2020)

Succumb to the anti-social fusion of Black Metal and Black N’ Roll blasted by this infernal horde from Switzerland.

Formed as a side-project in 2011 in the city of Bern, on the German-speaking side of Switzerland, with the aim to create anti-social Black Metal and Black N’ Roll, the unstoppable and blasphemous unity known as Chotzä (which means “to vomit” in Swiss-German) is ready to take the world of heavy music by storm once again with their third full-length opus, entitled Tüüfuswärk, the follow-up to their previous installments Plump u Primitiv, released in 2014, and Bärner Bläck Metal Terror, released in 2017. Apart from their frantic and aggressive sonority, perhaps one of the main ingredients in the music by Chotzä is the fact that all of their songs are sung in “Bärndütsch”, which is one of many existing Swiss-German dialects, allowing the wicked music crafted by lead singer Szivilzs, guitarists Gruäbähung and Raven Dust, bassist Näbugring, pianist Leopold and drummer Cpt. Cunt to sound even more organic, visceral and austere than what they would ever sound in English, and as a fan of extreme music I must say their dialect blends extremely well with their vicious Black Metal.

Featuring guest vocalist Herr Morbid (also known as Ferdinando Marchisio) of Italian Black Metal band Forgotten Tomb, the opening track Dräck am Schtäckä (Vatikan Version) presents a wicked intro that quickly explodes into berserk, blasphemous extreme music led by the devilish roars by Szivilzs while Raven Dust and Gruäbähung cut our skin deep with their infernal riffage, followed by Schtächzähni, as fast and demonic as its predecessor, with Cpt. Cunt dictating the rhythm with his Punk Rock/Hardcore-infused beats while the guitars bring a welcome Thrash Metal twist to the overall result, not to mention how Näbugring keeps the atmosphere dense with his wicked bass lines. And blending old school Black Metal with the Rock N’ Roll blasted by bands like Motörhead, Misfits and Danzig we have Horrorotika, where the sound of guitars will pierce your mind mercilessly and the backing vocals provide an amazing support to Szivilzs in this ode to blasphemy, sex and horror.

In Sex, Suff & Satan, what starts in a sinister, introspective way morphs into a mid-tempo Symphonic Black Metal aria led by Leopold and his Stygian piano notes, also presenting slashing guitar solos and bringing some welcome elements from Gothic Rock and Doom Metal, whereas our beloved Swiss horde speeds things up and enhance their already insane level of rage in Fiesä, Fulä Fettsack, where Szivilizs barks the song’s cryptic lyrics manically while Cpt. Cunt keeps smashing his drums like a beast, resulting in another sensational fusion of the band’s core Black Metal with the most vicious form of Rock N’ Roll. And leaning towards a more classic version of Black Metal, especially due to Cpt. Cunt’s blast bats and fills, Süüchägott showcases the band’s dynamic guitar duo firing lancinating, hellish riffs for our total delight while Szivilzs continues with his demonic vociferations.

Abfau brings forward an onrush of darkened sounds, infernal screams and endless wrath, or in other words, it’s ruthless Black Metal infused with Doom Metal nuances, with Gruäbähung and Raven Dust once again crafting pulverizing riffs and solos; and Leopold comes ripping with his phantasmagorical keys in Ds Tanzgebei, a fun (and somewhat dancing) Black Metal extravaganza where all band members sound bestial and electrifying form start to finish, keeping the album at a high level of dementia. Then get ready for battle to the sound of Fotzä, smashing our heads with an avalanche of blackened sounds and sulfurous growls, while Cpt. Cunt gives a lesson in Black Metal drumming. And last but not least, we’re treated to the rebellious and dense title-track Tüüfuswärk with its eight minutes of extreme and vile sounds, where the band’s stringed trio keeps hammering their axes with tons of precision and violence, all spearheaded by Szivilzs and his trademark gnarls.

The gates to the underworld are open in Switzerland thanks to the incendiary music blasted by Chotzä in their newborn spawn Tüüfuswärk, and if you want to show your support to such demented Black Metal horde you can follow them on Facebook to know more about their music, their concerts and other nice-to-know details about the band, and purchase your copy of the album from Northern Fog Records (CD), Sturmglanz (vinyl) or Worship Tapes (cassette). It’s truly impressive how those Swiss metallers are capable of blending the most hellish elements form a myriad of styles like Black Metal, Rock N’ Roll and Hardcore without sounding confusing or disorganized; quite the contrary, the music by Chotzä is absolutely furious, cohesive and thrilling, just like what we can see in Tüüfuswärk, showing us all this six-piece horde of darkness will still haunt our soul for years to come with their dark-as-the-night creations.

Best moments of the album: Dräck am Schtäckä (Vatikan Version), Horrorotika and Fiesä, Fulä Fettsack.

Worst moments of the album: Sex, Suff & Satan.

Released in 2020 Northern Fog Records/Sturmglanz/Worship Tapes

Track listing
1. Dräck am Schtäckä (Vatikan Version) 3:44
2. Schtächzähni 5:59
3. Horrorotika 4:28
4. Sex, Suff & Satan 6:15
5. Fiesä, Fulä Fettsack 4:47
6. Süüchägott 2:48
7. Abfau 7:11
8. Ds Tanzgebei 5:07
9. Fotzä 5:56
10. Tüüfuswärk 8:06

Band members
Szivilizs – vocals
Raven Dust – guitars
Gruäbähung – guitars
Näbugring – bass
Leopold – piano
Cpt. Cunt – drums

Guest musician
Herr Morbid – vocals on “Dräck am Schtäckä (Vatikan Version)”

Album Review – Forlet Sires / Holy (2019)

The “abandoned forefathers” of Switzerland continue their explorations of uneasy, heavy music with their excellent sophomore opus of Atmospheric Black and Doom Metal.

Brought into being in late 2013 in Winterthur, a Swiss city northeast of Zurich, near the German border, Atmospheric Black/Doom Metal unity Forlet Sires might have started out as a conventional Atmospheric Black Metal project, but soon the band started to incorporate influences from several distinct styles such as classic Black Metal, Doom Metal and even Progressive Metal, consolidating a new approach on the genre without any boundaries while keeping a grief aspect in every tone. Now in 2019 the band comprised of Kilian Schmid on vocals, Tobias Kalt and Sebastian Vogt on the guitars, Matthias Menzi on bass and Daniele Brumana on drums returns in full force with Holy, the follow-up to their 2016 debut album Journey Towards Ruin and a lesson in atmospheric and utterly dark music.

Recorded by Forlet Sires at Gaswerk Winterthur with assistance from Pascal Pendl and George Necola, mixed by Billy Anderson, mastered by Justin Weis and featuring a stylish artwork by Adam Burke that perfectly depicts the album’s sense of death, abandonment and hopelessness, Holy presents an evolved version of Forlet Sires (by the way, an old English expression that roughly translates to “abandoned forefathers”, expressing how mankind has lost its way in various aspects) continuing their explorations of uneasy, heavy music, creating an elusive net of insecurity and surpassing music barriers while following the band into their sonic abyss. These words might sound a bit too poetic for some of you, but as soon as you start listening to Holy I’m sure you’ll realize no words can effectively describe the dark and atmospheric poetry flowing from Forlet Sires’ music.

Melancholy permeates the air from the very first second in the opening track Carnage and Candor, with Tobias and Sebastian taking the lead with their somber guitar lines, suddenly exploding into visceral Atmospheric Doom Metal for our total delight with Kilian roaring like an infernal beast. Moreover, this multi-layered aria brings forward tons of progressiveness and obscurity, getting more and more infuriated as the music progresses with Daniele adding a touch of evil with his Black Metal blast beats, ending in a truly grim and vile manner just the way we like it in Doom Metal. Then in Where Nothing Shall Thrive we’re treated to a classic display of Atmospheric Black and Doom Metal that leans towards the most vicious form of Blackened Doom you can think of, all enhanced by the physiological and somber lyrics vociferated by Kilian (“You’re alive, alone. You’re afraid, you tried. Devils are in your mind, lining you up to die. Fade away, longing for more. Feel the void, mourn the waste of life. Youth was lost, faster than you thought. Midlife has passed, all you did was dreaming. Gently conditioned, ambition repressed by degrees.”). And to make things even better, the stringed trio Tobias, Sebastian and Matthias exhale heaviness and evil from their axes throughout the entire song, not to mention the lesson in intricacy and darkness given by Daniele on drums.

Dead Skin, a demonic hybrid of Progressive Metal and Blackened Doom by the quintet, sounds and feels as wicked as it can be,  with Kilian leading his horde with his demented growls and gnarls while the sound of guitars penetrates deep inside your skin and Matthias delivers tons of groove from his bass, resulting in a full-bodied composition that will please all fans of the genre without a shadow of a doubt. And lastly, the thunderous bass by Matthias together with Daniele’s drums generate a beyond aggressive atmosphere in We Roam This World Alone, the epitome of Atmospheric Doom Metal showcasing Stygian words that carry a message of anguish and grief growled by Kilian (“Cold sorrow claims all hope. Live on, for reasons unknown. Falling. Fallen. While I’m bleeding unappealing strands of purulence, I am feeding off a cyst on this dry cunt.”). Hence, keep banging your head nonstop to Tobias’ and Sebastian’s crushing riffage until the song’s climatic finale, overflowing desperation and evil.

It’s quite impressive how Forlet Sires are capable of crafting lengthy, complex and sorrowful compositions without sounding tiresome or repetitive; quite the contrary, each one of the four songs found in Holy, available in full on Spotify, will keep you mesmerized, dragging you into a downward spiral of darkness together with the band, which in the end means they were more than successful in their aforementioned duty of generating fresh and at the same time mournful music. If you want to show your true support to this talented Swiss army of doom, go check what they’re up to on Facebook and grab your copy of Holy from their BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon, preparing your blackened mind and soul for the most desolating and melancholic moments in life.

Best moments of the album: Where Nothing Shall Thrive and We Roam This World Alone.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Cruel Bones

Track listing
1. Carnage and Candor 12:37
2. Where Nothing Shall Thrive 7:45
3. Dead Skin 8:59
4. We Roam This World Alone 11:23

Band members
Kilian Schmid – vocals
Tobias Kalt – guitars
Sebastian Vogt – guitars
Matthias Menzi – bass
Daniele Brumana – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Romana Kalkuhl

I was born to burn! Maiden of steel!

After a short and sweet break, The Headbanging Moose returns in full force with our metal chick of the month of July, elevating the temperature in the always hot summer in the Northern Hemisphere. If you’re a diehard fan of old school Heavy and Power Metal the likes of Warlock, Judas Priest, Accept, Manowar and Grave Digger, I’m quite sure you already know our metal lady, but in case you’re still not familiar with her refined technique and deep passion for heavy music here’s a good chance for you to go after the music from her ass-kicking bands Burning Witches and Atlas & Axis. Hailing from the metallic lands of the charming and beautiful Switzerland, here comes the talented Swiss guitarist Romana Kalkuhl, ready to take the world of heavy music by storm armed with her inseparable stringed axe for our total delight.

Born in 1990 in Switzerland, Romana, whose full name is Romana Eskić-Kalkuhl (as she’s married to Swiss guitarist Damir Eskić, from the bands Destruction and Gomorra), comes from a family of musicians who have always supported her decision to become a professional guitar player. For instance, her father Meinolf Kalkuhl is an opera singer in Zurich, Switzerland, while her mother is a piano teacher. All that support resulted in the formation of her first professional band in 2009 while she was still in university. That band is Aargau-based Heavy Metal act Atlas & Axis, with whom Romana has already recorded two full-length albums, those being March of the Night, in 2011, and Confrontation, in 2014, not to mention all concerts the band has already played live. You can enjoy the Iced Earth-inspired sound of Atlas & Axis and Romana’s incendiary shredding on YouTube by listening to songs like Power and Might, Elements, To Violence and These Words, among many others, as well as the song Winter played live at the Dynamo in Zurich in 2014. Unfortunately, due to her current commitment to Burning Witches, our blonde warrior doesn’t have the necessary time to focus on Atlas & Axis at the moment, which means the band is on hold until further notice.

It was in the spring of 2015 in the city of Brugg, a municipality in the Swiss canton of Aargau, when Romana founded Heavy/Power Metal unity Burning Witches, following her personal dream of performing on stage with an all-female metal band. Earlier that year she started looking for talented women for her new project, with her longtime friend, bassist Jeanine Grob, becoming the band’s first official member. Then during a party at a festival she met vocalist Seraina Telli, from bands like Dead Venus, Rizon and Surrilium, 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. Having the one and only Schmier, vocalist and bassist for German Thrash Metal institution Destruction, as their producer and consultant (and a personal friend of Romana, by the way), and with drummer Lala Frischknecht and guitarist Alea Wyss completing the lineup after an intensive search and several auditions, Romana and her Burning Witches were finally ready to crush with their classic metal music.

Since the band’s inception, Romana and the girls have already released two full-length albums (their self-titled debut album in 2017, and Hexenhammer in 2018), one four-track live album named Burning Alive, recorded on September 30, 2017 at Z7 in Pratteln, Switzerland, and now in 2019 they re-released Burning Witches / Burning Alive as a combo under Nuclear Blast. If you want to feel the power of their metal sword, simply go to Spotify or to YouTube and enjoy some flammable Heavy Metal anthems such as Wings Of Steel, Black Widow, and Executed, or many other live footage from Romana and the girls slaying everything and everyone that crosses their path like their flammable performance at Sweden Rock Festival in 2019; their concert in 2018 in Mannheim, a city in southwest Germany; and their powerful pocket show at Salzhaus Brugg in 2018.

Sadly for all fans of the band, lead singer Seraina Telli left the band earlier this year for personal reasons, being replaced by Dutch vocalist Laura Guldemond, from bands like Shadowrise and Synergy Protocol, and of course Romana had a few words to say about that change to her band. “This is, of course, a very sad moment for all of us. We have been very close for the last years and have reached a lot together. With great sadness we have to accept that Seriana wants to move on and we wish her the best of luck for that! Your time with the Witches will never be forgotten! For us as a band, it is important now to look into the new challenges and the new record — the show must go on!”, complementing her thoughts by saying that “we are super thrilled that we have found Laura so quick over our Dutch connection Sonia. We know it is impossible to replace a great voice in exact the same way; that is why Laura is the perfect choice for us. She will bring in her own strength and personality into the Witches! We will not change the identity of the band; we will continue playing the music we love! Laura is an experienced and crisp vocalist with a big range and a crazy enough personality to be one of us! Please give her a warm welcome — she has already won many metalhearts at our first show with her at the Sweden Rock Festival! We will continue to spread the magic of the witches — thanks for all the support over the years!”

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Regarding the fact that the band has become more international with the addition of Laura to their lineup, the second Dutchwoman in the band, Romana said that the collaboration between them is quite dynamic, with the Dutch girls flying to Switzerland over the weekend for rehearsals and concerts, while the rest of the time everyone practices their music from home. She also mentioned in one of her interviews that her main goal when she started Burning Witches was to have fun with the band, not because of success itself, complementing by saying that if one day that pleasure of playing with Burning Witches is over, then the band will also be over. In addition, when asked about how she keeps the band as independent and feminine as possible even with the influences of Damir and Schmier, she said that their help is based on their experience, something the girls from Burning Witches don’t have enough yet, and that Damir’s support was crucial to make everything happen, always keeping in mind the band was going to be (and will always be) an all-female metal band.

Romana’s list of idols and influences can easily be felt in the music by Burning Witches, with her favorite styles ranging from Heavy, Thrash, Death and Black Metal to Hard Rock and even Progressive Rock. According to Romana herself, the bands that have influenced her the most (and the entire band, of course) are Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Manowar, Saxon, Accept, Dio and several other renowned acts from the NWOBHM. Also, in regards to her equipment, Romana has always played Charvel and Jackson USA guitars, since the beginning, saying those are the best ones in her opinion, and although she’s endorsed also by Fender (apart from Charvel and Jackson, of course) she doesn’t use it when playing live just because she has so many instruments of the other two manufacturers. And before I forget, did you know she also plays classical guitar? Our dauntless metalhead is not only a shredder, but as you can see she’s also a woman who adds a touch of finesse to her guitar lines.

When questioned about the differences and disparities between men and women not only in Heavy Metal, but in music in general, Romana said that it might look easier to be an all-female group at first, attracting a lot of attention form the media and the fans (especially when all band members are beautiful like the ladies from Burning Witches), but it only gets harder and harder as time goes by due to the systemic sexism found everywhere, complementing by saying that many people will see them as just “pretty faces” and think that it’s a man who’s doing all the job in the background. Romana also said that one of the very positive effects of her all-female band is serving as the inspiration for other women to attend their concerts and start their lives in metal, which in my opinion is indeed an amazing change to a music genre mostly dominated by men, whereas the more sexist metal fans ended up reacting very negatively to their music. Who on earth wouldn’t enjoy watching five talented women kicking some serious ass on stage, playing old school metal music? You have to be really stupid, and not just sexist, to think the Burning Witches are not a great metal band.

Anyway, as aforementioned, Romana is married to Damir Eskić, guitarist for Destruction and Gomorra (which was previously called Gonoreas), and it was actually during a Gonoreas’ concert that the couple met, with Damir having a huge influence on Romana’s playing style as he was the one who taught her a lot about the instrument (albeit she already knew how to play it from her school years). On a side note, Romana said she was impressed by Miriam Zehnder, who played the rhythm guitar at Gonoreas at that time, also saying her stage presence fascinated her a lot, showing how connected Burning Witches and Gomorra are not only because of Romana and Damir. In addition to that, Romana said her relationship with Damir is quite healthy, dynamic and fun, with Damir being for example the music collector while she’s more interested in clothes, and so on. Damir considers himself the coach, the moral preacher and the main supporter of the Burning Witches, keeping the girls happy and motivating them even in difficult situations, all confirmed by Romana who also said Damir also makes sure he gives them a motivating speech before every concert, getting them ready to rock on stage.

Both Romana and Damir seem to be extremely busy professionals, and when asked about how they manage all their duties and their relationship, including their music lessons as both are teachers at different music schools (Romana works at three different schools while Damir works at two schools and at the conservatory in Winterthur), she said although they don’t actually have time for anything else, they still manage to have a normal life as a couple, as all those things have already become a part of their everyday life. Furthermore, the couple might not have real rings, but the dates tattooed on their fingers already say it all, showing a lot of mutual respect and admiration between them, with Romana saying that although they’ve already been together for over a decade seeing each other pretty much daily, they still miss each other when they’re on tour in different parts of the world, mentioning for example how difficult it was during the two week Damir was away with Destruction this year. She wasn’t really complaining about that because she understands how hard it is to be part of a band that tours a lot and how lucky both are for being in successful bands, but let’s face it, it’s indeed tough to be away from your loved one no matter what, even if it’s in the name of our good old Heavy Metal.

Romana Kalkuhl’s Official Facebook page
Romana Kalkuhl’s Official Instagram
Burning Witches’ Official Facebook page
Burning Witches’ Official Instagram
Burning Witches’ Official Twitter
Burning Witches’ Official YouTube channel

Album Review – Rage Of Light / Imploder (2019)

A contrast made of light and rage in the form of an action-packed album of trance music and Melodic Death Metal.

A contrast made of light and rage. That’s exactly what you’re going to get in Imploder, the debut full-length album by Swiss Electronic Groove Metal unity Rage Of Light, the brainchild of vocalist and keyboardist Jonathan Pellet, known for his past works with Symphonic Power Metal band Trophallaxy/Dysrider. Offering a hybrid of trance and Melodic Death Metal, a unique combination of sounds that can be labeled as “Trance Metal”, Rage Of Light will stimulate all your senses with their brand new opus, showing why the multi-talented Jonathan, together with the gorgeous Melissa Bonny (Evenmore, Warkings, Ad Infinitum) on lead vocals and the talented Noé Schüpbach on guitars and bass, are more than ready to conquer the world of heavy music with their creativity, electricity and, of course, a lot of rage.

Jonathan came up with the idea to create a fusion of trance and metal music in 2007, but due to being busy with other projects it took almost a decade for the idea to fully bear fruit. Finally, in 2015, he recruited Melissa and Noé to complete the band, releasing in 2016 their debut five-track EP Chasing a Reflection, followed by a few very interesting singles in 2017 and 2018 including cover versions for Amon Amarth’s battle hymn “Twilight Of The Thunder God” and Lady Gaga’s hit “Judas”. After receiving very positive feedback from fans and critics from all over the world through the years, it’s time now in 2019 for Rage Of Light to reach new heights with Imploder, featuring a modern artwork by Brazilian artist Gustavo Sazes, cellist Joëlle “Jo” Graz (Trophallaxy/Dysrider) as a very special guest musician and, above all, three superb musicians who perfectly represent the union of endless talent and a deep passion for music.

The very atmospheric and entrancing intro Light captivates our senses from the very first second, dragging us to Rage Of Light’s lair of heavy music in Enraged, where the trio begins distilling their refined techniques and ethereal sounds, with Melissa’s hypnotizing vocals matching flawlessly with the song’s epic ambience and crushing beats, not to mention Noé’s amazing guitar solo as the icing on the cake. Following such powerful start, keep banging your head to Melissa, Jonathan and Noé to the heavy-as-hell Fallen, a beautiful fusion of modern-day Melodic Death Metal with trance music, or in other words, a rebellious hymn by Rage Of Light led by Jonathan’s whimsical keys and synths, all complemented by his own rabid growls. And in their 2018 single I Can, I Will we’re treated to a more frantic and electrified version of their Trance Metal, with both Melissa and Jonathan kicking some serious ass with their powerful roars, giving life to the song’s poetic lyrics (“My eyes drag me down / When I look around and see what I’m not / Is there, anywhere, a stairway to the top? / Watch me, never again / Will I look down and feel this pain / Cause now, step by step I start to climb and leave these cries behind”).

Experimenting even more with electronic and eccentric sounds, the band offers our ears another dancing fusion of 90’s trance with Heavy Metal infused with Symphonic Metal nuances in Away With You, where it’s quite impossible to stand still to its enfolding rhythm, while In The Shadow is another solid composition featuring classic beats and riffs mixed with the band’s trademark modernity (it falls flat after a while, though), with Melissa stealing the spotlight once again with her unique voice. Then the gentle and potent cello by Jo brings a touch of finesse to the beyond fantastic and insurgent Battlefront, with Melissa alternating between her crisp clean vocals and her she-demon roars in what’s probably the most detailed and multi-layered song from the entire album; and get ready for a trance-meets-metal party in the instrumental title-track Imploder, courtesy of Jonathan and Noé, who together generate a dense, mechanized and metallic atmosphere for admirers of the genre. Furthermore, despite the fact the drums in the entire album are programmed, they still sounds very organic, therefore smashing your skull mercilessly.

With lyrics sounding like a blend of cult flicks such as Terminator and Night of the Living Dead (“Our lives, threatened by this viral disease / We thought we could handle this affliction / No cure will stop the infection to spread / Condemned by our evolution”), Mechanicals, also previously released as a single, is a movie score-inspired extravaganza showcasing intricate guitar lines, pounding drums,  tons of insanity and a futuristic vibe in over seven minutes of first-class modern metal music, leaving us completely disoriented before Nothingness closes the regular version of the album, with Jo returning with her somber cello to add her share of melancholy and serenity to Rage Of Light’s vibrant music while Noé brings rage to the overrall result with his riffs, flowing smoothly until its delicate grand finale. And please I beg you to go for the deluxe edition of Imploder, as you’ll be absolutely stunned by the bonus track Twilight Of The Thunder God, their cover version for Amon Amarth’s most powerful tune of all time in my opinion (you can check the original version HERE). I saw somewhere a guy saying this version should be called “Twilight of the Thunder Goddess”, and I agree one hundred percent as Melissa is on her more-than-perfect “beast mode”, resulting in a flawless performance by one of the most versatile singers of the new era of metal music.

If you still can’t imagine how the flammable fusion of such distinct styles like trance and Melodic Death Metal sounds like, you can take a full listen at Imploder on Spotify, but in case you’re already familiar with (and addicted to) Rage Of Light’s breathtaking music, don’t forget to follow Jonathan, Melissa and Noé on Facebook and to purchase your copy of their excellent new album from their own BandCamp page, from the Napalm Records’ webstore (in Europe or in the United States), or from your regular retailers like iTunes and Amazon. In the end, no one knows for sure if Rage Of Light play a heavier-than-usual version of trance music, or a modernized and electronic version of Heavy Metal, and that very interesting contrast is what makes their music so unique and vibrant. That’s the beauty of it, don’t you agree?

Best moments of the album: Fallen, Battlefront, Mechanicals and Twilight Of The Thunder God.

Worst moments of the album: In The Shadow.

Released in 2019 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. Light 1:48
2. Enraged 5:01
3. Fallen 4:32
4. I Can, I Will 4:36
5. Away With You 3:50
6. In The Shadow 6:47
7. Battlefront 4:30
8. Imploder (Instrumental) 5:58
9. Mechanicals 7:17
10. Nothingness 5:40

Digipak Edition/iTunes/Amazon bonus track
11.Twilight Of The Thunder God (Amon Amarth cover) 4:06

Band members
Melissa Bonny – lead vocals
Jonathan Pellet – vocals, keyboards, synth, drums programming
Noé Schüpbach – guitars, bass

Guest musician
Joëlle “Jo” Graz – cello