Metal Chick of the Month – Kell Reis

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When you die… I’ll be there… ‘Cause I’m inside you… Tearing the veil of insanity!

A Brazilian singer who nurtures a deep passion for music, in special of course our beloved Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal, our metal chick of the month of July will hypnotize you with her potent and unique voice, making you addicted to her music and always eager for more of her classy vocal lines. I’m talking about Raquel Reis Gonçalves, better known as Kell Reis or sometimes as Kell Hell, the stunning frontwoman for Brazilian Heavy Metal act Sacrificed and a woman who can sing pretty much any metal or non-metal style you can think of, showcasing an undeniable talent, hard work and focus on everything she does in the world of music, therefore proving once again not only how awesome the Brazilian metal scene is, but also that there are tons of girls in Brazil who proudly carry the flag of heavy music anywhere they go.

Born on May 2, 1989 in the city of Belo Horizonte, the capital city of southeastern Brazil’s Minas Gerais state, which is by the way the same city that gave the world amazing metal acts the likes of Sarcófago and Holocausto, not to mention the one and only Sepultura, the skillful Kell, who has been singing since she was only two years old, started studying music when she was 11 at a non-credit course at UEMG – Universidade Estadual de Minas Gerais, where she spent the next four years studying classical singing. Highly influenced by her parents, as her mother is a singer and her father a singer, pianist and guitarist, not to mention her deceased brother who used to listen a lot to Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, Kell moved from Brazilian kids music like Sandy & Junior to Nirvana when she was around 13, then going straight into rock and metal bands including Black Sabbath, Metallica, Angra and System Of A Down, and joining her first ever band called No Stress, playing grunge music at school. At the age of 18 she joined a Brazilian Hard Rock band named Vienna, and at 19 she became the vocalist for a renowned act in the underground scene in her hometown named Helltown. It was after one of her several gigs with Helltown in a city called Cataguases, around 340km from Belo Horizonte, that she met the guys from Sacrificed, and that leads to our next part of our tribute to Kell.

Officially formed in 2006 in Belo Horizonte by guitarist Diego Oliveira under the name Sacriffice after changing the name from Metal Breath, when they basically played Metallica songs, the band evolved into a regular group playing their own songs influenced by names such as In Flames, Dream Theater, Evergrey, Lacuna Coil, Disturbed, Halestorm and Brazilian popular music known as MPB (plus cover songs for bands like Metallica, Megadeth and Iron Maiden) and changed their name to Sacrificed around 2009, when Kell joined them as their lead singer replacing their previous singer Fabricio just a few days after he left the band. Currently formed of the Kell on vocals and Diego on the guitars together with Sergio Barbieri also on the guitars, Gabriel Fernando on bass and Tiago Vitek on drums, Sacrificed released their debut self-titled EP in 2009, followed by the full-length albums The Path of Reflections, in 2011, and Enraged, in 2018, and more recently the EP Beyond the Gates, in 2021, plus a live album/video named Sacrificed no Release Showlivre in 2019 and appearances in two compilations named Woman from Brazil… The Brazilian Tribute to Deep Purple with the song Fireball, and Somewhere in Brazil… The Brazilian Tribute to Iron Maiden with the song Lord of the Flies, both released in 2020. You can enjoy Kell’s powerful vocals in several of Sacrificed’s songs and official videos such as Meet Your Fate, Silence is the Omen, Say My Name, Vertigo, Call of Insanity, Grudge is My Middle Name, and a cover version for Disturbed’s all-time classic Down With The Sickness, and of course you can always enjoy all of their wicked creations on Spotify.

Kell’s biggest influences in Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal perfectly depict her passion for music and singing, including names the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Dio, Bruce Dickison, Ian Guillan, Eric Adams, Doro Pesch, Lita Ford, Rob Halford and Dani Nolden as her favorite singers, bands like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Sinergy, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Warlock, Judas Priest, Deep Purple and Manowar, and non-metal singers such as Whitney Houston, Ella Fitzgerald, Elis Regina and Maria Calas. She also mentioned during one of her interviews that her influences can vary from time to time, with bands like Halestorm, In This Moment, Arch Enemy and Alter Bridge being among her favorite ones from what can be called a “newer” generation of rock and metal acts. In addition, she mentioned Halestorm’s Lzzy Hale is currently her top vocalist, being influenced not only by her voice but also by her charisma.

When asked about the life of a band in her homeland, Kell said that despite the growing number of excellent metal bands arising from the Brazilian scene, as Brazil is even sometimes labeled as “the homeland of really good metal bands”, with the Death Metal scene being considered quite huge in her hometown Belo Horizonte, unfortunately the lack of new major bands like what Sepultura were in the 90’s makes it difficult for new bands to have their work published by the media, unless of course it’s something fully oriented to the rock and metal scene. She also said that due to the fact we live in a world where the illusory number of “likes” doesn’t actually translate into real fans, a band needs to properly manage their career to attract true people to their music, something a Brazilian Heavy Metal band called Project46 does really well according to her. And despite the fact she thinks that it’s almost impossible to live out of metal music in Brazil, the scene remains strong with a lot of collaboration between bands and, of course, the passion from each musician involved.

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One thing Kell always complains about is the fact that organizing, attending and playing live concerts in Brazil has always been extremely difficult due to several facts such as exorbitant prices, lack of good public transportations, horrible roads and highways, and above all that, the lack of decent proposals that respect the band and its value. Apart from bands like Sepultura and Angra, she mentioned it’s difficult to see independent bands touring around Brazil. For instance, Sacrificed currently focuses their tours in the states of Minas Gerais and São Paulo, although they’re working on expanding their reach to the northern and southern parts of Brazil. Still regarding her life on the road, Kell said that playing alongside Kamelot, Eluviete, Blaze Bayley and The Agonist was truly amazing, but that sharing the stage with Lacuna Coil, one of their main influences, has been indeed one of the most special moments of the band’s career so far.

In addition to her up-and-coming career with Sacrified, Kell also became an active figure in terms of female representation in the Brazilian metal scene, promoting lives on her social media to discuss the theme together with special guests. When questioned how she sees the role of women in the Brazilian metal scene, she said that when she first stepped on stage over a decade ago the scene for women was completely different, having changed to something much better over time, but even today there’s still a lot of prejudice and an unbalance in terms of the number of women in roles such as roadies and sound technicians, and even band members like drummers. She commented she has been barred from entering the dressing room several times because “girlfriends” are not allowed, having to prove she was part of the band and not a groupie, complementing by saying the current women’s movement in metal will surely bring a lot of benefits to any woman worldwide who loves metal and who wants to have equal opportunities to any man, less discrimination and more respect. Furthermore, when asked what advice she would give to girls who want to pursue a career in heavy music, her message was loud and clear. “Don’t give up! Don’t be silent. Don’t settle for less for being a woman! You are not alone,” said Kell, pointing out the crucial importance of the support all girls should provide to each other.

Last but not least, our talented diva, who’s by the way crazy for pasta, whiskey, beer ad wine, strongly believes the underground should be more united in order to make a difference out there, also saying the true support from music fans by attending concerts and buying merch is also essential for the scene to get stronger and stronger. As the frontwoman for an independent band like Sacrificed, she mentioned it’s important for bands and musicians to never give up and keep working hard to make the band as professional as possible, and keep following your dreams no matter what. As Kell mentioned in one of her interviews, the lyrics form Sacrificed’s song Before a Dream, from the album The Path of Reflections, say that “before a dream a storm comes,” but your dream will get closer and closer if you keep walking even during the toughest times. Wise words from a woman that beautifully represents all the passion, talented and hard work of all Brazilians who love metal music from the bottom of their hearts.

Kell Reis’ Official Facebook page
Kell Reis’ Official Instagram
Sacrificed’s Official Facebook page
Sacrificed’s Official Instagram
Sacrificed’s Official YouTube channel

Album Review – Volbeat / Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie (2016)

Seal the deal and let’s boogie to the classy and flammable music by Denmark’s best Rock N’ Roll band of all time.

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volbeat_seal the deal & lets boogieAfter the release of the highly acclaimed Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies in 2013, which entered the Billboard 200 in the United States at number nine, topped the charts in Austria, Canada, Denmark and Germany, among others, receiving immediate gold and platinum status in those countries, as well as being nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance, many fans started to wonder where Danish Rock N’ Roll rebels Volbeat could go after achieving such a great success. Fortunately for all admirers of good old Rock N’ Roll music, those rockers from the stunning city of Copenhagen are still on top form, strong and sparkling with excitement, releasing now their action-packed sixth full-length album entitled Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie.

The album is their first not to feature longtime bassist Anders Kjølholm, who left in November 2015 after being responsible for Volbeat’s rumbling tones since the band’s inception in 2001. Despite that significant change in the lineup, all other ingredients we love in the music by Volbeat are present in the entire album, including obviously their thrilling heavy riffs and the inebriate (and sometimes even hard to understand) vocals by frontman Michael Polsen. Add to that the classy contribution of two very special guests, these being singer Johan Olsen (from Danish rock group Magtens Korridorer) and Canada’s own Danko Jones, and the final result is exactly what every fan of Volbeat could expect from such an accomplished band.

The initial riff in the opening track, the hit single The Devil’s Bleeding Crown, is the purest form of Volbeat you can find on earth, as well as pretty much all vocal lines by Michael Poulsen. Born to be a radio hit, this is the type of song that has all aspects necessary to be successful, such as a catchy chorus, electrified guitars and headbanging beats, which can also be found in the next track, Marie Laveau, another classic Volbeat tune, offering the listener some smooth Rock N’ Roll with a nice melody, not to mention the excellent job done by Rob Caggiano with his always fiery solos. For Evigt (which means “Forever” in Danish), is the song to feature Johan Olsen on guest vocals, being the second collaboration between Olsen and Volbeat following “The Garden’s Tale”. It’s definitely not as amazing as their 2007 classic, but still fresh and exciting, with its guitar riffs and solos, together with the Danish parts of the lyrics, becoming the top moments of this solid Rock N’ Roll song.

I never thought I would see Volbeat singing about a topic usually explored by traditional Heavy Metal bands like what we see in the awesome The Gates of Babylon (“Awakening a goddess in the dark / On a stake she’s been hanging like a doll / Tried to reach for the underworld / Had to pass through the seven gates of hell”), a beautiful composition that adds a lot of harmony and groove to the album and consequently to the band’s portfolio, with even the guitar lines sounding more “Babylonic” than usual. And they do not get tired of firing good rock music, this time entitled Let It Burn, a song that all fans of Volbeat will have a good time listening while on the road, with highlights to Michael’s performance with his Johnny Cash-like vocals enhanced by Rob’s powerful guitar lines.

volbeat 2016Black Rose, featuring Danko Jones, is an awesome Hard Rock hymn perfect for being played on the radio as well, where our guest rocker made in Canada adds a lot of stamina to the song with his heavier and deeper voice; whereas the average Rebound,  a cover version for a generic song by American Punk Rock band Teenage Bottlerocket, brings nothing special to the album. Well, maybe if they turned the electricity up a bit the final result would have been a lot better, because it gets really tiring even having only two and a half minutes. Anyway, girls named Mary Jane will definitely fall in love with the power semi-ballad Mary Jane Kelly, very tuneful and pleasant like most of the songs in the album. Furthermore, Jon Larsen might not be the fastest or most technical drummer in the world, but he knows what to do to make Volbeat’s music thrive. On the other hand, Goodbye Forever is by far the worst of all songs, not because of its rhythm or lyrics, but it’s those horrible choir-like backing vocals that join Michael after three minutes that truly annoy me, being too “churchy” for my taste.

At least that boredom doesn’t last long, as Volbeat blast one of the most electrifying of all songs, the Rock N’ Roll hymn Seal the Deal, with its thrilling rhythm, the blazing solos by Rob, and a first-rate old school Volbeat chorus (“I get groovy / Now turn it on and fight / Seal the deal and let’s boogie for a while / Let’s get groovy / Burning out with rage / Seal the deal and let’s do it all again”). In other words, this is surely one of their best new songs to be added to their live concerts. The second cover of the album, Battleship Chains by American Southern Rock group The Georgia Satellites, sounds a lot better, an old rock classic with a southern sonority nicely played by Volbeat, while You Will Know, the second to last song of the regular version of the album, brings forward more melodic rock crafted in Denmark showcasing passionate performances by all members, with Rob stealing the show once again thanks to his amazing solos. And lastly, the heavy and metallic The Loa’s Crossroad offers the listener a more aggressive side of the band, with its resonant bass guitar and especially its bag pipes adding more violence and epicness to the musicality displayed. Additionally, if you buy the deluxe edition of the album, you’ll also get four awesome bonus tracks that live up to Volbeat’s tradition: a one-minute devastation named Slaytan, the North American version of “For Evigt” entitled The Bliss (where the Danish chorus sung by Johan is replaced by Michael singing it in English), a version of Black Rose without Danko Jones, and a live version of The Devil’s Bleeding Crown recorded in Denmark in 2015.

It might take time for some fans to get used to Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie, mainly because a few of the songs presented in the album sound too “commercial” compared to their old classics, but after a few listens you’ll realize there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the album, it’s simply the Volbeat we all enjoy. Of course, as a huge fan of extreme music, I would love to see Volbeat getting heavier and darker than what they really are in some of their compositions, but it’s undeniable they remain loyal to their roots no matter what, and I respect that a lot. As long as they keep delivering their unique Rock N’ Roll to the world, with Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie being a very good example of that, I’ll continue to be a happy rocker.

Best moments of the album: The Devil’s Bleeding Crown, The Gates of Babylon and Seal the Deal.

Worst moments of the album: Rebound and Goodbye Forever.

Released in 2016 Vertigo/Republic/Universal

Track listing
1. The Devil’s Bleeding Crown 3:56
2. Marie Laveau 3:13
3. For Evigt (feat. Johan Olsen) 4:44
4. The Gates of Babylon 4:34
5. Let It Burn 3:39
6. Black Rose (feat. Danko Jones) 3:55
7. Rebound (Teenage Bottlerocket cover) 2:29
8. Mary Jane Kelly 5:39
9. Goodbye Forever 4:30
10. Seal the Deal 4:09
11. Battleship Chains (Georgia Satellites cover) 3:21
12. You Will Know 4:31
13. The Loa’s Crossroad 4:21

Deluxe edition bonus tracks
14. Slaytan 0:58
15. The Bliss 4:42
16. Black Rose 3:57
17. The Devil’s Bleeding Crown (Live at Tusindårsskoven, Odense 2015) 4:04

Band members
Michael Poulsen – vocals, rhythm guitar
Rob Caggiano – lead guitar, bass guitar
Kaspar Boye Larsen – bass guitar (live)
Jon Larsen – drums, percussion

Guest musicians
Johan Olsen – additional vocals on “For Evigt”
Danko Jones – additional vocals on “Black Rose”