Sunday, 27 November 2011

Northern Oak - The Great Exhibition

Friday night was Great Exhibition night in Corporation, Sheffield.  Four fabulous bands including Sheffield's own Northern Oak. Doozr took a few photos which he has just posted to TheMixEclectic but no videos have popped up on YouTube as yet. Found this one though from the Derby leg of the tour. New material as well. Awesome :) Thanks for making the last gig of 2011 a real highlight!

Nemesea Featuring Charlotte Wessels - High Enough

I recently discovered that Charlotte Wessels and Manda Ophuis have collaborated on a track from Nemesea's new album 'The Quiet Resistence' which was released on the 21st November here in the UK.  I absolutely love Charlotte's voice and it compliments Manda's really well.  The track is called 'High Enough' and sounds awesome.  The new album is on order and I've now just got to wait a little longer for the very much anticipated new Delain album next year. :)

Check out the track here:

Nemesea have also released the first single from the new album 'Afterlife'.  The song is beautiful.  I cannot wait for the new album to arrive.

Support the band and buy directly from here.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Nightwish - Storytime

So it's finally November.  This means not only a whole load of awesome live music, but also the long awaited release of the new Nightwish album Imaginaerum! :D

They recently released the first single from Imaginaerum - Storytime:

There is also this additional video which provides a little background to the song:

I am so looking forward to the new album.  It's been 4 years since the release of Dark Passion Play (my personal favourite Nightwish album) and I can't wait to seeing what they have been up to!!  Roll on 30th November!

Support the band directly and pre-order your copy now from the Nightwish Shop.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Forests, Folk Metal and Photography - October 2011

Having Doozr around is rather useful sometimes.  A great writer for The Mix Eclectic, a fantastic photographer for LazyRobot and a stupidly talented computer geek (creating femetabase most recently) - the boy is genius.  However, when he was asked to take some photographs for Northern Oak recently it was me he turned to for assistance of the lighting and reflector kind! :P

The first trip out into the Peak District was a bit of a washout - literally.  It was the first wet weekend of the summer and although we battled through, there was no way any of the photos would be good enough.  So on the 16th October we headed out again.

The resulting shots were fantastic and we had such a laugh creating them.

I'd really like to thank Northern Oak for calling me a 'glamourous assistant' in their recent newsletter seeing as I looked anything but glamorous during the shoot ...

Lighting Wench.

A great day had by all and a lovely set of Northern Oak photographs for the world to enjoy!

Monday, 7 November 2011

November Rocks!

2011 has been a great year for me as far as female fronted metal is concerned.  In March I went to see Epica and ReVamp and in April I saw Delain.  Pretty awesome enough I am sure you will agree?  

This week however is femet-heaven.  Friday night was spent watching Lacuna Coil blow the roof off Corporation here in Sheffield.  Lacuna Coil were the first metal band I went to see live - not that long ago - back in January 2010.  Here is my very first gig review from that night.  Last Friday was as anticipated fantastic.  They played lots of older stuff with a selection of the new tracks and I am so looking forward to the new album release on my birthday next January! 

Someone kindly recorded some of the set and posted it to YouTube so for your listening pleasure here is the beautiful Enjoy The Silence sung by the amazing Lacuna Coil. Although you can't see us we were having a romantic cuddle somewhere in the middle of that awesome group of Sheffield Coilers!! :D

Then on Wednesday night we will be heading to Manchester Academy for the long awaited Within Temptation UK tour - supported by non-other than Agua De Annique - I can just imagine how amazing this will be!

This gig has been a long time coming, but I am glad we've had to wait so long.  It's given the album time to really grow on me.  When I first heard it I wasn't overly bothered.  I thought it was a perfectly good album, but no where near as exciting as the hype had lead me to believe.  Now it's a firm favourite on the iPod and I can't wait to see it performed live.

This week has been awesome so far as gigs are concerned, and this does continue through the month of November.  Somehow we have managed to also be seeing Devin Townsend performing acoustically at Corporation next week and then seeing Northern Oak on their Great Exhibition Tour at the end of the month.  I am one happy little bunny right now!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Female Metal Artist Database - Femetabase is LIVE!

After months of talking about creating a wiki or list of female metal artists, I am pleased and excited to announce that my vision is online and available to use. :D   Doozr has worked his socks off to create a bespoke and easy to use database which YOU can contribute to by making artist suggestions.

I have started the collection with a selection of the female artists I have been to see or will be seeing live this year.   This includes artists such as Simone Simons, Floor Jensen, Charlotte Wessels, Catie Williams, Cristina Scabbia and Sharen den Adel.

There is of course a lot of entries that I still need to make including the awesome artists I had the pleasure of seeing live at Bloodstock and a whole host of female metal artists to discover and add in the future.

I hope you enjoy Femetabase.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

New Shoes!

As some of you may know I am a huge fan of Pleaser footwear.  We've been invited to an Alice in Wonderland fancy dress party next week and I decided that this was the opportunity I have been waiting for to purchase another pair (like I really need an excuse!).

I have had my eye on the Pleaser Dolly-68's for a little over a year now.  They are completely gorgeous shoes - black with a pink trim and a black bow.  They arrived yesterday and I am very pleased with them.

Doozr kindly agreed to take some portraits of the new purchase:

Friday, 16 September 2011

Anneke Van Giersbergen New Video - Feel Alive

I am not 100% sure this is strictly speaking 'metal' however I am absolutely loving this track and the simplicity of the video.  As the lead singer for The Gathering Anneke is well known in the metal community and her ability to adapt and alter her musical direction, while remaining metal is something many people are going to envy.

After seeing this video I am very much looking forward to seeing her support Within Temptation in Manchester in November and am even considering giving The Gathering another listen.  I am not a huge fan of The Gathering for which I am constantly informed I am wrong - this track has made me think those people might actually be right!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The Women of Bloodstock 2011 - Update

Thanks to those of you who told me about two bands with female members that I missed from my previous post.  One of them I had completely forgotten about when I made the previous post and one I totally missed from the line up and actually left the New Blood tent seconds before they came on stage so that I could get something to eat.  Gutted!!

Nemhain - Sophie Lancaster Stage - 
Vocals: Amber Erlandsson / Vocals & Bass: Lisa Dickinson

Nemhain is a London-based rock/punk/gothic influenced band .  It was formed by Adrian Erlandsson formally of Cradle of Filth and his wife Amber Erlandsson.  They seem to take their influences from bands such as Nirvana and The Distillers and they have a very raw, punk sound.  I saw their picture in the programme while at Bloodstook and noted there were female members.  The picture was less than appealing I have to say and I didn't dash to see them perform.  In hindsight I should have just gone anyway and that would have made this summary much easier to write!!

The Furious Horde - New Blood Stage - 
Guitar: Mortiroth (Rachael Gater)

The Furious Horde are a dark symphonic metal band from Essex.  The band have been described as 'brutal yet beautiful' and they apparently perform on stage in full nightmarish costume, paint and character.  I am very annoyed to have missed this band, especially as they played immediately after Saturnian.  What can I say?  I genuinely had not realised they had a female member (no pre-festival research!  That will teach me) and I needed to eat!  There were so many awesome bands playing I couldn't possibly been expected to see them all? Could I?

Lesson learned.  Next year I shall research fully before I go and won't try and wing it while I am there! :D

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The Women of Bloodstock 2011

So of course, being at Bloodstock and having a desire to promote women in metal, I had to check out the bands performing with a female member.

I trawled through the festival guide and found a good few bands on the Sophie Lancaster and New Blood stages.  There were not many on the Ronnie James Dio stage though - this was slightly disappointing.  Nevertheless I tried to get to as many sets as I could and I was not disappointed with what I found:

Sanguine - New Blood Stage - 
Lead Vocals: Tarin Kerrey

I've already mentioned this four-piece female fronted UK alternative metal band from Exeter.  Powerful, energetic and somewhat intimidating. I really did love it and the free EP CD I was handed the day before is now well played.

Cerebral Bore - Sophie Lancaster Stage - 
Lead Vocals: Som Pluijmers

Talking of intimidating.  Cerebral Bore are a female fronted death metal band based in Glasgow, Scotland.  They pulled a massive audience and demonstrated that they are a real death metal band to contend with.

Saturnian - New Blood Stage - 
Soprano Vocals: Lydia Bateman

Saturnian are a six-piece extreme symphonic metal band from the UK.  The New Blood tent was packed during their set and they really performed an impressive mixture of vocal styles and stage performance.

Evil Scarecrow - Sophie Lancaster Stage - 
Keyboard: Princess Luxury

This band just have to be seen live to really appreciate.  A five-piece parody metal band from Nottingham.  Really didn't disappoint the packed Sophie Lancaster tent and many people have since said it was the highlight of their weekend.

Northern Oak - New Blood Stage - 
Flute: Catie Williams

Northern Oak are a six-piece folk metal band from Sheffield.  I am a massive fan, an almost obsessive stalker and still completely blown away by their Bloodstock set.  Catie's flute just makes them all the more awesome.

Therion - Ronnie James Dio Stage - 
Vocals: Lori Lewis and Linnea Vikstrom

The only band I could find with female members on the main stage were Therion.  Therion are a Swedish symphonic metal band with two female vocalists.  I was close to the front for the set and thoroughly enjoyed their performance.  I have since acquired a number of items from their back catalogue.

There were two other bands I found but didn't get to see for one reason or another.

Candid Iniquity - New Blood Stage - 
Guitar: Francesca Dixon

This four-piece metal band from Manchester were on just a little too early for us on the Sunday and we didn't make it into the arena in time.  Having listened to them since I am even more disappointed to have missed them.  Perhaps they will be playing near Sheffield one day soon and I can make up for it?

Amaranthe - Sophie Lancaster Stage - 
Female Vocals: Elize Ryd

A six-piece Swedish/Danish power/melodic death metal band.  Having seen their most recent video before heading to Bloodstock I wasn't that fussed about seeing them so didn't make them a priority at the festival.  It appeared to be over produced pop metal trying to be Evanescence.  As much as I like a bit of pop metal every now and again this really didn't appeal to me during the festival.

In hindsight I should have made more of an effort to see them to see for myself what they were really like.

So there you have it.  A very swift round-up of the women playing at Bloodstock 2011.  In a way I hope there were others that I missed - not because I wish I had missed them, but because it would be great to see more women playing at festivals such as this.  If there were more that you know about please add a comment with the bands details so that I can check them out.

And you never know.  Perhaps next years line-up might include a few more lovely ladies on the main stage too?!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011


Did I mention that I got some new boots while I was at Bloodstock?  They are awesome! :D

Please enjoy my new New Rocks ...

Femetalism’s Bloodstock Discoveries

Bloodstock is the ultimate UK metal festival. Billed as ‘by the fans, for the fans’ the festival has grown significantly over the years from a small indoor event to a huge outdoor event. 2011 saw me venture to Bloodstock for the very first time.

Although the final line-up failed to really inspire me I had bought my ticket back in December 2010 and was keen to go and just enjoy the experience. It wasn’t that the line-up was bad, I was just unfamiliar with most of the bands and the bigger bands on the main stage were not really my cup of tea.

That said, Bloodstock blew me away: the people, the atmosphere, the facilities but mainly the music. I acquired a guide immediately and started planning which bands to see – making sure they didn’t clash with each other and planning meal and drink stops a long the way. The whole weekend was music focussed with very little regard given to having loads to drink and acting like a fool until 5am in the morning in the campsite. We wanted to see as many bands and listen to as much music as physically possible.

There were a number of bands that blew me away completely and we have been purchasing albums like they are going out of fashion since we returned. The five bands who were complete unknowns to me before the festival but who really stood out to me were:

Shreddertron – New Blood Stage - A four-piece UK metal band from West Sussex. A real surprise these - thoroughly enjoyable almost post-metal with no shredding in sight.

Sanguine – New Blood Stage - A four-piece female fronted UK alternative metal band from Exeter. The set was powerful and energetic. The lead singers’ vocal was somewhat intimidating. I loved it!

Imicus – Sophie Lancaster Stage - A five-piece UK alternative rock/metal band from London. We decided to see them after reading comparisons to bands such as Tool. Although I am not sure where the comparison to Tool has come from, the band stunned me. Strong vocals, big riffs - stunning set.

Byfrost – Sophie Lancaster Stage - A three-piece ‘Black n’ Roll’ band from Bergen, Norway. A tremendous mixture of high speed black metal with barrel loads of incredible guitar riffs. It really did get the head banding! The album is pretty impressive too!

October File – Sophie Lancaster Stage - A UK based Post-Punk Band with a real attitude. They hooked me in with their catchy guitar riffs, grinding sound and exuberant stage presence.

I don’t think I could write a piece about Bloodstock, without mentioning the highlight of the whole weekend?! Seeing Sheffield’s own Northern Oak, bringing the crowd alive with both their acoustic set on the Saturday and their amazing set on the New Blood stage on the Sunday. Their performances were incredible and it was lovely to see them after the set being greeted by people wanting photos and albums signing.

Northern Oak Irish Jigging with the crowd on the Jagermeister Stage on Saturday 13th August 2011.

Northern Oak performing Arbor Low on the New Blood Stage on Sunday 14th August 2011.

In addition, the awesome power that is Evil Scarecrow really stopped me in my tracks. I wasn’t really that impressed when I went to see them earlier this year, but the set they performed on the Sophie Lancaster stage was something else completely. The place was packed and the atmosphere was amazing.

Evil Scarecrow attempting the largest Robot Dance to Robototron on the Sophie Lancaster Stage on Sunday 14th August 2011.

All in all, my first Bloodstock will remain with me forever. It has completely changed me as a person and as a metal fan. I know that sounds very deep and meaningful, but that’s the thing. Music has always really mattered to me. Music makes life bearable. Being a part of something like Bloodstock has given me a new passion for metal, for seeing more live metal, for reading more about metal, for listening to more metal. Being a part of Bloodstock has opened my eyes to the inner workings of the metal community. I feel as though I have carried out my induction, that I have been welcomed with open arms and that I have secured myself a place for eternity.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The Sophie Lancaster Foundation

Hard to believe it's been 4 years since Sophie was killed in an unprovoked attack. For looking different. Her mother has been working hard to promote tolerance for subcultures within our society through The Sophie Lancaster Foundation. The following video has been created to further promote the work they are doing within UK schools.

It was great seeing so many amazing bands play on the stage named in her honour at BOA 2011. Never forget ...

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The Royal Wedding Weekend of Metal and Music

It's been a busy weekend in Femetalism land.  On Friday we went to see Delain at Manchester Academy 3 supported by Serenity.  I saw Lacuna Coil at Manchester Academy 1 in 2010 but had not had the pleasure of Academy 3 until Friday.

After successfully negotiating the spiral staircase and queuing for what seemed like forever we entered the room.  It was the perfect size for me - just big enough to encourage an atmosphere but small enough that the stage was perfectly visible from any distance.  We planted ourselves somewhere in the middle and didn't have to wait long for the first band.

Lost in Thought were the first band and I am still puzzled by them.  Musically they were excellent.  There were some really quite epic guitar riffs and catching melodies throughout.  The singing just didn't seem to work … not for me anyway.  The lead singer seemed to have a completely different vocal style to the music and I just couldn't get it to work in my head.  I've listened to them online since the show and it sounded better than during the gig.

Serenity were next.  A symphonic metal band from Austria that isn't female fronted.  The lead singer was a very dominating fellow who's presence was felt on stage immediately.  They played an incredible set  which incorporated a duet with Lisa Middelhauve of Xandria.  The audience was well and truly warmed up by the end of it.

Delain were as anticipated, AWESOME!  I am such a fan of Delain and am so excited that they will be heading straight to the recording studio once their tour is over to record a new album.   They played all of their greatest tracks and the new guitarist Timo Somers was excellent.  He was clearly enjoying himself because he had an excited grin the whole way through.  I was sad to not hear See Me in Shadow but was extremely over excited when they played The Gathering to end their encore; it's my favourite Delain track.

After the show, I bought a Delain vest and Doozr acquired Serenity's new album from the merc stand.  We popped to the loo (relevant) and when we came out Serenity were just hanging about outside.  We got their autographs and told them how awesome their set was.  It was an incredible evening which if possible i would repeat a number of times.

On Saturday night we headed to The Frog and Nightgown in Worksop; Primarily to see Northern Oak who were supporting Sanctorum and Evil Scarecrow.  It was an interesting place that appears to be the hub of the alternative scene in Worksop.  It was really welcoming though and served a great selection of real ale.

For some reason the evening seemed to take forever to get started but when it finally kicked off Northern Oak launched into a flawless yet short set.   I thoroughly enjoyed it and I think they did too! :)   Sanctorum also played flawlessly and I enjoyed their set immensely.   Some very funky lighting and an overused smoke machine made for an interesting haze along the front of the stage during both sets.  Doozr still managed to take some quite awesome pictures of the night though.

We only stayed to listen to a little taste of Evil Scarecrow's set.  To be honest the crowd dynamic changed so dramatically that I found myself surrounded by far too many goth fairies and emos by the time they took to the stage.  We decided to head home as it was very late by this stage anyway.   I don't think we missed a great deal and I was shattered!!! :)

All in all the weekend has been lots of fun and thanks to the Royal Wedding and a Bank Holiday Monday it has also been veeeeryyyyy long! :D  Hurrah!

Photographs kindly provided by Doozr - tme / lazyrobot.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Arch Enemy - Yesterday is Dead and Gone

I am very excited about the forthcoming album release from Arch Enemy.  'Khaos Legions' is released on the 30th May and below is the first video released from the album, 'Yesterday is Dead and Gone'. As anticipated it is pretty awesome.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Bad Pollyanna - Album Fundraiser

We all know that the music industry has changed thanks to the Internet.  Many bands who would have normally remained in the garage or touring the local pub circuit are now finding an audience via online channels such as YouTube, MySpace and Facebook.  I wrote an article back in November for TME which discussed this very subject.

The Internet makes it possible to support local bands, expand your musical horizons and generally keep up to date with what is happening in the international, national and local music scene.  It also gives opportunity for bands to gain a fan base and get their music out into the big wide world.

One such band, who caught my eye back in October 2010 is Huddersfield theatrical rockers Bad Pollyanna.  They were support for The Birthday Massacre at Corporation and blew me away with their loud no nonsense sound.

When I got home I looked the band up online and found they had a large online presence on places such as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Reverbnation, and YouTube.  Disappointingly, there seemed to be some tracks available to listen to online, but no recordings to purchase.

Since then Bad Pollyanna have been touring relentlessly it seems, with dates all over the country.  They are now on an Album Fundraiser Tour and are trying to gain enough funding to record their first album.  Again, using the power of the Internet, Bad Pollyanna have created a Indiegogo profile and are asking fans to contribute to the cost of making the album.  In return the band are offering a number of 'Perks' a including personalised thank you letter from the band, signed posters, exclusive 'listening parties', album credits or private shows.

Bad Pollyanna released this personal appeal to their fans:

“Hello our amazing fans. First of all, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your incredible support so far. Without you, there would be no Bad Pollyanna. You have all waited long enough for a top quality album so that you can have your favourite Bad Pollyanna songs at your fingertips. We want to record the album that you deserve.
An opportunity to record a full studio album at a hugely discounted price has been presented to us by long term friends and collaboraters Mat Dauzat who has produced and co-written at least half of Bad Pollyanna’s material and Kevin Lamb who is the band’s first choice of sound engineer and mixing engineer who are based in Los Angeles.
We know you all work hard for your money and we don’t ask this lightly. Below you will find our ‘Contributions Scheme’ which is a list of what you can contribute and what you will receive from us in return. Doing things this way means that we will make decisions purely based on what we think will result in the best possible tracks for you our fans. We can only do this with your support.
Any purchase from the list below- however big or small- is truly appreciated and every little helps. If every fan we have on ReverbNation gave just a few dollars we’d be hugely over budget!
There are limited places for some of our schemes so please get in early for the ones you are keen on to avoid disappointment. This is especially true for the Listening Party which is already filling up.
We’re looking forward to seeing you all on our Album Fundraising Tour in April and May and again at our album launches in July and August- and of course one hundred of you at the Listening Party.
To everyone who decides to contribute no matter how big or small- thank you, thank you, thank you!"
Love to you all, from Olivia Hyde, Nikki Kontinen, Peter Dawes and Sam Morrow.

So, Femetalism has dug into her pockets and added a contribution to an album I have been looking forward to for some time. Why don't you check out Bad Pollyanna and then visit their fundraising page on Indiegogo and make a contribution too? :)

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

My Metal Musings

I love music and more specifically I love different types of music.  I am not ashamed to admit to having days where a little pop or indie rock can perfectly quench my thirst for musical gratification.  My musical tastes have been developing over a number of years and, as with many things, the people you spend the most time with are the people who influence you greatly.  I admitted defeat some time ago and started to listen to Doozr's music collection.  It was always a long standing joke within our circle of friends about the weird and obscure bands that he went to see, when no one really took the time to find out anything about them.  Let me tell you though, there are some really amazing artists on his iPod and I have been happily experiencing those and branching out to find my own too.

So yes, you could say I am a metal newbie.  I wouldn't say that I didn't like metal before, but I only listened to those 'commercial' metal bands that made it into the popular charts (in the UK that is very limited).  The likes of Linkin Park, Evanescence, Def Leppard, Metallica and so on.  Discovering a host of metal sub-genres and finding out how utterly amazing they are has been a voyage of discovery and I have no intention of stopping any time soon.

I spent some time today reading up on the various sub-genres that exist under the metal umbrella and was amazed and surprised at how many bands I like that fall into so many of them.  Gothic Metal is without a doubt my favourite it seems with numerous bands such as Epica, Within Temptation, Delain, Lacuna Coil, Nightwish, Theatre of Tragedy, Lunatica, Unsun and ReVamp featuring heavily in my most played lists.

I even have to admit to liking a bit of Metal Core apparently; Bullet For My Valentine's recent album Fever has been heavily played and very much enjoyed.

Arch Enemy
What has surprised me more than the Metal Core though is the fact that I also like bands in sub-genres such as Death Metal (Arch Enemy, Dark Tranquility and Opeth for example).  I like a lot of Folk Metal (Agalloch and Sheffield's own Northern Oak).  I like some Progressive Metal (Devin Townsend Band and Wolverine) and of course the traditional Heavy Metal bands (Avenged Sevenfold, Iron Maiden and Def Leppard).  Three years ago I had no idea so many sub-genres existed let alone taken a listen.

In some ways it feels a shame that so many of these bands will never make it into the mainstream and will continue to be an underground phenomenon.  I wish I had come across these bands years ago though and wonder how I would have discovered them without a guiding hand from someone who had already discovered them himself.

Avenged Sevenfold
Saying that though, mainstream success would probably ruin what makes metal so undeniably awesome.  The knowledge that the artists are performing and recording because of their love of music and not for the fame and fortune that appears to be the driving force behind so many 'popular' artists these days.  I think some bands who happen to make it into the mainstream can sometimes be ridiculed by more hardcore metal heads but I have no qualms in listening to and enjoying a bands music no matter where they fit into the hierarchy of musical popularity.  If I like it, I like it.  End of story.

The metal culture appeals to me because of the level of tolerance and acceptance I feel within it.  Gigs are the most civilised I have ever been to and although I was a little apprehensive at the first metal gig I went to, I had no reason to be.  Everyone is there for the music.  Not to throw beer, push people about or keep pushing past you while they pop to the toilet.  They are just there to listen to the band and soak it all up.  Some are there to jump about in the mosh pit, but they do that 'in' the mosh pit and not at random intervals throughout the rest of the crowd.

Evil Scarecrow
Life is pretty hectic a lot of the time but I do try to go to at least one metal gig a month.  This month is a bit of a metalfest for us.  We are seeing Delain in Manchester and Northern Oak, Sanctorum and Evil Scarecrow in Worksop.  August will see me heading to not only my first metal festival, but my first festival ever.  I have wanted to go to Bloodstock for about 2 years now and this year we are finally heading down there for what is shaping up to be an awesome lineup.

Metal has become such a big part of my life it is hard to remember a time when I didn't listen to it.  I am constantly thinking about where I can find new bands, where I can find news and updates on new releases or upcoming gigs or I'm busy finding topics to write about for here or for the wonderful TheMixEclectic.  I've found where I belong and here is where I intend to remain.

To Cast A Shadow

I recently came across this band and have finally had time to give them a listen.  To Cast A Shadow are a Norwegian gothic metal band.  If you've not heard of them before here is a track from their 'In Memory of' album called Oceans Apart.  There are moments where it sounds a little like Lacuna Coil but it has plenty of unique qualities and a little more grunt than some of the recent offerings from other gothic metal bands.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Epica & ReVamp - Corporation March 12th 2011

March has been packed with so many good gigs that there have been far too many for us to go to.  Sadly, 'day jobs', children and other commitments, mean that it isn't always possible to go to as many gigs as we'd really like.  After looking at the various gigs we might fancy in March Doozr and I finally settled on 3 in succession.   The Levellers supported by The Wonder Stuff for some old school reminising, The Decemberists supported by Blind Pilot for some American folk and Epica supported by ReVamp for some femetal awesomeness.

Epica are one of my favourite symphonic metal bands at the moment.  This fact combined with a support band such as Floor Jansen's ReVamp and a venue such as Corporation meant the night was much anticipated.

I wasn't sure what to expect with ReVamp.  I had had a quick listen to their album and to be honest I wasn't that blown away.  When the band walked onto the stage that night though the place went mental.  I have never been in such an electrifying crowd before.  Floor has the most powerful of voices mixing operatic styles with a deeper growl.  The band were energetic, enthusiastic and above all else awesome.

Floor has had a long career in metal performing previously with After Forever, Ayreon and Star One.  Her presence on stage was captivating and her voice was stunning.  Sadly, this seemed wasted on the chumps standing to my left who decided that her performance required something a little extra.  Soon after the band came on stage they started shouting 'Get em out' continuously for the rest of the performance demonstrating a complete lack of respect for both Floor and the band's performance.  

When Epica took to the stage, the place went wild.  The voice, the guitars, the rotating keyboard, the drums it was a non-stop barrage of complete awesomeness.  I can't even begin to articulate how amazing it felt to stand in a crowd and feel the excitement and the energy quite so vividly. Simone wore a stunning black dress with interesting detailing around the neck.  She looked like a beautiful porcelain doll, that was of course until she started windmilling like a loon.

For Epica's encore, Floor returned to the stage and her and Simone sang, windmilled and generally rocked together.   It was a truly stunning sight.

The gig was a non-stop roller coaster and I left Corporation covered in sweat, heart pounding and proudly sporting a massive grin.

Floor recently posted a Tour Report online which you can view below.  If you look closely (and know what Doozr and I look like) you should see us at about 2 minutes 30 seconds.  :D

Monday, 14 March 2011

The Classic Rock Society Best of The Year Awards with Tinyfish & Pallas - 5th March 2011

On Saturday 5th March myself and Tanzeelat headed to Wath Upon Dearne for the annual Classic Rock Society Best of The Year (BOTY) 2010 Awards.  Headliners this year were Pallas, supported by Tinyfish.  Sadly Doozr had to miss the event due to being double booked.

After taking yet another route from Sheffield to Wath we finally arrived part way through Tinyfish's acoustic set.  Tinyfish bill themselves as the worlds smallest progressive rock band but there was something about their music that had us hooked.  It could have been the fabulous latin inspired percussion or it could have just been the love and passion this band clearly have for their music.  Either way it was a beautiful set filled with exquisite progressive rock qualities and laced heavily with humour and fun.  Tanzeelat was straight to the merc stand for a copy of their debut self titled album once their set was over.

The next part of the evening was the presentation of the CRS BOTY Awards.  The special guest presenter was Sonja Kristina of Curved Air fame.  The evenings categories included Best Track, Best Live Act, Best Band, Best Album, Best Female Vocalist and Best Male Vocalist, plus a new award for Best Personality of the Year,

Anne-Marie Helder was up and down all evening for various awards for her work with Mostly Autumn, Panic Room and Parade.  Mostly Autumn were flavour of the year with numerous awards including Best Live Act, Best Band and Best Album.  Olivia Sparnenn won Best Female Vocalist which must have been a real boost for her having stepped into the massive boots of Heather Findlay last year.

The winners were:

Best Male Vocalist: Peter Nicholls
Best Female Vocalist: Olivia Sparnenn
Best Bass Player: John Jowitt
Best Drummer: Gavin Griffiths
Best Keyboard Player: Clive Nolan
Best Guitarist: Bryan Josh
Best Album: Go Well Diamond Heart - Mostly Autumn
Best Track: Satellite - Panic Room
Best Band: Mostly Autumn
Best New Band: Parade
Best CRS Live Act: Mostly Autumn
CRS Personality: Anne Marie Helder

With the presentations and photographs over and with our unsuccessful raffle tickets thrown in the bin, the main act took to the stage.

Both Doozr and Tanzeelat are big fans of Pallas and have told me on a number of occasions that I should take a listen to their stuff.  When I heard that they would be headlining I decided to opt for a 'surprise' and resisted a sneaky listen to their existing albums or the free download of new material from their website.

The gig was much anticipated for many reasons but mainly because it was the first time Tanzeelat had seen the band perform with their new lead singer Paul Mackie after long serving lead singer Alan Reed left the band in January 2010. The other reason was of course to hear their new material.

They played a fair mix of old and new tracks with Paul even admitting at times that he didn't even know which album the song he was about to sing was from.  The new material seems to have a much edgier sound to it than previous releases and even feels somewhat prog metal at times.  We both approved and I was soon bopping along with what was an exceptional stage performance from the old hands and their new front man.

Thanks to the power of the Internet here is a video taken from that evening of Pallas performing 'Sanctuary'.

The tracks that really stood out for me on the night were new tracks Monster, XXV Part 1 and Violet Sky.  Paul's stage costume change to perform The Alien Messiah was an unexpected event with him vanishing for a short while before coming back on stage wearing an alien mask.

Pallas performed for 2 hours including their encore.  I couldn't even begin to give you a full set list because I was too busy lost in the moment to take notes.  It was a spectacular evening and a real contender for my best gig of 2011.

One slight disappointment for us was the running out of beer!  Montgomery Hall usually stock a host of local Wentworth Brewery real ales but ran out half way through the evening.  This left poor Tanzeelat to drink Newcastle Brown!  Still, it was an awesome night! ;)

If you want to get involved with CRS they are always looking for new members.  Visit their site and have a look at what they do, how important their work is and what gigs and events they have coming up.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Plinky prompts some 'Lunatica'

Struggling for inspiration today I had a look at the topics Plinky were suggesting. One of today's prompts was: 'What songs must you always sing the lyrics out loud to?'. As I read this prompt I was singing my lungs out to one my my favourite songs and decided that this had to be fate.

The song I was singing was Lunatica's 'Farewell My Love'. When I first heard this track on their 2009 album 'New Shores', I had to do a double take. It reminds me so much of a big love song in a Disney Princess movie. This song is bittersweet and beautiful. The male/female vocals are perfectly balanced and the lyrics really touch you. This song is one I always love listening to in the car on a long trip or when I am feeling really down and lonely. There is something I can relate to in there. Something I think everyone can relate to. It is without a doubt the song I must always sing the lyrics out loud to.

I've been feeling so uncertain
Since the day you left my life
Now I'm standing at the crossroads
No direction left to go

I've been thinking 'bout the good times
And I've cried a lake of tears
If losing you is just a nightmare
I hope I wake up by your side

Farewell my love
Forgive the things I've done to you
May your days be warm and bright
May your journey lead you to the light

So many words been left unspoken
And some words were far too much
Maybe sometimes love is hurting
But it's the sweetest pain I know

Farewell my love
Forgive the things I've done to you
May your days be warm and bright
May your journey lead you to the light

Farewell my love
Forgive the things I've done to you
May your days be warm and bright
May your journey lead you to the light

Ooh, farewell my love
(my love/goodbye)
Forgive the things I've done to you
May your days be warm and bright
May your journey lead you to the light
(to the light)

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

How to Look Like a Hot Metal Chick

During a research and fact finding expedition around the Internet this morning for ideas for this blog, I came across a video called ‘How to Look Like a Hot Metal Chick’.

On further investigation it looks as though this video has been around since 2009 and both MetalSucks and Metal Injection have already mentioned the content on their sites.  Feeling equally as baffled, I felt I had to throw in my two cents on the subject, for what they are worth.

The ‘How to Look Like a Hot Metal Chick’ video suggests that to look like a hot metal chick:
  • Hair should be brunette or blonde only or colour can be ‘fun too’
  • Hair should be messy and dirty looking
  • Particular attention should be paid to eye make up so that it looks dark and dramatic
  • Have a dramatic and defined eyebrow because that will make you look little bit more aggressive and intense
  • Wear band t shirts (of bands you know and like only)
  • Wear a nice pair of black boots
  • Nails short and painted a dark colour
These are all valid observations and as a general rule, dressing in the way she suggests would indeed help you look like a stereotypical metal chick for sure.  All the well known mainstream women’s magazines offer similar advice on what is currently fashionable, how to make your make up look better and what hair styles might suit you and so the idea behind this video really isn’t anything new or groundbreaking.  The resulting look feels very fake though.  Calling a metal gig a ‘metal concert thing’ and admitting that you prefer silver metal on your boots because it looks more ‘metal’ than any other colour of metal really doesn’t sell the content as valid or authoritative advice.

The insinuation that taking these measures will make you ‘hot’ also suggests that this look is about attracting a ‘metal head’ boyfriend rather than actually embracing the metal culture and community.

The real issue for me though is that the way we dress is an extension of our personality.  It communicates to those around us a great deal about who we are, what we stand for and what we like.  There is absolutely nothing wrong in taking advice about or pride in your appearance as long as the results are a true representation of you as an individual.  Making an effort with your clothing, hair and makeup should be because you want to feel confident in and good about yourself and not just so you fit into a specific niche or clique.

Being ‘metal’ isn’t about getting dressed in a fancy dress costume; it is a way of life, an attitude, an emotion that just can’t be authentic when forced or manipulated in the way this video suggests.  If you are ‘fancy dressing’ rather than ‘dressing’ then there is a real issue to consider with your own self image and self worth.

So here are Femetalism’s 'How to Look Like a Hot Metal Chick' tips:
  • Listen to, enjoy and fully appreciate metal music of whatever sub-genre you fancy
  • Go to see bands you like and not just ones you think you should like
  • Wear clothes that you feel comfortable in – you will only wear t shirts for bands you like automatically there is no forethought required
  • Have your hair in whatever style or colour you feel like
  • And remember - don’t give a toss about what people think you should look and act like … metal is about freedom of expression not conforming to socially acceptable norms.
If you are someone who still feels like you are struggling.  If you just don’t know how you are going to score that totally hot metal dude you really fancy.  Perhaps it is time to reconsider what you are looking for in a man?  Perhaps it is time to stop worrying about attracting a man so much? Perhaps it is time to just accept who you really are instead of trying to be something you clearly aren't - Now that is metal.  You never know … you might turn out to be his type after all?

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Within Temptation Go Conceptual

As a big fan of Within Temptation the announcement that they would be releasing a new concept album in March 2011 was extremely exciting.  Tickets were bought for their UK tour date and anticipation and impatience ensued.

The Unforgiving is the bands fifth album release; a concept album based on a comic strip written by Steven O'Connell and illustrated by Romano Molenaar.  Although the band have previously been seen as gothic and symphonic metal, this new album will show the band taking a completely different approach to their music.  They have used the comic book concept to give them the courage and inspiration to change their sound and write what they believe are the best songs of their career.

Prequels for the comic book started to be released through the bands website in November 2010 and tell the story of a young woman called Sinead Harkin and the action she takes to protect her friend from a violent abuser. 

The album track 'Where is the Edge' was released on the 15th December 2010 and is not only the first release from the album but is also included on the soundtrack for the movie 'Me and Mr Jones'.  The track is particularly creepy and in conjunction with a video based on the movie, it leaves you with a distinct chill.  That said, I found the track to be a little softer and milder than I was expecting.  I really hope that this is more to do with the fact it was being used in a movie and that it doesn't represent the album as a whole.

In addition there are 3 short films which will provide further insight into the album concept.  The first of those films was released on January 31st entitled 'Mother Maiden'.  The film introduces Mother Maiden, a medium who recruits lost souls to be part of a task force for fighting evil.  Each recruit carries a specific guilt about something that they have done in their lives and Mother Maiden offers them the opportunity to redeem themselves.  She gives them missions to hunt down evil as penalty for their sins.   The film ends and goes straight into a band performance of the single 'Faster'.  A teaser after the band performance leaves you itching to view the next instalment.

'Faster' is a very catchy song that had my four year old dancing around the kitchen last night, singing along.  It is very easy listen to and has a very memorable repetitive chorus that will ensure this track's popularity and commercial success.

So, what do I make of all of this?  Well, I am not traditionally a graphic novel enthusiast and so some of the prequel hype has been a little wasted on me.  Updates have been provided by the band in many different forms using an impressive array of social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Spotify and their own website.  As a student of e-communications I can appreciate how effective these tools have been in generating the excitement it has amongst fans.

The story of 'The Unforgiving' is intriguing and this first short film is very cleverly put together.  Mother Maiden's voice is particularly blood-curdling and the dark scenes are quite chilling.   I am not sure about the sudden jump from this dark and terrifying setting to Within Temptation singing what sounds like another classic rock song however. There seems to be a sudden jump from the dark into the light. Perhaps that is the point?

I still can't put my finger on what the new musical style really is either.  So far it seems to sound like very classic pop rock which is particularly commercial.  I had hoped for a darker and harsher sound from their new material.  I feel the build up to the album's release so far has suggested that this is something we could expect.  I really hope we are being further led on by the band and that when the album is released they haven't sold out to commerciality completely.

'The Unforgiving' is released on the 25th March 2011.  The band have rescheduled their European tour now that Sharon is expecting her 3rd child and they have added some additional venues in the UK:

Tuesday 8th November - Birmingham O2 Academy
Wednesday 9th November - Manchester O2 Academy
Friday 11th November - London O2 Academy, Brixton

Musical direction concerns aside, I will be grabbing my copy of 'The Unforgiving' as soon as it is released and am heading for Manchester on the 9th November.  Within Temptation really have made incredible use of the Internet to create a massive buzz over their new material and I am very excited about what is to come from them this year.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

The Birthday Massacre - Pins and Needles

I discovered The Birthday Massacre by complete accident.  They were touring in 2009 and I was invited to go along.  As it happens I didn't end up going.  I then forgot about them until recommended them to me some 6 months later.  Although not a genre of music I have previously been overly enthusiastic about, The Birthday Massacre's synth-rock style has really grown on me.

Pins and Needles opens with In The Dark.  This is one of my favourite tracks from the album filled with  the trade mark heavy guitar riffs and the stunning vocals of lead singer Chibi.  Shallow Grave is another favourite with electronica and really neat guitar riffs intermingled with Chibi singing in the cute and angsty style she has adopted so wonderfully.

New TBM T-Shirts!
Pins and Needles is of course the title track from the album and is without a doubt the standout.   I have found that there is always one track on each of their albums that I really love more than any other.  Pins and Needles is that track.  Really heavy riffs, criss-crossing with softer, almost pop like interludes.  Just awesome.

Although there is nothing particularly new or different about Pins and Needles in comparison to their previous albums I have to wonder whether I'd want anything new or different.  They have a winning formula and I don't think that they feel the need (and neither they should) to deviate too far from what they have been successfully doing to date.  Not at the moment anyway.

What really made this album even more special was having the opportunity to see it performed live in Corporation, Sheffield on the 17th October 2010.  I would say that it was the best gig I went to last year (and having seen Lacuna Coil a few weeks before, that is really saying something!)  They played a lot of new tracks from Pins and Needles as well as some older favourites.  It was a perfect showcase of the bands immense talent and their superb new album.