Review of “The Pond” by Break Me Down

Review by Joshua Becker | October 15, 2019

Hailing from Milano, Italy, (the same place as Lacuna Coil), this band is an alternative metal band, formed in 2017- so, relatively new to the scene. Interestingly enough, this band has been the opening act for Lacuna Coil twice, and I hear certain elements of Lacuna Coil, not throughout, but in certain songs- particularly the ballad-type ones- whether intentional or not, I don’t know.

At first listen, it reminds me a bit of Paramore, and the lead singer, Irene Franco sounds vocally, like Hayley Williams of Paramore at times.

You can hear the heavy bass guitar and drums kicking in at certain moments of the songs, indicative of metal. Though I feel because of the lack of constant heavy guitars and drums, this album would be more of a hard rock than metal.

There are two tracks, for me that really stand out “Your Game” and “The Noose”. “Your Game” stands out because of the very catchy chorus, and it makes this song something memorable, and I can see why it was the first single to be released. “The Noose” is another song that stands out for me, partly because the instrumentation is rather catchy, but this one also has a very catchy chorus.

Throughout this whole album, I can really feel how much time and energy the band put into this album, and I can hear the soul Irene sings from.

One thing I found rather interesting, with the production of the album, the songs’ instrumentals seem to get more heavy as I progress through the album. It’s as if the songs’ stories grow darker in meaning with each passing track. Great job on that one!

The only critique I have, not being a huge fan of alternative metal is maybe adding more bass guitars, more heavy riffs, and just more that would make this album seem metal, rather than a punk-ish type rock.

At any rate, I really did like this album overall, and just wish it had more of a metal vibe to it, but overall, the production is great, vocals are clear and don’t sound like they were recorded in a basement. This actually seems like a professional in-studio recording. Kudos for that!

I look forward to hearing another album or tracks in the future, just to see what you took from my review.

Overall Rating: 4.25/5
*Giving less points only because of the lack of heaviness.

“The Pond” comes out officially on Thursday, October 17th 2019.
You can listen to them in every digital store.

Official Band Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BreakMeDownIT/

Review of ‘Heaven’s Demise’ by Glasya

Review by Joshua Becker | October 14, 2019

Glasya is a band that hails from Lisbon, Portugal, and they are described as a symphonic metal band, which, when listening to the album, I can definitely hear elements of Nightwish, Tarja, and other symphonic and operatic bands and artists.

Their album, “Heaven’s Demise” is a really great album, well composed, with a lot of fast paced guitars and drums, mixed in with some choir/operatic sounds in the background, and other melodic electronic sounds in the background.

The only bad thing I have to say about the album is the vocals seem a bit rough in production, and it seems as though the vocals may not have been recorded in a professional studio, like the instrumentals were. In addition, the singer sounds as though she is trying to find her voice (literally), as the operatic vocals trail off and then come back, as if she has not developed proper control of her operatic voice just yet.

She is almost there, but has a little bit of work to do. This is not a bad thing though, as everything else has come together nicely, and I really enjoyed listening to this album- reminiscent of Nightwish back in the days of “Oceanborn” and “Once”. Almost like, this was a demo for one of those albums, which for me, is great as I am a huge fan of Nightwish and Tarja.

One of the tracks that really stood out for me was the eponymous track “Glasya”. It has a very Egyptian/Middle-Eastern vibe to it, and I have to admire the experimentation there. In fact, this track alone has made me change my review on the album, because it was so different and out there, in terms of production, and composition.

It kind of reminded me a bit of Nightwish’s Sahara. I wonder if the band may actually be influenced by Nightwish or Tarja, because there are too many similarities here.

One thing I really like about this album also is that each song sounds similar, but different enough that the songs mesh well and seem like they are from the same album, rather than random tracks and sounds thrown in there.

In conclusion, Glasya, I would love to review another album of yours in the future, and hopefully the production is a little bit more finely-tuned then. Do not get discouraged about not getting a perfect 5, as everyone has something to improve upon, and I see great potential in you all.

Overall Rating: 3.75/5

Band’s Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GlasyaOfficial/

Review of ‘The Most Attractive Force’ by Universal Theory

Review by Joshua Becker | October 13, 2019

Universal Theory is a goth-rock band hailing from Madrid, Spain. The album being reviewed today is “The Most Attractive Force”.

My first impressions of the band have a very Lacuna-Coil-like vibe, not so much from their recent albums, but more so from when they were Ethereal with the songs “Frozen Feeling” and “Shallow End”. There are also elements here of a band I know called “Moonspell” from Portugal.

The songs have a lot of heaviness with the guitars, the bass, and the drums. Also, like Lacuna Coil, there are some songs that have a “ballad-like” feel to them, particularly “Unfinished Desire”. One thing that stands out with “Unfinished Desire” is that it sounds similar to the Lacuna Coil E.P. and “In a Reverie”, like an experimental goth-rock-type sound.

It seems like the band have not fully established their sound as the album instrumentals don’t clash well, and the vocals seem to be a bit drowned out because of the instruments in the background. This is not a bad thing, it just means that the production of the album could use a little bit of work

Majo Martos, the female lead-singer, and Jesus Pinilla, both sound eerily like Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro, respectively. It’s quite interesting, and if the band came from Italy, it would make complete sense, but they hail instead from Madrid.

I have to commend the band on the fact that they sing as if they care about their music, and I can hear the heart and soul they have put into the music.

Aside from the rough production of this track, I give it a solid 3 out of 5, as there is definitely potential here. My only big complaint was the production, as mentioned earlier.

Every artist has to start somewhere though, so I don’t want this review to be seen as a negative. You have great potential Majo and Jesus, never stop improving upon yourself, you have the potential to be a mainstream metal band.

Overall Rating: 3/5

Band’s official site: http://www.universaltheorymusic.com/

Interview with Joanne Mariani

Interview by Jessica Clingempeel | October 10, 2019

You have been pursuing music for awhile now and are ready to record and get your name out there. What kind of music are you planning to do, or will it be a mix of different genres?

Joanne: I’ve been recording since 2008, my current songs can be heard on YouTube, and for purchase on Apple iTunes and CDBaby. My genre has been rock but coming back after 6 years and a new producer, we are in the goth metal genre and will keep it that way.

You use the phoenix a lot in your music, with it being your first song, and also the name of your album. What does the phoenix symbolise to you?

Joanne: This is my first song after 6 years. The Phoenix is my favorite as it will be the album title as well. The Phoenix is a Greek mythological creature that arises from it’s own ashes. For me it symbolizes that I’m back, resurrected and better then ever and is a song basically on vengeance on whoever did me wrong, as can be heard on the clip.

Who are you working with to produce your album and are you signed to any label yet?

Joanne: I’m not signed yet, but I’m working with a very known producer who’s worked with big names in the industry. He’s brilliant and such a badass lol. His name is Mo from Firestarter Recording Studios.

Do you write your own lyrics and where do you draw your inspiration from?

Joanne: Yes I write my own lyrics. My inspiration comes through life, others and simply when my head is flooded with lyrics that’s when I write.

You are a huge fan of both rock singers, Tarja Turunen and Sharon den Adel. Have you thought about recording a cover song by one of them?

Joanne: OMG YES!!!!!! That would be awesome!!

Being of Greek heritage, can we expect any Greek lyrics in your music?

Joanne: I’m Greek and Italian, but I do have a Greek song written that was never recorded and I don’t know if I will as it’s a very personal song of someone passing away and how I learned things from them. So that one may stay “in the drawer” for now. I want to focus on my English songs. But stay tuned cause you never know!!

You are also into acting and have landed a role in the show Blacklist. Have you done anything else and/or are auditioning for any other roles?

Joanne: Besides the Blacklist I was on the Village which was cancelled after one season. Currently a script is being written for a possible movie based on a true story and I’m waiting for that script to be done to read it and see if we can pitch it to the right producers and directors and such. Fingers crossed!

Apart from the acting and singing you are also a mother of two boys. Do you find it difficult some days juggling everything or does it come easy for you?

Joanne: Basically both of my boys are in school all day so the days I’m off it’s easy. But when it comes to acting I have to be on set extremely early and don’t get home til late in the evening or night depends. That’s when it gets tough. But luckily I have my mother to come and take care of the boys if I have an acting job. So it works out.

Other than acting and music, what are some of your other hobbies?

Joanne: I love cars always have since a little girl so I’m really into that – I’m a gearhead lol, spending time with my family, reading, cooking, and watching certain shows I’m hooked on. That’s about as boring as I get lol

If you had to pick just one musician to do a duet with, who would you choose and why?

Joanne: Tarja because she’s always been one of my inspirations and when I met her she even told me not to give up so who knows what the future holds? Hopefully one day I can make my dream a reality.

What would you like to say to the readers?

Joanne: I’d like to say to my current fans thank you for supporting me and to the ones that don’t know me yet, I hope that they will take the chance to visit and “like” my page on Facebook (facebook.com/joannemarianiofficial) as well as Instagram joanne_mariani_official but more importantly to check out my music and please do buy my current songs, stay tuned for the finalized Phoenix song and I would appreciate their support. Thanks so much!!!!

Interview with Cesair (2019)

Photographer © Samantha Evans
Interviewed by Joshua Becker | September 26, 2019

I wasn’t able to see the show at Wacken this year, but the founder of this webzine, Jessica, did and she shared her video with me- I have to say you all did an amazing job! That was also the first time I had heard of you. How exactly were you chosen to perform at Wacken this year?

Sophie: I don’t know exactly how we were chosen, but I can say that Wacken was on the top our list of festivals we’ve always wanted to play. I guess we have our booker Jeany to thank for this one.

Was it difficult to narrow down the song choices you would perform at Wacken?

Sophie: Not particularly. We have a broad range of songs to choose from, from dreamy and slow to more heavy and dark ones, and for Wacken we obviously decided on the last category. But we did sneak some more uplifting songs into the set, and I must say it was a joy to hear all those metalheads sing along to those as well.

Were you nervous performing at Wacken in front of such a huge, boisterous crowd? Do you ever get nervous on stage performing?

Sophie: Over the last years we have performed a lot, so nerves are not as much of a thing as they were back in the days, but my inner 16 year old did make some saltos in that backstage. Being a long time visitor of the holy metal lands myself, playing Wacken was a major bucket list item, and saluting thousands of metalheads and getting just as many devil horn hands back is an amazing feeling I will never forget.

Monique, the dress you wore for Wacken was fabulous- it reminded me of an ancient Celtic-style. How did that outfit get chosen?

Monique: Thank you so much! In most cases, the outfits worn by me are from my own hand. I find sewing and working with my hands very soothing, plus these unique dresses fit the style we have as a band. In this case, the dress was indeed inspired by the Celtic iron age over here in Western Europe. The fabric reminded me of the ominous skies so typical for Celtic countries and it seems this ambiance has been conveyed just fine. Over the last years, the emphasis in my designs lays on prehistoric motifs and styles, because it fits so well to the music.

It’s a possibility I will be seeing the shows at Wacken next year. Are there any plans to come back? I’d love to see you!

Thomas: We’d love to come back! Wacken was a blast. We are coming back to a large festival in Germany next year but we cannot yet say which one. Our supporters can always help by asking festival organizers to book us and sharing our music and our name. Be it in Germany or anywhere else. That’s the main thing – in the end, by supporting what you love, you guys decide who gets to play on your favourite festivals!

Being in the U.S. I would be ecstatic if you could tour here. Has that been discussed, and are there any plans to do so?

Jan: Interesting ideas. We talked about it on casual moments, maybe more often than I can recall, but we have never really discussed it. Some bands do an actual tour for weeks in a row but when we ‘tour’, we travel for one or maybe 3 shows at the most. After never more then 4 days we’re all back home to continue our lives and obligations. This is mainly because there’s just not enough money to be made to cover logistics, hotels and so on. Imagine if we were to fly across the Atlantic with our instruments and crew, we could only do so if we had a cunning plan. A plan or maybe some help from the States itself, like someone who can book us gigs or knows some great places, festivals or venues we really need to be. Prior to these actions, we should ask ourselves if we were to tour the States for money or for experience, and for how long would we want to go on tour? Maybe it’s because that these questions were always left unanswered, ‘talking’ about touring the States never became ‘discussing’ touring the states. That being said, your question might be the trigger to get these ideas and conversations rolling again and turn them into serious discussions and plans. At least it made me try to imagine how it would be, travelling with my friends, near family, from state to state, from adventure to adventure… Will we ever tour the US? I don’t know, I personally would really like the adventure and the experience!

What is your favorite country you have been to?

Thomas: Do we have to choose? Haha, each country holds so many great memories for us. In all honesty, it’s the trips themselves we remember, and the places all kind of blend together. I fondly recall a night in Italy, where after the concert night, all bands had gathered in the swimming pool and were making a song by blowing on beer bottles. Imagine the sight of rows of people in a pool, entrancingly focusing on blowing their bottle. That never lets go of you.

Do you ever worry about forgetting words since you sing in so many languages?

Monique: Not only do I worry about it, it also happens every now and then. Although I always research the meaning of the words and their correct pronunciation, using a language you’re not familiar with relies heavily on memory. Once something gets me out of my concentration, I may just invent some interesting new words! And then I pretend it didn’t happen, or have a laugh with the audience.

Are there any plans for a follow up of the album ‘Omphalos?

Thomas: We are working on new material right now! It’s interested to see how things are evolving this time. We’re very proud of what we did with our follow-up to Dies, Nox et Omnia, Omphalos, which allegedly is the hardest album for a band to create. And now we’re free to tackle a whole new world of myths, legends and music. Keep an eye out for more news regarding our upcoming plans.

What are the bands favorite hobbies when not performing?

Monique: Well, those are rather diverse! Some of us like to read, especially since we share a past of studying languages and cultures at University, where most of us met. We have our fair share of history buffs within the band, which is useful given the subjects of our songs. I also recognize the urge many of us have to create something with our hands. I like to work with yarns and fabrics, Sophie paints and draws beautifully, Jan prefers building furniture and technical equipment and Luka designs and creates musical instruments in his spare time. Thomas on the other hand is our digital wizard and creates websites, digital art and videos from scratch. These diverse talents actually enables us to do much of ‘the behind the scenes’ work ourselves.

Monique, did you have any vocal training?

Monique: About a decade ago I started with classical training with a private teacher. After a few years, I became curious to try different things, such as Bulgarian singing. This year I have come full circle and started working with a new method combined with classical singing. I love medieval music and its use of clear, ethereal singing, such as within the works of Hildegard von Bingen. I am always finding new ways to direct my sound towards this passion.

What places would you want to perform or visit if given the chance?

Sophie: There are so many beautifull festivals we still want to play, it is hard to name specific ones. Playing in South America would be amazing, as we know we have quite a few listeners there, but really anywhere in the world we have not been would be awesome!

What would you say is your greatest inspiration for writing, composing and performing music?

Monique: Although we are infuenced by many cultural traditions and historical periods, in the end the biggest inspiration is the music we listened to during the writing and composing process. Since Cesair’s members listen to different music genres, there is a mixture going on with hints of metal, folk, world music, gregorian and Bulgarian choirs, gothic and rock. But we sense that momentarily, we start to shift into a more experimental mood, so other influences might follow.

When it comes to performing, I suspect we grew into it. We have always put the music first and the musicians second, which means that we move according to the songs we play while on stage. It is such a unique experience and we have heard on many occassions how the audience loves to witness the joy and brother-/sisterhood feel that is weaved within our performance.

Who writes the majority of the lyrics? Or is it a collaborative effort?

Monique: We use many lyrics written by poets through the ages. Usually we select a beautiful text and the melody follows. When the music is written first, I go searching for the words that fit to it, or write a text in English, such as for the song Ahes. I suppose it makes sense for the singer to select the lyrics, but Thomas every now and then also contributes the lyrical gems he comes across.

Are there any songs you recommend for new listeners to understand the message you are trying to convey as a band?

Jan: Every time somebody asks me about my band and to put on a few songs, I try to bear in mind what kind of music they like so I can put on songs accordingly. Our music is so diverse, I think it’s nearly impossible to point out one or two songs and say “This is Cesair!”

Nevertheless, when it’s about the message, we could point out a few songs. Erda, which is about the awareness of our mutual homeland the earth. The Ruin, which is about respect for the transience of all that’s build or has ever lived. And of course Enuma Elish which tells to story of the beginning of all worlds. We should also not forget songs like Dies Nox et Omnia where Monique sings about the death of the princess Cesair who we named ourselves after and last but not least Troll Kalla Mik and Canso for a burst of metal and some healthy dancing.

What would everyone do for a career if you were not in a band?

Thomas: In fact, we all do something else besides making and performing music. It’s not all romance and unicorns and puppies for us! Some of us are teachers, some of us are audio / lighting technicians, and I work as a programmer and desktop publisher. For me, it’s good to stand still and consider how throughout the years, I’ve seen everyone in our group grown into a place where we’re comfortable combining doing what we love with something we’re good at, and actually being able to afford food.

I learned the songs are about a 5,000 year old myth from the same name Cesair. What inspired the band to choose this as the overall theme of the music you make?

Monique: In our time as students, Sophie, Thomas and I came upon the story in the Lebhor Gabhala Erinn, the Irish Book of Invasions. It took us to the very first settlers to set foot upon Irish soil. Intrigued by the mystery of this, we kept on reading. The leader of these early people was the mythical princess Cesair, in later times related to the Biblical Noah as his granddaughter. We felt the journey she made from the Near East to the (then) far West to be a beautiful narrative within which to create our songs, then mostly a mixture of Celtic, Occitan and Sephardic traditionals. After making this choice, the music started to, figuratively speaking, write itself. The inspiration came still further from home.

The band sings in many languages, how exactly did that decision come along?

Monique: It has not been a conscious decision per se. The music we were inspired by was also multilingual and so, it came natural to us. Language is simply the tool through which ideas, feelings and stories are shared. Therefore, any language might be perfect if the content of the text resonates with us and our music. I think the only choices we make regarding this are whether we can use a text from a tradition which is far removed from our own, since we want to honour the value it has to people from the tradition in question.If we choose to incorporate text, we want to do it in a respectful way!

How many languages does the band know fluently?

Monique: Dutch, English and German, so three in total. The rest is bluff.

What would you say the best and worst things about performing are?

Jan: I can only answer this question from a personal perspective. Let me start with the worst, and I really have to think hard about what actually is the worst. Maybe it’s something simple as loading or unloading vans or the moments these old vans are dropping parts on the highway like exhaust pipes for Luka to play didge on. Since the last few upgrades these moments are less likely to happen luckily. For me personally the worst parts of performing are that often I never really have the time actually enjoy or experience the festivals we play for I’m busy building up the drum kit or finding stuff to eat. Is that all? Yep, that is all!

The best parts are the soundchecks and the performances themselves. The soundcheck for I’m already getting in the zone, making jokes, sniffing the atmosphere, spacing the stage and watching our crew perform miracles (besides getting spoiled for I’m a technician myself and in these moments I’m off the job as being the artist). But as soon as the intro starts or when we storm the stage, that’s the best part. I get into a different state of mind. Everything that used to be an issue in life, now simply isn’t there. And that’s exactly what I want our cheering crowd to experience as well as we play for them. Of course I’d like to get this state of mind myself, but as soon as I see people dancing on the wilder songs or dreaming away with their eyes closed on the softer ones, I know for sure their issues in life are as good as gone as well. Though it might not be for long, they were able to let go, refresh their minds and walk away clean, ready for a spicy shot of reality.

Rúnatal was a visually stunning piece of work. Very well done. What was the process involved with making the music video?

Thomas: This was a fantastic process to witness. As you can see from the final product, it’s a rather complex story we’re trying to tell – reworking a story about Odin’s sacrifice from the Hávámal into a modern-day hero’s journey of self-discovery. We worked with on the story of the video with director Jasper Van Gheluwe and production manager Femke van Hilten and took a long time to prepare, creating clothing and props, and gathering all the lovely extras you see in the video. They’re all friends and fans who helped us out, sometimes standing in the rain for hours. It’s great to see so many people working together for a common goal and I’m very proud of the result. Let’s hope many people get to see the video.

Is the band currently signed to any record label?

Thomas: Yes, we are signed to the German label Foxy Records. They specialize in our genre of music (and related ones) and have been a great help in getting our latest album across.

The web shop has beautiful merchandise. It seems to be very Celtic in nature. How were the products for the web shop chosen?

Thomas: Thanks for the compliment! As with our music, we try to incorporate elements from all around Europe and the Orient into our designs. This has grown and evolved over the years. During our first album, you find see various elements from nautical navigation in our designs, to reflect the epic of princess Cesair, the mythological person we derived our name from. You can still see this in some of the artwork in our shop. Our latest album Omphalos was partially inspired by the celestial bodies in the sky, which we incorporated into the artwork, and our newest merchandise was inspired by Rúnatal. You can see the world tree with its animals on the back of our new shirts and hoodies. This design was made by Monique and in fact features the actual tree which Odin hangs from in the music video. Go see for yourself and compare!

Follow Cesair on Facebook.

Review of ‘Wait for Dawn’ by Jirfiya

Review by Ty Vinney | September 23, 2019

Spinning out of their band Born From Lie, Jerome Thellier and Pascal Devoury have collaborated with vocalist Ingrid Denis-Payet to form Jirfiya. The results go beyond what was started with the first band and have bloomed into something more artistic and melodic. They have that play of melodic vocals with Ingrid and then the harsher vocal growls from Jerome that when combined over the technical and progressive comes out flawlessly.

There’s something really intriguing about every song. ‘The Report Card’ opens up with a Hispanic sounding acoustic guitar cord lead and then blooms out into riffs that could fit in with an early Guano Apes album. The song evolves as it goes along, from technically alienated vocals to something more powerful. It’s clear that Ingrid’s not so basic and she’s got a good range going on. You’ll see a lot more of that as you get deeper into the EP.

‘Under Control’ and ‘To Be Saved’ continue to progress of riffs and back and forth vocals. The former coming out instantly harder with Jerome’s growls. ‘A Part of the Light’ starts out like a ballad, slow and swinging upward. It builds up and Jerome adds the perfect touch as the song works to its end in a heavier sound. ‘Waiting for Your Fall’ is a favorite, showing up smooth and slow, and then flowing into something much harder. Ingrid doesn’t shy away from harder vocals and lets loose like a banshee in a song calling out abuse.

This band will be one to watch, they have a lot of potential and it really shows up here. I think my only complaint about the Wait for Dawn EP is five tracks isn’t enough!

Overall Rating: 5/5

Official Bandcamp: https://jirfiya.bandcamp.com/releases
Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jirfiya/