Album Review: Theatres des Vampires- Moonlight Waltz ****
I never thought I’d be into Vampire anything, let alone music. But lately as my musical tastes have become engulfed by female fronted metal bands & my horizons have been broadened. The Metal genre has taken on many new forms; most female fronted bands can be classified as gothic or symphonic metal. Most of the music is the usual rock with orchestration, keyboards as well as choirs& comes out of Europe as well as other countries outside the U.S.
Theatres Des Vampires is a female fronted Gothic Metal band from Rome, Italy. The band started in 1994 and based their music on the theme of vampires. Through the years the lineup has changed & since 2004 the beautiful Countess Sonya Scarlet (born in Rome) has fronted the band. She puts on very theatrical shows, dressing gothic & sexy, doing seductive dances as she mesmerizes her audience with wonderful rock theater.
She wears heavy make up & at times is even a mask as do the rest of the band to add to their mystery. It’s classic metal theater, from Alice Cooper & Black Sabbath to Iron Maiden, Dio & Ozzy but this time with a female lead, very original. Their audience is dedicated yet still small, but at the same time growing although the critics are still hard on them.
Sonya Scarlet has done some controversial stuff on stage behind her heavy makeup, high boots & fishnet stockings. Her theatrics have included her cutting herself with a razor & sharing her blood with fans in the audience. This caused an uproar as you can imagine & has pretty much been banned around the world. Other stage set ups, have included sexy vampire chicks dancing in cages behind the band, clinging to Scarlet as she dances with them on musical breaks. It may sound a bit strange but its rock & roll baby…………….
The latest Theatres des Vampires album/CD just released is titled: MOONLIGHT WALTZ and is no doubt their best effort by far. It’s an amazing hard rock modern day metal masterpiece. Yet it is melodic with catchy beats, powerful vocals & layers of musical orchestration. This album is well produced with a strong polished sound & fantastic musical arrangements. It can be classified as gothic, symphonic, dark or even vampire metal but certainly not a bunch of immature noise.
Of course the music first comes at you with pure hard rock; aggressive guitars from Stephan Benfante & fantastic keyboard work from the bands main composer Fabian Varesi. The rhythm section of a powerful bass & strong drumming is provided by Zimon Lijoi & Gabriel Valerio.
The lead vocals of Sonya Scarlet are superior & by far her best work to date. Her vocal style is everywhere from powerful & melodic, to sighing, haunting, seducing & lovley. She may not be a mezzo soprano, have a powerful voice like some of the ladies in the female fronted European metal scene, but her stle is perfect for her music. She has come a long way since her early days in the band as backing vocalist. Her English is fluent but yet her diction has a very strong Italian accent, this is a feature which I just love.
Special guest vocals are provided by: Snowy Shaw (from Therion, King Diamond, Notre Dame, Dream Evil) on the opening track KEEPER OF SECRETS. The track begins with a piano intro a child (credited as Sonya) chants in what gives me the visual of a playground setting. The music is taken over by an almost evil march as an orchestra erupts leading to a hard rock explosion of heavy guitars with a great bass line & catchy drum beat. Sonya Scarlet’s sighing vocals take over the landscape in one of the best hard rock songs to come out in a long time. Shaw provides a great middle verse & some heavy backing vocals as well.
The female metal singer Cadaveria (from Opera IX & Cadaveria) adds some extreme growling vocals to LE GRAND GUIGNOL, my second fav song on the album/CD. It’s one of MOONLIGHT WALTZ’S most powerful metal songs. Eva Breznikar from the band Laibach, adds some great voice work singing with Scarlet on the last track; Medusa.
The songs each have their own identity but seem to all fit together as if you are in an Italian Gothic theater production. The hard rock is accompanied by classical pianos, violins, cellos, string sections & choirs.
Helping out on the musical arrangements are maestro Luca Bellanova and a performance of the Classical Music Academy of Rome. Almost every song has wonderful layers of backing vocals which add a great effect, Eliza Pezzuto & Marco Benevento are credited with the band members on backing vocals.
The first single & video from the album is CARMILLA, a catchy pop metal song with a great beat. Its haunting lyrics are sung in a slow sensual delivery by Scarlet as if she was trying to seduce you to so can suck your blood. The song features great backing vocals with screaming guitars. It’s overlayed with cellos & a beautiful violin solo, making this an incredible piece of music.
The video is a great story taken from the original gothic novella of Carmilla (1872) which predates Bram Stoker’s Dracula by 25 years. The lead character in the video is played by Sonya Scarlet, giving her a great chance to show off her act to a broader audience.
The song SANGUE (which I believe translates from Italian to English as blood) counts in as one, two three four five, six, six, six,… gotta love it. It’s is another catchy hard rock song with a strange keyboard tone leading the way, behind heavy guitars.
The songs FLY AWAY & ILLUSIONS are slower songs with a more mainstream sound, again great layers of vocals & musical arrangements. The song FIGIO DELLA LUNA is a slow operatic ballad, very theatrical. Sonya Scarlet gets to show how beautiful she can sing in Italian. The title track; MOONLIGHT WALTZ is a beautiful rock ballad, that Scarlett nails perfectly & again it features great backing vocals.
Obsession is a strange but symphonic mix of electronics, choirs & haunting vocals by Scarlet. The Classical Music Academy of Romeadds to this incredible musical mix. The Gates of Hades begins with a keyboard line that almost sounds like a dance song is about to begin & then pianos lead to another catchy pop metal song. Then there is the gothic Black Madonna which to me is the darkest song on the whole WALTZ.
I love this album, it will be tough to beat this one as the years top centerfield maz album!!