Can you cast your minds back to the 70’s and 80’s, for some of our more fresh faced readers, that may prove difficult, I know! There were not many members of the fairer sex involved in rock and, especially, metal. Take Girls School, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and Pat Benatar out of the equation and I would be hard pushed to think of many other ladies involved in our favourite genres.
Now, as we move into the noughties, are women finally coming of age in the world of metal? In the world of straightforward, hard rocking metal they do appear to, still be, few and far between but, if you move into the arena of symphonic, goth and epic metal there has been a plethora of female fronted bands and this appears to the primary route where lace and leather clad goddesses have made their inroads into metal. Maybe it mirrors the emergence of strong female characters in film and modern culture? Who knows? But, with bands like Epica, Within Temptation, Delain and Lacuna Coil becoming more and more popular is the female counterpart to the male hero claiming her birthright?
Earlier this week, whilst minding my own business, there appeared, sneakily sliding, onto my desk (courtesy of The Lady herself) the eponymous album from Turkish alternative metal/goth band, Riseback. Founded in Istanbul in 2010, Riseback consist of Ali Safa Uzun (guitar), Koner Memili (bass), Onur Akça (drums) and, carrying on our female fronted band theme, Riella Eskenazi (vocals). The band are influenced by contemporary rock and metal formations but have created their own unique style. Riseback are influenced by all kinds of music that has touched their souls and then formed a unique musical style using all these melodic and harmonic elements. In love with metal music, the band creates modern rock-metal sounds, melodic and rich guitar riffs, strong drumming, solid bass and sincere female fronted vocals. This year saw the release of their debut album, Riseback, which has garnered strong praise so far, let’s see what this tough taskmaster makes of this latest member of the female fronted metal genre.
Coming in at a tad over 30 minutes, Riseback is not a lengthy composition so, will it suffer for its brevity or leave me clamouring for more? Let’s press play and find out. A nicely weighted intro to Game Powered, sees some cracking guitar work over laid by keyboards and then our first listen to the voice of Riella, well, so far so good, nice vocals perfectly attuned to what is required for a rock/metal band, giving a powerful performance on the catchy chorus. A stripped back guitar solo backed by pounding drums adds to the polished feel of the first track on the album. Make You Real has more of that excellent keyboard aided guitar intro before a pared back vocal takes us into the meat of the track, Riella’s voice has a proper hard rock edge. More is made of the keys on this track as they work well in tandem with the classy guitar, a real cool groove to the song. A harder egded riff leads us into The Criminal, keyboards present and correct. There is a definite heavier feel to this track, more forceful vocals and a moodier feel to everything, another powerful chorus and a solo stripped back to basics. This is seriously good stuff, superior musicianship all matched up with the seriously good vocals. A thumping drum, guitar and key intro blasts us into My Treasure, effects laden vocals give way to another strong riff. We are treated to a thick slice of the hard, heavy guitar married with the keyboards before we move up a gear with the outstanding vocal performance of Riella once again. A powerful guitar leads the short break in the middle of the song, remaining ever present behind the vocal run to the end of the song. A groovier slice of guitar takes us into Far Away, a cool, funky vibe to this track matched by a suitably strong chorus. The funky, staccato riff is in evidence throughout the track, matched by the thumping drums. A strident guitar is the highlight of the break in the track before a pared back, effortlessly cool solo prefaces another rendition of the catchy chorus.
A mournful piano is the classy lead in to the wonderful power ballad, Try to Say. The song is a platform for one of Riella’s strongest vocal performances on the whole album, low key, string based keyboards providing backing along with some nicely muted drums. A lift in the intensity and power of Riella’s voice is matched to a hefty, slow paced guitar before a subtly pared back solo fits nicely into the mix of what is a brilliant piece of balladry. Fake Numb Face takes on a heavier vibe with a crushing, staccato riff, pounding drums and harder edge to the vocals. This is a great metal track, the intense vocals and heavy guitar, especially in the middle of the song all adding to the feeling. Another cool solo with that similar, stripped back feel carries on the hard and heavy vibe running throughout, a nice slice of metal pie. The symphonic, goth feel of the previous tracks returns with When The Dreams, more melodic vocals matched with more classy riffing and another catchy chorus. A nicely prog influenced break highlighted by running piano and great guitar work leads back into more of the great guitar and a repeat of the chorus before an abrupt ending and we run straight into the final track, Flowerstar. A luscious, acoustic style track, keyboards and sampled percussion laying the backdrop for what is a vehicle for the final, excellent vocal performance from Riella. This is a beautiful, low key and pared back track with no guitars in sight and , yet, feels totally at home with the powerful rock that has preceded it.
In Riseback we have a fantastic addition to the ranks of female fronted metal bands. Some great songwriting, quality musicianship and a fantastic vocal performance all adding up to one complete package of brilliant music. I was left wanting more and cannot wait for the second instalment from Riseback in 2014. Do yourself a favour and give it a listen.