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Flight of the Valkyries East Festival – Baltimore, MD – November 6, 2010                8/10

By Jill Hughes Kirtland

Irene JerichoThe past few years the female-fronted metal festival Flight of the Valkyries was hosted in Minnesota by Nathan Block and Bobbie Dickerson.  This year the festival was moved to the Ottobar in Baltimore, Maryland and a sole effort of Dickerson. To determine whether or not the festival would thrive in its new location, Dickerson decided to make it a regional affair and invite bands from the surrounding states to play one night only.  A little over 100 people showed up to listen to eight different women reach into the depths of their diaphragms and belt out hard rockin’ tunes. The intimate crowd showed strong local support, including sponsorships from local magazines and Woodchuck Hard Cider.

Cassandra Syndrome

Classically trained Irene Jericho fronted this band donning a bra with a mesh overlay and short skirt. Jericho had very strong control of her operatic voice and it complimented the thrashy guitar riffs well. Jericho grabbed her audience by their throats with her presence on stage and was not afraid to be ballsy or funny on stage. As the opener, the crowd was thin but the energy was high.

Dying Design

Vocalist Cindy Parr loomed above the audience with a butch presence but beautiful melodic vocals. This band was a bit grittier and less formal.  The festival’s emcee from Shockwave Magazine joined them on stage for a headbanging session to add some extra entertainment. 

dancing ladies!Suhgarim

Hailing all the way from Columbia, South Carolina, this band was very hard rocking and very passionate.  The frontwoman Trish Fleury had an abundance of charisma on stage. She wanted to get out there and rock hard! It was obvious she was enjoying herself, jumping everywhere and also coming out onto the floor to sing right to her audience. This woman embodied sexiness in her strength and passion.  She was very adaptable to her surroundings, at one point realizing that the band changed up the set-list.   Towards the end of their performance, a few of the other female singers and audience members joined Trish on stage and danced behind her.  Trish did not mind that this stole the spotlight; she embraced the opportunity to connect with her fellow ladies. This was a very entertaining performance and kicked some serious ass.  Personally my favorite of the night. 

[geist]

Classifying themselves as Japaneses pop metal, vocalist Kane has a tenor voice and usesthis to her advantage to sing in growls most of the time.  This was better suited for her than her singing voice. She had a great presence on stage but did not talk that much except to encourage her audience to move forward and get more engaged.  They did just that by moshing and jumping around to the music.  One thing I noticed is that they were not using a real drummer, but a drum machine for their songs.  To spice things up a bit, there was a fun non-metal Japanese pop song that was played.  The audience seemed to be a lot of local fans that was really into their music.

NinaA Sound of Thunder

Also a local band, which often opens for prog/power metal bands, A.S.O.T. has a very classic metal sound in the vein of Iron Maiden. Except this time it is fronted by a woman Nina Osegueda, who exudes sexiness with her curves and bright red corset. It was like a beacon on stage.  Her voice was very powerful and had a strong conviction, easily able to handle the strong metal vocal lines. The band had some very catchy songs with excellent guitar playing.  It was very entertaining to watch them and very hard rocking to say the least.  They only have an EP released, but I think with a solid production of a full album this band could go far. 

River Runs Scarlet

Hailing from Pittsburgh, PA, this band was very energetic.  Frontwoman Zosia West would lip-sync the growl vocals done by the Bill Hudson-look alike guitarist Aaron “Hank” Pepe, and then sing in a very beautiful melodic voice for her parts. When she tried to sing in a deeper voice or growl, it was a little less desirable.  She was always dancing and bouncing around, and sometimes getting down on her knees on stage to show the emotion of the songs.  The songs were very dark and she tried to use humor to lighten up the atmosphere, remarking things River Runs Scarletsuch as “I need to stop dating!”  Their album is coming out in three weeks at their CD release party in Pittsburgh.  I hope that this brings them greater recognition.

Operatika

Hailing from New Jersey/New York, this band has been around almost ten years playing many local shows in their region.  This is the only band on the roster I have seen live before and a couple times at that. Last time I saw Operatika live, frontwoman Slava Popova was pregnant.  Now her son is four years old so a lot has changed and they have since released an album The Calling. Slava has utmost control of the songs with her beautiful operatic style. She interacted with each of her bandmates on stage while she was singing, and it is obvious that this band has a long history of performing live.  The guitarist Bill Visser is known for his very competent shredding but the riffs seemed to be quite familiar at times, and very redundant. Their female keyboardist, Anna, added a very nice symphonic layer to their music but unfortunately she was shoved behind the pole on stage so it was difficult to see her perform. With time, I hope this band branches out more and brings their music to a global audience and becomes more original in their compositions.

Black Widow USACat of Black Widow USA

Unfortunately the night was getting late once the last band took stage.  The audience grew older, and it was obvious why once the band took stage.  Although only formed in 1997, this band was very seasoned.  Frontwoman Cat donned in lots of black velvet and jewels, took stage and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  I was pleasantly surprised at her great alto voice as she commanded the metal vocal lines.  Unfortunately, there was not much energy radiating from her and she moved a bit slow at times. If you close your eyes, the music is great, but the presence of the band was quite different than the high energy of the youth we saw previously that night.

The mini-festival was very much a joy to attend and it did a fantastic job of celebrating the femininity in metal.  As many of the women shared that night, it is important to be true to yourself and do what you enjoy.  It was evident during this night’s performances that these women enjoy metal music and are always ready to rock hard!  The vibrancy of this message was there the entire event and I hope that the spirit continues next year.  

 

Flight of the Valkyries women

 

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