IN a scene largely dominated by masculinity, with entire bands consisting of men power-stancing their guitars and pummeling away at drum kits to a fist-pumping crowd comprising of even more men, female presence in the metal music industry is sparse, beyond the fandom.
Yet, bands frontlined by female vocalists, or all-female bands do exist. One such band is the melodic metal band VINTERSEA, from Oregon, America. Even more surprising, is that the vocalist is Malaysian.
Speaking to theSun, VINTERSEA’s Avienne sheds light on herself and the band.
“I moved to Oregon several years ago to pursue my tertiary education at Oregon State University. While I was in university, I met my bandmates in VINTERSEA,” said Avienne, who hails from Penang. When she is not busy with band operations, the unassuming metal vocalist toils away in the banking and finance industry as a banker.
Growing up in noise and melody
Like most metal fans, the Penangite’s affair with metal began when she was seven years old, she explained.
“I vividly remember frantically banging my head to Linkin Park’s Crawling music video back when MTV still played music videos! I love the energy that metal brings out in me, and that hasn’t changed since I was a little girl.”
The young girl who rocked to Linkin Park has come a long way, stretching and mastering her vocal chords to not only sing clean, but to employ low growls and high-pitched screams as part of her arsenal.
“It certainly wasn’t an overnight process for me to get to a point where I was happy with the way my harsh vocals sounded. It took a lot of experimenting and practicing to get to where I can really express myself the way I like”.
Prior to moving to Oregon, Avienne auditioned for a metal band in Kuala Lumpur, which ultimately did not work out. Her luck changed once she was in America.
A band is born
“When I moved to Oregon, both Jorma Spaziano (VINTERSEA lead guitarist) and I replied to the same ad on Craigslist looking for a vocalist,” Avienne said, adding that drummer Jeremy Spencer and guitarist Riley Nix were already playing together since high school.
“When we were shooting our first music video, we met our bassist and videographer, Karl Whinnery. The rest, you can say, is history!”
The band was formed in 2016, releasing an EP and two albums in the span of three years. Listening to the band’s releases, it is hard to put a definite sound or attach a specific metal subgenre label to VINTERSEA.
Avienne points out that the ambiguity or progressive nature of the band’s sound is intentional, as VINTERSEA does not think about any particular genre when writing their music.
“As far as metal genres go, all of us love music that can take you on an emotive journey. We want to be limitless in terms of the musical styles and range we cover, which is why a lot of our tracks have a very different sound and vibe.”
In line with the band’s progressive sound and songwriting, VINTERSEA’s approach to its lyrical content is not as restricted to other subgenres.
“A lot of the themes we cover are based on humanity’s experience as a collective. Our first full-length album, The Gravity of Fall, covers the rise of humanity through the industrial revolution, and their subsequent self-destructive fall,” she said.
“Our second album, Illuminated, is set in a post-apocalyptic world following the destruction of humanity. In that album, humanity is wiped out on earth, and they are born again in artificial pods where they are raised by an artificial intelligence programme called ‘Gaia’.”
Like most metal bands, VINTERSEA is not an outfit that only releases music digitally and physically, the band also performs live. However, in the current climate, the Oregon progressive outfit’s live plans have been put on hold indefinitely.
“We took this opportunity to make more music videos, (always with a very limited team!), write music, and continue tightening our set, so we are ready to play for our fans when the pandemic restrictions lift,” Avienne said.
One such music video is the new Crack of Light, which was released on Jan 12.
“We’d love to continue accompanying our music with beautiful visuals, so we are already working on our next music video directed by Karl.”
“The gears have also started to turn for our next album as we are in the writing process. My dream is to bring metal to my hometown and country, and we hope that an Asean tour will be on the horizon in future.”