Swiss quin­tet BURN­ING WITCHES are this month’s New Noise.

This fear­less five-piece may fly the flag for pure heavy me­tal, but there’s a se­ri­ous mes­sage that goes be­yond denim and leather

Metal Hammer (UK) - - Contents - WORDS: CHRIS CHANTLER

GOOD THINGS ARE hap­pen­ing fast for th­ese five me­tal ban­shee won­der women, who first came to­gether in 2015 to shake the foun­da­tions of their pretty home­town of Brugg, Switzer­land, with their ex­u­ber­ant, gal­vanised take on denim-and-leather heavy fuck­ing me­tal. Burn­ing Witches’ stel­lar, steel-plated sec­ond al­bum,

Hex­en­ham­mer, fol­lows a vinyl live EP ear­lier this year, but the urge to ac­tion had long been keenly felt by gui­tarist Ro­mana Kalkuhl. Their story is scrawled onto the parch­ment insert of their 2017 vinyl de­but: “Once upon a time, a lonely witch was about to ful­fil her dream of an ALL-FE­MALE SWISS HEAVY ME­TAL BAND and started to search for more wicked ladies…” The vi­sion was clear, and stan­dards were high, yet it was purely by chance that Ro­mana stum­bled upon her ideal creative part­ner-in­metal, vo­cal­ist Seraina Telli.

“I was watch­ing a con­cert where Ro­mana was play­ing with her band At­las & Axis, and af­ter that it was a lit­tle bit mag­i­cal”, Seraina re­calls with a chuckle. “She came straight over to me and we started to speak, and I said I was a singer. It just came; we had that flow from the be­gin­ning. With Ro­mana it’s the first time I’ve had this sort of team to­gether and it works very well, she has all th­ese ideas, we’re al­ways think­ing about what’s good for the band, what’s good for the mu­sic.”

The mu­sic, of course, is fist­pump­ing 80s-cen­tric heavy me­tal like mum used to make (if your mum was Doro), but when asked how old she was when she got her first taste of steel, Seraina hes­i­tates.

“Sadly, it was not so early”, she ad­mits, “be­cause I like 80s mu­sic, and I’m a 90s child! So I grew up with pop, but I al­ways wanted to lis­ten to more ag­gres­sive mu­sic, and I was search­ing for things I liked. Then in my early 20s I dis­cov­ered Ju­das Priest – it was Be­yond The Realms Of

Death, with that gui­tar in­tro, and Rob’s voice… I was like…” Seraina gasps. “Wow! I was new­born! Ha ha ha! It was very im­por­tant for me to dis­cover this band, and bands like Iron Maiden. I heard th­ese singers and

I said, ‘That’s the way I have to sing!’” Al­though her vo­cal fo­cus came rel­a­tively late, Seraina has been ob­sessed with the dis­ci­pline for as long as she can re­mem­ber.

“I al­ways wanted to be a singer, it was a child­hood dream or some­thing, but I never ex­pected that I re­ally could do it”, she con­fesses, “I just wanted to do mu­sic al­ways. Mu­sic was al­ways a part of me – my fa­ther is a mu­si­cian, my mother was al­ways sing­ing, my grand­par­ents did the­atre. But I was just work­ing nor­mal jobs, I was a hair­styl­ist, and one day I said to my­self I had to do mu­sic, so I went to mu­sic school, and from that day I just did mu­sic.”

Seraina and Ro­mana both have prior ex­pe­ri­ence in more con­tem­po­rary-sound­ing bands, but what is it about the decade of span­dex and leg­warm­ers that proves so se­duc­tive?

“I think it’s sad to­day be­cause so much mu­sic is not hand­made – they have so many back­ing tracks on­stage”, pon­ders Seraina. “I was al­ways want­ing to do real mu­sic, play­ing ev­ery­thing live, more the old-school way.” To help them in this

re­gard, Burn­ing Witches se­cured the help and sup­port of a bona fide 80s me­tal leg­end, De­struc­tion front­man Sch­mier, who pro­duced both al­bums. “Work­ing with Sch­mier is great: he has a huge know-how about me­tal, he knows the whole scene, he can help us with things like la­bels, be­cause it’s not easy! I met him first in the stu­dio, so I was pretty ner­vous – my first time record­ing me­tal and Sch­mier came, too! He’s a very funny guy, we have much fun to­gether. He’s friends with Ro­mana, they’ve known each other for years. She wrote to him say­ing she wanted to do an all­girl me­tal band and I think that was in­ter­est­ing for him!” Seraina laughs. “So when she showed him the first songs, he was with us.”

HEX­EN­HAM­MER – THE Ger­man name for the me­dieval witch-hunt­ing man­ual Malleus Malefi­carum – sug­gests that the per­se­cu­tion of witches is a con­cept that’s set to run through the band’s ca­reer, but Seraina notes that they have plenty of scope for us­ing the theme to com­ment on as­pects of modern so­ci­ety.

“I would say, whether it’s witchfind­ing or racism or some­thing, it’s al­ways the same, it’s hu­mans re­act­ing. With the Hex­en­ham­mer, it was such a bru­tal time; more than 60,000 peo­ple died be­cause of this book, and I think to­day we’re in a weird time again, racism is grow­ing. It al­ways hap­pens the same. We have to stop that, we have to be smarter now! The

Hex­en­ham­mer was from Ger­many, but it af­fected Switzer­land and Aus­tria, so it was very close to us. That’s why we con­nected with this book and those sto­ries.”

And how is Switzer­land for heavy me­tal in gen­eral th­ese days? “We have a good scene here”, the singer as­serts. “It’s not that pop­u­lar, it’s more un­der­ground, but we have many places for con­certs and many peo­ple who come. We stand all to­gether, it’s a good feel­ing.”

Asked for the high­light of the band’s ca­reer so far, Seraina’s re­ply is in­stant: “For us, for sure the high­light is that we all found each other”, she gushes. “We had a very good mood to­gether right from the start. We have to work hard to­gether, but we are very good friends; we go out eat­ing and shop­ping, and af­ter a band ses­sion we al­ways go for a drink. It’s not just a band, it’s like a whole fam­ily.”



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