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'The Phoenix Suite'

Michael Foley

michael foley

The name 'Phoenix Suite' conjures up images of rebirth; of a new beginning, and in many ways this is an apt title, as this five-track EP is Heather Findlay's first statement to the world as a solo artist.

heather findlay phoenix suite

Best known as the charismatic lead singer, major song contributor and bit of a hippy, with York based band Mostly Autumn, for thirteen years, Heather announced her amicable departure from the band in January 2010, and since then, this writer has been intrigued to hear what kind of direction her solo work would take. Would it be similar in style to the epic sounds of her old band, or something altogether different?

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Now, over a year later - and about bloody time if you ask me - the waiting is over, with the release of 'The Phoenix Suite', the first in a proposed series of three EPs from the singer. The first thing that strikes one is the artwork, a striking Findlay original of a Firebird against a starry night sky, a theme continued on the inside of the booklet.

Heather has assembled an impressive cast of musicians, including Roger Waters Band guitarist Dave Kilminster, Fish bassist Steve Vantsis plus Alex Cromarty on drums, with guitar, harmony vocals and anything else you can think of, including co-production with Heather, handled by Mostly Autumn, Halo Blind and The Evernauts alumni, the mighty atom that is Chris Johnson.

The music is removed from the lush sounds of M.A, and with sparse, stripped down arrangements, this stands or falls on the quality of the songs. And what songs they are, both melodic and beautiful, yet harsh and angry, even in the same song.

The lyrics are thought provoking, with some powerful imagery... "And with you I'm weightless with every step, I give you the deeds to my final chest" from opener 'Red Dust' being a fine example. Whether she is speaking of giving her love, or possibly something darker it sure packs an emotional punch.

Particularly powerful is 'Cellophane', which to my ears could be about the awful events in Cumbria, or Northumbria... "Are you still running man? You can run but you can't hide. Keep running man. With your killing hands, because hell hath no such fire." Chilling.

In fact many of the lyrics are of a dark nature, with a theme of violence, war and death running through the songs. The music itself compliments the often bleak lyrics, and has a very raw, alt-rock, sound to it, with the primary musical colours provided by the guitars of Dave Kilminster, and to his great credit he only plays what is needed to compliment the songs, so no 'I can play faster than you' shennanigans here.

It's the mark of a great player that he knows what NOT to play, as well as when to stick in a well aimed lick or two.

I'd give it 7.5 out of 10.


Red Dust
Mona Lisa




Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.


Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.

Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.


MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.


Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.



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