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Mikaela – Nocturne In Red Award winner

Nocturne In Red
by Thomas Kumke at 05 January 2021, 1:13 PM

Mikaela Attard hailing from Malta, is an Extreme Metal vocalist with Death Metal, Black Metal, Nu Metal, Progressive Metal, Metalcore, and Deathcore influences. She started the solo project MIKAELA in 2009 and released at the start of her career a single and one EP which brought her a lot of attention and awards in Malta. She was then active in several projects and most notably the vocalist of Maltese Black Metal outfit MARTYRIUM. Beside her career as a vocalist, she also holds a Bachelor’s degree in music production. Now MIKAELA has released her debut full-length album “Nocturne In Red” which was mixed and mastered by legendary Tue Madsen (MESHUGGAH, DARK TRANQUILITY) and produced by Mikaela Attard. The album has a length of almost 52 minutes.

Nocturne In Red” is a multi-layered album including a huge number of different subgenres and elements reflected in ten very different tracks. It is a concept album about the state of mind and also reflecting about personal issues. Listening to it is like going on to a journey to the unknown; there may be secrets and there may be unexpected twists and turns.

The journey starts with “Into A New Hell”, an intro that creeps into your mind and prepares the listener for the things to come: “Bring Me Blood”, a hammering song with crushing guitars, bass, relentless drumming, and the different layers of Mikaela Attard’s outstanding voice, ranging from brutal growls, screams, and clean vocals. Having been a victim of a knife attack, “Bring Me Blood” is lyrically an attempt to overcome those personal demons. The structures of most songs on the album are complex and distorted with unexpected breaks, regarding the tempo and sound. “Bring Me Blood” has such sound break that includes pianos and the clean vocals with an ambient-style of singing that refer back to the intro.

 “Chaotic Mind” is one of the heaviest songs on the album: powerful and dark guitar riffs, double-bass drums and the full vocal range consisting of Mikaela Attard’s clean vocals as well as her deafening trademark screams and growls. Marco Minnemann on drums drives the song forward and does an outstanding job behind the kit. “Disenthralled” continues with that, it has a simpler song structure with a catchy chorus and it includes an excellent and contributing lead guitar solo by Kyle Farrugia. The journey goes on with “Nightmare”, which is a bit slower and a more head-banging song and shows again the outstanding qualities of Mikaela Attard by perfectly mixing the clean and guttural vocals.

Death Dance” brings back the more chaotic structure of the first few songs on the album and it may be a challenge to get into it for the listener. Driven by the excellent work of Kyle Farrugia and Marco Minnemann, the song is a rollercoaster regarding the sound including an unexpected twist near the end. However, it is a cool transition to “Abyss” which gives a hint to the excellent composing qualities of Mikaela Attard. The only ballad on the album sounds dark and shows her emotional and passionate side.

Enthalpy Rage” is another catchy head-banger based on the groovy guitar riffs and the darkness of the atmospheric layering in the background. It would not be a MIKAELA song if it did not include an unexpected twist, here a piano and drum-driven break mid-way through the song. “Enthalpy Rage” smoothly transitions into “Ophidian’s Whisper” that starts as a straight-forward Nu-Metal influenced track until half-way when the typical MIKAELA ingredients infuse the song: atmospheric layering in the background, distortions and breaks, pianos. The final stop is “Room Hell” that starts with a piano and almost Gothic-like vocals before all hell breaks loose. It is another example how much of Kyle Farrugia and Marco Minnemann contribute to the album, and yes, the (not so anymore) unexpected break comes at the end.

MIKAELA released “Bring Me Blood” and “Chaotic Mind” as video. The video of “Chaotic Mind” is an overwhelming surge of surreal images (including a levitated Mikaela Attard) with an enormous amount of cuts perfectly fitting to the song. The YouTube link is given below.

Nocturne In Red” is an exceptional album by an outstanding artist. It is not an album that you would listen to while preparing lunch in the kitchen. It is demanding and requires full attention. When you come into it, it does not let you go. It is a blend of different Metal subgenres and influences. Guitars, bass, and drums work perfectly together with the overarching vocals of Mikaela Attard. The album is excellently produced and mixed. With this debut album, MIKAELA sets the bar very high for the things to come in the future. “Nocturne In Red” belongs in every Metal collection. Fans of Extreme Metal will be excited to see her performing the album live.

Songwriting:  10
Musicianship:  9
Memorability:  10
Production:  10

5 Star Rating

1. Into A New Hell
2. Bring Me Blood
3. Chaotic Mind
4. Disenthrelled
5. Nightmare
6. Death Dance
7. Abyss
8. Enthalpy Rage
9. Ophidian’s Whisper
10. Room Hell
Mikaela Attard – Vocals, Piano, Organs, Synthesizer
Kyle Farrugia – Guitars, Bass
Marco Minnemann – Drums
Record Label: Independent


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