By Kelley Simms
When it comes to discussing Brazilian heavy metal, SEPULTURA is usually the first band that pops up. But when it comes to power metal, one band that is really making a name for themselves as of late is female-fronted SHADOWSIDE.
The band has been a force to be reckoned with ever since its 2007 debut album, Theatre of Shadows. With 2008’s Dare to Dream, the band established a strong foothood in the global metal market and on its latest and third overall release, Inner Monster Out, they are paving its way with some big metal steps.
Daniela “Dani” Nolden’s vocal delivery is full of passion and power, and the band’s music, completed by Raphael Mattos (guitar), Ricardo Piccoli (bass) and Fabio Buitvidas (drums), is melodic, yet thrashy.
“I would say obviously we are based more towards the power metal/hard rock side,” Nolden said. “Being from Brazil, it’s impossible not to be influenced by Sepultura. Whenever you hear about metal from Brazil, that’s the first reference you have in mind. I don’t specifically have them as a musical influence, but I do have them as an example of what a professional band should be like. Even though our music is very melodic, I do feel we have a thrashy side.”
While thinking of Brazil as a whole, you’d be forgiven if you didn’t immediately conjure up images of warm, sunny, idyllic beaches, wild parties and endless carnivals year round. But there’s also the seedy, crime-ridden, dirty politician and favella (slum) side of the country as well.
“That’s something that we hear about everyday. With the last government, we had a really big scandal here and people are really tired of it. It’s very much the Brazilian reality nowadays. We have a very educated part of society and then we have a part of society that is pretty much in the hands of our politicians. With our music, we try to stay away from that in our lyrics and just to bring people a little bit of joy and make them forget that pathetic reality that we live in sometimes. We try to focus more on stuff like personality, the human mind and people’s reactions and how they have to face situations like that.”
Growing up in Santos, a tiny island tucked neatly into the landscape off the South Atlantic Ocean, Nolden’s music is used as an escape from daily struggles.
“I do think it’s kind of like a way out. Just to make you think and realize your own ideas and reactions and the way people express themselves. I write sometimes about situations that most people won’t believe and it’s a way to make you forget about reality. It’s a diversion from people’s daily lives and the problems that they have to face.”
Prior to forming the band in 2001, Nolden’s parents gave the young musician an ultimatum: if you don’t succeed as a musician after a certain amount of time, then you have to attend college.
“I kind of made a deal with my parents when I was growing up. When I was in high school, I knew that I wanted to be a musician and my parents freaked out when I gave them the news. My father especially kind of panicked. I told him if he let me try it for two years, then if it didn’t work out, I would go to college. But after two years, we started doing quite well here in Brazil and it became enough for me to start making a living out of music so he allowed me to stay in it. Nowadays, he started working with us and comes with us on tour. He’s retired and now he’s able to travel all over the world and he does a lot of stuff for me.”
On first notice, you wouldn’t think there would be any apprehension to Dani’s performing abilities, but she confesses that she is really quite shy. Songs such as “Gag Order” and “Angel with Horns” from Inner Monster Out reveals Miss Nolden’s inner shyness but is served up with a tough exterior.
“Most people think it (“Gag Order”) is about the military or something like that, but it’s about being shy. I’m extremely shy. That was the biggest challenge that I had to face being in a band because I had to go up on stage and sing. And talking to people after the concert, sometimes when I’m talking to people, I cannot speak. It’s like my own brain is giving me a gag order, I just shut up and can’t think of anything to say. I was a quiet kid. Whenever I have to talk to fans, I have to forget that I’m shy!”
Going forward, Nolden believes Shadowside is in a good place in its career.
“I’m very happy with what we have accomplished so far in terms of recognition. I knew from the start that this was going to be a rough road. Ten years ago I did not expect to be where we are now. I used to dream a lot about touring the world and making records. Everything is really weird for a metal band here, especially in my hometown because everything is Latin-based. Everything is about Samba and about making popular music. There is a metal scene, but it is unusual for a band to come out of Santos and become professional and tour the world. If we can keep this up, it’s exactly what I want.”