[Sciences] GMO Labelling Law: From the “Right to Know” to GMO ban in disguise. Jeffrey Smith admits GMO labeling was never his goal, only a tactic to ban GMOs.

As you may have heard by now, President Obama passed the GMO labelling law that have been passing through Senate and the House this month. This law requires labelling by the presence of a QR code that can be scanned with any smartphone.
In my own opinion, I was against such labelling because it was just superfluous and bringing not much information, except the technique by which this food was produced.
Don’t take it wrong, all our food has been recently or less recently genetically modified. That’s as old as humankind learned to seed and harvest crops in the Neolithic era. We have been crossing varieties based on the trait of interest, making some of the most common staple food looking way different than their original wild type cousins.
Type of foods that are “naturally” GMOs? Corn, watermelons, apples, tomatoes, eggplants,   carrots, kale….they look way different, so different that we could call them “Frankenfood” as they are a far cry of their genetic relatives. Yet, we are not afraid about it, because we consider these fresh produces as natural.
In one hand, we have the classical genetic engineering based on random mutagenesis (using a radioactive material to generate ionizing radiations such as gamma radiations) and hybrids by cross-pollination. These one are present in both conventional and organic production but are fairly random and takes a lot of time to obtain the desired trait and also messing up with other genes that we may consider important such as flavor. This is for example one reasons everyone complain about tasteless tomatoes. We have selected traits for their robustness to mechanical stress and loose in the meantime genes encoding for their flavor.
In the other hand, we have modern technology in which we can edit a gene in a precision, allowing us to either reduce the use of pesticide (EPSP gene giving the resistance to glyphosate present in Roundup; Bt Brinjal and cotton against a type of caterpillar), protects against a pathogen (GM papaya giving the resistance to the papaya ringspot virus) , enhance the storage and shelf-life of a fresh produce (Arctic apple that do not brownish once at air), reduce the amount of a potent cancer-causing agent (Simplot potato with reduced acrylamide levels) or enrich a staple food with essential micro-nutrient (Vitamin A and golden rice). However, like new technology, fear and skepticism has been accompanying the launch of these produce, some activist groups even calling on their safety of these produces, despite the overwhelming scientific evidence of the safety of such modern technique. Recently over 100 Nobel Prizes (most of them with a Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology or Chemistry) have signed a plea to Greenpeace to stop their anti-GMO stance and hinder scientific progress (http://supportprecisionagriculture.org/nobel-laureate-gmo-letter_rjr.html).
Interestingly, those that have shown the most virulent attack against GMOs have been organizations funded or representing the organic food industry, a business that became so big that it rivals with Big Ag (Big Organic versus Big Ag), using the GMO fear and “GMO-free” slogans to increase their market share. Yet, they use techniques that are considered de facto as genetic engineering as their intention is to create an organism with traits that are not present naturally. Take for instance the “organic seedless watermelons” (https://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2015/01/20/why-organic-seedless-watermelons-could-be-considered-gmos-or-chemically-created-mutants/) that are simply GMOs.
You cannot say you are defending consumers if you are beliefs, “gut-feelings” and junk science instead of using facts and critical thinking to set your arguments (Bill Nye was at first reluctant against GMOs and after understanding the science and the process accepted and promoted the use of GMOs. Another instance is Mark Lynas or Peter Moore, both former Greenpeace members that made a change of mind after understanding science).
You cannot yell and demonize “Monsanto” for a technology that is used by all seed companies (why Bayer, Syngenta, Dupont, Pioneer and others don’t get their share too?) when you have a skin in the game and benefiting directly from promoting fear mongering (The Organic Consumer Association, the Institute of Responsible Technology or the US Right To Know are unlikely getting their revenues from selling girl scout cookies and from lemonade stands).
With the recent move of President Obama to sign the bill into law has no unveiled the mask and shown that the recent move of anti-GMO was more than just a “goalpost” fallacy move. At least one of them blatantly admitted their call for GMO labelling was only a tactic to phase out GM foods from the grocery market.

 

Food Science Institute

In a letter sent out yesterday, anti-GMO activist Jeffrey Smith admits what we have suspected all along.

“Labeling GMOs was never the end goal for us. It was a tactic. Labels make it easier for shoppers to make healthier non-GMO choices. When enough people avoid GMOs, food companies rush to eliminate them. Labeling can speed up that tipping point—but only if consumers are motivated to use labels to avoid GMOs.” 

Here’s that segment of the actual letter.

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And noting that President Obama’s signing S.764 restricts states from requiring stringent (and meaningless) GMO labels, he writes:

Although this is clearly a defeat in our campaigns for getting mandatory labeling in the United States, we are still winning the bigger, more important effort to ELIMINATE GMOs from the market altogether.

In other words, the whole edifice of moral claims that “we have the right to know what we are eating” has just…

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[Metal/Classic] Vivaldi Metal Project – The Four Seasons (80%)

Vivaldi, one of the master composer in classical music, one of the best Italian composer from the 18th century. If we have to cite a composition that everybody knows without even been to cite is certainly “the Four Seasons” that almost everyone knows by hearing the tunes.
If you have followed my blog for a while, you will have noticed my passion for both metal music and for the classical. For a long time, you either had to listen to metal or to listen to classical, as these two genres were considered non-soluble into each other. However some metal legends got their inspiration from classical music.
Take for instance Yngwie Malmsteen, the virtuoso of metal that came from a family of classical music and brillantly infused this classical music into metal. Or take for example Nightwish, maybe the first metal band to have Tarja Turjunen, a professional mezzo-soprano front that brought the opera lyric and the guitar riffs, bass shreds and drums into a beautiful blend and paved  the way to a whole genre in the metal scene named “Symphonic Metal”.
Today we are celebrating the 275th death anniversary of Vivaldi, just in time to review the album “The Four Seasons” released a week ago from a project named “The Vivaldi Metal Project”. This is a 14 track albums that get inspired by the original “Four Seasons” by Vivaldi. This project has been involving a lot of musicians from the metal genre, for instance Ailyn (ex-Sirenia) or Fabio Lione (Rhapsody of Fire). One of the caveat (at least from the digital version I obtained from iTunes) is the lack of booklet that let us know the contribution of which artists into each track. You can guess the vocals behind some, but not all.

The album per se does follow the same order than the original “Four Seasons” (Spring/Summer/Fall and Winter),except the first track “Escape From Hell” that can be considered as prelude track. I will use the original sequence and name the tracks matching.

Spring:
We start then with the “Illusion of Eternity” that starts not too heavy and progressively become heavier but very dynamic. This is followed by “Vita” that constitutes the second part of Spring, a very nice guitar solo that reminds me some work by Yngwie Malmsteen, followed by a male tenor voice and the heavy layer giving a nice blending to Vivaldi’s original composition. Finally, we conclude the Spring act with “Euphoria” that is not much heavy and very orchestral but I found flourishing well the original track from Vivaldi.

Summer:
Summer is in my favorite act of Vivaldi’s composition in the Four Seasons, bringing this dynamic and fast tones that nicely matches to metal songs. This startz with “Sun of God”, a solo piano version followed by heavy guitars with a duel male and female front voices, I particularly liked the duet violin and guitar that marks the nice blending of the bold and the beautiful. “Immortal Soul”, sounds like a melodic metal ballad but maybe deviates more from the original track than other tracks, going into its own inspirations. “Thunderstorm” takes the end third part of the act, further emphasizing the original boldness with fast-paced guitars and keyboards, giving the frenzy of a summer thunderstorm, amplyfing the boldness and majesticness of the original composition.
Certainly the best part of the album, well arranged and orchestrated. If you had to pick tracks, this is the one to pick.

Fall:
“The Age of Dreams” brings on the opening sequence of the third act, this is one of my least favorite track, as I found the blending not the best and maybe too much overplayed. “Alchemy” and “Stige” are somehow confusing in my ears because they give me the hardest time to place them track-to-track with the original composition.

Winter:
Winter is brought nicely by “The Meaning of Life” starting with a nice guitar solo supported by bass and nicely incorporating the violin as interludes. “The Final Hour” feels like out of place. “Grande Madre” deviates a lot of the original piece but gives a nice metal track. Finally, we end with “Doomsday”, also deviating from the original score a lot, making the connection difficult with the original material.

Overall, I found it was a nice try but I felt something was missing, sometimes I felt it was too much arranged, giving this overprocessed feeling making it too much to appreciate. Something that Yngwie was indeed capable to finely coordinate in his masterpiece “Icarus’ Dream Suite” in which he fronted a whole philarmonic orchestra with his guitar. You cannot beat Yngwie in that game. If Beethoven has reincarnated in a modern musician, it would be certainly be Yngwie.

I found this album can show to a lay audience that metal and classical music are indeed sharing a lot of commonalities behind distinct appearances. If you want to give a try on how a classical music would sound in accessible metal, try this album. If you are indeed already a classical audiophile and seasoned metal, then Yngwie remains in my own opinion the gold standard.

 

[Stroke] Surviving stroke injury with a little help of my friends: Astrocytes provides neurons with mitochondria following stroke injury

A very nice study published by Eng Lo (Mass General Hospital), a whiz kid in the field of stroke research. It really brings in a new paradigm in terms of our understanding of stroke injury and stroke repair.
We know that astrocytes play a crucial role in helping the brain recover from stroke injury and try to rescue neurons by secreting growth factors.
But we have been failing to find methods to deliver growth factors in a non-invasive way because producing growth factors by biological engineering is very expensive but also you can only deliver them by directly injecting them in the brain with limited spread.
This very nice piece of work published in Nature and reported by Science (if Science reports on a paper published in a concurrent journal, you bet it should be that good) tells you it is surely a very elegant piece of work here. The paper indeed show that astrocytes seem to go the extra-mile and even provide mitochondria to neurons to help them cope with stroke injury.

Source: Transfer of mitochondria from astrocytes to neurons after stroke : Nature : Nature Research

[Stroke] When a Stroke Patient Gets Worse after Stem Cell Infusions A… : Neurology Today

One of biggest danger facing the stem cell field is the proliferation of “stem cell clinics” inside and outside the United States promising miracle cures for any neurological diseases. The problem with this “stem cell tourism” is not only the huge financial investment into a medical procedure that has yet to filter through scientific rigor and clinical efficacy (at this time, we are still at the stage to assess if these procedures are safe), it is also the risk of developping post-operative complications with “worst case scenarios” happening often, in particular growth of tumor. This is what happened to a stroke patient that not only did not see his stroke injury recovered but now has to fight off the grow of a tumor inside his brain.

Neurology Today discuss the case of this patient, with the intervention of different experts explaining the current state of stem cell clinical trials and the danger of stem cell tourism.

Source: When a Stroke Patient Gets Worse after Stem Cell Infusions A… : Neurology Today

[Comics/Movies/Mangas/Videogames] Ama-Con 2016 #AMAcon16

Today was the first day of the Amarillo Comic-Con (#AMAcon16) also known as Ama-Con 2016. What makes that comic-con special? It is held and organized by the Amarillo Public Library. Who said that a public library has to be bored? I found this is a very nice way to have kids interested to read, to read anything because reading matter. Comics, mangas or novels, reading is best. It is also bringing some fun in Yellow City and it is a great getaway for the kids and have them pose with their favorite heroes cosplayed by motivated persons that spend a good amount of time and skills to get their costume sets. Some are super-impressive and I have to admit I felt a bit jealous to see how some folks are talented in costume crafting.

A nice thing about the Ama-Con is you have different sessions ongoing, between wandering around booths and buying some stuff (yeah I finally put my hand on some Saint Seiya stuff, I purchased a Mexican knock-off of Sirento Siren for those who knows from the Poseidon saga) but there were also some retrogaming tables with TVs and consoles plugged in (personal attack: I was fairly disappointed by the absence of any SEGA machines. SEGA does what Nintendon’t), coloring workshops and also some projections.
I attended two projections between the two busy days.
The first one (and the most heart wrenching) was the documentary “Thank you for playing” by David Osit and Malika Zouhali-Worrall retracing the story behind the game “That Dragon, Cancer“created by Amy and Ryan Green, parents of Joel, an one-year old child suffering from a pediatric brain tumor. It was definitely emotional because of my point of view as a scientist and my exposure to brain tumors via some collaborations.
It is hard to watch it because you know as a father and as a scientist  what does it means and what are the odds of beating off that disease. The documentary is like an adventure game, where you have a quest, faces dead-ends and decision-making. I will spoil the game but I will not play it because I fear I could not tolerate the story. You see, the author explains that we see video games as an escape pod of our daily lives. But as I feel from the author, it helped the Dad in it to cope with his son condition and use this vector as a catharsis for his emotions and feelings. It is an example of how video games have been matured and are now more than just simply leisure activity but can help put words and actions into emotions and maybe help other parents deal with the same situation.
The second one was more cheerful (but also shortened up, due to some technical glitches) was a documentary about “Cosplay: building a secret identity“. This documentary was filming and following persons that make a living out of their hobbies and their talent in cosplaying. I am a very novice in the field but you had apparently some big names in the field and have some cameos like Grant Imahara (Mythbusters) describing his idea of cosplay, but also other average people showing their passions and dedications. One of them was this mommy cosplayer that has been cosplaying as Miranda from Mass Effect 2. Honestly, it was fairly impressive to see “an amateur” being able to reproduce a virtual costume into reality.
It is simply amazing to see how many have being doing it purely from a “self-taught” and didactic point of view, without attending any art schools of having a B.A. and still almost play equals with seasoned and trained persons that make this for a living.
In my culture, being a nerd is considered taboo and almost a sign of mental disorder. You are expected to show virility and a form of machoism in your daily life. If you are still nurturing any form of culture (taste of music, hobbies…..), you are considered as immature and not-serious.
Yet, I feel my nerdiness is part of my social fabric, as part of being a scientist. Seeing how the cosplay is a well-accepted hobby in the US, with kids and grown-ups alike, even grown-grown-ups having a skin in the game, being a sort of relieving activity. This weekend I finally decided to take the dive in, building my first cosplay with my modest means and my blatant lack of handcrafting skills.
I have uploaded some pictures I have taken during the two days of the convention. I am not an expert, all where taken with my iPhone in a snap, asking the interested persons if they would not mind a picture taken.

[Neurosciences] The glymphatic system: the brain drainage system?

We are now 3 years after the description of the lymphatic system by Iliff and colleagues (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3582150/) and the literature has been growing and its implication in neurological diseases as well. A recent message on my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/bbbscientist/) asked my thoughts on that topic and I thought it would be worthwhile to discuss about the glymphatic system since what was a couple of years ago disputable as some in the field considered maybe an artifact (also because it was also obvious how everyone missed that system until now) seems to gain momentum and acceptance.
I thought it would be worth to write down a concise review on the glymphatic system and its implication in some neurological diseases, using the current existing literature.

1. What is the glymphatic system?

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In mammalians, plasma (devoid of any blood cells) from blood vessels can diffuse passively into the connective tissue and become what we refers as the interstitial fluid. This interstitial fluid perfuse the tissue between the cells and recovered by a drainage system called the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a circulatory system sharing the same origin than arteries and veins, as it is also formed by a endothelium. However such endothelium has a cellular phenotype differing from the endothelium lining the arteries and veins.
The lymphatic system ends up connecting to the thoracic duct that ends up in the vena cava superior and reinject the lymphatic fluid into the blood system. This lymphatic system have two functions: It contributes in a convection flow and the maintenance of the hydrostatic pressure within our internal organs and tissues, secondly it provides a robust monitoring system by the presence of lymph nodes highly enriched in immune system. By constantly checking for antigens from bacteria, virus and other pathogens, the immune system provide a constant protection and setup an alarm system.
Until recently, the brain was considered devoid of such lymphatic system. In place of such lymphatic system, the brain has the ventricular system.
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The ventricular system produce an interstitial fluid called the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) produced by the choroid plexus present in the 4th (IV) ventricle and circulate in the brain parenchyma via the ventricular system. It was considered such CSF was working within a closed system, being reabsorbed by the ependyma layer lining the ventricular system and by the sinus vein (located underneath the choroid plexus) and superficial venous system present on the brain surface.
This was the “textbook” model that was accepted by everyone but yet was filled by biophysical caveats. The study from Rennels and colleagues in 1985 already described the presence of a perivascular system capable to distribute within the whole brain through the injection within the subarachnoid space. The subarachnoid space is a virtual space that is sandwiched between the pia matter (an epithelial layer forming the most internal meaning layer) and the dura matter (the meningial layer lining underneath the skull).
This study was remaining fairly discrete and it was only until  Maiken Nedergaard and colleagues (University of Rochester, NY, USA) study published in JCI in 2013 (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3582150/pdf/JCI67677.pdf), followed by the publication of Johnathan Kipnis and colleagues (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v523/n7560/full/nature14432.html).
The glymphatic system is what we refer as a “paravascular” (distinct from blood vessels) system that provide a conduction system system for the CSF that is external of the ventricular system as illustrated by the following chart from a recent review by  Tarrasoff-Conway and colleagues (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4694579/pdf/nihms744165.pdf):
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This provide a convection system providing a CSF flow diffusing inside the CNS and clearing out. Note this glymphatic system starts then the pill arteries (red) enters the brain and creates a particular space called the “Virchow-Robin space” and run through medium-size vessels (as these vessels have a smooth muscle layer). This flow occurs in medium to big-size caliber arteries but we don’t know if such system also occurs in brain capillaries, the place of the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Finally, the CSF is drained by veins, allowing the removal of metabolic waste and cellular debris (this point is important for Alzheimers).
If you are more a YouTube enthusiast, there is a video for the glymphatic system:

2. What is the function of the glymphatic system? 

We have still not a complete understanding of the glymphatic system in the CNS, however we can guess its function by looking at neurological diseases.
Firstly, it seems that this glymphatic system plays a role in Alzheimer’s disease (AD).  AD is characterized by the presence of aggregates of amyloid beta inside the brain. Such aggregates (also called oligomers) are capable to induce neuronal cell death. The glymphatic system therefore appears to play a role in the “drainage” of the brain parenchyma. A disturbance of this glymphatic system may result in an indirect accumulation of amyloid-beta peptide, as suggested in a recent study using a mouse model of AD (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27234656). This is also supported by another recent study showing an impaired glymphatic system in patients with Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM, the obesity-driven type of diabetes), as T2DM is an important risk factor for AD and other vascular cognitive impairments (also referred as vascular dementia). (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27306755).
The importance of the glymphatic system in other neurological diseases, in particular multiple sclerosis (MS) has yet to be demonstrated although some websites associated this system with MS yet without citing literature to support such claims.

 

 

[Metal] France National Day: A time to celebrate some French Metal bands

Today is France National Day. We celebrate the breakdown of the Bastille, a famous prison  that incarcerated folks from common misdemeanors to political dissents that dare to question the Royalty decisions. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back and revealed French rebellious nature. Up to today, French are notorious for their demonstrations, strikes and rants on any form of political correctness. Is not what metal is about?

I felt it would a great time to list some of the French metal bands I have encountered and before I introduce you to them, I would like to thanks Geo Theoneandonly (https://geotheoneandonly.wordpress.com) that have doing a great job in promoting small bands from the gothic and symphonic metal genre on his Facebook group.
Some people say that the French metal scene is dead and moribund, if even you consider it exist. If you think about absolute numbers (numbers of metal bands/inhabitants), Scandinavian countries blows up by far. But I would disagree with it and tell that such argument is valid only if you keep on mainstream and do not enters the rabbit’s hole and if you value quantity versus quality. Because deep underground, you have a plethora of very good bands that don’t have access to promotion tools as big players but have social media and crowdfunding tools to have them thrive and soar.
I have decided to include bands from the French-speaking parts of Belgium and Switzerland inside the list, as part of cultural and linguistical similarities in this list.
This being said, let’s start with my favorite lists, all bands have been sorted by alphabetical name.
This is an update of my previous post (back in 2015), I have updated some bands and added new bands too. Also if you like to learn more about French FFM, I would highly recommend to follow Femmes du Metal Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/FemmesDuMetal/?fref=ts). The admin is very good at digging such bands.
If I missed anyone, please let me know. Kick me on social media, maybe you will make it for next year.

Adrana (Tours – France):

If I have to say something about Adrana, it is certainly Anne’s voice. Surely the best French female opera voice in the French metal sphere and easilly rivals with other singers more established as Tarja, Simone or Sharon. A professionally trained soprano singer, Anne’s voice litterarly blew my mind the first time I heard. Up to date, they have three albums, with their latest “Foreshadow” released last fall. It is bold, gracious and elegant in the same time. If you are looking for some bold metal with an opera atmosphere and a soprano singer, Adrana is certainly the hidden gem amongst the French metal scene.

Alkemy (Genève-Switzerland):

Alkemy is a very new band from Romandie (French-speaking Switzerland). The band have been so far touring and singing music cover. The originality of the band is to host two founding female front-singers, Katia and Jess. So if you want to hear them, you will have to see them performing live.
If you want to judge their vocal qualities, look up for their cover of “Ghost Love Score”, my golden standard for comparing singers to Tarja. Very good start for a new band. Lets see now how they can transform into some artistic creativity.

Alwaid (Lille-France):

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Alwaid is a gothic/symphonic metal band from Lille, as we call in French “les chti’s”. They have a full album “Lacus Somnirum” released in 2014 and for a first album, it is very good. The female singer is fairly good and overall this gothic/doom metal atmosphere of the band reminds me the first releases of Lacuna Coil and Within Temptation, when the gothic metal scene was just opening for female-fronted bands. A nice group to discover especially if you are living in Northern France and Belgium (as they tour locally).

 

Azylya (Brussels-Belgium):

Azylya is a gothic/symphonic metal band from Belgium. Altough they have been founded in 2009, they have only one full-release listed: “Sweet Cerebral Destruction” released in 2013. Its style reminds me something very close from Evanescence, with a darker tone. Jamie-Lee Smit (the front singer) is very active on social media and one of the friendliest singer in Geo’s Facebook group. You should definitively try if you are looking for something in the vein of Evanescence a step heavier and darker.

 

Blazing War Machine (Marseille-France):

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Ever wondered how Dimmu Borgir would sound as a  French FFM band? Then you should try Blazing War Machine.  Irina knows to growl, and growl in very low frequency range, things than even Alissa White-Gluz or Angela (the gold standard in terms of female growls) do. Watch out, this is some brutal melodic death metal.

 

Bloody Melody (Tours-France):

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Bloody Melody is one of these new talents with potential. They play in a ground not too much, something more like gothic metal/alternative metal with their first EP “Gates of Mind”, that have this old good sound, something intimate but very engaging. Their EP is available to download on iTunes and have no news of any full-release album.

 

Darkonelly/Erzebeth/Marion-Lamita (Dijon-France)

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Darkonelly was a doom metal band from Dijon fronted by Marion-Lamita Peubey. She concluded Darkonelly and currently started a new project called Erzebeth. What I am still referring to Darkonelly then? For a simple reason. Opera voice with doom metal! Doom metal is always linked to guttural growls but this is first time I ever heard a soprano voice into a doom metal band. And a damn good soprano she is, pitching in very high vocal ranges. Marion one of the highest opera soprano vocal I have ever heard in any band. It is just mesmerizing. She is very talented to attract you to their first EP “Stories from Beyond”, especially if you are like me attracted to high pitch soprano voices. You don’t believe me? Listen to her track “Beneath The Mask”. If you have an auditory cortex that tilt on soprano voice, you will enjoy it. Add on top of it melancolic melodies and lyrics and I would recommend it if you want to “broyer du noir”. You can listen to their first EP via Bandcamp and give them some retribution if you like it. When Marion announced she ended Darkonelly, it was a sad moment but she said she will continue to do some metal as Erzebeth but also as a solo career as “Marion-Lamita” (https://www.facebook.com/marion.lamita.solo.project/?__mref=message_bubble).

 

Dreamslave (Lyon-France):

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Dreamslave is a power symphonic metal from Lyon. At this date, they have one full album “Rest In Phantasy” available. What I can tell? Well some fresh air, something powerful with melodic tones. Something you would expect if you blended Nightwish and Sonata Arctica together. Emma Elegy is doing a great job in giving some dynamism in the band. This brings a fast-paced, loud and enjoyable melodic power metal French band.

 

Ethernity (Brussels-Belgium):

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Ethernity is like Azylya another band from Belgium. Ethernity however is playing in another register and more into the progressive metal genre, just to warn you about it as it may sound different. They have one album released in 2015 named “Obscure Illusions”. The instrumental part is sounding awesome and Julie Collin-Spreutels voice is playing in another domain than symphonic voices I are accustomed to listen. A great alternative from lyrical voices and growls.

 

ETHS (Marseille-France):

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ETHS is one of the few female fronted death metal band that sing in French. More recently, the band were under the spotlight with Rachel Aspe’s performance in the French version of “America Got Talent” by bringing the growls on prime time. Surely it shook to see that girls know to growl too. The band just released their latest album “Ankaa”.

 

Heonia (Lille-France):

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If folks of Northern France know about (les Chtimis as we call them), they know about to rock. They were the bedrock of the whole coal industry during the 19th and 20th century and know what it means to experience the hardness and blackness of life. This need of rage and anger surely percolated into Heonia, giving a loud and tense metal band with the melodic voice of Marieke. Their latest album “Portraits” is available online and in physical copies.

 

Inhepsie (Paris-France):

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Inhepsie is another French gothic metal band singing in the “language de Moliere”, a very nice metal band with symphonic and atmospheric elements. This is some of the gems that you would never see in any French TV or even hear in the French FM station. This is lame, because there are bands like this that are very nice flagship of the French metal scene.

 

Lethian Dreams (?-France):

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If you ask me what I would recommend to listen when you want to just get into a spleen and dark mood, I would answer doom metal. Doom metal has this cathartic ability to raise my darkest side of me, filled with sorrow, melancholy and broken heart. Sometimes I feel to cry on my lost loves, on my lost friends. It reminds us how mortal we are and that we will one day all die. Doom metal was something big in the 1990s but receded during the last decade.
I discovered that band through Geo on his webpage and it was love at the first listening. It is minimalist, but hell it is dark and depressing. Add on top the soft voice of Carline, it gives this atmospheric doom metal that you need to drown your sorrow in a rainy day. The band has three full-albums, all of them with very high standard. This is certainly a band I would not recommend to those with depressive and suicidal thoughts but in the age of “emos/screemos/schmeemos”, this is a good reminder what doom metal is and nothing beats doom metal if you want to drop a tear on your lost loves.

 

Midnight Sorrow (Strasbourg-France):

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Midnight Sorrow is a symphonic metal band that I particularly follow as they are from Strasbourg, my hometown. So it is always grateful to be able to support local band, especially for such a band showing already some high-caliber. Surely, they don’t have yet a full album, just an EP “At first”, but you can already feel the quality of it. It is taking straight roots from Nightwish, Within Temptation and Epica by crafting the symphonic elements very nicely. Mauween has a very nice voice and we have some very good “Beauty and the Beast” duet here. Their first Indiegogo campaign to finance their first full-album “Pick A Tale” was a success and after some delay should be released by fall.

 

Oxy Hart  (?-France):

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Oxy Hart is what I call a free electron as she has mostly a solo career interacting with different metal bands such as Seadem, Nimrod and Experiment No Q. The caveat of it is there is at this point not a full-release or EP I can share but a video she guest vocalized for Seadem in their track “Cathedrale”.

 

Pray Manticore (Toulouse-France):

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If you are looking for something more brutal, like death metal with female growls, you should give a try to Pray Manticore. Still a band in their infancy, with an EP and a full-release album yet to be named and scheduled for delivery. Who said that French girls cannot growl?

 

 

Pyrah (Strasbourg-France):

Pyrah is another band from Strasbourg, so again very honored to support a band that has some potential. Very good starter with their first album “Where am I?”. The band is still not defining in a particular genre, but for me sounds more in the progressive metal genre. Give a try and see if you like it. If yes, go and support them through Bandcamp.

 

Seyminhol (Metz-France):

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If there is some genre and equivalent we are maybe missing in the French metal scene, it is maybe on the melodic progressive metal, something similar to Kamelot. I guess this is where Seyminhol is maybe building this niche. It feels a lot like Kamelot and if you like Kamelot you should give a try to this band.

 

Veil of Mist (Reims-France): 

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As I have previously mentioned, my list is fairly biased because I have listed bands I have been exposed on social media and clicked in their music. But it also mean I have a lot of them that went under the radar. If you are not visible on social media, you are not visible at all and you are missing an opportunity to be shared.

Fronted Female Metal of Europe nicely replied to my post and asked why Veil of Mist was not in my list. The simple answer is “if I don’t hear or see you, I don’t know you exist”.
Veil of Mist is a dark/progressive metal band of France that has some gothic and doom metal inspiration, reminding me a lot of the early days of Lacuna Coil and the Gathering. They have released early May their first full-album “Disenchantement” and based on their official video, it seems some good stuff I will put my hands on for further listening.

 

Whyzdom (Paris-France):

Finally, “la piece de resistance” as we call it in France. One of the best symphonic metal album this year “Tears of a Hopeless God”. Whyzdom is certainly a veteran among all other bands listed as it was formed in 2007 and have three full album releases. The band is from Paris and have witnessed three different front singers, one for each album (Clementine Delaunay, Elvyne and Marie McLeod) but Whyzdom is the French Symphonic Metal to what French wine is: it just getting better as it getting older. “Tears of a Hopeless God” naturally explored the symphonic approach by Vynce Leff earlier in “Blind” and brought this very nice piece of “baroque” that make themselves different from other Symphonic metal. The fluff and the puff that made Versailles so French!
Marie voice is just getting better and better and have less the “French accent” that Elvyne had in “Blind” and I believe Vynce found the winning formula for the band. For 2015, this album remains the highest rated of all the album I have reviewed on my blog, so it tells you something.