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The Rome, Italy-based Lifend is a rarity: a death metal/black metal band that includes a female lead vocalist and features her prominently. While the vast majority of death metal and black metal bands are 100 percent male, lead singer Sara Moriconi has been an integral part of Lifend's sound -- which is best described as melodic death metal and symphonic black metal with elements of goth rock and darkwave. Moriconi, in fact, favors a darkly romantic vocal style that would not be out of place in a goth outfit such as Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Love Spirals Downward, Diva Destruction, Rhea's Obsession or Curse (all of which have had female lead singers). However, Moriconi isn't Lifend's only vocalist; guitarist Alberto Franchi and bassist Roberto Geddo have also contributed to the vocals, and like other bands, that have embraced the symphonic black metal and melodic death metal styles, Lifend has favored a clean vocals/extreme vocals contrast. Moriconi provides the clean vocals, while the extreme vocals have been provided by the band's males and range from death metal's deep, guttural, evil-sounding growl to black metal's equally ominous rasp. Death metal/black metal and goth rock might sound like an odd combination to some listeners -- death metal/black metal is often an exercise in brutality for the sake of brutality, while goth is highly melodic. But the symphonic black metal and melodic death metal schools have offered an alternative to that all-brutality-all-the-time approach -- and in the hands of Lifend (which favors intricacy, nuance, and melody as well as forcefulness, intensity, and aggression), goth is a perfectly natural, logical influence. Lifend was formed in Rome, Italy in September 1999, when some former members of the Italian outfits Haternal (not to be confused with Hate Eternal) and Mourningstar decided to put together a new band. Originally known as My Dark Side, Lifend started out as a metal cover band and performed songs by At the Gates (one of their main influences), Dimmu Borgir (another strong influence), Moonspell, Anathema, and Edge of Sanity, among others. But before long, original material was dominating their live performances. Lifend's first recording was the 2001 EP Entwined Emotions, which was followed by a second EP, Shattering Reality, in 2002. The following year, Lifend began recording their first full-length album, Inner Scars, in the hope of shopping the disc to various record companies; the independent Cruz del Sur label was interested and released the album in November 2004. Along the way, Lifend has had a few lineup changes. In 2004, the band's lineup included lead singer Moriconi, Franchi (lead vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar), and Geddo (electric bass, lead vocals) and Matteo Donnini (drums, synthesizers). Former members of Lifend include keyboardist Davide Gaudesi and guitarist Damiano Frigo. ~ Alex Henderson