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On the night of April 26th, 2018 downtown Los Angeles' Palace Theater was in for one of the most bizarre, most innovative, most downright terrifying artists to ever walk through its doors. The one and only Diamanda Galas was the artist set to take the stage that night. If you have never heard of this woman's name before, you are not alone. She is the type of artist that can only be appreciated by a very specific demographic of music fans, those who enjoy avante garde, experimental, dark, and extreme music. However, if you fall into this category then you owe it to yourself to check out her incredible artistry.

I initially discovered Diamanda Galas after reading an article from the website Metal Hammer titled "13 Genuinely Terrifying Artists That Are Definitely Not Faking It" and after listening to her 1982 album "The Litanies Of Satan" I quickly realized that this could not be a more fitting title.  The lyrical topics of her work speak about AIDS, mental illness, despair, injustice, and loss of dignity. Galas has studied a variety of different musical styles and collaborated with many different musicians throughout her career including John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin on an album titled "The Sporting Life." Her voice has been described as "capable of the most unnerving vocal terror." Boasting a 3 octave vocal range, she has the kind of voice that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Ranging from high pitched screaming, opera vocals, to low pitched growls that are almost identical to the ones found in Death and Black Metal, her voice conjures up a gloomy atmosphere that will send chills down your spine and that would make the unprepared leave the venue in shock. 

She sat in the middle of the stage playing a grand piano with her jet black hair nearly touching the floor, surrounded by smoke around her ankles as the red lights illuminated the glossy black finish on the stage. Her piano playing itself was mind blowing as she played classical pieces while reading the sheet music in front of her with virtuostic precision and occasionally throwing in what seemed to be dissonant improvisation. Her piercing voice came in and complimented her piano playing extremely well, the natural reverb of the century old building creating a very sinister atmosphere. It was impossible to take your eyes (and ears) off of her. What I found was very alluring about her performance was how many different flavors of music seemed to be thrown in, sometimes she sounded bluesy, sometimes middle eastern/exotic, sometimes singing in multiple languages, and even covering a Hank Williams tune. However, no matter what direction her music seemed to go in, it was always dark and always one of kind. There is no other artist on the planet that sounds like her.

As the crowd filtered out of the venue, I noticed punk and metal shirts and realized that her fans are no different than fans of any form of "extreme" music. What she intends to raise awareness to with her art is the same message that you can find in many different styles of music. I think that although maybe not everyone may know her name or understand her music, artists that are this one of a kind and experimental will continue to blow minds well into the future as long as the right type of person that can appreciate this form of art is around! Musically, she is truly an innovator and there are simply no words to describe her and her approach towards her instrument and voice. You must see for yourself!


Neil Metcalf

Writer - Los Angeles

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