It’s been quiet here lately, only because things have been hectic in my offline life. But now that things are calming down, I can start catching up with the blog. And today is the start of a celebration. Why? This August marks five years that I’ve been a staff writer at Sonic Cathedral! 🙂
To celebrate this milestone, I’m counting down my 20 favorite artists that I’ve covered since I joined SC. The countdown has been underway on my Facebook page for a few days now. Now it’s time to catch up with the blog audience.
Today I’ll reveal Artists #20 through #16. Here we go!
Home: New York City
Genre: Ethnic progressive rock
Covered: November 2012
Normally I find new artists to review – they don’t come looking for me. Not in Vajra’s case, however. The band’s PR rep emailed me late last summer, asking if I’d be interested in reviewing the NYC band’s debut album Pleroma. It wasn’t long before I found myself intrigued by their music as well as their history. Apparently singer/ songwriter / multi-instrumentalist Annamaria Pinna founded Vajra after (in her own words) a “self-imposed exile” in India. That trip inspired Pleroma, a fusion of Indian music and progressive rock that garnered the band critical acclaim as well as extensive college radio airplay, licensing deals with major U.S. cable television channels, and a trip to the 2013 SXSW Festival in Texas. IMO, Vajra’s music epitomizes the word “spellbinding” – and once you listen to a song or two, you’ll feel the same way.
#19: Die So Fluid
Home: London, United Kingdom / Los Angeles, California, USA
Genre: Dark hard rock with a punk edge
Covered: August 2011
“What do you get when the blood of Green Day, Halestorm, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and The 69 Eyes is mixed in a cauldron by a leather-clad, raven-haired sorceress with an electrifying voice?” That’s how I chose to start my review of Die So Fluid’s The World Is Too Big For One Lifetime. And DSF earned that intro, too. Their amalgam of punk, hard rock, alternative, gothic, and metal can be described in many words: dynamic, sassy, charismatic, catchy, psychedelic… But really, the way to describe Die So Fluid is, well, with their band name. Their next album, The Opposite Of Light, is due out later this year. And since I had so much fun reviewing The World…, I’m already looking forward to covering DSF again and seeing what kind of dark-rock kookiness they’ve come up with!
Home: Stockhold, Sweden
Genre: Melodic progressive metal
Covered: June 2013
A “femme metal” friend on Facebook recommended that I check out Misth – and what a recommendation it turned out to be! On their debut album, Rise Of A New Day, this Swedish band combines hard rock, heavy metal, classic rock, and progressive elements with the incredible voice of Maria Rådsten. In other words, an utterly massive and timeless sound that’s tons of fun to listen to. Misth’s history is also quite interesting. Even though the band has been together for a few years, its members collectively have decades of songwriting and performing experience under their belts. I can’t recommend Misth and Rise Of A New Day enough. This is one of my favorite finds of 2013 – and don’t be surprised if the CD ranks at or near the top of my year-end list come December.
Ex Libris aren’t your ordinary female-fronted metal band with a classically trained singer. This Dutch quintet was equally inspired by symphonic heavyweights Nightwish and Epica as they were with progressive masterminds Symphony X and Dream Theater. So it makes sense that Ex Libris delivers some of the most challenging and dramatic music on the “femme metal” scene right now. That’s probably why I like this band so much: they’re truly unique. And with shows in the UK, Belgium, Germany, and France in recent months, it looks like Ex Libris is catching fire – and deservedly so. The band members themselves are a great group of people, too. Their interview answers (all five members participated!) show a mix of intelligence, passion toward their craft, band synergy, and fun. Ex Libris will record their upcoming second album, Medea, later this year.
You never know where music you like will come from. That was the case for me with Intemperia. I mean, it’s not very often that an American can say they listen to a band from Venezuela. Geography aside, Intemperia put out one of my favorite albums of 2011. Their debut CD, The Mothman Prophecies, is an exuberant blend of various rock and metal styles, highlighted by aggressive riffs, electronic elements, and charismatic vocals from Juls Sosa. Think hard rock meets power metal with ’80s lushness and lots of catchy melodies. That’s kind of what Intemperia sounds like. Since the review for The Mothman Prophecies had already been taken, I volunteered to interview Intemperia instead. It turned out to be a landmark for both sides – my first Skype interview, and the band’s first English-language interview. Yet it reads so smoothly and shows that Juls and guitarist Carlos Robles are both warm, enthusiastic, and appreciative. I was also impressed by the amount of detail they revealed about the songs from The Mothman Prophecies. Imtemperia recently downsized from a quartet to a duo (Juls and Carlos) and are writing new material.
Coming Soon: I’ll reveal Artists #15 through #11 in my Sonic Cathedral Retrospective. Plus, my review of Second Empire’s self-titled EP should be online soon at SC. And (hopefully) before the end of August, I’ll have made enough progress on my novel to post a new Chronicling The Craft article.