As you may already know, I’m celebrating 5 years of writing for Sonic Cathedral by counting down my 20 favorite artists covered at the SC WebZine. I revealed Artists #20 through #16 last week. Today, it’s time to reveal #15 through #11. So let’s continue!
By the way, a big apology that the artist photos in the previous SC Retrospective article. I’m not sure what happened in the uploading process, since they were all of decent size to begin with.
NOTE: If you’d prefer to catch the daily version of the countdown, please visit and “like” my official Facebook page.
#15: Amanda Somerville
Home: Germany (though American-born)
Genre: Indie pop/rock (solo career), melodic rock/metal (Trillium)
A self-proclaimed “schizophrenic” musician, Amanda Somerville draws from just about every possible genre for her career. You can hear this variety more in her solo work. Her 2008 album Windows hops from pop to rock to metal to R&B, all tied together by Amanda’s abstract lyrical style and soulful, powerful vocals. So, why cover her for Sonic Cathedral? Believe it or not, this lady has worked behind the scenes (either singing lead or background vocals, producing, or consulting for English-language lyrics) with a number of metal’s most renowned symphonic and power metal acts, including Avantasia, Kamelot, and Epica. So it’s no surprise that Amanda finally got into the metal act by forming the band Trillium and releasing their debut album, Alloy, in 2011. I interviewed Amanda prior to the release of Alloy, knowing she’d unleash that bubbly personality and contagious humor I’d seen in her video blogs. And she didn’t disappoint!
Home: Trondheim, Norway
Genre: Heavy power metal
Most female-fronted power metal bands lean on the symphonic side and tell tales of darkness and fantasy. Triosphere do neither. Their gritty, riff-laden style of power metal plants this Norwegian quartet firmly in the “kick-ass” category. Then add in the progressive elements, lush atmospheres from strings and keyboards, introspective lyrics, and Ida Haukland’s husky, throaty wails. All this makes their latest release, 2010’s The Road Less Travelled, a rollercoaster of sound and emotion. As with most bands I cover, I sent Triosphere a link to my CD review once it was published. Almost a year later, Ida responded, apologizing for not responding sooner, thanking me for the review – and asking if we could do an interview. The timing seemed odd at first, but during our phone call Ida revealed that Triosphere was about to release a video for the song “Marionette.” Surprise! And not only was Ida persuasive about selling the interview idea, but she was also lovely to talk to. Triosphere is now in the studio to record their follow-up to The Road Less Travelled.
#13: Divine Ascension
Home: Melbourne, Australia
Genre: Progressive symphonic metal
Covered: Twice, in October 2011
Great female-fronted metal seems to come from just about everywhere around the world. Divine Ascension is no exception. This sextet from Melbourne, Australia takes listeners for a ride by taking the theatrics of symphonic metal and adding dashes of progressive metal. And with the cabaret-trained Jennifer Borg as their frontwoman, the band escapes the many stereotypes of their style of music. Dainty, pretty, and gothic? No. Majestic, dynamic, and exciting? Hell yes! Those are just some of the reasons why I listed Divine Ascension’s debut album, As The Truth Appears, as one of my favorite albums of 2011. Divine Ascension recently opened for Kamelot in front of DA’s hometown crowd and are now in the studio recording their second album.
#12: Seven Kingdoms
Home: DeLand, Florida
Genre: Power metal
Covered: Three times
This ambitious power metal quintet from Florida belongs in the same “kick-ass” category of metal as Triosphere. They are influenced by guitar-shredding, non-symphonic bands such as Blind Guardian, Amon Amarth, and Iced Earth, and have a unique edge thanks to Sabrina Valentine’s singing background (country and church music). As a result, their sound is meaty, gritty, and fire-breathing – and an absolute blast to write about. I’d go so far as to say that reviewing Seven Kingdoms’ self-titled second album was one of my all-time favorite Zine assignments. The band is also fun to talk to, so much that you don’t want them to stop! Maybe that’s why my phone interview with Sabrina and guitarist Camden Cruz lasted 45 minutes. It might still be the longest SC interview in the Zine’s history! Seven Kingdoms will hit the U.S. East Coast later this month for a short headlining tour in support of their latest album, The Fire Is Mine.
Epica don’t need much of an introduction. Since their inception in 2002, when Mark Jansen left After Forever, this Dutch band has steadily moved to the forefront of symphonic metal. They’ve won over fans all over the world with a whimsical, film-score-like style that features ethnic flourishes, cerebral lyrics that often touch on social issues and Mayan history, Mark Jansen’s gutteral growls and screams, and Simone Simons’ elegant mezzo-soprano voice. I had the opportunity to cover Epica twice during their promo cycle for Design Your Universe, my favorite album of theirs (and my favorite album of 2009). In November 2009, Simone was my first phone interview ever for the Zine. Her calm nature and sweetheart personality helped me forget my jittery nerves. A couple months later – on one of the most frigid January nights EVER – I got to see my first of two Epica shows in 2010, and loved it. Epica are currently working on their sixth album, due out next year – and Simone is due to have her first baby any day now!
Coming Soon: Next week, I’ll start revealing my top 10 favorite artists I’ve covered at Sonic Cathedral. And, I’m just 350 words away from the 15,000 mark in my novel-in-progress. So expect a new “Chronicling The Craft” in the next week or two!