If you’ve followed my music tastes over the past couple years, The Mariana Hollow may already be a familiar name to you. This alternative metal quintet from London, United Kingdom was hands down my favorite discovery during my tenure at Sonic Cathedral. Muscular rhythms, oceanic guitarscapes, evocative lyrics, and a gritty yet impassioned female voice – this unique amalgam has always made TMH a stand-out act.
Recently the band released two videos for “The Unburned”: one featuring the band, and the lyric video highlighted below. Maybe I’m biased, but how cool is the lyric video?! The archaic animations look like they came straight out of the medieval / Westeros era and make countless references to George R.R. Martin’s A Song Of Fire And Ice saga. “The Unburned” itself was inspired by the character Danaerys Targaryen. Musically, this song is like one of Dany’s dragons prowling the desert before taking flight. It builds slowly, shouldering the gravity of its riffs and a thick sultriness, as Rebecca Spinks sings with a storyteller’s passion. It’s a truly unique song from TMH’s repertoire – and if you like this track, I highly recommend you check out other songs by this band!
“The Unburned” is taken from The Mariana Hollow’s 2013 EP Scars, Not Wounds. You can read my review of the EP at Sonic Cathedral here.
Yes, I’m a proud Grobanite! And although the popular classical crossover singer Josh Groban hasn’t released any new albums recently, I’ve been listening to his music the past few days to “pump up” my excitement about seeing him in concert for the third time later this week. If I had to pick one song from his latest CD, 2013’s All That Echoes, that I’m looking forward most to hearing, it would have to be “She Moved Through The Fair.” This traditional Irish ballad has been covered by numerous artists over the years, including Celtic Women, Loreena McKennit, and Hayley Westenra. Josh’s version is the one I’m most familiar with, and it still entrances me. The simple acoustic arrangements fit the lyrics’ pastoral love story like a summery white dress. And with Uillean pipes, a harp, and a violin along with Josh’s moving baritone, it stirs feelings of emotional intimacy that are hard to find in typical love songs. Think of it as a musical snapshot of seeing your lover’s innocence and true beauty for the first time, on a field of wildflowers under the stars. It takes my breath away every time – and honestly, it’s so beautiful that I don’t mind if it does.
Oh, and you get a bonus with the video below – because it’s a lyric video! Enjoy. 🙂
I’ve only had Lindsey Stirling’s latest album Shatter Me for a couple weeks, but – wow! This is one of the coolest and most playful CDs I’ve listened to in a while. The amount of ground that this violin / dance music marvel (and former “America’s Got Talent” contestant) covers is astonishing: turbo-charged dueling with guitars and synths (“Roundtable Rival”), mournful dubstep (“Ascendance”), evading a laser beam alarm system (“Heist”), a dance of joy from the heart and soul (“Master of Tides”), and two vocal collaborations, including the impassioned title track featuring Lzzy Hale of Halestorm. One song I keep coming back to on the mostly uptempo set is the breathtaking “Beyond The Veil.” It’s not a typical ballad, since it shifts back and forth between slow and fast, but my gosh is it gorgeous! The blending of synths, programming, and classical elements injects an evocative, oceanic quality. Slower sections shimmer like the water’s surface above, while waves thrash from the brewing storm as the music intensifies. Then there’s Lindsey’s instrumental prowess. She lets her violin skirt the waves and dive deep to swim with dolphins and mermaids. Her talent rounds out this hypnotic track with the spirit and whimsicality that’s impossible for vocals to imitate.
And judging from Lindsey’s video for “Beyond The Veil,” I’m not the only one who imagines water when I hear this song. 😀 What do you think?
Each of Anathema’s past three albums has at least one song that envelopes me completely in whatever feelings it conveys. On their latest album Distant Satellites, that song is the ballad “Ariel.” Understated arrangements at the beginning allow Lee Douglas’ evocative, angelic voice and the simple lyrics to shine. Then, in grand Anathema fashion, the music climbs in intensity until Vincent Cavanagh joins Lee on the mic. Brother Danny Cavanagh prolongs the already-gorgeous crescendo with a heart-cry guitar solo. Enough about the aesthetics, though. The true beauty of “Ariel” is its pervading emotion: love. It’s hard to describe, and I agree the lyrics can be interpreted as either pure happiness or lingering sadness… But “Ariel” stirs the former for me. Warm, auric, unmistakable, intensifying as the song soars on. There may be millions of love songs in existence, but to me “Ariel” defines the musical expression of love – the kind of love everyone deserves to experience in their life.
I keep coming back to the title track of Epica’s new album The Quantum Enigma even though I’ve had the CD for two months now. It’s a brilliant example of symphonic metal done right – and by “done right,” I mean with a professional choir and live strings. (Not all symphonic metal bands do this for financial reasons, but it compromises the music’s authenticity.) I love how “The Quantum Enigma” twists and unfolds to show its different elements: the Tibetan throat chant intro, the triumphant rhythm, the labyrinthine structure, the inspiring lyrics (how quantum physics and the power of imagination can effect change on the world), the concentration on choirs and Simone Simons’ seraphic vocals. The live orchestra also adds a rich, playful cinematic quality that makes the song a perfect choice as the CD’s closing number. If you’re not a metalhead but you find your curiosity piqued, take the next 12 minutes (yes, 12 minutes!) and immerse yourself in this riff-tastic philharmonic experience.
I normally post about metal and rock music, but every now and then I like good-quality singer-songwriter music from other genres. And I admit, I pay zero attention to TV singing competitions such as American Idol. But I’ve been on the Phillip Phillips (2012 AI winner) bandwagon for a couple years, and I’m not jumping off anytime soon. Phillip’s new album “Behind The Light” shows the gravelly-voiced, guitar-plucking songwriter expanding on the rugged, rootsy acoustic pop/rock sound from his debut CD. It’s more mature, with stronger lyrics and a more personalized touch from Phillip overall – but it’s also so upbeat and fun! With songs like first single “Raging Fire,” “Behind The Light” is the perfect summer pop/rock record. The rhythm and hopefulness are so contagious, I can’t help but dance whenever this track plays.