To-Mera and Early Cross Reviews Now at Sonic Cathedral

Time for two reviews I recently wrote for Sonic Cathedral! They were published so close in time together that it seemed appropriate to post them in one site update together.

ToMera Exile cover

First up is my review of Exile, the fourth release by UK prog metallers To-Mera. Anyone who’s familiar with To-Mera’s music knows how unpredictable it can be: lengthy, labyrinthine compositions with tempo and time signature changes galore, myriad keyboard sounds, thrash influences, jazz interludes, and Julie Kiss’ delicate and ethereal vocals. Exile is also the band’s first concept album, following the protagonist as she struggles to protect herself from emotional harm through a self-imposed “exile.” This review is one of those rare “Jekyll & Hyde” critiques from me: I enjoyed listening to Exile and now have a better appreciation for To-Mera’s music, yet I had difficulty  connecting with the songs.

Click here to read my review of To-Mera’s Exile.

EarlyCross_Pathfinder

I had a much easier time reviewing Early Cross’ Pathfinder, on the other hand. Pathfinder is an inspiring debut album by this Japanese progressive / atmospheric rock band that will draw comparisons to The Gathering, Autumn, and Anathema. As I described in my review, “Early Cross marries elements from the gothic, folk, progressive, and atmospheric realms to present a heavy, evocative rock style with carefully crafted songs and entrancing vocals.” Pathfinder also has pastoral and vintage tones, thanks to acoustic guitars and a mellotron. I already like this album enough to call it an early contender for my Album of the Year for 2013. Why? Well, you’ll have to read the review to find that out!

Click here to read my review of Early Cross’ Pathfinder.

I’d like to end today’s post with a thank-you and prayer for Paul Tom Norton, who recently passed away. Paul and I had never met in person, but he followed my reviews and poetry on Facebook and always left comments about my work. He was a great source of encouragement as well as a fellow music lover – two things I appreciate greatly. I will always be grateful for Paul’s enthusiasm and feedback, and I hope his family continues to draw comfort from their memories of him and from the thoughtful messages people have left since the news of Paul’s passing.

Paul, may you find the same joy in angels’ voices that you found in the voices of your favorite singers.

~ Sara

New at Suite101: Review of Anathema’s “Weather Systems”

And now it’s time to share my latest review at Suite101.com! I still can’t believe I was able to get a (legitimate) press copy last month – a full 2 months before the album’s actual release date. So, many thanks to Tell All Your Friends PR and The End Records for making this review possible.

Anathema’s upcoming album, Weather Systems, is in some ways a lot like its predecessor, We’re Here Because We’re Here. The band still plays an organic yet atmospheric brand of progressive rock with intertwining male and female harmonies. However, We’re Here… was merely a foreshadow of the brilliance that the world’s about to hear on Weather Systems. I won’t say much more here on my blog because a) I’ll end up repeating a good chunk of the full review, and b) it’s quite difficult to describe Weather Systems any more than I already have. All of the most positive adjectives I can think of fall short of defining the album’s aesthetics and ability to evoke deep emotions within the listener. So, I’ll use one of the phrases from my review: It’s “one of 2012’s rock masterpieces.”

Click here to read my full review of Anathema’s Weather Systems at Suite101.com.

Stay tuned to my blog for a big poetry announcement!

~ Sara