My 10 Favorite Albums of 2014

If I could use one word to describe the music of 2014 for me, it would be “weird.” Firstly, it was a year of transition and rediscovery music-wise. In May, I left my music-reviewing post at Sonic Cathedral after 5½ years so I could concentrate on novel-writing and other creative pursuits. Suddenly I had more freedom – and time! – to listen to genres besides female-fronted rock and metal. That explains why this year’s Top 10 list features the most variety I’ve ever had in my end-of-year countdowns. Yay! 🙂

Secondly, the quality of 2014’s music took me on a bumpy rollercoaster ride. There were awesome surprises, huge disappointments, and an unusually high number of “in-betweens” that I needed to replay several times before knowing how I felt about them. And in some ways, my #1 pick summarizes my year of music: It tips its hat to my “head-banging” past while shocking the hell out of me – in the best way possible. In fact, I don’t think my SC colleagues would have seen this one coming (except for one – she knows who she is, because it’s all her fault *winks*).

Buckled in? Then let’s go! Continue reading

Mini-Review Monday: “Medea” by Ex Libris

Welcome to the first installment of Mini-Review Mondays! I started the meme on my Facebook page a few weeks ago and thought it was time to introduce it on the blog.

On Mini-Review Mondays, I’ll post a fairly short review (2 or 3 paragraphs long – short for me!) of an album I’ve recently purchased. Expect the reviews to cover the same genres of music I’ve reviewed for other sites: different styles of rock and metal, with maybe some pop or other genres thrown in here and there. Reviews will be posted as new music comes my way, so probably a few times a month instead of every Monday. I hope you’ll enjoy them!

Now, time for the first mini-review… Continue reading

5 Years At Sonic Cathedral: A Retrospective – My 20 Favorite Artists I’ve Covered To Date (#20 through #16)

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! Continue reading

A Sneak Peek of the Next Ex Libris Album at Sonic Cathedral

Happy Day Before Thanksgiving!

Since I’ll be busy the next couple days, I wanted to post this for you as soon as possible. My latest article for Sonic Cathedral was posted today – and it’s another Sneak Peek! Perhaps you’ll remember that in March I wrote an article on an exclusive preview of an album-in-progress by the UK band The Mariana Hollow. Today’s article is similar; and this time, I’m highlighting Medea, the upcoming second album by the Dutch progressive metal band Ex Libris.

If you love female-fronted metal and have never heard of Ex Libris, you’re missing out on something special.  This band takes their loves of heavy and progressive metal styles, and combines them with classical arrangements and the dynamic soprano voice of Dianna van Giersbergen.  Think of mixing Symphony X, Seventh Wonder, Blind Guardian, and Opeth, then topping it off with a vocalist who can shake the very boots of Simone Simons (Epica), Tarja Turunen (ex-Nightwish), and Floor Jansen (After Forever, ReVamp). Their music is so unique and creative, that comparing Ex Libris to other symphonic metal bands or bands with a classically trained singer just doesn’t do the band justice.

As for Medea, well, I can only talk about the three songs I’ve gotten to know very well over the past few weeks. Without giving away much here: I’m intrigued by what I’ve heard so far, and I believe Medea will be one of the most innovative “femme metal” albums in a long while!

Click here to read my Sneak Peek of Ex Libris’ Medea.

~ Sara

Finally… Updates!

Hello!  And a very belated Happy New Year to you!

Between the final holidays of 2010 and a crazy start to 2011, I haven’t had much time to update this site.  My apologies for that.  Hopefully today’s updates will make up for that.  🙂

I’ve partially “revamped” my Writing for Sonic Cathedral page.  The 2010 reviews page is finally completed, and a new link has been added for a 2011 reviews page.  I’ve also moved all my interview links to a dedicated interviews page.  Click any of the hotlinks you see in this paragraph to see the changes for yourself.

What can you expect to find when you go these pages? Continue reading