Time Flies!: July 2015

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Welcome to the latest edition of Time Flies! It’s my version of a monthly update, where I recap the past month’s accomplishments and articles, share news and random things from my offline life, and hint at what may be coming in the month ahead.

Hello from Writer’s Digest Conference! Today is Day One of the event, and I’m beyond excited for everything. The individual sessions, meeting other writers (especially some of my DIY MFA colleagues), being in NYC for the first time in a while, LOTS of books… It’s hard to believe that this weekend I’ve been looking forward to since early March has finally arrived, but it’s here! I can’t wait to share more of my experience with you once I’m back at home. 😀

And what about the past month? It’s been an interesting one, that’s for sure! So, here’s your chance to catch up with the month’s blog postings and other things:

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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

Music Mondays: Epica – “The Quantum Enigma (Kingdom Of Heaven Part II)”

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.

Review of Agharti’s “Change” Now at Sonic Cathedral

Agharti Change

Agharti may be a relatively young band, but their music already shows great promise. The Croatian band’s upcoming debut album, Change, introduces listeners to a melodic alternative style that’s accessible, dynamic, and thematically balanced between personal experiences and social observations. Other defining elements include a wide array of keyboard / synthesizer sounds (including violin-like complements that could pass for the real instrument) and dual vocals (male and female) on some songs that’s reminiscent of Lacuna Coil. This is one of the few instances where, in my opinion, an up-and-coming band’s first release deserves the hype invented by its record label. So I’ve decided to call Change “one of the best ‘femme metal’ surprises of 2013.”

Click here to read my review of Agharti’s Change.

Here’s a video montage of Agharti promo photos set to “Lost,” one of the songs from Change. “Lost” is an adrenaline-filled track with hurtling rhythms, bobbing keys, and “tag-team” style vocals during the chorus that make it one of the album’s highlights.

Coming Soon: Soul-Lit’s Summer issue, which includes one of my newest poems, should be published online any day now. I’ll share the link as soon as it’s available. As for my projects, I’m continuing to work on my fantasy novel (and recently passed 13,000 words!), and I already have my next review ready for Sonic Cathedral. Speaking of Sonic Cathedral, next month marks my fifth anniversary as a staff writer there! I’m planning to celebrate with retrospects here and at my Facebook page. So stay tuned!

New at Sonic Cathedral: Evince Ethos EP Review and Triosphere Interview

Better late than never again, I suppose? Anyway, here are my two most recent articles at Sonic Cathedral!

First is my review of Evince Ethos’ self-titled EP. Like Avariel and Era For A Moment (which I’ve discussed here in the past), Evince Ethos is from my local area. They began as a darkwave project in 2005 and gradually evolved into something grander and heavier. The EP I reviewed was recorded in 2009 but never fully finished, as three of Evince Ethos’ six members left due to creative differences. That didn’t stop the remaining members from releasing the EP, a “sea of stormy, majestic symphonic power metal” that’s equally impressive and refreshing.

Click here to read my review of Evince Ethos’ self-titled EP.

Also new at Sonic Cathedral is my interview with Ida Haukland, the vocalist and bassist of the Norwegian progressive heavy metal band Triosphere. What’s exciting about this article are its exclusive details about Triosphere’s new music video, “Marionette,” as well as the band’s plans for their upcoming third album. So it was neat to be the first to learn the news and then pass it on to the world! Ida also talked about what led her to play the bass, people’s reactions towards Triosphere’s music, and the band’s desire to play in North America. It’s a thoughtful glimpse into one of female-fronted metal’s most powerful and promising bands.

Click here to read my interview with Ida Haukland of Triosphere.

Now, for your listening and viewing pleasure – and since I still think it’s gorgeously done – here’s the video for “Marionette”!

New @ Sonic Cathedral: Our First “Round Table” Article

Have you ever read the Sonic Cathedral WebZine and wondered what its writers really think about some of the biggest bands in female-fronted metal? Or, have you ever wanted to know how different our opinions on the same bands might be? Well, my colleagues and I did. Even after several months (or a couple years) of communicating about the music we love most, we wanted to find out just how varied our opinions are.

In SC’s first Round Table article, all four of us critique 11 of the most famous female-fronted metal bands.  We then individually rated each band on a scale of 1 to 5: 1 meaning we don’t like the band at all, and 5 meaning we absolutely love the band.  Finally, we calculated each band’s average rating and arranged the bands in order from the highest to the lowest.  Some of the selections and opinions may be predictable, but trust us – we have some surprises up our sleeves. 😉

The 11 bands we discussed are:

  • After Forever
  • Delain
  • Epica
  • Lacuna Coil
  • Leaves’ Eyes
  • Nightwish
  • Sirenia
  • Therion
  • Tristania
  • Within Temptation
  • Xandria

Click here to read our first “Round Table” article.