|Written by SC Staff|
|Friday, 10 January 2014|
|Welcome to Sonic Cathedral’s annual round-up of our favorite music of the past year! And we think you’ll agree that 2013 was a busy year for female-fronted rock and metal. We heard new music from some of the biggest names we cover, including Leaves’ Eyes, Edenbridge, Sirenia, Tristania, Delain, and Tarja. Epica and Nightwish also released what were arguably the two most widely anticipated concert DVDs of the fall. As for up-and-coming bands, our staff’s music collection exploded thanks to a number of exciting debut albums and second offerings from female-fronted bands from all over the world.
2013 also brought lots of firsts with touring and live shows in North America. Amaranthe trekked across our continent as headliners for the first time. Delain returned for their first North American shows since ProgPower in 2010 as Kamelot’s main support act. And speaking of ProgPower, Xandria made their stateside debut at this year’s installment back in September and will return in January for the 70,000 Tons of Metal Cruise.More than anything, however, 2013 marked a year of change for many female-fronted bands and their singers. Eve’s Apple closed its orchard after 3 years. Nightwish named Floor Jansen as their new frontwoman. Manuela Kraller bowed out of Xandria, and Dianne van Giersbergen (Ex Libris) took her place. Visions of Atlantis, Crimfall, Whyzdom, Eths – these and many other lineup changes may have saddened fans, but they have also ushered in new hope and bright promise for each band’s future.
And now that 2013 has come to a close, let’s pay tribute once again to our favorite music of the past year! Once again, our staff writers have compiled personal lists of their favorite female-fronted (and “female friendly,” in some cases) rock and metal albums from the past year. You’ll find those below, as well as 2013’s Top 10 Bestsellers list from the Sonic Cathedral Store and some of our predictions for bands that will make major breakthroughs in 2014. So, let’s get started!
Emilie Garcin’s Top 10 of 2013
1. Tristania – Darkest White
Max Levites’ Top 5 of 2013
1. Tristania – Darkest White
Ton Dekkers’ Top 10 of 2013
1. Epica – Retrospect
Justin Boyer’s Top 5 of 2013
1. Epica – Retrospect
C’s Top 10 of 2013
1. Nightwish – Showtime, Storytime
John Thornburgh’s Top 10 of 2013
1. Delain – Interlude
Eastcoaster’s Top 8 of 2013
1. Tarja – Colours In The Dark
Pacific Prof’s Top 10 of 2013
1. Edenbridge – The Bonding
Allyson Kenning’s Top 10 of 2013
1. Battle Beast – Battle Beast
Doctor T’s Top 10 of 2013
1. Magion – A Different Shade of Darkness
Sara Letourneau’s Top 10 of 2013
1. Early Cross – Pathfinder
Robin Stryker’s Top 10 of 2013
1. Tyranny of Hours – Tyranny of Hours
Frozen Angel’s Top 10 of 2013
1. Lingua Mortis Orchestra – LMO
2013 Best Sellers at the Sonic Cathedral Store
As you may know, Sonic Cathedral isn’t just a webzine. Our online store carries over 1300 different titles in female-fronted music. Here are the five best-selling albums at our store in 2013:
1. Louna – Behind A Mask
Bands To Watch For In 2014
Here are the bands some of our staff writers think will you should keep your eyes and ears open for in 2014.
“After coming off a very productive and prosperous 2013, I believe the choice is obvious for me: A Sound of Thunder is a band I think is really going to do amazing things in 2014. The band ended 2013 on a high note; not only with the success of Time’s Arrow and their very first live show outside the borders of the U.S., but also with their hugely successful Kickstarter campaign to fund their upcoming album The Lesser Key of Solomon, due for release sometime in 2014. The band blasted through their initial Kickstarter goal within days, and managed to collect over $20,000 by the time the campaign came to an end. They have proven they can deliver the goods, and their fan base is so sure of this that they are willing to put their money where their mouth is. Considering that most bands on the scene can take an average of 3 to 4 years between albums sometimes, A Sound of Thunder is one of the most prolific bands out there; working their asses off and truly “living for the music”. When they’re not playing gigs, writing music, or working on material, they can be found interacting with their loyal fans and keeping them up-to-date on the latest news. Even though they have been around for a few years and have produced some solid material thus far, I have a feeling we haven’t even begun to see all that they are capable of. A Sound of Thunder got my vote in 2013 as my favorite new discovery, but I think they’re just warming up, and 2014 is the year where they are going to blast into the stratosphere; kicking ass and taking names on their way to the top!”
“Having recently completed their first North American tour and gained nearly more than a million viewers for several of their cinematic music videos this past year, Amaranthe is gaining popularity at an exponential rate. On the surface, they may appear as a techno-fueled metal act that dispenses with the same predictable hi-jinks. Yet, their music has a rich variety and one of the most impressive vocal dynamics of any recent metal band. Any band that can successively combine a female vocalist, a male vocalist, and a traditional growler without obstructing the flow and continuous energy of any of their frenetically-paced songs clearly has talent. Eventually, this band will begin to appear on movie credits for action films with high production values; it is only inevitable for this type of insanely fast and fun type of metal music. How do you pack lyrical beauty into a whirlwind of complex instrumentals? Obviously, Amaranthe achieved that and more musical accomplishments with the ingenuity of their sound. With their unconventional brand of metal music, they are going everywhere! Expect great things in 2014, and beyond, from Amaranthe!”
“This French / Algerian band plays a very interesting mix of death metal and middle-eastern music, a la Orphaned Land (even featuring OL’s singer Kobi Farhi on a song on their 2011 album Salam). The band is in the studio recording a new album for a 2014 release, for which I am very excited, being a big fan of their last effort. The contrast between the folk and death elements is excellent and interesting, and there’s no doubt this band will release something even more grand this time around. Hopefully, their fanbase will grow along with the music, so look out for them in 2014!”
Doctor T: Crimson Crysalis
“You expect top notch stuff from Europe, you don’t expect it from Africa. But Crimson Chrysalis provided one of the most brilliant surprises of the year, from the Southern part of the continent. The release sent shock waves through the Femme Metal community, music to please, thoughts that go beyond the pale. There’s so much to learn from Africa, Crimson Chrysalis seems to be able to communicate those thoughts with wonderful music, hard to beat that.”
“Delain just finished a huge year, including their first U.S. tour. They also have a new label and new album coming, are about to go on tour with Within Temptation, and have connected with their first 100,000 Facebook fans. Can a million be far behind?”
Frozen Angel: Enemy Of Reality
Iliana Tsakiraki (ex-Meden Agan) kept herself busy during 2013, forming a brand new band named Enemy Of Reality. They already released a demo track entitled One Last Try, and this was a really nice way to feed the fans’ appetites. The very interesting fact about this band is that it consists of flawless and top players such as Steelianos (guitars), Marianthi (keys), Philip (drums), and Thanos (bass). As they have announced the release of their debut album for 2014, the anticipation grows as the time passes by, and I will certainly keep my eyes open to see if Iliana and her gang will win the bet. Will you?
Ton: Ex Libris
“Ex Libris will release their new album Medea in January 2014. The EP version already received good reviews, and I expect the album will beat all those reviews. The fact that their excellent singer Dianne van Giersbergen joined Xandria will generate also more attention for Ex Libris.”
“I’ve worked with Kells of France since 2010 and have become a great fan of them with time. They will release their fourth album in 2014, and from what I’ve heard I assure you that it will be a great one. They will play at the PPM in Belgium next April, and more gigs are probably coming. Kells are also so communicative and powerful onstage. Vocalist Virginie Goncalves always seems to be subjugated by the songs, and I strongly advise you to give them a try when you have the occasion to do it. You won’t regret it!”
That concludes our look back on the music of 2013, and our predictions for 2014. We’d love to hear from you about your favorites from last year and which upcoming albums you’re looking forward most to hearing. Just post a message on our Facebook page. Chances are you’ll hear from one of us!