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Sonic Cathedral’s Best Releases of 2011

Wait – it’s that time of year again? Yes, it is. 2011 has come and gone, and we at Sonic Cathedral are ready to pay tribute to our favorite albums of the past year!

If you think about it, 2011 was a fantastic year for female-fronted rock and metal music. Two bands in particular made it so exciting. Dutch symphonic rockers Within Temptation released their concept album The Unforgiving as well as a coinciding comic book series that’s now distributed worldwide. The band also returned to North America for a brief yet triumphant tour (which Sonic Cathedral covered in September), and played night after night of sold-out shows across Europe. And, who can forget about Finnish symphonic metal giants Nightwish? Imaginaerum was by far the most anticipated album of its kind this year – and just weeks after its release, fans and critics still can’t stop talking about it. Did we mention that Imaginaerum the movie is scheduled to come out in 2012?

That’s just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. 2011 also saw major releases by other popular bands such as Arch Enemy and Leaves’ Eyes, as well as the long-awaited comeback album by The Guano Apes. A number of up-and-coming bands (Autumn, Stream of Passion, Midnattsol, Omega Lithium, Coronatus, Nemesea – we’ll stop there!) also put out new albums. As for the debut albums, we’d need several pairs of hands to count how many excellent new bands burst onto the scene in 2011. Divine Ascension from Australia, Shield of Wings from the USA, Only Fate Remains from The Netherlands, Crysalys and Dama from Italy, Amaranthe from Sweden – again, we have to stop ourselves there so we don’t go on for too long!

So, which albums topped our staff writers’ lists for 2011? Let’s say a few won’t surprise you – and a few others will. Let’s start off with…


Allyson Kenning’s Top 10 of 2011

1. Nightwish – Imaginaerum
2. Dama – Eirwen Imaginary / Immaginario
3. Crysalys – The Awakening of Gaia
4. Within Temptation – The Unforgiving
5. Leaves' Eyes – Meredead
6. Arkona – Slovo
7. Coronatus – Terra Incognita
8. Crimfall – The Writ of Sword
9. Sarah Jezebel Deva – The Corruption of Mercy
10. Midnattsol – The Metamorphosis Melody

Max Levites’ Top 10 of 2011

1. Nightwish – Imaginaerum
2. Leaves' Eyes – Meredead
3. Arkona – Slovo
4. Within Temptation – The Unforgiving
5. Silent Stream of Godless Elegy – Navaz
6. Amaranthe – Amaranthe
7. Stream of Passion – Darker Days
8. Echoterra – Land of the Midnight Sun
9. Omega Lithium – Kinetik
10. Noctura – Surrender the Sun

Within Temptation

Sara Letourneau’s Top 10 of 2011

1. Within Temptation – The Unforgiving
2. Divine Ascension – As The Truth Appears
3. Autumn – Cold Comfort
4. Intemperia – The Mothman Prophecies
5. Omega Lithium – Kinetik
6. EarlyRise – What If
7. Evanescence – Evanescence
8. Losing Scarlet – Learning to Bleed
9. Ultimate Fate – Beyond the Horizon EP
10. Stream of Passion – Darker Days

Justin Boyer’s Top 10 of 2011

1. Within Temptation – The Unforgiving
2. Stream of Passion – Darker Days
3. Onmyo-za – Kishi-Bojin
4. Nightwish – Imaginaerum
5. The SLoT – Break the Code
6. Evanescence – Evanescence
7. Silent Stream of Godless Elegy – Navaz
8. Silent Opera – Immortal Beauty
9. Autumn – Cold Comfort
10. Leaves Eyes – Meredead


Doctor T’s Top 10 of 2011

1. Niobeth - Silvery Moonbeams
2. Meden Agan – Erevos Aenaon
3. Sacramento – Weight of Sin
4. The Rain I Bleed – Narcissist
5. Scandelion – The Garden of Lies
6. Opus Doria – Infraworld
7. Cassandra Syndrome – Satire X
8. Factory of Dreams – Melotronical
9. Only Fate Remains – Breathe
10. Intemperia – The Mothman Prophecies

Shield of Wings

Robin Stryker’s Top 10 of 2011

1. Shield of Wings – Solarium
2. Noctura – Surrender The Sun
3. Autumn – Cold Comfort
4. Divine Ascension – As The Truth Appears
5. Leaves’ Eyes – Meredead
6. Amaranthe – Amaranthe
7. Bare Infinity – The Passage EP
8. Ancient Bards – Soulless Child
9. My Ruin – A Southern Revelation
10. Nemesea – The Quiet Resistance

Meden Agan

Frozen Angel’s Top 10 of 2011

1. Meden Agan – Erevos Aenaon
2. Draconian – A Rose for the Apocalypse
3. Stream of Passion – Darker Days
4. Autumn – Cold Comfort
5. Arkona – Slovo
6. Nightwish – Imaginaerum
7. Omega Lithium – Kinetik
8. Amaranthe – Amaranthe
9. Evanescence – Evanescence
10. Within Temptation – The Unforgiving

2011 Bestsellers at the Sonic Cathedral Store

As you may know, Sonic Cathedral isn’t just a webzine. We have an online store that carries over 1300 different titles in female-fronted music. Here are the five best-selling 2011 releases at the store this past year.

1 - Guano Apes - Bel Air
2 - Clandestine - The Invalid
3 - Silent Stream of Godless Elegy - Navaz
4 - Echoterra - Land of the Midnight Sun
5 - A New Dawn - 7 Faces of Truth

Bands To Watch For In 2012

Everyone has high hopes for some of the scene’s brightest up-and-coming bands. Our staff writers now make their recommendations for bands you ought to keep your eyes – and ears – open for in 2012.

Robin:  Seduce The Heaven - “What do you get when you combine elements of power metal, symphonic metal, melodic death metal, and metalcore with clean female vocals and male growling? The outcome is either a gruesome auditory train wreck or a diamond-hard alloy. Greek newcomers Seduce The Heaven accomplished the latter handily with their five-track promo CD, and have the potential to make an indelible mark on the metal scene in 2012 with their debut album, Field of Dreams.”

Doctor T:  Seduce The Heaven - “Well, I hate to play second fiddle to Robin, but I think I found them first. Either way you get it all here, first rate metal, vocals that can’t be beat, production that is right on track. And, it sounds like a lot of European musicians think so too. We have a 19 year old vocalist who ties it all together, and this could be a long, long run. Their debut full CD should be a killer.”

Sara:  The Mariana Hollow - “This might not be a surprise. I adored Coma Heart, the debut album by this alt-prog metal band from the United Kingdom. However, after getting a “sneak peek” of their upcoming second album, Velvet Black Sky, I have a feeling the band has prepared something even more special. Be ready for a grittier, darker, and more intense record teeming with Spinky’s impassioned vocals and twin guitars chiseling some fantastic soundscapes! My review of Velvet Black Sky should be online come late January or early February.”

Max:  Shield of Wings - “Probably my top discovery of the year, this band definitely has the potential to join the ranks of the US's top symphonic metal bands (even though there aren't too many of them to begin with). All they need is a little polish and more material, which I hope will come soon!”

Allyson:  Crysalys - “The band I think people need to watch out for in 2012 is Crysalys, who this year released their debut, The Awakening of Gaia. Packing a huge sound punch and headed by a powerful operatic vocalist, Chiara Malvestiti, Crysalys is a hard-working band creating a presence for itself on the internet and gaining a lot of worldwide attention. With this strong, mature release, the world is Crysalys’s oyster!”

Justin:  Stream of Passion  - “With every subsequent album, this band seems to be making a marked improvement with their sound. Their recent album, Darker Days, was filled with songs that had meaningful lyrics and a rich symphonic sound that was truly unique against a background of so many bands that have a generic sound. Hopefully, they’ll continue to improve, and gain more fans because they definitely deserve more recognition for their talent.”

Frozen Angel:  Skeptical Minds - “Skeptical Minds were extremely busy during 2011. They released their new album Skepticalized, their first studio album with Karolina Pacan on vocals. Also, the band fed our appetite by the release of their first DVD, which was filmed at MFVF 2011, along with their first comic book (illustrated by Alain Poncelet). What else could a “Skeptical” fan ask for? It’s doubtless, Karolina brought some “fresh air” with her arrival in the band. The only thing I have to say is: Go, Spartans, go!”

And that’s our look back on 2011 as well as a forward glance at this year. We hope you’re as excited about 2012 as we are! In fact, we’d love to hear what about your favorite 2011 albums as well as your most anticipated 2012 releases. Let us know by posting on our Facebook page – we’d love to hear from you!

As always, we welcome any ideas our readers may have for the Sonic Choir section of the Zine. You can send your suggestions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or post them on Facebook.

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