Angtoria – God Has a Plan For Us All
So today’s CD is 2006’s ‘God Has a Plan For Us All’ from Angtoria. A band I know very little about as far as their history goes. Given that they were an obscure band during the limited time they were active, there is very little information about them on the internet. The Wikipedia page for them is rather brief, though concise. I figured I’ll just quote it a little bit up front and go on from there:
“Angtoria was a symphonic metal band composed of British singer Sarah Jezebel Deva and Swedish brothers Chris and Tommy Rehn.
Singer Sarah Jezebel Deva – who has also worked with such bands as Therion, Mortiis, and Mystic Circle – joined with the brothers in 2001 to create the band. Their debut album, God Has a Plan For Us All, was released in April 2006. The name Angtoria derives its origin from the title of a song by the band Moahni Moahna where Tommy was a member between 1992-1997.”
I first heard of Angtoria back in 2006 when I learned about them on MySpace. 2006 was the year I discovered the internet for myself. Of course, I had been aware of the internet since I started to go to the Art Institute in 1993, but never really had that much first had access to it until I was 31 yrs old and high-speed internet came into the house I was living in. That is when I discovered MySpace, YouTube, email, Podcast’s, and Limewire. I spent hours every night looking up music videos, news articles telling me how horrible of a person George W Bush was, and porn until 4 AM.
It was during these late-night surfing sprees that I came across Angtoria. I’m not sure how exactly, but I’m assuming I must have been browsing Cradle of Filths MySpace page and they announced the CD’s upcoming release. I was and still a big Cradle of Filth fan, and always loved Sarah’s limited but key contributions to the band’s sound. Though she usually only sang backup on most songs, and only occasionally had a few lead lines on a song or two on each album through her time with the band, I could tell she had an amazing voice, and I always wanted to hear more of her singing. I never understood why she wasn’t featured more or why she was never made a full member of the band. She sang on 15 of COF records, and did every tour during her tenure with the band, yet was never considered a member of the band. I’m sure there is a reason for it, and without knowing any of the people involved or the politics of that band, I’m not going to speculate here.
So needless to say, when I learned that she was actually releasing a record where her vocals were going to be featured, I was interested. I watched the video to the title track, and though is wasn’t quite my flavor of metal, it still got my interest enough to where I wanted to hear more from them.
Turns out that took quite a bit longer than I thought it would. Even though Cradle of Filth is a rather large band in the heavy metal world, they don’t have Metallica or Slayers level of fame. (I bet only a handful of my FB friends have ever heard of them, much less heard them, or like them.) So, when the backup singer and bass player of COF announce they’re releasing a new album together, not very many people are going to care. I looked and looked for this CD for years, and never saw it anywhere. I still was completely ignorant of Amazon at the time and hadn’t discovered the whole downloading entire discography’s yet, so if it didn’t show up in a CD Warehouse, The Exchange or Dave’s music Mine, my chances of finding it were slim. In fact, I didn’t I find it until around 2008 or 2009. Even then it was in the bargain bin at an Exchange for $2.50 and was in a blank jewel case with just the CD and booklet. But I finally had the music, so I was happy.
I don’t claim to have been blown away by the CD, but I did like it and listened to it quite a bit. Musically It’s not that groundbreaking or original. In fact, it sounds exactly like every other symphonic metal record I’ve ever heard. Great musicianship, epic songwriting, with luscious symphonic soundscapes and heavy chugging guitars, with a great female vocalist fronting it. Good stuff, just nothing new as far as the musical landscape is concerned. The only thing that makes this band stand out more for me compared to other bands of this nature is the fact that Sarah Jezebel Deva is singing.
As my personal life took a few major turns in different directions, so did my musical interest. Eventually, I forgot about this band and probably hadn’t listened to the CD in a good 8 years. Until this week that is. In the past four or five days, I have played this CD 3 times while trying to write this review. Each spin I’m reminded how good of a record it really is. I kind of wish they would have lasted longer and put out more records. The project really did have potential. But for whatever reason, that’s not how it worked out. Since the album’s release, the band had a few lineup changes, which resulted in them no longer being able to use the name Angtoria, and as far as I can tell have dissolved completely.
Though a quick browse on Sarah Jezebel Deva’s Wikipedia page it looks like she put out a couple of solo records under her own name. Listening to the first song from ‘A Sign of Sublime’ it sounds like an extension of what she was doing with Angtoria, perhaps a little heavier and closer to Cradle of Filths sound than Angtoria’s. Now that I know it exists I will be exploring this project a little more.
As I’ve said before, I’ve always loved this woman’s voice and hoped that she would have been featured more in every project she’s been involved in. How someone with such a strong voice and vocal range could have just been a backup vocalist all these years blows me away. (Not going to go into the image culture thing here, though there’s probably an argument to be made.) Looking at her discography, it looks like she’s hasn’t recorded with anyone in at least 4 years. The last record I see that she’s credited being on is ‘Virulent Rapture’ by Hecate Enthroned in 2013. So I wonder if she’s even working in music at all anymore. It would be a shame she got out of music altogether because she is truly talented.