Browsing Tag

Rock Opera

Roaring Through History: Solemn Pledge’s Latest Rock Opera Salutes Marlene Dietrich

In a world frequently captured by the ephemeral allure of modern pop, Solemn Pledge’s latest single, Roaring Berlin, from their ninth rock opera concept album, is a formidable monument to enduring artistry. Maria Genevieve Elia and Michael Justin Lee, together as Solemn Pledge, dive deep into the historical decadence of Berlin, echoing the vibrant, tumultuous youth of German-born movie star and celebrated war hero, Marlene Dietrich.

Roaring Berlin is a narrative powerhouse draped in the rich, robust textures of hard rock and cabaret glamour. The single serves as an opening act to a saga that traverses the starlet’s passionate ambition and unyielding ardour, qualities mirrored in the duo’s vocal performance and musical composition. The track swells with cinematic choruses and soaring guitar solos, which adeptly encapsulate Dietrich’s lofty aspirations and the grandeur of her era.

Throughout, Solemn Pledge achieves a rare balance, infusing their sound with rock-striped opulence while avoiding the pitfalls of pretension. Each element—from the poignant lyrics to the meticulously crafted instrumental arrangements—resonates with the authenticity and complexity of Dietrich’s own life journey.

Solemn Pledge not only celebrates but also embodies the spirit of Marlene Dietrich, making “Roaring Berlin” an essential listen for fans of rock operas and compelling historical narratives.

Stream Roaring Berlin on YouTube now.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Master Splinter – Ronin (Cross the Sea): An Alt-Rock Allegory for Resilience and Hope

We have always expected the unexpected with Master Splinter, and still, they managed to catch us off-guard with their evocatively expansive, melodically compelling latest alt-rock single, Ronin (Cross the Sea).

Even though they’ve stayed consistent in their tendency to use fantasy tales as conduits for emotional expression, beyond the histrionics in the vocal performance, the tale of the story unravels as a heart-wrenching allegory for emotional upheaval and hard-fought battles which leave you depleted and raw.

The instrumental builds and breaks decorate the grungy hit with a sense of furore that serves to amplify the lyrical messages of resilience in the face of almost certain destruction. Tune into the release and lock into an experimentally sludgy rock opera that delivers a message of hope.

In an era when optimism can all too easily feel like the outlook of the naïve, there are profound lessons to take from Ronin (Cross the Sea). But the biggest takeaway is that Master Splinter, with this newfound vulnerability, is one of the best alt-rock outfits to follow in 2024.

In Master Splinter’s own words:

“The story is about a samurai who is in a losing battle and his master is killed. When a samurai is without a master, he becomes “ronin”, which in Japanese vaguely translates to something like “lost warrior”. The land he called home is overtaken by enemies and forced to flee, he takes to the sea. He lands on an unfamiliar shore and sees that this land is also stricken with war. He does the only thing he knows how and joins in the fight against the invaders. The warrior is gravely injured and falls to the ground, accepting his fate and loses consciousness. But, when he awakens, he discovers that he’s been nursed back to health by a mysterious man who becomes his new master and grants him a magical katana that the warrior wields with newfound strength. The story ends ambiguously but is meant to express triumph.”

Ronin (Cross the Sea) will hit the airwaves and exhibit a softer side to the Portland-hailing psychedelic Senseis on March 1st. Stream the single on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Get ready to rock (opera) with the standout single from Solemn Pledge’s latest concept EP, Hollywood Dreams

A starlet sleeps in ‘Hollywood Dreams’ in the standout rock opera number from Solemn Pledge’s latest concept EP, Anna May Wong: A Screen Icon Story.

There are few things as visceral as the passion that drives us to reach the heights we are born to ascend to; the anthemic orchestration which emanates determination by the cinematic smorgasbord is one of the few exceptions as the NY outfit pays a fittingly strident ode to Hollywood’s first Chinese-American star.

Right from the opening instrumental sequence, you will be catapulted in the captivating hit which puts the guitars in overdrive to give them a fighting chance to dominate the soundscape with Maria Genevieve Elia’s commanding vocal lines which will blindside you with their three-and-a-half octave range.

After the previous EP, which touched on the history of Joan of Arc, we can’t wait to hear the ground Solemn Pledge choose to storm across with their next.

Stream Hollywood Dreams with the rest of the concept EP which dropped on October 20 by heading to Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

History battle cries in Solemn Pledge’s concept EP, Joan of Arc: Savior of France

There are concept EPs, and there are hair-raising sonic manifestos where history battle cries and culture breathes; the recently released EP, Joan of Arc: Savior of France, from Solemn Pledge is at the vanguard in the latter camp.

No matter how much time stands between the legacy of Joan of Arc and our present-day epoch, her trailblazing tale will always leave the imagination alight, as definitively proven by the rock opera retelling from the duo comprising Genevieve Elia and Michael Justin Lee.

In the standout single, To Free France, the classic Iron Maiden-esque rock tones lend themselves viscerally well to the narration of the wrath of Joan of Arc. Elia’s dynamic vocal range effortlessly encapsulates the sheer hell-hath-no-fury resilience of the feminist icon who is revered as one of France’s greatest military heroes, despite her age, gender, and discernible lack of military training.

Stream Joan of Arc: Saviour of France on Spotify now.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Escape down the rabbit hole with In Search Of’s symphonic rock opera single, Tea Party

If you thought that Tim Burton’s take on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland was surreal, brace yourself before going down the rabbit hole with the chiptune/symphonic rock opera of an LP, Alice and the Wonderland, by the aural eccentrics, In Search Of.

With symphonic scores that stampede in the same vein as FalKKonE, hyper pop hooks and a little bit of honkytonk flair for good measure, the standout single, Tea Party, is pure exhilarant insanity.

The Tale of In Search Of becomes all the more endearing upon learning the LA-hailing duo is a father and daughter duo, comprising Michael Raitzin and his daughter, Michelle Ray, who has accumulated over 3.5 million streams on Spotify with her velveteen vocal lines and ability to spin a story so viscerally that In Search Of reach the pinnacle of escapism music.

In our dystopic new reality where madness is a sure sign of sanity, there has never been a better time to jump on the hype of the peddlers of obscurity, In Search Of.

Stream the debut LP from In Search Of on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Fly Away to Neverland with Solemn Pledge’s Stunning Rock Opera

Michael Justin Lee and Maria Elia, together known as the band “Solemn Pledge,” have created a stunning adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s classic tale with their rock opera, “Peter Pan.” With its modern sound and captivating vocal performances, “Peter Pan” is a musical journey that is both faithful to the original story and innovative in its approach.

Maria Elia’s voice is the centerpiece of the production, and her performances are nothing short of outstanding. She brings a raw, emotional power to every song, infusing each lyric with a sense of urgency and intensity. Her vocal range is impressive, and she effortlessly transitions between soft, delicate passages and full-throated belting. Elia’s standout tracks include “Wendy’s Nessun Dorma” a seductive ballad that showcases her sultry lower register, and “To Neverland,” a rollicking anthem that allows her to cut loose and let her voice soar.

But Elia is not the only star of “Peter Pan.” Lee’s instrumental arrangements are equally impressive, and they provide a driving energy that propels the story forward. The guitar riffs are electrifying, the drumming is thunderous, and the basslines are infectious. The opening number, “Welcome to Neverland,” sets the tone for the rest of the show with its upbeat tempo and catchy hooks.

What makes “Peter Pan” such a remarkable production, however, is how well it captures the spirit of Barrie’s original story. Lee and Elia have crafted a musical journey that is both faithful to the source material and innovative in its approach. The story is brought to life in a way that is engaging and emotionally resonant, and listeners will find themselves swept up in the adventure and wonder of Neverland.

Overall, “Peter Pan” is a triumph of musical storytelling. With its exceptional instrumental arrangements, stellar vocal performances, and faithful adaptation of the source material, it is a must-listen for fans of musical theater and rock music alike. The partnership between Michael Justin Lee and Maria Elia, known as Solemn Pledge, is a powerhouse collaboration that has produced an enchanting and unforgettable experience.

Alt-rock thespian Lucifers Beard worked his histrionic magic in the conceptual sequel single, Lady Loser

After we rolled with the punches in Lucifers Beard’s single, The Guy with a Black Eye, we’re stoked to sink our teeth into the conceptual follow-up, Lady Loser, which takes place years after the antihero’s skirmish, where the arrogance has subsided to themes of loss, regret, forgiveness, and hope.

Until the outro, the brashy tumultuousness has been dialled back to give way to the crooned vocals that envelop you over the theatrically psychedelic rock opera-Esque score that still emits electrifying energy, but there’s a remorsefulness spilling from the thespian rock arrangement, mastered by Ed Ripley (NOFX, Frank Turner, Goat Girl).

As the song concludes, after the swan song-ish ensemble, we hear Lucifers Beard’s maniacal charisma get a last burst of juggernautical creativity. It is enough to make you desperate for the story to become a trilogy.

Lady Loser will officially release on December 15th. Hear it on SoundCloud.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Cartoon music group Pios Phantom guides us from sadness to gladness on ‘Is It Si or Is It No’

Fusing in a magnetic blend of brit-pop, pop-punk, power pop, classic rock, country, folk and EDM, Pios Phantom shows us that peace and love is the only thing that we need to be chasing with their fun new single, ‘Is It Si or Is It No‘.

Balarama Clemens Plaum aka Pios Phantom is the founder of this catchy cartoon music group. A Yoga teacher who comes from a small village in Germany, he leads this peaceful group to make that stunning rock opera you can’t help but forget.

My project is a global one. The name pios Phantom comes from rotating the letters OM (love) shanti (peace) pop.” ~ Pios Phantom

Moving us gently away from any negative waters that can sink our mood down into those sad rocks of doom, Pios Phantom are a band that needs to be played loud and proud. They are all about love and flying high like an inspiring dove – to show us where to go – and to stay positive throughout and avoid the carnage that can scrape your skin and cause your shine to burn away in the night.

Is It Si or Is It No‘ from the German-born cartoon music group Pios Phantom, sends us into a better world that has us smiling from ear to ear. This is a track that will have you feeling that everything is going to be okay again, with some soulful vocals and a beat so likeable, that your whole family will be begging you to turn up the volume. Filled with only happy intentions to spread some of that much-needed tenderness, this is a spectacular single to shake off any of those grumpy cobwebs you had previously.

Listen up to this joyful new single on Spotify and see more news via IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

PRESSURE inspect the sands of time in their rock ballad, AM I TOO OLD.


The Stockholm-based powerhouse PRESSURE is set to drop their hard-hitting rock ballad, AM I TOO OLD, which tears through the self-doubt that starts to manifest in our mortal coil when youth has been lost. In true rock opera style, PRESSURE touches on raw issues veraciously while letting the atmosphere consume you in the intensity of the emotion.

I’ve lost count of the people that have come to me with ageism-inspired anxiety in the industry; the truth of the matter is that experience will be a better friend than youth ever was. I mean, you’ve heard of the Rolling Stones, right?

AM I TOO OLD is a stellar track, in every conceivable way. The theatrics of the track will take you right back to the time when we spent far too long thinking about what Meatloaf wouldn’t do for love.

AM I TOO OLD is due for official release on October 15th, 2021. You can hear it for yourself on SoundCloud.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Billy Moffat has released his symphonic masterpiece, Through the Eyes of God, featuring Davie Brockett.

Scottish-born composer Billy Moffat brought plenty of his experience touring the globe with the show, One Night of Queen, to his latest release, Through the Eyes of God, featuring Davie Brockett on guitar.

Starting with dramatic neo-classic keys, there are no hints in the production to warn that the stunning crescendos will soon give way to over-driven scuzzed-up guitar solos that easily match the furore in an Apocalyptica track. Davie Brockett’s searing solos blazon the professional instrumental score with even more virtuosic stripes.

Though the Eyes of God is, quite literally, a jaw-droppingly symphonic masterpiece that will easily leave you ensnared by the sheer nuance and Moffat’s ability to compose a score that will put your rhythmic pulses under instant command.

The orchestral release is now available to stream via SoundCloud.

Review by Amelia