Artemisia Belladonna – Sycophantic Song Review
Today we are featuring another promising progressive rock band; ARTEMISIA BELLADONNA, from the USA. We have reviewed their addictive song; Sycophantic, along with its character, style, story, potential and more.
Artemisia Belladonna is a promising melodic/atmospheric progressive rock band I have discovered about a month ago with their captivating debut release; Sycophantic, which was released not long ago as a single in 2020. This song is Artemisia Belladonna’s first and the only song so far in their professional musical careers. After listening to it a few times, I have decided to feature them here on Metalhead Community especially for those who are interested in some old-school hard/progressive rock music. Now, please give it a listen while reading the rest of the article.
As you might also remember from my previous articles, I am a big fan of progressive rock/metal music. My journey of progressive music was started with the legendary Pink Floyd, continued with bands like Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, Riverside, and ended with the ultimate discovery of my life; Opeth. All these pioneers have influenced millions of people from all around the world mostly with their innovative thinking, including me. When I look at this very song in our example, I can easily say that Sycophantic is a very successful piece of work, a promising debut by an up and coming band. They might not be the next big thing after all these amazing bands I have mentioned above, yet they all the right decisions to make a promising beginning to their musical journey with no doubt.
First of all, I can hear that the band has a delicious balance in their music. Artemisia Belladonna haven’t pushed anything too much here. They have only blended their origins with their understanding of music, offered this beautiful piece to the world which immediately reminded me of Riverside. Most of the time, progressive bands are trying to be more progressive, extreme, technical or diverse, and unfortunately missing the actual point; the magic, the musical focus in this process. I know from my experience that this goes on and on for some time now. In my opinion, this was the reason why Dream Theater was so successful back then, and not doing so well lately (comparing their early and late periods). And this was what I liked about Artemisia Belladonna the most; not losing the point while doing something new.
When you listen to Sycophantic carefully, you’ll hear that this song is making the actual difference with its overall feeling, energy flow, and dynamics. I loved the overall atmosphere of it which keeps everything fresh from the beginning to the end. The instrumentation is keeping the dynamics alive and the listener never loses the focus. On the other hand, they are not only showing a character with their ideas but also with the vocalist’s singing style. It might sound unfamiliar or even weird to some people at first, but believe me, this beginning can go somewhere really interesting. Please don’t forget that this is just the debut song of Artemisia Belladonna, and I am very much positive about everything I’ve heard so far.
The technical side of Sycophantic is also talking very positively about the band. First of all, I am happy to hear the old fashioned approach in their understanding of music. I am not against using any electronic/software effects or sounds as long as they have the right balance. Here in our example, everything sounds quite satisfying to me. The instruments sound very well balanced and everything has a beautiful harmony altogether.
When I take all these into account, I’d like to say that I have had a great time listening to Artemisia Belladonna. Sycophantic might not reach enough people, catch enough attention, bring them satisfying feedback, or anything good at all, yet it is still a great debut for a new band without any doubt. I hope the band will find their motives in their hearts rather than listening to what people say and continue making music.
Please go ahead and read the exclusive Artemisia Belladonna interview, follow them on social media from the links below, and subscribe to their channels to show your support!
Artemisia Belladonna – Sycophantic Song Review | Metalhead Community | Heavy Metal Blog | Metal Music Magazine
Q1- Tell us a bit about the band name; Artemisia Belladonna. Where did it come from, what does it stand for?
A1- The name came from one of the song titles. I generated the song title from a relationship I had with one of the dancers I worked with at a strip club. An Italian women who I ended up hitting it off with. A few months later she died of a drug overdose. I often recall her coming into the DJ booth with dilated pupils. Belladonna is a females name meaning beautiful lady in Italian but is also referred to as nightshade, a poisonous flower in the Artemisia genus. Wormwood is also under this genus and is used in Absinthe which I drink during vocal sessions. In Italy during the 16th century women applied eye drops of deadly nightshade because it dilated the pupil, which was thought to make them look beautiful. Artemisia is also a moon goddess in greek mythology as well as the name of the Queen of Halicarnassus 5th century. So the name points to say beautiful, drugged up, poisoned/poisonous, goddess/queen which as a band name refers to all the dancers I worked with over the years. Sometimes I relate it to Artemisia Gentileschi’s painting Judith Beheading Holoferne. The name is multifaceted.
Q2- What can you tell us about the band, and its brief history?
A2- The band started out as a solo project. I wrote a batch of songs and tried to complete them by performing all the instruments. On some songs that would work but other songs needed a different energy to keep from getting stagnant. I decided to send over some tracks to my previous bassist Matt Brotherton to check out. He is currently playing in a band called Visigoth signed to Metal Blade Records so I didn’t know if he had time for a side project. He ended up sending me back some bass tracks and the songs started to evolve nicely so he joined in but I’m basically the side hoe. On the album I used a couple of different drummers. The drum parts were fleshed out during the recording sessions. One of them wants to fill the spot for live shows so when that time comes, that might solidify him as the official drummer.
Q3- About your debut release “Sycophantic” How is the feedback so far?
A3- Overall the majority has been a fairly positive. Everyone has an opinion and a different taste in music so all artists will catch some negativity from those who want to crap all over someone else’s work and we are no exception.
Q4- How was the recording process? Where did you record the album? What were the most challenging factors?
A4- The recording process in itself has been smooth but the shutdown has delayed progress and in turn, testing my patience. I recorded in different locations. Some songs have guitar or vocal tracks that were recorded at my home studio in Jerome, AZ and some were recorded in Phoenix, AZ at Villain Recording with Byron Filson. Matt recorded the bass in Salt Lake City, Utah while the drums were recorded in Montreal and California. My vocals were the most challenging without question. I have always been a guitar player in all my bands so being a vocalist is a first for me. While it’s challenging and takes more effort on my part, it feels satisfying to get behind a mic and belt out. As my previous singer Joe Gregory went off to pursue a solo act, it proved difficult to find a singer with a good voice who could write catchy vocal melodies, interesting lyrical content or even sing with passion and rage. I’m not saying I do an amazing job of it but I couldn’t find anybody to fit the bill so I decided to step up to the plate for better or for worse.
Q5 – What is Sycophantic about? What influenced you the most to write about this subject? And how long it took to write it?
A5- The song was originally written about some of the employees who worked at Puscifer and Caduceus. Some of them acted holier than thou because they worked for Maynard Keenan. They brown nose and suckle up to the tit as if it gave them status or clout to act cunty. It became a trend for some of them to make fun of tourists for being Tool fans even though they were Tool fans themselves and lied about it to get the job. Disingenuous, hypocritical but their pompous attitudes inspired me to start writing the song. Aside from them I’m good friends with some of the employees at both establishments and frequent from time to time. Ultimately when I finished the second verse it was more focused on world crisis so I decided to rewrite the first verse in relation and shift to a deeper meaning. The corruption and crisis going on in the world was also a big influence. Spiritual fakes from Sedona, AZ to Kenneth Copeland, schemes to extort money, pedophile and human trafficking rings run by police, priests, politicians, CPS, to poaching, the 1 percent etc. Call it what you want illuminati or cabal, it’s a world wide crime syndicate now. The song didn’t take long to write. It was one those songs that just poured out in a day or two.
Q6- In an era of singles, you have started your careers with a single as well. Was this intentional/strategical? Is there a big difference between releasing a Single or a Long Play album in your opinion?
A6- It was not strategic. It was just the first song to get finished so I released it prior to the album to generate some awareness. There is a difference between the two and like most things there are pros and cons. A single requires a lot less money and time to put out which is nice but it doesn’t show your stamina or writing capability if you’re a new band. Also doesn’t give the listener additional material to listen to.
Q7- Is there any extra material ready to be recorded or already recorded?
A7- Yes there are 9-10 songs to be released on the album and most of them are finished. Working on the last three.
Q8- What was the actual goal with your debut release? And now what is your next checkpoint as a band?
A8- Unlike previous goals of getting signed I’m not aiming for that or even to break big. Some say rock is dead so part of me wanted to combat that with this album. I’m losing my livelihood, coping with depression and dealing with pent up rage from the past and with how the world is today that I just wanted to release some of that emotion and music is a great outlet for that. My main goal was to leave a piece of me behind as I may not get the chance again and this album will suffice.
Q9- What do you think about the music industry and trending music styles nowadays? And what is your plan to build your own solid fanbase in these circumstances?
A9- The music industry is now quantity over quality. The 90’s was the last decade with strong individuality. 2000’s had some good stuff but that’s when the shift started. 2010 and after really changed. While some new bands I can listen to and appreciate them for what they are, most I’m not moved by. So many bands have similar cliche names, generic melodies, redundant lyrics or appearances that seem like they are trying too hard. It is like they were made in a factory with a stock sound. That goes for many genres. Some might be offend by that statement and sure maybe I’m not doing much better but I try to express without any regard to what others think, what might sell or what labels want to hear even when I know it might limit my success. It’s hard to build a fan base with everyone shoving media in your face, fighting for the limelight, that is the antithesis of what I’m going for and while the fanbase will remain small for it, that is not the point.
Q10 – Could you say this is the Ultimate Artemisia Belladonna style? What can you tell us about the band’s musical direction?
A10- I think the style will always be tied together by a dark element but some songs have vastly different vibes which almost sounds like a different band at times but I like that. I don’t want to be bound by a single style or sound. A couple songs on the album are heavier reminiscent of Pantera/Slipknot but I also did a cover of The Cure which is on the album so the style shifts. I try not to control the music so much in terms of a direction. I let that flow naturally.
Q11- What can you tell us about the band’s short and long term plans for the future?
A11- Short term at this point is just getting this album finished. Promote it some and see where things go. Long term I have 3 albums worth written and would like to get out another album or two in the near future.
Q12 – What makes a music band “Great”, in your opinions?
A12- Chemistry. You don’t always need the most talented people in a room to make a great band but a group of semi talented people who have chemistry and compliment each other make great music.
Q13 – Top 5 albums that influenced Artemisia Belladonna’s music?
A13- I can’t say any albums influenced me this time around. I have not been listening to much music but writing it. I will always have old influences ie Layne Staley, Peter Steel, Jerry Cantrell etc but I will say after I wrote the guitars and vocals for the album I was debating if I should push on and finish them. During that time I came across JINJER which motivated me to keep pushing. That was one of the few bands that struck a chord in me over the past couple years.
Q14 – Lastly, what would you like to say to our readers?
A14- What do you think the chances are of a guy like you and a girl like me ending up together?