Artemisia Belladonna - Sycophantic - Song Review & Interview - Progressive Rock from Jerome, Arizona, USA

Artemisia Belladonna - Sycophantic - Song Review & Interview - Progressive Rock from Jerome, Arizona, USA
Artemisia Belladonna - Sycophantic - Song Review & Interview - Progressive Rock from Jerome, Arizona, USA

In this review, we delve into the captivating debut single "Sycophantic" by Artemisia Belladonna, a promising melodic/atmospheric progressive rock band hailing from Jerome, Arizona, USA. Join us as we explore the character, style, story, and potential of this talented group.

Artemisia Belladonna caught my attention about a month ago with their captivating debut release, "Sycophantic." Released as a single in 2020, this song marks the band's first foray into the music industry. After immersing myself in its melodies, I knew I had to feature Artemisia Belladonna in this Metalhead Community article, particularly for those who appreciate old-school hard/progressive rock music. I invite you to listen to the song while reading on.

As you may recall from my previous articles, I hold a deep admiration for progressive rock/metal music. My journey into progressive music began with the legendary Pink Floyd, continued with bands like Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, Riverside, and reached its pinnacle with the life-changing discovery of Opeth. These pioneers have influenced countless individuals worldwide, including myself, with their innovative thinking. Examining "Sycophantic," I can confidently say that it stands as a successful piece of work and a promising debut by an up-and-coming band. While Artemisia Belladonna may not yet match the magnitude of the aforementioned bands, they have made all the right decisions to embark on a promising musical journey.

First and foremost, the band exhibits a delightful balance in their music. Artemisia Belladonna avoids excessive experimentation and instead blends their musical origins with their own unique perspective, resulting in a beautiful composition that immediately brings to mind the spirit of Riverside. In an era where progressive bands often strive to be more extreme, technical, or diverse, sometimes losing sight of the essence of their music, Artemisia Belladonna remains focused and stays true to the core. This dedication to maintaining the musical focus is what I appreciate most about the band.

Upon close listening, "Sycophantic" reveals its true distinction through its overall atmosphere, energy flow, and dynamics. The song sustains a fresh vibe from start to finish, with the instrumentation skillfully maintaining the listener's engagement. Moreover, it is not just the band's ideas that convey character; the vocalist's distinct singing style adds an extra layer of uniqueness. While it may sound unfamiliar or unconventional at first, this distinctive element holds the potential to lead Artemisia Belladonna to intriguing places. Let us not forget that "Sycophantic" represents only the debut song of Artemisia Belladonna, and I hold a strong positive outlook based on everything I have heard thus far.

From a technical standpoint, "Sycophantic" speaks highly of the band. I am pleased to hear their adherence to an old-fashioned approach in their understanding of music. I do not object to the use of electronic/software effects or sounds as long as they are balanced appropriately. In the case of Artemisia Belladonna, every element sounds satisfying, with the instruments maintaining a harmonious blend.

Taking all these factors into account, I can confidently say that I thoroughly enjoyed my time listening to Artemisia Belladonna. While "Sycophantic" may not have reached a wide audience, garnered significant attention, or received extensive feedback, it remains an impressive debut for a band. My hope for Artemisia Belladonna is that they find motivation within their hearts rather than being swayed by external opinions, enabling them to continue their musical journey.

Please proceed to read the exclusive Artemisia Belladonna interview, and be sure to follow them on social media using the links below and subscribe to their channels to show your support!

In conclusion, the Metalhead Community Team extends heartfelt congratulations to Artemisia Belladonna for their remarkable work on "Sycophantic" and wishes them the very best in their future endeavors. You can read our exclusive interview with the band below. Thank you for reading.

Metalhead Community Artemisia Belladonna Interview

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.

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?



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