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God Has a Plan for Us All

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Album Review

European heavy metal musicians have long flirted with classical music in their songwriting, but the daunting scale to which Anglo-Swedish project Angtoria aspire to merge the two forms is something altogether more recent, ambitious, and unusual in its success rate. In the year 2006, at least, unquestionable triumphs in this arena can probably still be counted on one's hands, and include acclaimed efforts by Italy's Rhapsody (particularly 1999's Symphony of Enchanted Lands), Holland's After Forever (see 2003's Decipher), and Norway's Dimmu Borgir (whose stunning collaboration with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra on their Death Cult Armageddon opus may represent an all-time benchmark), but perhaps it's time to add Angtoria's 2006 debut, God Has a Plan for Us All, to this exclusive club. Like all of the above, this album's 12 tracks generally observe traditional rock structures, concise song lengths, and immediate pop hooks, while simultaneously providing a seamless integration with layer upon layer of symphonic string arrangements, choral sections, and the like. Also of great interest, is the distinctly restrained performance of frontwoman Sarah Jezebel Deva, who continually contradicts the latter part of her name by fulfilling each song's exact vocal needs in terms of both technique and emotion, yet never resorting to the sort of operatic showboating typical of her truly diva-esque peers — a discipline likely learned during years of backup singing with extreme metal bands (Cradle of Filth, Mortiis, Therion, etc.). Add to that a body of lyrics that's consistently both provocative and thought-provoking (for example, the album's seemingly religious message is instantly demolished by the title track's explicit allusions to godly rape!), plus the gumption to throw in a straight-faced cover of Kylie Minogue's "Confide in Me," and one has a recipe for controversy, as well as finesse — how metal!


Formed: 2001 in England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Angtoria is a heavy metal band that was originally conceived as a purely orchestral project by Swedish multi-instrumentalist and composer Chris Rehn and English vocalist Sarah Jezebel Deva (aka Sarah Jane Ferridge) and whose extensive résumé already included backup singing with major black metal bands like Cradle of Filth, Mortiis, and Therion. Beginning in late 2001, the pair started composing material and already had a well-received demo in hand by the following year; adding second guitarist (and...
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God Has a Plan for Us All, Angtoria
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