Sonja – Loud Arriver [Things You Might Have Missed 2022]

Normally these things we missed are because we didn’t get promo and stumbled upon the album post-release. Not so in the case of Loud Arriver, Sonja’s debut album. This one sat in the promo bin unnoticed for all of September, and it wasn’t until I read some flattering press about the album that I dove in. Thank god I did because this little gem delivers a delicious knockout punch. You probably all know the story, but just in case: Sonja is a revived project led by Melissa Moore, who was unceremoniously dumped from black metal outfit Absu back in 2017 when she told them she was transgender. Sonja had been dormant since 2014, but this despicable act prompted Moore to get things going again, and she and her two new bandmates began the recording process for Loud Arriver in 2019.

Joined by bassist Ben Brand and drummer Grzesiek Czapla (Absu’s touring drummer, and the lone member to support Moore), Sonja more or less wrapped Loud Arriver two years ago, but the pandemic-related release delay was worth it. Not since Idle Hands’ (now Unto Others) Mana has an album displayed such urgency and  vitality. There are some albums where it takes less than a minute of the first song to know you’re listening to something special. Cult of Luna’s The Long Road North and Disillusion’s Ayam are perfect examples of that, and Sonja nail it as well with “When the Candle Burns Low…” A wonderfully hypnotic intro leads into one of the most electric songs of the year, and the first of an overabundance of riffs. “Nylon Nights,” the first single issued, is a killer metal tune with gothic overtones.

Vocals are raw, and Moore’s technical deficiencies at the mic are slathered in reverb. For some this may be a detriment, to others the fierce emotion on display adds to the album’s charisma. I fall in the latter camp. The cavernous reverb makes the lyrics hard to catch at times. Hopefully on their next album Moore will have more confidence in her voice. Other than that, Loud Arriver is an amazing album. What Moore may lack vocally is more than made up for with her incredible guitar work. Brand and Czapla attack every song with unbounded enthusiasm. There isn’t a moment on Loud Arriver that I want to skip over, and there are enough changeups to keep listeners fully engrossed.

Loud Arriver, with its plethora of hooks and melodies, driving rhythms, and Moore’s raw vocals, comes across as a very cathartic album, which makes perfect sense based on what she’s been through. Revenge might be a dish best served cold, but in the case of Loud Arriver Moore and her bandmates have dropped one of the hottest albums of the year. I can’t think of a better way to deliver a middle finger to jackass ex-bandmates than releasing a killer album. Way to go, Sonja. I can’t wait to hear what comes next.

Tracks to Check Out: “Pink Fog,” “Loud Arriver,” “When the Candle Burns Low…”

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