Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

November 22, 2010

Sarah Jezebel Deva ~ A Sign Of Sublime

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Style: symphonic rock, heavy metal, progressive, black metal, gothic metal, British
Label: Candlelight Records
Year: 2010
Home: England

Members: Sarah Jezebel Deva ~ vocals
Dave Pybus ~ bass
Martin Powell ~ keyboards/guitars
Max Blumos ~ drums

A far moodier & in some ways more elegant musical outing than one might expect considering that SJD made a reputation for herself as a backing vocalist for the not so elegant black metal mayhemers Cradle of Filth for almost a decade. This is not Filth but the influence is here via thrashing guitars (for example "A Sign Of Sublime", "She Stands Like Stone"), plus a touch of Nightwish, though Deva doesn't have the vocal pipes of operatic Tarja Tarunen while it's nearly impossible for any symphonic metal not to owe a debt to these Finnish groundbreakers, touched off by old fashioned Rasputina-esque goth (i.e. "A Newborn Failure") for good measure & some unexpected classically-tainted elegance. The album features distorted metal guitars against a foundation of symphonic keyboards that sometimes overpowers SJD making her seem more like another layer in the mix than the featured musician. Ironically, for a singer this isn't a sing-along album not helped by lyrics which hit & miss memorable. Albeit, black metal isn't exactly culling from the textbook of Bob Dylan. But, when the vocals are not lost one can clearly pick out the full range of SJD's unique vocal style, made most recognizable from her often haunting phrasing (i.e. "She Stands Like Stone"). Creating an intermission in the 40 minute album, which goes by too fast, is the unexpected highlight "The Devil's Opera" which just barely works against the odds stacked against it. SJD attempts to create exactly what the title implies but in five minutes. Though, attempts is the key because it's more a keyboard only tour of quasi-cliched symphonic phrases & moods of the classical world of mephistopheles than an opera due to a whispering vocal line that comes & goes with no story like in a real opera. I found myself reminded of the similiar forays by Trans-Siberian Orchestra though they are never as dark & are far more wordy like this should be. "The Devil's Opera" is SJD trying to show us she can create something other than what we're expecting & is an experiment that is both welcome & fairly successful ... albeit, successful as an intermission more than anything. One memoriable highlight is "They Called Her Lady Tyranny" which reminds me of Rasputina vocally but with Cradle-esque guitars. If there's such a thing as Renaissance inspired metal this is it. Without question A Sign Of Sublime is clearly black metal & proves that one doesn't need six strings to create a dark mood nor does black metal need to be soulless nor with incoherent vocals. The album ends, excluding a bonus cover of Meredith Brooke's "Bitch", with the soft acoustically accented & keyboard heavy "A Newborn Failure" before going into the standout of the album "Daddy's Not Coming Home" that is unlike anything that came before & is the strongest musically & lyrically. It screams out to be the single, though it probably won't be.


  1. Thank you for the review, I was always a fan of Sarah in her time with COF, and I always felt she was under used, and insulted when they chose the skinny female to replace her in the nymphetamine video. This album is one of my recent favorites and can't wait for the 2nd album.

  2. Thanks. I had the opportunity to see Cradle of Filth With Sara some years ago. I must confess I often feel sorry for keyboardists - they're stuck in the back behind a non-moving instrument, often doing backing vocals & playing lines that you can't hear above the other instruments. There are bands that give keyboardists a dominate role but I didn't get that feeling here. I was pleased to see Sara break out & let us actually let us hear her & not just see this person in the shadows.