Melissa Moore was fired from Texas black metallers Absu in 2017. When she came out as transgender to her bandmates, she figured she would have their support in this most vulnerable moment of her life. Instead, every member of Absu but one shunned her. Moore was dismissed via text message under the claim she had “fired herself” with “her decision.”
Undeterred by the collapse of Absu, Moore and Absu touring drummer Grzesiek Czapla (the lone member of the band who supported her transition) set in motion to activate Sonja, a project they started in 2014. Bassist Ben Brand eventually joined the fold, cementing a three-piece lineup that eschews traditional subgenres for a nuanced, hook-laden, passionate and powerful display of heavy rock/metal on their first full-length and Cruz Del Sur Music debut, Loud Arriver.
Loud Arriver was recorded in 2019 at Creep Recording Studio in Philadelphia with Dan Kishbaugh. Its vocals were tracked in 2020 at the same studio but with acclaimed producer Arthur Rizk (Cavalera Conspiracy, Enforced, Kreator). Loud Arriver marks the first time that Moore has released a full-length album in ten years and also marks her debut as lead vocalist. It is a cathartic event for Moore: A lot of the music she wrote in that period is now lost due to the adverse circumstances surrounding her gender, but Sonja forged ahead. The global pandemic exacerbated the wait to release Loud Arriver but allowed Moore and her bandmates to put additional energy into the album under the concept of “go big or go home.”
Indeed, Loud Arriver is stacked with big, anthemic songs fitting Moore’s impassioned vocal delivery and punctuating guitar work. Through the deft use of minor, melodic-minor and harmonic keys, Moore’s guitar-playing channels an atmosphere of urgency and abandon, reflecting the tumultuous period of her transition where hostility and fear greeted her at every corner. Moore’s lyrics delve further into these topics, addressing the period she lived her life in secret and self-suppression that led to sorrow and dissociation. And her lyrics also touch upon her desire to retaliate upon those who threaten her very existence for being transgender.
Loud Arriver is the result of the intense and demanding vision the members of Sonja had from the day they started. It is the embodiment of true metal and rock ‘n’ roll with nothing held back. It is only fitting, then, that Moore establishes Sonja’s mission statement: “We aren’t interlopers. We’ve been here all along. Now that we have passed step one, we are locked and loaded and have a massive kingdom to overthrow.”
1. When The Candle Burns Low…
2. Nylon Nights
3. Pink Fog
4. Wanting Me Dead
5. Fuck, Then Die
6. Daughter of the Morning Star
7. Moans From the Chapel
8. Loud Arriver
GENRE: Heavy Metal