Aria Flame: Symphonic Metal from Michigan
Formed in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2011, Aria Flame rose from the ashes of the now defunct progressive metal outfit, Dendura. The brainchild of lead singer Aziza Poggi, the band picked up where Dendura left off and allowed for several of its members to continue on together, but with a symphonic sound instead.
Though Dendura split up due to financial troubles, partly due to their record label folding and some of the members burning out on performing, those who went on to form Aria Flame weren’t yet finished. And though only Poggi and drummer Erik Sales remain from the Dendura era, the band has carried on through the years despite lineup changes and the struggle of starting from scratch.
“It really helped me get Aria Flame going because people remembered Dendura,” says Poggi, who likens Aria Flame’s easier than expected startup to the former’s string of national success. Regardless, Aria Flame isn’t riding the coattails of Dendura and has had its share of troubles over the years.
“It’s mostly just financing. We all have jobs. We don’t do this full time. It’s just when you’re funding an album and trying to buy merchandise, it’s tough unless you have a campaign fund, which we’ll be doing,” says Poggi in regards to the main challenge for Aria Flame. Of course, lineup changes have halted the band’s progress keeping the band from releasing their debut extended play ‘A World of Silence’ until 2014. Fortunately, things have calmed down for the band in the way of the lineup, particularly in the somewhat rocky keyboardist position with their fourth keyboardist, Joop de Rooij, a native of the Netherlands.
Though they’re an American band with a member an ocean away, Aria Flame feels that de Rooij has been the best addition to the band yet, for although he can’t make every show, he has provided the band with his backing tracks allowing for the band to keep their music tight and precise when onstage without him.
“After Alicia left we got Joop and I’m pretty sure he’s here to stay,” says Poggi with a laugh, while crediting Kassandra Novell of Mercy Isle for leading him to them, for de Rooij is a member of that band as well.
As for the music of Aria Flame, the band is inspired many bands and musicians including Tarja, Nightwish, Epica, Queensryche, Ozzy, Trans Siberian Orchestra, Danny Elfman, After Forever, and Judas Priest.
“It’s all over the place, really,” Poggi jokes, but this seemingly random mixture of influences is what helped mold Aria Flame’s unique sound. Well, that and Poggi’s lyrics.
“I have so many weird stories that happened growing up. My very first boyfriend killed himself, not because of me, but because he was just very depressed. Basically, I had so many weird things happen to me,” says Poggi, which includes being kidnapped, a car crash, and a rocky career as an actress. “I basically just used every little story in my life and formed lyrics out of that. I could tell ya, every song has a story behind it, but there’s also fantasy involved.”
It’s been almost two years since the band released their debut EP, and though they have unleashed many videos for their fans to sink their teeth into, fans are wondering what’s going on with their next effort. Fortunately, Aria Flame is in the process of their follow up record, but the album is likely going to take up much of the band’s free time this year.
“We’re going to be recording. We’re mostly just going to be getting the album done for late 2016, hopefully Christmas time. We have a few more songs to write,” says Poggi, but the band isn’t going to skip 2016 altogether. The band does have a few shows planned for the summer as well as a major video project involving their debut EP.
“We’re also making music videos. I was fortunate meet a great director while I was acting, so we’re going to take every song from our debut EP and make them into a music video.”
With the costs associated with recording an album and turning an entire extended play into a series of music videos, the band will be pretty tapped out on cash meaning no major touring until at least 2017. Considering how much work the band has cut out for themselves this year it’s probably for the best.
“It takes a toll on your body. If you’re going to be a touring band, it works better for a person in their 20’s,” says Poggi in regards to touring. “There were times that I was just dead, dead tired and I thought, oh my gosh, how am I going to make it through this show?”
With few shows to support their endeavors, the band has planned ahead and will be launching an Indiegogo campaign to help fund the album. After all, an album can cost thousands of dollars and when you don’t have a major record label backing you up, it’s almost impossible to get a record done without breaking the bank. Of course, the band has a line of enticing incentives planned for contributors. As for the album itself, the band has a few surprises in store.
“The lyrical content is becoming more inspirational for this one,” says Poggi, who also describes the album as a concept album carrying on the story of their character, Phoenix. “You can listen to them out of order. It’s not going to affect you at all, but yes, it is a concept album. It’s another shift that our character, Phoenix, has gone through.”
So far, the band hasn’t talked much about the new material, but they did debut a new track entitled ‘The Flame,’ which is by far their most inspirational track yet.
“That song is really about fighting the negative person in your head. I believe everyone is fighting those things sometimes. I’ve been both. I’ve been negative, I’ve been positive, but the flame song is about fighting that negative person on your shoulder talking in your ear and listening to the positive person in your brain. So the song is really about listening your positive side.”
As for the band’s stage show, Poggi’s experience as an actress and her self-described outspoken nature play directly into the band’s favor.
“Because I had an acting background I work that into my stage show. I can’t help it. I do a bit of belly dancing, I get real animated. Nothing is really planned. It’s really about how I feel.”
Being that her onstage persona isn’t planned, Poggi’s stage presence feeds off of the crowd and their enjoyment of the show.
“I love it when I see the fists pumping or they’re head banging with us. When they just stand still it makes me feel like I’m not engaging them enough. If I worry about that too much it takes away my stage persona.”
Given Aziza Poggi’s affinity for out of the norm antics, Aria Flame isn’t likely to bore fans at a show. But as already stated, the band won’t be touring for a while, so the next best thing is to tune into one of their videos and hopefully catch word of an upcoming Aria Flame show in your area soon.