Guitarist Eric Strothers and violinist Abigail Stahlschmidt first met in 2012 after both were recruited to participate in some Trans Siberian Orchestra tribute performances, and they soon decided they wanted to form a side project together in a similar vein, which they have called The Merge. Subliminal Intent is the name of their debut EP, and it contains five instrumental songs that bridge together vintage classical themes with hard rock & metal thunder. Joining the duo on the EP is bassist Chris Marsh, drummer Mike Michalkow, and keyboard player Or Matias (who has worked with TSO), and together they have created some very exciting music for any fan of classical metal. Strothers' blazing lead work is the perfect complement to Stahlschmidt's mournful violin on the engaging "So Not a Sonata", while both "Grieg XVI" and "EKN" feature no shortage of alluring melodies and sizzling instrumental interplay. "Habanera" throws in some gypsy jazz flavors, as Abby's wispy violin darts in and out of the mix before Eric replicates the same lines on his electric guitar, accompanied by tender piano courtesy of Matias. Closing with "Moonlight Sonata", the band shows off their classical side, led by Abby's gorgeous violin lines.
At roughly 20 minutes of music, Subliminal Intent is brief yet highly enjoyable, but you'll be left wanting more. Let's hope we see these talented musicians create some magic together once again in the not too distant future. In the meantime, also check out Stahlschmidt's guest appearance on the latest solo release from TSO/Savatage guitarist Chris Caffery, Your Heaven is Real.
So Not a Sonata