I guess you all know that the extent of my fangirlism knows no bounds when it comes to Kelly Sundown Carpenter. So, I sat and wrote a piece about him, a “profile” if you will, just because I can. So, here it goes.
Kelly Sundown is one of the best singers of our time. His vast range, immense talent in phrasing, excellent pitch control and great note selections have secured him a place as a living legend amongst the greatest vocalists in the history of metal.
What makes him even more special is his unsurpassed emotional control. His voice shifts into different guises to match the emotions and layers of thought he expresses. His mastery in inducing emotions turns the technical and complex progressive metal pieces into catchy, melodic, emotional and more importantly, accessible records and has been enabling him to crank out some of the most emotionally touching and deeply heartfelt progressive metal pieces and hard-to-resist, soul-satisfying albums of today.
One could assume that his god-given talent and his love for a very long list of music giants – The Beatles, Black Sabbath, Ronnie James Dio, Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, Sting, Bruce Dickinson, Colin Hay, Rob Halford, Steve Perry, Sam Cooke, just to name a few – are the only reasons for him to be this extremely talented vocalist. Nothing can be farther than the truth.
As is the case with other top musicians, this Houston, Texas born singer hasn’t become who he is the easy way. His childhood, spent constantly on the move, with the absence of a mother in his life made him a solitary man. He had artists, in some cases famous ones, in his extended family and their presence, their example, gave him the precious opportunity to escape through art.
When Kelly was only a child, he was introduced to a new and exciting world, the magic of melody by The Beatles. However, it would take him some time to discover his true home, his life’s passion through the first notes of Black Sabbath he heard for the first time to the darker artistic expressions of masters such as Poe and Dali.
Obviously, his true calling, his home was one of revolution through the wonderful and limitless means of music – in his own words, he makes art “for those who don’t fit, the loners, the rebels and the outcasts.” His time at the famous San Antonio Academy where he was deemed to be both one of the best first year students and one of the absolute worst, after inciting a revolt on his dormitory floor, speaks of this fact.
He lived in a world which tried to make him into something else so it is no surprise that Kelly’s favourite quote is the eloquent words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Surely makes one think Kelly is acquainted to challenges in his life and knows how to turn them into strengths for himself.
Of course, his accomplishments did not stop there. His talent grew through his hard work making him a more aggressive, multi-layered, and more versatile vocalist every passing day. His track record grew in parallel becoming more ambitious and more successful. He took advantage of a throng of guitar wizardry, killer rhythms and pure genius song writing skills with Beyond Twilight’s “Section X”, Outworld’s “Outworld”, and Darkology’s “Altered Reflections” all of which have achieved great success around the World.
Kelly showcases a jaw dropping transition from low notes to teeth-rattling high ones in his work with Epysode’s “Obsessions,” the intense and very interesting Belgian project, one of his best efforts in terms of vocal and emotion delivery. On top of his involvement in these highly acclaimed albums, he has been fronting Adagio for a while now and will be recording a new album with them in the very near future. His fantastic range and phenomenal singing drew a lot of metal lovers to these bands and entranced millions with his dark and dramatic vocal style and heavy, emotional flair.
Of special note are the lyrics and concepts of the projects he’s been involved with as they dictate a great deal to the audience. From Orwellian dystopias to supernatural thrillers, his work mirrors his taste in deep and dark artworks such as those of Poe, Orwell, Emerson, King, and Bukowski.
In the words of the creative mastermind behind a long list of brilliant projects such as Ayreon, Arjen Lucassen who is famous for his brilliant vocalist choices, “He’s up there with Jorn (Lande-Ark-Masterplan) and Russell (Allen-Symphony X) and Steve (Lee-Gotthard). I’d love to work with this guy. He can do anything from screams to melodic stuff and ballads, so there’s a guy I definitely want to work with in the future.”
Kelly incessantly works on new music. Since he seems to love amazing his fans with innovations and has already became one of the most sought-after vocalists of the progressive circles, the fans will surely witness his growing brilliance for the years to come as he becomes the heart and soul of many future projects.