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The beginning

It all started in the early nineties. Guitarist Gerton Leijdekker played in band called Summoning the Muse together with lead vocalist Linda Anthony, backing vocalist Hilda Hannema, drummer Anton Leijdekker, and bass-player Marco Strikkers. Still looking for an identity, both musical as personal, bass player Marco Strikkers was replaced by Peter H. Boer and vocalist Hilda Hannema was replaced by Esther Ladiges. It was at this time that the name of the band changed into Songs Of The Exile. So, originally the band was not a trio but a quintet!

Still not happy, it was a couple of month later that the other two original members also decided to leave the band. Lead vocalist Linda Anthony simply left and drummer Anton Leijdekker was replaced by Menno de Vries.

Gerton, Peter, and Menno found out that they shared the same common inspiration in the form of the Canadian progressive rock band Rush and decided that they also wanted to play progressive rock and that they wanted to that as a power trio. Backing vocalist Esther Ladiges was kindly requested to leave the band and it was guitarist Gerton Leijdekker that took up the all the vocal parts.

Left over's from this era can still be found on S.O.T.E.'s first two albums (1993: Songs Of The Exile and 1995: And about time), where several songs mention former band members as lyricists and/or co-writers. Apparently these songs already existed in some other form before they reincarnated into the well known progressive rock variations.

Anton Leijdekker and Marco Strikkers still play together in the band Herb's Excellent Adventure together with Patrick Oxsener (vocals) and Danny Rosendahl (guitars).
Esther Ladiges is now the lead vocalist of the band Illumion together with Eveline van Kampen (guitars), Tom Rutgers (drums), Peter H. Boer (bass), and Gerton Leijdekker (synths & guitars). Recognize some familiar names? Tom Rutgers plays orchestral percussion on the S.O.T.E. new album, and Peter and Gerton... oh well.

First albums as a power trio

musicians with a wide variety of musical tastes (Yes, Frank Zappa, Allan Holdsworth, Richard Wagner, Terry Bozzio, Gustav Mahler, Dream Theater, Steve Vai, Thelonious Monk, Queen, Saga, etc.), but with a shared love for the Canadian band Rush. Possessing a drive to create a 5-song titles demo was made, consisting of only originals. This demo was very well received locally. The following year "And About Time" was released as demo. This time consisting of 6 songs filling a full hour. Again this demo was very well received locally, which inspired S.O.T.E. enough to return to the writing stage and create new songs. S.O.T.E. is progressive, in the literal sense. The result can be found in the compositions by the varied mix of hard and soft, wide and close, dense and open, small and bombastic, in which the song and melody play a leading part. The power-trio concept gives this a very specific twist, resulting in a recognisable and one of a kind sound. The use of 'extended range' instruments, like bariton-guitar, 6 string bass-guitar and Stick, with added guitar, pad and pedal-synths, enriches the sound canvas to far outside that of a normal power-trio. Symphonic hardrock/Progressive metal/Vocal power-fusion, whatever. S.O.T.E. is hard to categorise. After many technical recording challenges (digital) "Time Re-arranged" is shown to the world. As an independent release, the CD opens with an epos clocking in over 23 minutes followed by 5 other songs, amongst which 2 instrumentals. The Dutch Prog. press is raving about "Time Re-arranged", but more important still is the fact that the French label Musea Records is interested enough in Songs of the Exile to distribute the album, and furthermore offer to release the next album on the Musea Label. Two years of writing and recording gives birth to the concept album "Time to End". This time containing 10 shorter songs making 1 story. Before the album is released, Menno de Vries decides to trade in his place behind the drumkit to pursue his love for jazz. A replacement is quickly found in the conservatory-student Emile Boellaard. Emile arrives just in time to add some backing vocals to the album. After some more months waiting for an opening in the release schedule of Musea Records, "Time to End" is released in the autumn of 2003. What follows is a mountain of praising reviews. Independent review sites in the Internet as well as the Dutch written press make themselves heard, and how!: "and the comparisons to the big names (Dream Theater's Scenes of a Memory, Queensryche, Rush (A Farewell to Kings), Peter Hammill , Pink Floyd) are a clue to the class that this, by Leijdekker and Boer produced, work radiates" (iO pages) "Musically S.O.T.E. has their things perfectly together. The sinister mood of the songs seamlessly attach to the lyrics" (Aardschok) "But if you like progressive rock this album is a must" (Background Magazine) The fourth album (third CD) has just been released on Musea Records again. “Reasons” is returning somewhat more to the roots of the power-trio concept (guitar riffs, bass grooves, and power drums), and it contains 13 songs spanning over 78 minutes. Again it will be in the form of a concept album and again the lyrics will breath the typical dark and sarcastic S.O.T.E. atmosphere. The first reviews are trickling in: " S.O.T.E. is a good pick for the Muséa label." (Cosmosmusic) "A dark progressive rock album with which S.O.T.E., despite some points of critique, is moving in the top circles of the Dutch in this genre." (iO Pages)