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Concert Review: Sonata Arctica w/ Operatika, Sentinel 1/15/06

This was my second show in two nights, following Sanctuary’s Iron Maiden tribute. This one focused on all original music, by some very talented bands.

I got to the club around 7:20, I got my ticket and made my way inside, finding an ideal spot in the center. The spot gives a good view of the stage, while keeping you out of the pit. Anyway, enough of this blather, I am sure you want to hear about the show.

The first band to come on was Sentinel. They are a power metal style act, and they were pretty good. The music was not technically intense, but they were musically tight and generated some heavy riffage; the crowd approves. Part way through their half-hour set, the singer/guitarist stopped to say that this may be one of the last shows they perform – he half jokingly mentioned the possible need for a new singer. I found it rather funny that I was thinking the same thing. The singing was by far the weakest element of their performance; his voice just did not have the presence to lead the two-guitar onslaught that they had. The music was very good. It was hard, it was heavy, it was filled with two guitar leads, solid drumming, and some good bass work. I hope they do continue on, and think of adding a singer to the mix.

After they left the stage, there seemed to be a little confusion as to who was to go on next. I watched as members of Operatika and Metadox were onstage. I later found out that the drummer for Metadox had not shown up yet. This ultimately resulted in them not performing at all. That’s a shame too, as they put on a good show, playing Iron Maiden style metal.

That leads us to the next performance, Operatika. I have seen these guys a few times, and each time they get better, with this performance being their best. As the band warmed up, there were a few snickers as they heard the operatic singing, mixed with a few cheers as the guitarist ripped off some screaming fast leads. The snickers came to an end as they started their set – they blew everyone away. Powerful vocals, fast leads, keyboards to fill everything out, precise drumming, all combine to form a progressive force that I can say I have not heard from anyone else. This is an international affair with a singer and drummer from the Ukraine, a keyboardist from Moscow, and homegrown guitar and bass. They have really grown over the past few years, despite the revolving door at the bass position. They had the entire crowd on their side. They played a mix of new and old material, which I sadly could not distinguish, as I am not yet familiar enough with their songs. I highly recommend seeing this band if you have the chance. They are one of those bands that when you see them, you cannot believe that they are not signed to a label yet, they have a bright future. They also bring an air of theatrics to the stage, with Slava, the singer, wearing a flowing dress, her hair blowing from the fan at the front of the stage, and the guitar player putting on a clinic, not only during their songs, but also through a wild solo piece. I cannot say it enough, this is a band to watch. They played for nearly 40 minutes, and I wish it was longer.

The curtain was brought down as they set the stage up for Sonata Arctica. I must admit something before going any further. Prior to a week ago, I had never heard a single song by the band. My main interest in the show was for Metadox and Operatika, and sadly the former ended up not performing. When I decided to go, I figured it would be worthwhile to hear something from the headlining act, so I picked up Reckoning Night, which turned out to be an excellent album. Anyway, it was just before 10:00 when the band came out to the cheers of the crowd. They started into their set with a song called “Misplaced” and I was instantly hooked. The music was fast, heavy, technically precise, yet still had a great deal of fun embedded in it. They have definitely won a new fan. This is a style of music that does not get much play in America, this melodic metal. It is such a great sound, and Sonata Artica have crafted a perfect example of the genre. They played a 60 minute set, followed by a near 20 minute encore, and they left us all wanting more.

Below is the set list, culled from Sonata Arctica’s forums:
1. Misplaced
2. Blinded No More
3. Full Moon
4. Victoria’s Secret
5. Broken
6. 8th Commandment
7. Last Drop Falls
8. Kingdom For a Heart
9. Weballergy
10. Tallulah
11. My Land
12. Black Sheep
—BREAK—
13. Medley
14. Don’t Say a Word
15. The Cage
16. Vodka

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