On a late Thursday night I made my way over to Trees Dallas to catch a show that was a little different from my usual scene but I have to say I’m happy that I attended this gig. Although I missed the opening act XANDRIA, I was able to catch the Dutch symphonic metal outfit DELAIN. I didn’t bother getting any background info on any of the bands performing because, where’s the fun in that? A little mystique never hurt. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they were fronted by a woman which for me, was a good change of pace to all the screaming and growling that I’m used to.
DELAIN opened the night with a bang starting with “Mother Machine” and “Get the Devil Out of Me”. It was clear to see that crowd was hooked by the amount of energy being displayed that absolutely pumped up the group. “Stardust” quickly caught my attention with the straight forward rocking attack.
Vocalist Charlotte Wessels showed off some crazy range with her elegant voice that suited the music perfectly. I’m somewhat picky when it comes to the use of keyboards, but Martijn Westerholt (formerly of WITHIN TEMPTATION) truly made them fit like a glove which was evident during “Milk and Honey” and the entire set nonetheless!
As the night continued, the audience was still enthralled as they clapped to the beat of “Sleepwalkers Dream” which had some of the heaviest breakdowns of the night accompanied by epileptic strobe lights. One of the most fun songs followed in “The Gathering” which opened with a huge power metal-like triple vocal harmony and also the use of smoke machines added to the intensity of the performance. One thing I noticed was that none of the songs were overly technical but that wasn’t at all necessary to make them stand out. Bassist Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije (try saying that twice) held down the growls on “Pristine” and the set was capped with the infectious “We Are the Others”; an outstanding performance.
Headlining the bill was Finland’s SONATA ARCTICA whom I’ve heard of but never actually listened to; again, it was great to see an unfamiliar group. The first word that came to mind when they commenced was musicianship which describes them without bias. The audience seemed a bit tame but it was clear as to why; they were in awe just watching as the band performed flawlessly. On the opener “The Wolves Die Young”, Pasi Kauppinen’s bass was as prevalent and clear as you would hear on an IRON MAIDEN record, I loved it! A big factor in the diverse set of songs was that they were heavy yet serene; there was a good mix of slower tunes including “Sing in Silence”, “Letter to Dana” and “Love” which was beautifully driven by piano playing.
Some of the highlights for me included Elias Viljanen’s fantastic shredding coupled with many sections of dueling and harmonized soloing on the keytar via Henrik Klingenberg! A fucking keytar! Yes!! This was seen during “Losing My Insanity”, “My Land”, “Black Sheep” and “San Sebastian”. Frontman Tony Kakko had a very raw singing voice and also showed quite a dynamic attack, and by raw I don’t mean raspy or anything just straight up real and non-auto tuned sounding. Not to leave anyone out, first and only skinsman Tommy Portimo laid down the rhythm like no other! His double bass was so precise and unclicked it sounded so natural.
SONATA ARCTICA is currently on tour celebrating 15 years of this incarnation as they went through name and genre changes during their early stages. After doing some research I’ve come to the conclusion that most of my favorite songs performed can be found on the albums Ecliptica and The Collection but they also played a few stand out tracks from their current release Pariah’s Child which you can snag via Nuclear Blast Records. Catch these two acts as well as XANDRIA while they are still in North America!
LIVE REVIEW: JOR-EL
LIVE PHOTOS: WILKINSON IMAGE & DESIGN