Eventually, Arsis came out instead. They were much faster and heavier-hitting than I expected. The only song of theirs that I had any previous impression of was "Forced to Rock," and the impression I got from that was an old school medium paced heavy metal band, not this whirlwind of pummeling guitars and undecipherable lyrics. Some pits formed, especially later in the set, but I was kinda tipsy and not wearing very secure shoes, so I didn't go in :( I just stood there and headbanged instead. I enjoyed their set; the music was energetic and the rolling sound of the guitars was great for headbanging. (S. said they were better the last time he saw them, so they must have been fantastic.) I talked to one of the guitarists later (the one with amazing long curly hair :D ) and he said that they play everything faster live. A great plan, in my opinion.
I didn't enjoy Sonata Arctica's set as much. They used to be one of my favorite bands, but I don't particularly like their new stuff. It's not horrible, it's just not the melodic epicness that they used to put out. (I know, I just trolled In Flames fans in my last review for similar attitudes, but I guess I'm more open-minded about In Flames since I only recently started listening to them.) Sonata still sounded good, and the few old songs they played (ex. "Black Sheep," "Full Moon," "Don't Say a Word") were awesome, every bit as fast and melodic as ten years ago. I spent most of the set in suspense to see which (if any) song from Winterheart's Guild they would play; I won't spoil it, but I will say that sadly, I was disappointed with their choice from that album (so many other epic songs!). There was a clump of people in the middle who pretty much only moved when they played the old songs, and a bunch of people on the right who were jumping and waving the horns for every song - somehow the old and new fans self-segregated :P I guess Sonata did play a decent mix of old and new, and the new songs sounded all right, with some catchy choruses - with the exception of "Cinderblox," which sounded messy and terrible. I liked that they ended with one of their best old songs, "Don't Say a Word." There was an honest to god pit for this song, with 6 or 8 people in it. I hoped the band wouldn't ruin the vibe with an encore of newer songs, and they didn't.
Whee. Hope he's singing something good. (Photo by Steve Wass)
I had a pretty good time at the show, but mainly because Arsis was good, and I got to hang out with some friends and family. Old Sonata fans will have to weigh whether you can stand through half a set of new songs for a few of the oldies. If you really need to hear "Don't Say a Word" live one last time, then go - the rest of the set won't be (too) terrible. If you would rather stay home and listen to all the epic songs on Winterheart's Guild that they won't play, I can't really argue with you.
Next show: Heading up to Pittsburgh to see WINTERSUN with Eluveitie and Varg (not in that order) on 12/19!!!