Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sonata Arctica, Arsis, Yesterday's Saints, Fallen Martyr, Trihexyn, Radamanthys - 12/9/12 at Empire, Springfield, VA

We missed all the local bands at this show, which was too bad, because some of them were decent, one had a cool name and one used to be my friend's brother's band (I'll leave it up to you all to figure out which one's which :P) We actually got there right around the time Yesterday's Saints was supposed to go on, but one of their guitars got stolen and they didn't play.

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!!!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Birthday Massacre, William Control, Aesthetic Perfection, Creature Feature, My Enemy Complete, etc. - 11/29/12 at Empire, Springfield, VA

I didn't realize I could go to this show until the last minute, because I thought my daughter's daycare would be closed on the 30th (the last day of NaNoWriMo) and that I would therefore need this evening for writing. By the time I found out that daycare would actually be open, it was past time to get ready, and so I arrived late and only heard the last 5 seconds of local industrial-hard rock band My Enemy Complete. This was unfortunate for a few reasons - they have started to sound heavier this year, and I thought they were supposed to play a new song which Bilal said would be heavier. (I keep telling him they need to keep up the heavy industrial sound that most of their songs start with, not get all soft once the vocals begin!) Also, I pretty much went to the show just to see MEC and Aesthetic Perfection, so giving up writing time only to miss one of the bands I actually wanted to see was annoying.

The next band on was Creature Feature. They were loud and energetic, but not my type of music - they had a sort of carnival or Nightmare Before Christmas-like sound, with gothically ghastly lyrics when I could understand them (they said one of their songs was based on Poe, and another was an alphabet of different ways to die). It was sort of interesting, but not really worth the lost writing time ;)

Aesthetic Perfection, however, was totally worth it. Heavy, mostly faced paced, with a pounding bass that made me want to stomp all over the floor (although it was pretty crowded, so I could only stomp in place). S, K and I shoved each other around a bit, and there was an actual tiny, 30-second pit during their last song. It was a fun time; I only wish they had been higher on the bill so they could have played longer.

The second slot band, William Control, struck me as a band whose songs (if played at our favorite local goth party Midnight) would be the ones that I danced half-heartedly to while waiting for a faster and heavier song, or danced half-heartedly through the slow uninteresting parts just to be on the floor for the catchy chorus. As in, their songs were mildly interesting and had some good, heavy or catchy parts that made me want to dance, but were overall too slow and soft for my taste. The crowd did not seem to be feeling them nearly as much as Aesthetic Perfection and the vocalist seemed to be getting a bit irritated about it. Near the end of the first song, he suddenly screamed into the mic, making us grimace, and I wondered if that part was supposed to be there or he was just letting off his frustration. He had a very metal looking guitarist who headbanged a lot; the vocalist himself had a poofed up 50's hairdo which made him look rather pompous. Still, they were better than I expected - as I said, something half decent to fill the time between the good stuff ;)

After AP finished, I had waffled a bit about leaving then or staying till the end, but I couldn't resist the temptation of seeing at least a little of The Birthday Massacre. I was not very familiar with them; at some point S had sent me a song, and they seemed good. As it turned out they were, and they were more metal than any of the other bands that played that night. They were also the only act that I saw (besides MEC) that was a full band - the other acts on the tour were two person shows. They use catchy, heavy guitar riffs, which unfortunately disappear during most of the vocals, but the synth and vocals are also quite catchy and upbeat, and most of the choruses include guitars and even some harsh vocals, making them very headbangable. I was enjoying their set, but unfortunately the vocalist injured her knee a few songs in. She tried to keep going, but after a few more songs, the band took a break to assess the severity of the injury and then announced that they could not continue because she needed to go to the hospital.

Even though there were some lame moments - missing almost all of MEC, having to wait through two not as good bands when I could have been writing - I'm still glad I went. I supported the local goth/industrial scene and got to see a few people I haven't seen in a while, and I had a good time dancing to AP and hearing more of The Birthday Massacre. And I did reach 50K (and bake two cakes) on the 30th, so it's all good.

Next show: Sonata Arctica and Arsis, 12/9