Monday, December 10, 2012

Sonata Arctica's power play

Even as metal mutates, it never totally lets go of the past, which means there will always be room for Sonata Arctica and bands like it playing a melodic, dramatic strain of power metal rooted in the glory days of the 1970s.

Not that Sonata Arctica sounded dated when it brought its current tour in support of “Stones Grow Her Name” to the Palladium in Worcester, MA, on Friday, Dec. 7. Quite the opposite, actually, as the show proved that with decent material and musicianship on the level that Sonata Arctica works at, this strain of metal didn’t die when the Scorpions went limp.

Melodic death troupe Arsis is part of the Sonata tour and brutal thrash band Black Trip from Boston opened the show which played out to a few hundred head bangers.

Sonata Arctica leaned heavily on new material, turning “Shitload of Money” “Losing My Insanity” and “I Have a Right” into highlights of the show.

The opening “Only the Broken Hearts” likewise came from “Stones Grow Her Name” and made for a thunderous start. Singer Tony Kakko moved with equal ease through the harder (“The Gun”) and moodier (“Last Amazing Grays”) elements of the band’s songbook.

Guitarist Elias Viljanen and keyboard player Henrik Klingenberg supplied the necessary grandeur and sweep_ both in solos and through the ensemble playing_  to sell the epic.

Sonata Arctica covered a lot of ground during its 90-minute show, with the Finns revealing humor and heart in their work.

Arsis, on the other hand, went straight in for a bashing. The band plays with a punk-like abandon, but “The Face of My Innocence" showed how Arsis could stretch out with a precise, focused delivery too. Definitely root out “Leper’s Caress,” the band’s new free EP from which singer James Malone rasped “Carve My Cross” during Arsis’ too-brief set.

Black Trip played a relentless show, chugging through 20 minutes of material before taking a break to introduce its namesake song. Singer and guitarist Gennaro Ammendola provided dark, brooding counter point to guitarist Ben Levin’s frenetic playing. Drummer Jeff Hale triggered the seamless transitions amid crazed, shattered rhythm patterns he created with bassist Trevor McCabe.  Black Trip’s tunes split the difference of what the touring bands offered, as the local outfit’s sound was harsh and confrontational like Arsis’ tunes but lyrically looked outward like Sonata Arctica’s material.

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