31 January 2006 - at Star Central - COLUMBIA HEIGHTS

- Minnesota - 



sonataarctica_minnesota_2006_06.jpg (53493 Byte)








review by Matthew Haumschild

photos © by Dustin Gottlieb

The public use of these photos  is strictly prohibited without written permission




I didn’t know quite what to expect really. Until January 31st, I had only attended four other concerts where a power-metal band would be playing. The first, was Jag Panzer, back in 2003 I think, it was eons ago when they were opening for Iced Earth and In Flames. The second was Blind Guardian also in 2003. The third, Iced Earth in 2004, and Stratovarious last September. But whatever you do, don’t call it “Power-Metal.” I was given a stern talking to at the show, it turns that “power metal fans” prefer to call it “Prog” for “Progressive Metal.” Although that’s what everyone was calling it that night, I wouldn’t call it Prog, it was too heavy. To me Prog is bands like Dream Theater, Yes, and Spock's Beard.
            Anyway, I had no idea what to expect, although I must say, every time I saw a power-metal band I always ended up liking them. This time I was a little concerned. I checked out Sonata on their myspace.com site to see what they sounded like…didn’t like them at all. But I was determined to review them anyway!


VISIDEON       visideon               http://www.myspace.com/visideon 
            The first band of the evening was a local band called “Visideon.” I usually have my head to ground here to see which local bands sound good. I thought I knew the few that play out. I had no idea who this band was because they never play out. The name didn’t encourage me to stick around, but I gave them a shot anyway. For what it seemed like an eternity, their opening track was an instrumental. I didn’t know whom there singer was, I just figured he or she was at the side of the stage and was going to pop out momentarily. But, after waiting six minutes the keyboard player/singer starts singing. Kat, is her name, was wearing a headset while she was singing and playing her keyboards. I have never seen this, but I had always wondered what those headset-mics sounded like. I had my answer, they sounded like crap. No reflection on her, I’ll get to her sound in a minute, but the headset-mic didn’t have the same quality as a nice Shure Sm-58 mic, which is the standard at every concert from L.A. to Moscow. For me, it was a hard read now; you had a female singer, singing through a crappy microphone. To be honest, I liked the band although they have some image issues. By that I mean, the drummer looked like he was in a punk band, the bass player looked like he hadn’t washed his cloths or hair, the guitar player looked like he should be in another band, he looked too nice, and the keyboard player…well…I dunno. She didn’t look like she was in a band. Usually band members look like they are in a band. They didn’t sound too bad actually. I thought the guitar player’s rig could have been much louder and a little bit dirtier. The bass playing, I could hear but can’t remember very well which is a bad thing. Now, the drumming I actually enjoyed. Justin (drummer) went pretty much all over place in terms of technique. He played like a prog drummer would, playing many fills and varying his beats instead of sounding like an amateur. Which brings me to Kat: their singer/keyboard player. The sounds she was using with her keyboards were a little unusual for metal, she would use a natural piano during parts where it would have been better if she chose something else, but other than that her playing was actually quite good. Her singing…some people would be over critical of her. I thought she sounded good. Not great, but good. Seeing her play her instrument and singing through a headset mic is unusual to me and to be honest I think it would be better if she sampled 80% of her keyboard parts, while still having it set up on stage to play it from time to time to prove she can actually play. But I would prefer her to grab a handheld mic and show us some attitude. To me, that was the one thing missing from their show, was attitude. The guitar player, bass player and most of the time the singer/keys player were docile. The drummer was into the music. What did the band sound like? It was unique. I can’t really compare them to anyone, which is a good thing but to describe them? To be honest, I have a hard time remembering the music! It reminded me of old school Lacuna Coil with more intricate keyboard parts and the bass playing isn’t nearly as good. Not saying that their bass player is bad or anything, LC’s bass player is actually very good!

            Would I ever see Visideon again? Yes. I want to hear more of them and hopefully they are reading this and they would heed my suggestions.



CELLADOR       cellador              
   Cellador is from, Nebraska. Now, those of you who aren’t familiar with the layout of the United States, Nebraska is literally in the middle of nowhere. It’s very flat and it’s full of farmers and hicks. And of all the bands I’ve ever listened to, this is the first one I had ever heard of that was metal ever come out of…Nebraska. They were good too! The band is a virtual Judas Priest clone band. The singer was trying to sound just like Rob Halford with high screams and all. The guitar players were cool as hell too. The solos were intricate, but the bass was non-existence in their live mix. The crowd seemed to like them a lot as well. Another problem that I had in the mix was that the band’s sound was dominated by the guitar player on the right of the stage. The non-Brazilian guitar player dominated the mix with his Marshal half stack. Other than that, for an underground band they sounded very good. I wouldn’t mind seeing them again either. Could I see them getting signed, maybe to a small indi label, but not to a major one. 




SONATA ARCTICA       sonata arctica              http://www.myspace.com/therealsonataarctica

Before I went to the show, I checked up on Sonata Arctica. I had no idea what they sounded like. I was told they were a “power” sounding band but I couldn’t be too sure. So, I checked them out on myspace.com. To be honest, I didn’t like what I heard. It sounded too acoustic for my tastes. But I was going to give them a chance anyway,

            It felt strange, I was in the front of the stage with some of the most hardcore Sonata fans were. I told them that I hadn’t heard the band yet and they all kind of looked at me funny. When the band came on, everyone was singing every lyric to every song and I am standing in the front, pumping my fist along with everyone else.  I though the band was a little unusual and a little cheesy, their backdrops consisted of this snowy landscape with white wolves…which is a little over the top in terms of Fantasy. I wouldn’t have expected this on stage for any band. But to me, the most comical thing was the keyboard player, he had a shoulder/keyboard player similar to what they had in the 1980’s.  I have no idea why he did that to be honest and to me, it didn’t look good at all. During the third song, the whole crowd was doing the hand wave like you would find at an 80’s Bon Jovi concert. It was comical for me to see.

            The great part of the whole thing was, the band played great!!! The band’s music sounded different from what they had posted on-line. Most of the stuff was pretty heavy along wish some blazing solos, excellent bass playing, and the singing I could not complain about. I thought the keys could have been fuller, but hey, life is good. I liked the band and if they came around, I’d see them. My favorite song of the night was “Victoria’s Secret,” which every time I see the song title I think of the lingerie but it’s a heavy song though.


Yeah, I’d see all the bands again. I though it was a great night. Sonata Arctica is coming to Europe in the next few months, go check them out!


Matthew Haumschild  

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