By Charlie Meister
Symphonic metal is a genre that has yet to explode in North America, at least in the way it has in Europe. To the layman, it can simply be described as something along the lines of Evanescence, only on a much bigger scale. It’s big, intense and it’s the type of music you go to not just to see, but to experience. Thursday’s spectacle featuring headlining veterans Sonata Arctica, Delain and Xandria was no exception.
The night was kicked off by Xandria, delivering a short but powerful five song set beginning with their current hit ‘Nightfall’ as well as ‘Stardust’ and finishing off with fan favorite ‘Valentine.’ Xandria is currently touring their new album Sacrificium featuring the debut of their new singer Dianne van Giersbergen. Dianne is a classically trained soprano, whose vocal performance can only be described as enchanting. Their flavor of music is the kind of theatrical metal that makes any new fan wish they already knew each song and every lyric before they arrived for the show. Based on the amount of sold out material at the merchandise stand, it’s clear that no fan will show up for a second show without doing their homework.
Delain wasted no time making their presence known by opening with a full throttle rendition of ‘Go Away’ immediately followed by ‘Get the Devil Out of Me.’ Frontwoman Charlotte Wessels’s extremely powerful voice and unique vocals are probably what set this band apart from the rest of the genre. Her voice sounds closer to a rock or pop style than it does metal or classical. There’s no better way to describe Delain than simply fun, energetic and easy to listen to. Every member of the band is a master of their art and seems hell bent on accomplishing two goals every night: having fun, and rocking your face off. Judging by the shirts in the crowd, the majority of those in attendance were here to see Sonata Arctica. However, by this point in Delain’s set, it was clear these fans had been won over. The stage presence was intense and largely increased over the previous tour thanks to the added presence of co-founder Martijn Westerholt, who missed a few shows on last year’s tour due to a vigorous writing schedule for their new album, The Human Contradiction. The set also included new tracks ‘Army of Dolls’ and ‘Stardust’ as well as staples ‘The Gathering’ and ‘We Are the Others’ as well as a somewhat rare but welcome performance of ‘April Rain.’
The night was capped off by an energetic set by Sonata Arctica, currently touring their new album Pariah’s Child as well as celebrating the 15th anniversary of their debut album Ecliptica. They hit the stage with a flavor of progressive metal that was positive and energetic above all else. Opening with the lead single off the new album ‘The Wolves Die Young’, they had the crowed engaged from the start. They carried on with staples including ’Black Sheep,’ ‘Replica,’ ‘Paid in Full,’ and ‘Don’t Say A Word.’ The set also included additional new material including ‘What Did You Do in the War, Dad?’ and ‘Blood.’ Sonata rocked this stage as confidently as any arena rock band would before 18,000 people.
For any veteran fans of this genre, or the curious fan wondering what this niche is all about, check this tour out and your only regret will be not having followed these bands longer.