‘UnexpecT’-ed Surprises at Sonata Arctica

The night of September 30th turned out to be a night of surprises at B.B. King’s Blues Club & Grill. Sonata Arctica was in town once again, and although they were the reason I attended, they weren’t the highlight of the evening. I was flying more blind than usual where general knowledge or a deep appreciation of the bands went but that turned out to be a bit of a blessing. It was the start of a night that will not be soon forgotten.

First on stage was a little-known band called UnexpecT. Hailing from Montreal, Quebec, Canada this not so little band blew me away right from the start. They have such a unique sound that my knowledge of metal wasn’t up to par in the arena of classification. The almighty Wikipedia describes them as, ”avant-garde extreme metal…with a unique amalgamation of completely different styles of music, including black metal, death metal, metalcore, progressive metal, melodic heavy metal, European Classical music, opera, medieval music, gypsy music, electro, ambient, noise, circus music, and jazz.”

When I saw the violinist appear on stage my interest was peaked, but then I laid eyes upon their trademark 9-stringed bass and I knew this was going to be one hell of a set. UnexpecT’s style is similar to that of System of a Down, but there is a better delivery with more variety. Their songs were disjointed and sometimes spastic but weaving seamlessly one into another.

UnexpecT turned out to be the biggest surprise (and my favorite band) of the evening, and they were only the opener. I highly recommend catching them live and, with 2 albums and an EP out for sale, they have some really awesome tunes out on the market. They are going to be back at B.B. King’s several times before the end of the year, so everyone will have a chance to see this awesome band.

Next to take the stage was The Agonist. They also hail from the shining city of Montreal and they also have quite the attractive lead singer, but that is where their similarites to UnexpecT end. The Agonist has a more generic style of Death Metal, very similar to Arch Enemy. Don’t think they are an average band, though. They still brought in an interesting show and were able to get the crowd moving. The Agonist will also be returning to B.B. King’s several times over the next few months.

Next up was the second surprise of the night: Firewind. All I knew was that they are a Power Metal band from Greece and that they were highly recommended. But with only their reputation preceding them, I didn’t really know what to expect.

Unfortunatly, lead vocalist Apollo Papathanasio was unable to perform due to personal issues. Replacing him that evening was Henning Basse from the German band Metalium. Henning’s vocal style is less melodic, and a bit higher pitched than Apollo’s vocal style (which is not too different from Kamelot singer, Khan’s, vocals). None-the-less, Wearing a Yankee’s jersey and preaching his love of New York City, Henning and Firewind put on an awesome show that incited some crowd-surfing.

My only gripe about Firewind’s performance was that it was far too short. I believe there were some technical problems during the sound check, which lead to a long setup time. This limited Firewind’s performance to a mere 30 minutes. I would have loved to hear more from them, but it was not to be. Unfortunately, their tour in America is over, but I recommend hitting the stores for their recorded music. It is totally worth it.

Finally, it was time for Sonata Arctica. I’ve never really heard much more than a few songs from them, despite urgings from friends to give them a chance. The crowd, however, was more than enthused to see Sonata take the stage and I couldn’t help but be swept up in the vibe.

Bringing the full force of Finnish Power Metal upon the audience, Sonata Arctica brought the crowd to the tips of their toes. Following every lyric the fans moshed and crowd-surfed through the fast songs and sang along with the ballads. It made me feel guilty for not giving Sonata more of a chance before, but as the night went on that feeling began to dissipate.

Maybe I was just growing tired, but as the set progressed I found myself getting bored. I enjoyed the show and it brought my energy up noticeably, but after a while I began to find Sonata rather repetitive. I chalk this up to the fact that Firewind had already given me all that I could handle. It was like trying to pour a gallon of Power Metal into the shot glass that is my attention span. Something definitely overflowed. The hour and-a-half set length didn’t help.

All in all, the show did not disappoint. Each band played a great set and brought something different to the stage for the crowd to taste. And though my evening may have ended on a down note, I did discover two new bands, whose music I will seek out. Let this be a lesson not to miss the opening bands. Though they tend to stink, you never know when you might find a gem among them.


~All photos by Dazvsemir.

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  1. I saw Sonata a while ago at BB Kings. The always put on a sick show!

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