GIG REVIEW: Sonata Arctica, Leaves’ Eyes and Omnium Gatherum Live at Gothic Theater, Englewood, CO
It should be no news to any symphonic metal fan that the European five-piece Leaves’ Eyes has had one hell of a year, to say the least. Earlier in the year, it was announced that original member and lead vocalist, Liv Kristine was leaving the band after divorcing her husband and co-vocalist, Alexander Krull. To everyone’s surprise, the band kept their original name (a name inspired by Liv herself) and replaced her with a very similar-looking, but lesser known vocalist, Elina Siirala. The band created yet another stir, re-releasing earlier songs with the new front-woman, creating a huge divide between fans of Liv and fans of Elina, not leaving much grey area between. That’s why I was completely shocked to see the tour announced, supporting Sonata Arctica with Omnium Gatherum across the US. After going through such a rough split, replacing a huge part of the band, and releasing a new EP, the band still had enough energy and drive to tour? Well I was intrigued to say the least.
Everyone knows how much I love Sonata Arctica. If you don’t, I’ll make it quick. I have tattoos for the band covering most of my left arm, and my boyfriend looks nearly identical to keyboardist Henrik Klingenberg (I didn’t do that on purpose I swear). I have written essays on how much the band has changed my entire outlook on life, and how they continue to do so every day. Needless to say, when Sonata Arctica makes it to the states, you can bet your ass I’ll be there. The last time I saw the guys, was on the Endless Forms Most Beautiful Tour, at an old theater in Colorado Springs, CO. They were riding the heels of their latest release ‘Pariah’s Child’, and seemed genuinely happy – which is something I couldn’t say either of the times I had seen them before. This time, on December 8th, 2016, I didn’t feel that same excitement; from the band nor the crowd.
I feel there are two types of Sonata Arctica fans. The ones, like myself, that will continue to support the band no matter how experimental and strange their music becomes; and the fans that only want to hear ‘Ecliptica’ and ‘Reckoning Night’ rehashed over and over again. I am not saying that either is the “correct” fan or the “best” fan, because to each their own. However, it is painfully obvious at current live shows just how many people lose their minds when “FullMoon” begins, then 85% of the crowd goes silent for anything post-‘Unia’. Some view the band’s progression as a kind of tragedy, instead of understanding the growth and development the band has undergone. Sure, I have a lot more attachment to their earlier albums because of sentimental value, but their latest release, ‘The Ninth Hour’ is a pretty powerful release with a lot of great messages within the lyrics. Is it my favorite? Not at all! But I was still excited to hear newer tracks “Closer to an Animal” and “Fairytale” on the set list.
To tie all of my ranting here together, I feel as if Sonata Arctica is realizing that fans only come to their shows to hear songs from 1999 to 2004. Twelve years is a long time, and plenty of time to grow up as both musicians and as men (along with a certain infamous lineup change), so it makes sense to see such a progression in their songwriting and lyrics. Some may not think they went in the right direction, but I’d disagree. I guess I can just consider myself lucky that all of these fans are still making it out to their shows, so they will continue to come back. That being said, I didn’t feel the same happiness and energy from the band as I saw just earlier this year. They were smiling, they were on point, they put on one hell of a show; but I didn’t feel it was as genuine as the show I saw in March.
The support, fellow Finnish metal men Omnium Gatherum, set up the show with great energy, even with half of the venue being empty. I had gotten the chance to see this band open up for Insomnium, (the band’s share guitarist Markus Vanhala) and to my surprise, Omnium Gatherum put on a much better show. They did not disappoint tonight, either. I couldn’t get enough of their stage antics, and the vocalist was constantly engaging the crowd, pointing, and throwing the horns. It was a blast.
Leaves Eyes, however, is not exactly my cup of tea. This band seems like a Nightwish clone with some viking artwork thrown in. If the viking-theme actually FIT with the band, I’d have a different attitude, but nothing about their music and overall sound screams viking. The new front woman is insanely talented (though still somewhat shy on stage); but the mixture of her soft, high pitched vocals, with the random and (at some times) rather weak harsh male vocals, just didn’t sit well with me. To no one’s surprise I am sure, as I am definitely not known to be a fan of female-fronted melodic metal. This band though, in my opinion, is a perfect example of what putting a hot woman in front of a mediocre band can do for that band.
To sum this up, this was a crazy enjoyable show. Of course I loved seeing my favorite band again, playing a lot of great songs – old and new, and Omnium Gatherum had me smile from their first song to their last. For fans of the genre, I am sure they enjoyed Leaves Eyes, and the crowd seemed to be pretty lively and entertained, but I myself – was at the bar! This tour is almost over, closing in Atlanta, GA on the 17th, but if you still have the opportunity to catch it, don’t miss it!
Also check out our Photo Gallery of the gig here!