Tag Archives: tony kakko

Sonata Arctica @ B.B. King Blues Club (9/30/2007)

Sonata Arctica was doing a headlining appearance in NYC and the exciting night found the talents of Firewind, Unexpect and The Agonist joining them on the stage of New York’s B.B. King Blues Club. Supporting all of the talented musicians performing tonight in both words and images was paramount for me as a journalist so we did just that. If you want to learn more just scroll past the logo below.

Logo - Sonata Arctica

Artist: Sonata Arctica
Venue: B. B. King Blues Club (New York, NY)
Opener: Firewind, Agonist, Unexpect
Date: 9/30/2007
Label: Nuclear Blast Records

Fans of the Finnish Melodic Progressive Rock sensation Sonata Arctica would have their prayers answered as the band once again made their trek to the USA for some much appreciated touring. While this appearance in NYC would be their third actual visit it was only the bands second headlining appearance but like the previous two shows would be held at the ever popular B.B. King Blues Club & Grill. As was also the case with the other visits the band would be supporting a brand new release and this time around it would be a new studio recording entitled “Unia”. It’s an album that finds the band exploring ever deeper into the realms of Progressive Hard Rock as opposed to the Metal they were most commonly associated with and it’s also available on Nuclear Blast Records their label of the past three years. The band is always an energetic and lively one in concert but to make this all the more special they would be joined by Firewind from Greece as well as both The Agonist and Unexpect from Canada. Having heard each of these bands albums before and judging by the crowd who had already gathered in time for the first band you just knew this was going to be another awesome night of Metal and one that offered the fans a wide variety of genre aspects.
Continue reading Sonata Arctica @ B.B. King Blues Club (9/30/2007)

“Nuclear Blast 20th Anniversary: Into the Light” by Nuclear Blast All-Stars

Artist: Nuclear Blast All-Stars
Title: “Nuclear Blast 20th Anniversary: Into The Light”
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: 6/19/2007
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 4/5

Leave it to Nuclear Blast Records to start off their 20th Anniversary Celebration with a bang like no other and release a thundering CD of music featuring some of their best talent under the Nom de guerre of “Nuclear Blast All-Stars”. All of the music on the album was the result of Metal Mastermind Victor Smolski, that guitar virtuoso from the one and only Rage and with the exception of one track, all lyrics have been penned by Peter Wagner who sings and plays bass in that same band. If this fact didn’t pique your interest then perhaps knowing that all of the tunes feature different singers will do the trick. The CD features rotating vocalists who either are currently part of the labels roster or were at one time in their career. So as a result we find everyone from Tobias Sammet (Ed Guy) to Tarja Tarunen (Nightwish) contributing vocals and it continues to get interesting as you listen to each song. Rather than find this as another Rage album given its creators, the songs seem to have been tailored to the specific vocalist so the song that Tobias sings “On Dirty Wings” could have very well been an Ed Guy contribution. This continues along when it gets to what Tony Kakko of Sonata Arctica sings as it really comes across as something new by that band and while Kakko himself says he does not feel this way in the liner notes, I will have to disagree with him. Such is the ability of Smolski to craft interesting Metal that he seems to have approached this with relative ease. It’s a great listen as each offering brings to the table different levels of solid riffing and interesting vocals. It’s heavy all around and should be since this is a Metal celebration but some artists come up the heavier than the others such as when Marcel from Destruction performs, and also Wagner from Rage who gets his own tune. It was great to find Andi Deris from Helloween present and also the members of Nightwish but I admit that while I love Tarja’s voice her song didn’t do anything for me. There is also some vocal talent who many of the Metal legions should be following more and I am speaking of Mats Leven formerly of Therion and Oddleif Stensland of Communic. These two continually impress me and I am looking forward to their future contributions. The drumming on most of the album comes care of Andre Hilgers who is also a member of Rage. Victor, Peavey, Andre and everyone else you did a great job on this one.

The release also serves as a reminder of just how powerful the labels artist roster is and not only does it come from these new Smolski compositions but also from the music featured on the included bonus CD. There is some great stuff here and many of the songs have never been released before. Pay particular attention to new label signings such as After Forever and Threshold for they are set to explode with their latest albums. From beginning to end this rocks and is a fine way to start the celebration of the label’s launch. I have enjoyed so much of their output over the last couple of years and many of their bands have become personal favorites. It is based on this that I raise the high hails to the next decade to come.

Bonus CD: Hammerfall – Hearts On Fire, Helloween – The Madness Of The Crowds, Gotthard – El Traidor, After Forever – Sweet Enclosure, Ride The Sky – New Protection, Thunderstone – Forevermore, Threshold – Slipstream, Amorphis – The Smoke, Candlemass – Devil Seed, Sirenia – The Other Side.

Track Listing:
1. Dirty Wings (Tobias Sammet)
2. Terrified (Peter Wagner)
3. Ruling The World (Tony Kakko)
4. Death Is Alive (Mats Leven)
5. Bloodsucker (Marcel Schirmer)
6. Slaves To The Desert (Hansi Kursch)
7. A Perfect Day (Andi Deris)
8. Eternally (Oddleif Stensland)
9. Inner Sanctuary (Marco Hietala)
10. In The Picture (Tarja Turunen)

Official Website: www.nuclearblastusa.com
Official Website: www.victorsmolski.de

“Unia” by Sonata Arctica

Artist: Sonata Arctica
Title: “Unia”
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: 5/22/2007
Genre: Melodic Power Metal
Rating: 4/5

We last heard from Sonata Arctica with their stellar performance CD/DVD combo “For The Sake Of Revenge” – this blistering concert piece came courtesy of the tour supporting “Reckoning Night” and it showed the world just how incredible the guys were on the stage and in general. Now the Finnish masters of Melodic Power Metal have returned to continue the valiant quest for world dominance over the genre with the presentation of “Unia”. It’s an album that takes time to remind us a little about where Sonata has come from musically and one that also helps us chart the course of where they are headed in the future. As one might expect from the guys there is a heaping dose of energetic musical forays to enjoy along with some rousing sing-along anthems. Yet this time around instead of being a full throttle pounding there seems to be a little bit more subtlety and experimentation into slower numbers that hold quite an impact. It starts off strong with “In Black And White”, a tune that has a lot of that old school Sonata Arctica feel to it. Yet the second tune slows it down just a little bit with “Paid In Full” but that picks up during the chorus parts. I’m confident that the main tune that will bring people a smile is “It Won’t Fade”. The track possesses the effective Sonata trait of blending several different melodic styles to success. Lead singer Tony Kakko is as on point as ever across the recording but when it hits “Caleb” you see just how much so. As one of the richest tunes on the record, we get incredible keyboard displays and then a page out of the Queen songbook is used as they deliver the multi-layered harmony chorus that makes this track a winner.
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My Dinner (or Lunch) with Finland’s Sonata Arctica

This week was an interesting one and had I taken the initiative to generate this thing earlier the information would have flowed a little more in order of occurence. This fact troubles me as the Technical Guy, since I am a fan of both order and detail. That which confuses, ruins the flow of information or makes things come off as nonsense and with Music Adventuring there is plenty of nonsense to come naturally without me offering any extra. Be that as it may, I digress from my original point.

Food & Metal Uniting As One
My week started off with a really cool opportunity to enjoy lunch with members of the Finnish Metal sensation Sonata Arctica, who were in town for a CD Listening that was open to the general public. Lead singer Tony Kakko and keyboardist Henrik Klingenberg would be present to spin this CD for the fans and mingle among them answering questions and posing for the ever-necessary MySpace photos. Earlier in the day the guys and their rep from Nuclear Blast Records would head down to New York City’s Chinatown and hit one of my very favorite restaurants “Nha Trang”. The selection of this place came as a pleasant surprise to me, for I had recommended it to the label rep when Hammerfall was in town for a similar listening event but there was just insufficient time to do it. Luckily, they would keep the card for future reference and bring it on the next adventure into the City. Nha Trang is a Vietnamese restaurant, and there are so many delicious things in the place that I would be writing for days just explaining them. It’s been there for a number of years, and I only first heard about them when my friend Peter Pardo (Publisher of www.seaoftranquility.org) suggested I join him before we hit a show. Been a fan ever since, so back to “The Metal Lunch”.

PiercingMetal Talks To Sonata Arctica’s Tony Kakko (1/18/2006)

Logo - Sonata Arctica

Long before I had become the Metal Journalist and Photographer I had begun to develop a strong like for the bands that were coming out of Finland and along with Nightwish there was Sonata Arctica who really delivered the goods. We saw the band when they appeared as direct support for Overkill on their first ever US visit and it was awesome. Clearly Finnish Power Metal has a great ally in the group Sonata Arctica. Their musical textures richly mixing powerful riffs with explosive vocals and harmonies. I had the chance to discuss a wide variety of topics with lead singer Tony Kakko when the band arrived in New York City for their first-headlining appearance. We began our discussion with Tony having some level of curiousity as to the recording device I was using. I always bring one of the Sandisk devices which do a great job under these circumstances. Below is our exact conversation.

KP: I’m trying to make sure this thing is started correctly but my hands are freezing, it seems you brought the Finnish weather with you. It was 60 degrees the other day and now it is a cold blast from Finland out there.

Tony: You’re telling me.

KP: So let’s talk about the last time we were planning on talking you guys were on the eve of the Nightwish tour which was very abruptly cancelled. I wondered if you guys thought you were not going to be able to play the USA at that time.

Tony: Yes, that was the fear, and then suddenly we got a lot of response from the promoters who were doing those shows and the audience and they said we should still come. So, we decided to see that if the promoters could still do it and we are able to come then we would. When it seemed that it could be done that was how we were able to arrive in the USA that time.
Continue reading PiercingMetal Talks To Sonata Arctica’s Tony Kakko (1/18/2006)