Sonata Arctica – Unia Listening Party
New York City – April 2, 2007
* Review and pictures by Shaq
It seems the Lit Lounge in New York is becoming a home away from home for many Nuclear Blast artists these days. It all began with the largely successful Blind Guardian listening party for A TWIST IN THE MYTH last year, and was followed up by another listening party for Hammerfall’s new offering. This time around, Finnish power metallers Sonata Arctica were in town to present their forthcoming opus, entitled UNIA. Along for the ride were lead singer Tony Kakko and keyboardist Henrik Klingenberg, prepared to mingle with fans and also, once the album had been played for the crowd, act as DJs for the remainder for the evening.
Before long, a good sized crowd had gathered in the small downtown Manhattan bar. Included among the crowd was none other than Jens Johansson, renowned keyboardist for power metal veterans Stratovarius, who happens to live in New York. As it turned out, many in the crowd were under 21 years old, and were ultimately kicked out due to that since the event was being held in a bar. However, this was not enough to drive these determined fans home, who simply hung out right outside the bar for the rest of the night. Tony made it a point to go outside and spend some time with them, which undoubtedly made sticking around worth it for them.
Finally the time came to hear the new album, and a group of those who wanted to listen carefully gathered near the speakers, huddled in anticipation. Outside the bar, the underage fans were putting their ears to the door and trying to hear as much as they could. Fortunately for them, a spare copy of the album was brought, and using a car someone parked outside the bar, they were able to have their own listening party. I thought this was very cool of the label to do in order to let those fans hear the album they showed up to hear.
As for the album itself, I’ll leave the real reviews to the seasoned experts, and will keep my analysis somewhat brief. First, I will say that this is a very different album for Sonata Arctica. There really aren’t any of the blazing fast songs they have become known for. That being said, I really like what they have come up with. It is still without a doubt a Sonata Arctica album, and while it may stray from the normal formula I personally appreciate that a power metal band understands how to progress in their music, something most in the genre generally don’t do. If you’re a fan of the band, you should without a doubt check out this album. If you aren’t a fan of the band, I still suggest checking it out, due to its differences from their prior releases.
Now back to the party. Once the album was finished, it was time for Henrik and Tony to take their place behind the booth and start dictating the playlist for the rest of the night. I was also informed around this time that the bartender was openly amazed at how much the Finns drink, as they had been polishing off their drinks throughout the night. The songs they chose to play included many that the crowd knew quite well, many of which were from Finnish bands. Mixed into the playlist were songs from bands like Nightwish, Diablo, Pantera, Stratovarius and many others. The best part about this was being able to hear Tony singing along to the songs, particularly “Black Diamond” by Stratovarius.
In the end, this turned out to be another enjoyable listening party at the Lit Lounge, which I am sure will be the home of future parties for Nuclear Blast artists with albums to present. Perhaps an Edguy party later this year? I certainly would not want to miss that!