新異教 Paganism

A Personally Meaningful Sonata Arctica & Leaves’ Eyes Concert

To me, metal is the sound of earth and human vibrating in harmony.

This concert is my Scandinavian gift to myself in this December month.

Tonight I was first one of the viking warriors tearing down walls, then I was part of a wolf pack, dying young. The viking part was with Norwegian-German band Leaves’ Eyes and the wolf pack part was with Finnish band Sonata Arctica. Discovering their tour just a few days before the show is like having my youth suddenly dropping in to say hi. I have not listened to any one of their newer albums since I left college.

My first personal impression of Finland came from Sonata Arctica. It was the only heavy metal band I listened to that had many nature elements depicted in an objective way, and I was fascinated. Wolves, tundras, ice, snow, winter. It was an honest, neutral yet passionate tellings of the rough northern world and undisguised human nature. Sometimes it has the darkest/the most positive lyrics ( “It’s a dumb thing to say but life is better alive”). Tonight the background recording at the show was vocalizing something about perhaps it’s time to control the population so nature can survive. It’s a theme that’s been secretly swimming in my mind for years. And I believe that theme has also been swimming in the unconscious mind of Mother Earth. Struggles and hope is a common theme in metal music, but in Sonata Arctica’s music, human concern is intertwined with nature’s concerns. Looking back, they not only sparked my curiosity in Finland, but probably also planted the seeds for my pagan path.

Sonata Arctica vocalist Tony has a unique, very “power metal” voice that is theatrical and borderline weird for my taste, but I really like his songs and I feel grateful for his persistent singing and writing throughout the two decades. Going to a live show is a personal experience where you “meet” the musicians and know what they’re like, and Tony seems to me an affectionate, down-to-earth human being who gives their music an emotional depth, and who laud the audience for “keeping live music alive” by “coming to the show and buying someone’s CD or t-shirt 20 years ago.” They traveled all the way from mysterious Finland to San Francisco and brought their unique Scandinavian sound here for me to experience. In the songs were sounds of water, wind, wolf howls, and the voice of a reasoning mind that’s so impartial that it sounds evil. Sonata Arctica steals the heart of my sentimental soul.

I was sad that I would never see Leaves’ Eyes with Liv Kristine ever again. I discovered she was “fired” from the band only a day before the show. The new vocal has strong, powerful voice but is newer to the stage, and to me Liv Kristine’s voice is always the ideal sound for the female vocal gothic metal, especially within the beauty and the beast vocal style she pioneered with Theatre of Tragedy. Theatre of Tragedy hits the mark—dark, elegant, delicate, clouded by the unknown—as does Leaves’ Eyes when her soft, solid, melodic soprano consistently sings of the viking age in so many albums! P.S. Educate me about the viking age… to me they are the raiders who destroyed many ancient sites in Ireland 😦 

One theme of the night was that we are equal, we are all the same. Alexander of Leaves’ Eyes turned us into one big Viking family of the north despite that America has a mad new king who is obsessed with separating people. Sonata Arctica introduced me a new favorite with the lyrics “Give me the gift to be heard to be seen to be loved to be free to be everything I need to be me” (and I heard their new album The 9th Hour is very current and comments on Trump as well).

Hexenfest producer Shannon once stated something like, when I say metal, I don’t mean the anger and destruction—I mean epic! I’ve been surprised that after so many years of drifting away from the music I used to listen to, my ears and soul still crave heavy metal. But now I realize, this is because the rich spirit, culture and aesthetics inherent in metal music transcends the realm of music.

To me, metal is the sound of earth and human vibrating in harmony.

Oh, and mosh pits. I’m terrified of mosh pits, but it’s liberating to see men thrashing out their animal instincts in a safe space. It can be a cute scene, like seeing piglets racing in a den, especially when occasionally a guy “helps” push those someone back into the den when they’re charging too far. I would stand behind two rows of men to feel safe 😀 Being at a metal concert is one of the rare opportunities I get to experience having my view blocked by tall people and feeling annoyed about it. _/|\_

2 comments on “A Personally Meaningful Sonata Arctica & Leaves’ Eyes Concert

  1. Pingback: 愛爾蘭之旅:尋找凱爾特自然魔法的大地信仰朝聖之旅 – The Other Worlds

  2. Pingback: 這樣遊愛爾蘭:尋找凱爾特自然魔法的大地信仰朝聖之旅 – The Other Worlds

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