In the world of heavy metal the genre of power metal pretty much stands alone. Despite being hyper-melodic and largely bereft of extreme vocals it has nearly no mainstream appeal. The melodies lean hard on over-the-top symphonic compositions and the high-pitched vocals can take a bit of getting used to. Generally speaking I’d say imagine three Iron Maiden’s playing simultaneously fronted by a castrato opera singer prophesizing about castles, dragons and rainbows.
Some bands play up the image for laughs but the best bands of the genre are the ones who blend in other styles of rock and metal, and emphasize a more original sound over image. Finland’s Sonata Arctica are a band whose name is frequently mentioned and praised by those outside of power metal’s usual sphere of influence. I spoke with guitarist Elias Viljanen, keyboardist Henrik Klingenberg, and drummer Tommy Portimo before their recent headlining show at Toronto’s Mod Club about their crossover appeal, their latest old-school sounding album, and the strange case of a French fan who walked 3,500km just to meet them.
Sonata Arctica are currently wrapping up their North American tour before playing dates in Puerto Rico, Russia, and their home country of Finland.