Wintersun in Baltimore 2018

It’s not every day that you get to see musicians from three different continents share the stage on the same night, but that’s what occurred last Friday at Baltimore Soundstage.  Embarking upon their North American Forest Tour, Finnish symphonic metallers Wintersun headlined, accompanied by Australian act Ne Obliviscaris, with the American technical guitar guru, Sarah Longfield, opening up for both.

Sarah Longfield: Facebook | Bandcamp | YouTube

If I’m to be completely honest, Sarah’s participation in this tour is what drew me in.  After having witnessed her in action opening for Marty Friedman on his Wall Of Sound tour at this very venue, I knew I wanted to come check out her mesmerizing fretboard antics once again.  Sarah’s stage show is not what I would call flashy.  Her set isn’t backdropped with strobe lights or a huge banner.  Whether this is because she’s opening or because she wants to focus on the musical aspect when she’s onstage, I couldn’t say.  But I can say that she’s great at what she does, and if others weren’t there to see her at the start of her set, by the end of it she had them yelling for more; notes dancing off her fingertips as she two-hand-tapped her way through songs alongside fellow guitarist Derek Sampson, backed by drummer Cameron Sather.

Be sure to keep an eye out for her new album, Disparity, due out November 30.

 

Ne Obliviscaris: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Bandcamp

Australia’s Ne Obliviscaris is doubly-fronted band: Xenoyr, the lyricist and harsh vocalist, and Tim Charles, on clean vocals and violin.  Both did a splendid job rousing the crowd in their own ways, with Tim doing the between-tunes talks while Xen reserved itself to explosive bouts within the songs.   The band did a wonderful job mixing the head-banging heaviness of the dual guitar attack, not to mention the intricate basslines, with the eerie hollows filled by the twisting violin notes.  The staccato backlighting was quite transfixing, though it did result in some challenging photo opportunities: either enveloping each member in a blanket of darkness or erupting in a cascade of light.  Ultimately, however, I feel this does a good job of describing the music visually.

 

Wintersun: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

The final band of the night was Wintersun, hailing from Finland.  Fronted by Jari Mäenpää, former Ensiferum member, the crowd was enthusiastic at their arrival.  Knowing that many of their songs are between 5 and 15 minutes, I was worried about how the longer numbers would carry over to a live setting.  Boy, was my worry poorly placed!  While songs carried on for a while, the band kept us all entertained, and I never really cared where one song ended and another began, because what was happening in each moment was enthralling.  One second, everyone’s cell phones were in the air swaying with the rhythm of the music, and the next moment found Jari picking the rhythm pattern on Teemu Mäntysaari’s guitar while forming the chord on the fretboard of Asim Searah’s.  At one point late in the evening, Jari asked the crowd how many more songs they’d like to see.  One person screamed “two,” followed by another who screamed “ten.”  “Ten?! We’ll be here all night,” exclaimed Mäenpää!  The band closed out with “Time,” which the crowd seemed more than willing to continue giving.

While the North American tour has ended, I’d urge you to follow these three acts wherever they may roam going forward.  Wintersun has dates in November in Europe, as does Ne Obliviscaris (and a date in the UK), while Sarah Longfield will be traveling to Taiwan soon for some clinics!

Marty Friedman Comes Home

A night of entirely instrumental acts?  If you’ve read some of my previous reviews on instrumental music (there aren’t many), you understand that I went into this concert with some reservations.  The list of instrumental metal albums which I love from start to finish can probably be counted off on one hand.  However, with the powerhouse line-up of ex-Megadeth/Cacophony guitarist, Marty Friedman, returning to his hometown of Baltimore; Chris Letchford-led Scale The Summit; and The Fine Constant, founded by Sarah Longfield, I decided the chance was one worth taking.

The Fine ConstantFacebook Twitter  | Bandcamp | Store

I was well aware of all of these bands prior to this, though I had rarely if ever dabbled in their work.  The Fine Constant was the most recent of these three that I had come to know, built upon the incredible talent of Sarah’s guitar wizardry.  Joining her on stage were drummer, Steve Meyer, and recent touring addition of fellow guitarist, Dave Dunsire.  Only slightly surprising, there was no bass player, but with each playing 8-string guitars, the lower register was taken care of without any reason to notice.  The two blazed through complex tunes, trading lead melodies while the other rumbled riffs underneath.  By the end of their short set, the crowd was screaming for any more music that they could convince this trio to dish out, but unfortunately for those adamant fans, the show had to transition.

 

Scale The SummitOfficial Website Facebook  | Twitter | Instagram | New Album | Bandcamp

Scale The Summit’s name first appeared on my radar during the days of MySpace.  I was quite impressed by Chris Letchford’s ease of the instrument.  He and the other two members of his trio did not disappoint on August 6, at Baltimore Soundstage.  The bassist, Kilian Duarte, in particular, was quite expressive.  I’ll let the photos below demonstrate my point.  As of the writing, you can purchase 5 of their albums digitally for only $29.25, as well as picked up their new album, In A World Of Fear, for only $5 digitally.

 

Marty FriedmanOfficial Website Facebook  | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

Marty Friedman’s tenure in Megadeth saw some of my favorite releases from one of my favorite bands.  His guitar playing has always been transcendent, whether it was along Mustaine, or in Cacophony with the amazing Jason Becker.  Thus it is to my detriment that I have yet to explore his solo material.  But from my crash course prior to the show, and the stunning demonstration I received upon arrival, I can tell you he has certainly not lost his touch.  The amount of energy erupting from the stage was built not only upon the strength of the music, coated lightly with Rust In Peace-era Megadeth instrumentals, but also upon the extraordinary talent of his fellow musicians.  Perhaps more impressive to me than any other artist that night was bassist, Kiyoshi Manii, who seemed to epitomize energy for the entire hour and a half the group commanded the stage.  Do yourself a favor and catch these three amazing bands as they currently tour the US on the “Wall Of Sound Tour,” and pick up Friedman’s newest solo album, released August 4, which shares the same name.