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Sonata Arctica - Unia

Published May 12 2007

=Staff's pick

In Black and White*
Paid In Full
For The Sake Of Revenge
It Won't Fade
Under Your Tree
The Vice
My Dream's But A Drop Of Fuel For A Nightmare
The Harvest*
The Worlds Forgotten, The Words Forbidden
Fly With The Black Swan
Good Enough Is Good Enough

Genre Power Metal
Tony Kakko
Tracks 12
Jani Liimatainen
Runningtime 59 Min.
Label Nuclear Blast
Marko Paasikoski
Release 23 May 2007
Tommy Portimo
Country Finland
Henrik Klingenberg
Similar artists ---

Sonata Arctica started off with a bang when they released the critically acclaimed debut Ecliptica (1999), which was followed by the brilliant albums Silence (2001) and Winterheart's Guild (2003), and later on the less good Reckoning Night (2004). A lot of touring and media attention especially in Asia, but also in USA and as opening act for Nightwish in Europe, have made everything pointing steady upwards ever since. I guess Sonata Arctica thought the time is now just about perfect to try out new ways and new musical approaches. An honorable initiative, but unfortunately it does not work that well this time.

The music has taken a slight turn to the darker and more progressive side, and that has its advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are that it sounds fresh, mature and interesting. They show that they clearly have a lot of ideas and are putting a lot of effort in the arrangements. Which leads us to the negative aspect: they want too much.

It is too complex and too progressive for my likings, and there are too many things happening along the way, but unfortunatly not in a good way as is the case with for example the band Wuthering Heights. Here it does not fit together all that good. As a result of the newfound progressiveness, the melodies have had to stand back. There are some gold nuggets to be found on this album, and even a couple of songs that almost go all the way, but they are few.

As usual when it comes to Sonata Arctica, I think it only works well when it is uptempo or at least more or less midtempo, which results in the fact that close to 30% of this album is practically unlistenable. Sonata Arctica is a very "soft" metalband to begin with and when they gear down and go slow, it becomes far too sugar sweet and cheesy. They have in the past made a few good ballads, but the way they make them today is just too much.

If you are intrigued by reading that they experiment a lot more compared to before and are taking out the turns quite a bit, you definitely should check this album out. There are twists and turns, theatrical Queen influences and even (if you stretch it very far...) System Of A Down reminding elements, but everything is very much secured in the safe Sonata Arctica frame.

They should definitly be credited for trying this out at this point of their career, but I just personally like my Sonata Arctica more straight forward with distinct riffs and a better flow. As a comparision, I listened to the album Winterheart's Guild once in between listening to this one, and it is quite a difference in quality. However, if this is the direction you have been waiting for them to take the past years, you might be in for a real good treat here.

An extra gold star goes out to Tony Kakko for brilliant lyrics, as always.

See also review of: The Ninth Hour , Pariah's Child , Stones Grow Her Name , Reckoning Night , Winterheart's Guild , Silence , Don't Say A Word , Orientation








4,5 chalices of 10 - Tommy

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