Sonata Arctica
Reckoning Night


4.5
superb

Review

by Jorn van Schaïk USER (172 Reviews)
December 18th, 2006 | 18 replies | 3,268 views


Release Date: 2004 | Tracklist


3 of 3 thought this review was well written

Sonata Arctica are a newer band in metal history, formed in 1996 under the name of Tricky Beans (and also Means.) Also notable for their huge Stratovarius influences, they released a debut Ecliptica to mixed view: everyone that was a power metal fan agreed it was a good power metal record, but also that they sounded very much like their kinsmen Stratovarius.

Six years later and it is 2004. Sonata have released another two albums, both up to par power metal albums, but never completely capable of blowing their debut out of the water. They are about to release their fourth album, entitled 'Reckoning Night.' What would happen that year was that they released an album that, for power metal, would shatter anything they or Stratovarius had ever done.

Reckoning Night, my friends, is the best album this band has ever released. At the risk of sounding like a fanboy, I really enjoy the keyboard hooks, vocal lines, and guitar riffs and solos on this record, I even enjoy the otherwise so rigid drumming. I find this to be one of the reasons why power metal can really be enjoyable: it's not just catchy, it's versatile, and overall, it's good to listen to without really being provoking towards others: it's a band you can play without hard feelings.

The best example of this is the ballad at the end, Shamandalie. This is a soft, slow track, completely centred around the keyboard solos and Tony Kakko's vocal antics. It's slow, weeping, sad even; in short, it doesn't sound like this is a metal band. But metal is all about the variety: this is also what Sonata can do. And to be honest, the song is just tear-jerking.

Now Sonata have a lot of other trademark elements, some of their own, some that are trademarked in power metal, and they are all on this disc. But they're also well executed, without sounding annoying in my opinion. For example, Tony Kakko, the main songwriter, is a big fan of wolves, and wolves seem to readily feature on every album. On this slab of music that is the awesome Ain't Your Fairytale. Of course, it's cheesy. Of course, this is power metal, and it has insane vocal hooks that need ball-crunching devices. But the fact remains that it's excellent music to listen to.

Another thing that Sonata likes to do is sad(istic) songs. On here that is The Boy Who Wanted To Be A Real Puppet. Possibly the best song on the album, this tale is just... wicked and evil. Black Metal may be all about Satan and its worship and evilness and a hardcore attitude, but Power metal bands show how you really are evil without needing to worship a god; you can worship a puppet and magically fall into decay.

Of course there are always high energy power metal songs, like the aural bombast of Wildfire, possibly one of my favourite tracks ever, or the haunting single Don't Say a Word, with its awesome chorus and Latin quotations. I just can't get "Pacta sunt servanda" out of my head anymore. It's typical power metal, but it's catchy, it's awesome, and it's played like these guys enjoy it; they really love doing what they do and having fun.

This also shows in the hidden track, which is basically five drunken finns jamming acoustically. It has to be the most hilarious thing I've ever heard. Power metal is cheesy, and it really has to be your type of humour, but I find it funny and enthralling and I love them for including this as a hidden present on this disc, I'm glad I bought it hardcopy.

The trademark epic is also present in White Pearl, Black Oceans... you can figure out the lyrics for yourself, but it's an awesome song, some of the vocal lines are just incredible, the keyboards are melodious and haunting and really serve the song... basically, if you love power metal, you will love this song and this disc.

The other tracks on here, My Selene (with an awesome chorus), Misplaced (that fake opening is just like "wtf") and Blinded No More (probably the only song on here that is boring) are all songs in a typical power metal vein too, but somehow this band manages to convince that they're more than that. Of course, they resort to power metal cliches. Of course, the lyrics are fantastic and cheesy. But they play it with vigour, and they play at appropriate speeds, with just enough variety and skill to lift this up a notch above any other power metal disc I've heard. Blind Guardian is good, but also cheesier. Stratovarius is boring. Nightwish, is, well, Nightwish, and have evolved to be less of power metal (despite being awesome.) Helloween is just silly. This is a mandatory purchase if you are into power metal. And hey if you don't like it, your mum might love it, or your girlfriend, or you could use it to persuade an ignorant person how awesome metal can be (I know someone that didn't know anything about metal until I recommended this band... she loves 'em now.)

Of course, if you're not into power metal, this won't really do anything to change your mind; it's typical of its style, and although being qualitatively a notch above other bands in the genre (less overblown, more decent and down to earth, musically awesome), it's not going to convince you that Power Metal is for you. It's not the most revolutionary work. But it's an excellent disc, and I heartily beckon you all to listen to a tale under moon and sun, and run back to your tower to have the black ocean swallow you in a bombast of power metal chilling. I cannot say more than buy this, eargasms galore.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Bfhurricane
December 18th 2006



6194 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Awesome review - I just got into Sonata Arctica's "Ecliptica" and I honestly think it's a classic genre defining album, I listen to it all the way through atleast a few times a week. I find it hard to believe they could top it with this but I'll definitely check this out.

Eakflanderyof
December 18th 2006



2143 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I have only heard a few songs by this band, but I didn't really like them. Maybe I should listen to more of them and try to get use to them. Are they one of those bands that takes a few listens.

Good review.

Intransit
December 18th 2006



2797 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is an alright album. The ballads blow excessive amounts, but the fast power metal songs are pretty ace. Good work.

Altmer
December 18th 2006



5652 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i liked them at first, but give them another try imo

UrbanM11
December 18th 2006



117 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sonata Arctica are amazing, my favotie cd by them

Mikesn
Emeritus
December 18th 2006



3709 Comments


Nice review. I can't wait to hear their new album.

I think these guys are better than Stratovarius. They definitely create great atmospheres in their music.

Intransit
December 18th 2006



2797 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

123 mike. Stratovarius seems like a less talented version, even though they did come first.

So who else thinks this keyboardist is just amazing?

Bfhurricane
December 18th 2006



6194 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I know their singer Tony Kakko played keyboards on their first album but I think they got a second keyboardist for their later albums (IDK?). But Tony is definitely up there with guys like Janne Warman of Children of Bodom

Mikesn
Emeritus
December 18th 2006



3709 Comments


Tony Kakko has played Keyboards on all of their albums except for this one, I believe. I agree though, Sonata Arctica has always had great keyboards.

Altmer
December 19th 2006



5652 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

IIRC, Henrik Klingenberg did it on this one, Kakko did it with the help of Jens Johansson (of Stratovarius) on WG, played them himself on Ecliptica...and Silence, they had someone else: Mikko Harkin.

So you're all wrong. :P

Yazz_Flute
February 8th 2008



18764 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This album has successfully knocked Fortress off of my currently digging thing. This is so delightfuly cheesy, puts a smile on my face.

I can't pick a favorite, but it may be "Aint Your Fairytell." I think i've found a power metal band that can match up with Blind Guardian, at least if all their other albums are this good.


Digging: Cormorant - Dwellings

Cesar
February 8th 2008



2732 Comments


I don't know about that cuz this is an album by them i don't have, but the rest are awesome. Especially Silence.

Altmer
February 9th 2008



5652 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

bodominflames, SA has a pretty quality output. One of my favourite more power metal bands.

feanaro
September 21st 2011



808 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is the best power metal album ever made, by a HUGE margin. Instant classic within the genre

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
September 21st 2011



16134 Comments


Nah.

feanaro
September 21st 2011



808 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yes. The only thing that even comes close is their album before this.

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
September 21st 2011



16134 Comments


Somewhere Far Beyond buries this album.

feanaro
September 21st 2011



808 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

No. Vocals alone are pretty much enough to elevate this above any BG



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