Sonata Arctica
The Days of Grays


2.5
average

Review

by Jorn van Schaïk USER (172 Reviews)
September 25th, 2009 | 102 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An average performance from a good band will leave their fanbase disappointed.

Sonata Arctica – The Days of Grays

Sonata Arctica must be Finland’s most heartbroken metal band. Lead singer Tony Kakko has on several occasions written lyrics that deal with relationships that are broken, diseased, or screwed up in any way at all; this ranges from simple breakup songs such as “Tallulah” and “Shamandalie”, but recently they’ve also dealt with stalkers (the whole Caleb/Don’t Say a Word/The End of this Chapter deal), as well as things like Victoria’s Secret (no, that song is not about underwear) and White Pearl, Black Oceans (about a couple where the woman dies in a boat crash). I don’t know what inspires Mr Kakko to write all this really depressing stuff, considering he’s apparently been with his wife since forever, but it’s true. Sonata Arctica clearly like breaking hearts.

It figures with their music, too. Sonata Arctica are one of those power metal bands that are clearly Finnish, as saccharine as they come, use high-pitched clean vocals, rely on heavy double bass work (and mercifully skip the dungeons and dragons shtick so many of these bands assume). Well, it used to be like this, until the band released Unia, which did away with the power metal influence completely and focused more on a more orchestrated progressive metal approach (not dissimilar to a Dream Theater meets Nightwish cross). This alienated a part of the fanbase (the ones that still think Stratovarius are a classic metal band) and drew in a part of the metalheads that were looking for something different. Well, Sonata’s first single would have you think the glory days of Winterhearts’ Guild are back; Flag in the Ground would have fit squarely next to the Cage or Abandoned.

It also figures the rest of the album is like a weaker version of Unia. You know the new deal; lots of Queenish vocal lines, orchestrations out of the wazoo (Deathaura sounds like it could have been on the last Nightwish album), and arrangements that don’t seem to make any sense. The catch: most of the time, they actually don’t end up making much sense in hindsight. Where Unia’s incomprehensibility was backed up with a certain amount of skill that led the album to grow on the listener, there is nothing here that actually grows on the listener; after Flag in the Ground, apart from the silly ballad “Breathing”, the album sinks into a desperately tepid one-tempo mode where everything blends together, and not even Tony’s attempts at gruffer vocals save the album from its monotony. It sounds like a Nightwish with better vocals, but minus the gems that Tuomas Holopainen produces; where is this band’s Amaranth on this album? The band seems not to want to go back to the old days, and write more straightforward material, but the new work seems to delve into nothing that stands out either; it is as if the band has lost the creativity to write a catchy melody when they’re not backing it up with old-school power metal.

This band used to be extremely competent, and most important of all be charming despite their inadequacies (hilarious English, hackneyed lyrics), and they used to be able to write songs too. But in the meanwhile, as the band has tried to progress (and succeeded admirably with Unia), this album is a step back. It falls in the no man’s land between their early and later work. Not even the brilliant Hans Zimmer-esque opening song saves it from being average material played by excellent musicians. This is not to mention the stupid filler song at the end (it’s the same song as the first one, but one and a half minutes longer and with vocals. Next time, just put the full version on it and don’t bother with this. Write a good song instead). The inadequate charm has worn off as the band has seriously tried to be mature, and this makes their latest screw-up all but unforgivable as this band actually got it right.

I don’t know what the band were thinking with this one, because this album would really have benefited from some more time polishing the arrangements and thinking up some memorable music. No power metal album should lack the immediacy to pass you by, and there’s just not enough amazing wizardry to satisfy the guitar geeks in most. For the first time in their lives, Sonata Arctica have created an album that is paint-by-numbers in quality. I hope order is restored on the next album because this release gives fans nothing, except another two-year wait for more than a good single. There should be something more on a Sonata Arctica album than a good single. And from a band that has proven their skill in the past, this is a disappointing release.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Altmer
September 25th 2009


5652 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

amazing band should not release such utter tepid tripe such as this

what the fuck tony what the fuck is this i thought you guys could write

WhiteWallStargazers
September 25th 2009


2647 Comments


Worse then Unia? that's scary cuz aside from Paid in Full and Caleb I highly disliked that cd...

jingledeath
September 25th 2009


7104 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I've had this for a while. Will have to give it a full listen soon.

Altmer
September 25th 2009


5652 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Keep in mind I quite liked Unia apart from the ballads.

BallsToTheWall
September 25th 2009


44805 Comments


How Is Sonata Arctica classified as metal again? No offense to the ladies in the band because they play their instruments pretty well.

Digging: Pink Turns Blue - If Two Worlds Kiss

WhiteWallStargazers
September 25th 2009


2647 Comments


I would not like the be their drummer...must get bored

Altmer
September 25th 2009


5652 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

because they clearly play metal balls, just cheesy power metal

i'm just gonna listen to don't say a word again to erase the memory of them releasing this

Poet
September 25th 2009


5935 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I really have to listen to this now to see if this is true.

fireaboveicebelow
September 25th 2009


6837 Comments


the review is so melodramatic..

kingsoby1
Emeritus
September 25th 2009


4956 Comments


an average release from a terrible band... uh oh.

i've seriously despised this group since first hearing "Weballergy" back in 2001

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
September 25th 2009


8391 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

hmm, is it really as bad as you say? I guess i need to find out myself. My weekend is occupied, but I will get to this on monday.

Yazz_Flute
September 25th 2009


18874 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

meh

Weballergy is awesome though

Digging: DIR EN GREY - Arche

kingsoby1
Emeritus
September 25th 2009


4956 Comments


man i can't believe i used to like power metal.

Altmer
September 25th 2009


5652 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

this is barely power metal apart from flag in the ground

it's just... nothing

ugh ugh i love this band and this is just so below their level ugh

KYZAR
September 25th 2009


513 Comments


Reeks of meh

Bfhurricane
September 25th 2009


6197 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Dammit Altmer, I knew you were going to beat me to this. I was planning on starting a review tonight, probably won't now, considering you've said everything that needs to be said. I am thoroughly disappointed. Aside from the first four songs, album seriously blows. It's ambitious as hell, but so poor at the same time.

What really irks me is that Elias does nothing interesting on this album. I was hoping he would be atleast pretentious enough to do things a little bit his way, but all thought went into the keyboards and atmosphere instead of the riffs. Dammit, this band has so much more potential. That said, I'm still digging this for the first few songs, and in hope that the rest grows on me.

pizzamachine
September 25th 2009


12572 Comments


This band doesn't do it for me, and this album apparently won't either.

LepreCon
September 25th 2009


4156 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Didn't this stream like a million years ago? Anyways, I agree this is fairly weak by their standards but I still kinda enjoyed it. Rating will probably go down after another listen or so

LepreCon
September 25th 2009


4156 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

EDIT: F**king double-post

VTK
September 25th 2009


76 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Good to see a review, I was shocked to see that it took that long for someone to come up with one. At least I don't have to try to write anything now. :P

Either way, I've actually had a very good first impression of the album, but I must agree with the reviewer... I have a feeling I'll grow bored of TDoGR (wtf, where are you solos?) and re-rate it as a 3. :c



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