Review Summary: The banjo was the most innovating thing they've ever done.
Sonata Arctica used to be a worthy power metal outfit in their early career. Just a few years ago their previous effort The Days of Grays
, showed the world that the band is blatantly lagging. Stones Grow Her Name
only amplifies that lag. Back in the day, there used to be talk about how this band perfected Stratovarius's brand of power metal. Now, Stones Grow Her Name
is the pivotal tipping point that practically dethrones their reign as one of the main Finnish power metal acts, and Stratovarius finally gets back what they rightfully deserve: their dignity.
Even when you're playing the album from start to finish, it doesn't even take long to understand that this album is raising some red flags. The first song “Only the Broken Hearts (Make you Beautiful)” showed some promise, but when you have repetition that becomes overbearing and not even a decent solo to make that up - the song itself is a precursor. Practically the rest of the album follows that formula: verse-chorus-verse-(half-a**ed)solo-chorus(x10) - it truly is pop, and that pop virus is obviously hitting them more so then usual. At least the singer has enough talent not to use auto-tune, but he might as well start. As the album progresses, to my surprise, the joke of the album “***load of Money” turns out to be one of the better songs on this release, followed by “Losing My Insanity”, which is another enjoyable song that has a nice intro and a decent song structure despite its own burps. After that, everything starts to go downhill real fast. From the lead single “I Have A Right”, which is about a child's perspective of being disciplined by his father, to the more ironic ballad “Don't be Mean”. I promise that I'll won't be too mean, but I can't help it. When the listener notices lyrics that are dried up and filled with wankery that's just wretchedly terrible, just look at this verse directly quoted from the song “The Day”:
Sea full of diamonds, good morning new day
I'll fix us breakfast, and the newspaper says
The company will lay off 5000 souls today.
Those lyrics say it all in the lack-of-creativity category. Another laughing matter, is for some reason Sonata Arctica has been given the label of progressive metal, which they obviously took that bandwagon for granted; there's literally nothing progressive about this band. It's like saying every sludge metal band that tries to copy Mastodon is progressive, because Sonata Arctica copies Stratovarius's sound, and they still haven't even found that one sound they can call their own. But, they somehow live up to that label in their song “Cinderblox”, which has some sort of banjo in the background and one of their few extensive solos on the album that made the band a promising act in their early career. Even the most anticipated songs: “Wildfire part II and part III” (which are sequels to the song “Wildfire” off of their Reckoning Night
album; one of their better albums) can't even deliver. I'm not saying the Wildfire parts are bad, they just don't live up to expectations and they're just not that great.
To conclude, Stones Grow Her Name
is just downright pathetic. If the album jokes are the only things that are worth listening to, then you have a serious problem; regardless of the band. If you're into power metal, or at least tolerate it in any sense, then try to avoid this.