Sonata Arctica
Reckoning Night


4.0
excellent

Review

by Kenneth E. Rathburn CONTRIBUTOR (106 Reviews)
August 25th, 2014 | 14 replies


Release Date: 2004 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Self-defining and genre-defying, Reckoning Night sees Sonata Arctica progress in a logical direction and nearly recapture Silence's excellence.

Less time doesn't necessarily mean less quality. Some bands reach points where they promptly release new material within two years of each other. In Sonata Arctica's case, they brought a reckoning merely 19 months afterWinterheart's Guild. Before then, these Finlanders built themselves around a mostly melodic sound. Said aspect is still present on Reckoning Night, but it's been matched by a newfound aggression, giving this particular chapter in Sonata Arctica's catalogue a definitive edge.

Whether you dive right in with "Misplaced" or stumble upon the clear-cut "White Pearl, Black Oceans," chances are you'll get a song that demonstrates precisely how things have been tweaked. For most metal bands--especially power metal--this applies-to-all concept is a given. But when coming from a band who previously stuck to a relatively routine sound, you'd expect most changes to be reserved for one or two tracks. Not so much the case with Reckoning Night; the stakes are raised for the better part of the album's runtime. The guitars, for instance, are often more thrash than they are power. Even the trademark keyboards sound different. Rather than strictly aiming for epic, serene or upbeat melodies, Reckoning Night strikes darkly, complemented by a tone that leans towards being comically morbid. And though that root word (comic) tends to be a detrimental quality of power metal, here the realization laughs dead in the face of such a concept.

This sort of nature is carried out all the more by Reckoning Night's lyrics. Although Sonata Arctica have always been upper class songwriters compared to their peers, this is where their words began taking center stage. The return of Nik Van-Eckmann is certainly a factor in this, making his eerie presence distinct before "Wildfire" truly begins. What's clear when reading Sonata Arctica's lyrics is that time and effort was wisely spent. Not only is there more content than you'd find in most epic-length tracks, but every line is written with a sense of prowess. Subject matter turns melancholic on "Shamandalie," one of the group's more effective ballads, as well as the catchy, intoxicating "My Selene." However, most of the themes are calculated and of a twisted nature, such as the revenge depicted on "Don't Say a Word" and "Wildfire," two of the album's many highlights.

Singling out Reckoning Night's less impressive moments is easier than narrowing down standout tracks. The only real slumps are "Blinded No More" and "The Boy Who Wanted to Be a Real Puppet." With "Blinded No More," there's hardly a compelling bit to find, much less past the first minute. It doesn't help that it follows the comparatively bombastic "Misplaced," either. As for "The Boy Who Wanted to Be a Real Puppet," it does a marginally better job at maintaining the listener's attention, if only thanks to a more prominent use of whimsical keyboards. Thankfully, the surrounding tracks are far more engaging, demonstrating that the darker direction initiated on Winterheart's Guild wasn't a blind move. The music instead avoids sounding overwrought, as it might have if the band had maintained their admittedly extravagant style from Silence.

Reckoning Night isn't quite the masterpiece some have labeled it as. That said, it gets damn close to clenching such an honor. Sonata Arctica had finally secured their stake as a force to watch out for, taking power metal basics and modifying them with various touches. The final product is a solid, competent emulation of subgenres, offering something for nearly all metal fans. And if you like your power metal with a darker, thrashier edge, then there's no reason to put this album off any longer.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
August 25th 2014


953 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

This might read like a 4.5, but I kept it at a 4 for the same reason I didn't give Images and Words a 5. That and I can't say I like it as much as Silence, even though it gets close.

ChoccyPhilly
August 25th 2014


11595 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

All I wanted was to be with you...

And suffer everyday



Man this album.... Good review as always and I'm in the crowd who consider this to be their best for sure

Digging: Nyss - Princesse Terre

Sabrutin
August 25th 2014


4422 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It was a match made in hell

Now the whole mountain burns







AND EVERY MAN GETS WHAT NO MAN DESERVES

*chorus*

Digging: Paradise Lost - Medusa

ChoccyPhilly
August 25th 2014


11595 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

What the hell, sab? You had this at 4 the other day, didn't you?

Sabrutin
August 25th 2014


4422 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I think I always had this at 3.5, my memory should still be okay. I'm going to spin this again though since I have to stay at my desktop, so it might change. :]

ChoccyPhilly
August 25th 2014


11595 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Fair enough, if the power of one wasn't on silence, I'd say it would be on par with this

warlordfun
August 25th 2014


406 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Amazing album. White Pearl, Black Oceans in my favorite song here.

warlordfun
August 25th 2014


406 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

And hey good job with those sonata arctica reviews keep it up!

Have a pos!

ChoccyPhilly
August 25th 2014


11595 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

White Pearl could be my favourite SA song too.



Good morn', oh dreadful day,

I prayed the moon had lit the sea instead of me...

For the sails of night,

"Please tell me everything's alright..."



Artuma
August 25th 2014


28971 Comments


haven't heard this but all i've heard by these guys has been boring as hell

Digging: Gang of Youths - Go Farther in Lightness

ChoccyPhilly
August 25th 2014


11595 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

their last 3 albums have all been pretty mediocre but listen to Silence or this. If you aren't convinced by that then you probably don't like them

Sabrutin
August 25th 2014


4422 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This somehow worked better as background music and started to click, I'll bump my rating because I'm digging it quite a bit. Anyway, I feel this could have been better. Some songs tend to drag because their choruses, while being great ("Blinded No More", "Misplaced", "Wildfire"), feel a bit ephemeral.

ChoccyPhilly
August 25th 2014


11595 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Misplaced is great, doesn't drag for me at all

Sabrutin
August 25th 2014


4422 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm digging Blinded No More quite hard now.



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