Sonata Arctica
Unia


3.0
good

Review

by Kenneth E. Rathburn CONTRIBUTOR (106 Reviews)
August 27th, 2014 | 25 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The bliss forgotten, the keyboards forbidden.

Unia is a strange case of deja vu. Thanks to Reckoning Night, Sonata Arctica had yet another superb album to follow up. Their previous transition from virtuosity (Silence) brought them to a point of modest divergence (Winterheart's Guild). And yet, as if to prove their ever-changing nature, Tony Kakko and company made their first drastic, stylistic shift in 2007. Reckoning Night may have been a sign of changes to come, but that didn't soften the jarring, experimental vibe which succeeded it.

The opening minutes present much of what has changed, though the fourth track, "It Won't Fade," serves as the first true indication of Unia's consistent inconsistencies. The progressive hints on Reckoning Night are finally given a bit of emphasis, with "It Won't Fade" and "My Dream's But a Drop of Fuel For a Nightmare" taking the most chances. Both tracks love to play with the listener's expectations, sometimes spontaneously switching their mood and beat. It's during points like these that Unia slips out of its symphonic and power metal shoes, stumbling barefoot onto a different piece of land.

Reinforcing this loss of former identity is an appropriate reduction of keyboards, often to the point of negligence. When they are distinguishable, it's during intros and other brief segments. Sonata Arctica fans know how much said instrument plays a part in their music, so to hear the keyboards by not hearing them is, in and of itself, alienating. The band seemed to be aware of this, which is why the first three tracks feel transitional. As much as it sounds like the single it is, "Paid In Full"'s simple, catchy rhythm is tough to resist, especially once the final minute sinks its teeth deep into your cranium. This style isn't replicated by any other track, but Unia isn't above softening its sound. Quite the contrary; half of the album is comprised by slower, ballad-esque moments. Both "For the Sake of Revenge" and "Under Your Tree" are effective for similar reasons; neither feel like they're trying to stretch beyond their reach. Some might shrug their shoulders at an abundance of slow tracks from Sonata Arctica, but in a field equally ridden with tonal time bombs, they prove to be welcoming.

Another way Unia differs from its predecessors is with its lack of standout tracks. There are moments that work well, both short and long, yet they're executed with tipsiness. "The Harvest" starts promisingly, but ultimately slumps due to Tony Kakko's harsh vocals and an awkward, momentary descent. Both of the album's highlights (in their entirety) appear within the first half. "Caleb" ends up being the moment of glory, exposing Unia's best qualities. And go figure, this is one of the few tracks to receive complements from the very instrument they decided to otherwise de-emphasize. This is the kind of predicament Unia confines itself to.

The direction Sonata Arctica took for their fifth album isn't a blindsided departure, but the same can't be said for its scattershot nature. Unia has many good aspects in place, but rather than hit the ball running with them, they pace and juggle about like an inexperienced waitress. If there's any decisiveness to find, it's a gradual progression into even darker territory, albeit within the album's own context. Unfortunately, when these moments do arrive, they feel conflicted within themselves. The same holds true when Unia is regarded comprehensively and is, ultimately, the real deal-breaker.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
August 27th 2014


953 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

This album is nearly as big of a mess as my room.

Sabrutin
August 27th 2014


4405 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Nice, pos'd. Agreed on about everything, album brings the zzz but it has some okay moments. Tony is

meh here at times.

Digging: Paradise Lost - Medusa

ChoccyPhilly
August 27th 2014


11588 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This album may have been an inconsistent affair but when it's good, it's goooood, like Nightmare, In Black and White and Caleb. This is definitely their most interesting album IMO

Digging: Lapalux - Ruinism

Sabrutin
August 27th 2014


4405 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I see where the interest may come from, but I think this is the album that I enjoy the less from them because it lacks about everything that I want from Sonata Arctica. I don't consider it bad, but I can't think of a reason to listen to it again (I'm not saying that I listened one time only, don't get me wrong). My favorite track is "It Won't Fade", and I also like "Under Your Tree" because of its nostalgic/melancholic sound.

ChoccyPhilly
August 27th 2014


11588 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I was the exact same when it came out and i was younger. I disliked it because "it wasn't Sonata Arctica" and there was barely any power metal in this but the more them experimenting with their songwriting brought out two extremes in their music. Really bad and really good, obviously and if you don't like it, fair enough but I think they suit this style just as much

Sabrutin
August 27th 2014


4405 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

My main problem is the overall sound. I don't like the guitars' sound and I don't feel any passion in Tony's voice. I mean, such low guitars are interesting at first but not for an entire hour. It's always the same situation: I hear a song and I think it's nice, but when I approach it to listen to the album again I lose all the interest after a few tracks because of those two things.

ChoccyPhilly
August 27th 2014


11588 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah, I thought this would be the album to spark a difference in opinions. I agree in that Tony doesn't sound as emotive or as passionate (but it's not at a level where it's boring) but I don't think the focus is on fun or even Tony's voice anymore.



I'd personally say it just gets worse from here on in, do you agree?

Sabrutin
August 27th 2014


4405 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I have to say that I like The Days of Grays more than Unia, but yeah Stones Grow Her Name is

definitely worse even though I like its catchiness. I have a soft spot for catchy choruses anyway, so

you can mentally lower my rating for it (making it my only Sonata negative rating). Pariah's Child is

a mixed bag: it has some songs that I really don't like, but there are others that I actually like

(not many, sadly).

ChoccyPhilly
August 27th 2014


11588 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I see. All of that was released at a time where I was outgrowing this style of music and the catchy chorus' no longer appealed to me. I still love this and everything before it to bits but the rest is a bit too poppy. I was hoping they'd continue experimenting in this style with more refinement but it was, sadly, not to be

Sabrutin
August 27th 2014


4405 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Yeah they're definitely too poppy today.

ChoccyPhilly
August 27th 2014


11588 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

And the worst bit is that they don't seem to be on a direction that'll change that

Sabrutin
August 27th 2014


4405 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

That's why I have a fair amount of hope for the re-recording of Ecliptica. They don't want to do it and then come back to pop, do they?

ChoccyPhilly
August 27th 2014


11588 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ecliptica was pretty poppy in itself though, it just felt a bit more well done. Either way, i'm not too hopeful

DungeonBoy
August 27th 2014


2918 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good Review! This album, not so much.

ChoccyPhilly
August 27th 2014


11588 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The opening track alone is better than anything they've done after this

DungeonBoy
August 27th 2014


2918 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This and Days of Gray were two of the most disappointing albums of my life. I never really listened to Stones but the few spins that I tried to get into it made me want to listen to Silence. The new album was ok though.. not phenominal (nor a return to form which some people were going on about)

ChoccyPhilly
August 27th 2014


11588 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

What do you find so disappointing about it, mate? Obviously it's not as good as Reckoning Night or Silence but I don't

think it was supposed to be compared to those albums; this is almost a completely different style that ought to judged on

its own merits

DungeonBoy
August 27th 2014


2918 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I don't really remember what My Dream's But A Drop of Fuel For A

Nightmare sounds like anymore, but I remember liking that song the most off of this album.

DungeonBoy
August 27th 2014


2918 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It all sounds like the soundtrack to a play. It's like theater music, and not in a good way. I know Sonata was tongue in cheek and a little cheesy since Ecliptica but this was so over the top, it just killed it for me. Also there was 0 power metal on it. I like the juxtaposition they used to have between ballads and fast songs, but they completely abandoned that on this album.

DungeonBoy
August 27th 2014


2918 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah good point, I personally don't like this style much.



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