Review Summary: Gray (adjective). Dull and nondescript; without interest or character.
I wanted to like The Days of Grays
more than Unia
before hearing a single track. My logic going in was that Unia
was a slump, and that its successor's album art alone signified a step back on-course. And based on the first eleven minutes, I thought my preconception would be fully realized. After all, this was the band's first LP since Silence
to open with a chilling keyboard intro, which also closes the album in an extended version. Indeed, both variants of "Everything Fades to Gray" are equally effective at expressing a foreboding vibe. But then something happened. It wasn't immediate, but gradual, becoming more and more evident as the album continued on. My friends, I'm referring to an overall loss of interest.
One complete hearing is all it takes to understand what's missing. Where Unia
failed to push the keyboards, The Days of Grays
fails to push itself. "Deathaura," one of the only notable tracks, is dramatic and, like its predecessor, scattered. Although it's not the most accurate representation of the album stylistically, "Deathaura" does symbolize the kind of impression The Days of Grays
will leave on you--which is none at all. For the first time in their career, Sonata Arctica released an album with next to no memorable moments. Even the triumphant "Flag in the Ground" does little more than sound like an empty Iron Maiden imitation.
What's more is that each track struggles to maintain interest for more than a minute or two at a time. By the time I gave the album a fourth listening, I found myself skipping to the next track more times than not, thereby forgoing the better part of the runtime. "Zeroes" is particularly daunting in its opening seconds, with Kakko's vocals and the overall distortion spawning a mental/facial curdling. Whether this or failing to incite the listener's interest is worse, especially from the likes of Sonata Arctica, is totally subjective. Either way, The Days of Grays
has plenty of both to go around.
If The Days of Grays
does one thing well, it's smoothing the sound on Unia
out. However, this proves to be simultaneously beneficial and detrimental. The music isn't so sharp in its juxtaposed tendencies, which gives the entire album a more consistent and unified sound than the band's 2007 project. Yet this begs a question similar to the one I posed above; do you lean towards the impulsive (Unia
) or the lethargic (The Days of Grays
)? For me, the choice is obvious.