Sonata Arctica
Winterheart's Guild


4.0
excellent

Review

by Mike Stagno EMERITUS
October 26th, 2006 | 26 replies | 23,062 views


Release Date: 2003 | Tracklist


Partially influenced by the classical writings of years gone by and hailing from northern Finland, which happens to be located in the Arctic Circle, Sonata Arctica exploded onto the power metal scene with 1999's Ecliptica. They followed up their successful debut with an even better received album, 2001's Silence. The future was bright for these Finnish musicians. After Songs of Silence, a live album, they entered the studio once again to record another album. Released in 2003, it was titled Winterheart's Guild. Though it was not regarded as highly as Silence, it remains an excellent release, worthy of the band's moniker.

Winterheart's Guild picks up where Silence left off. Musically, many of the themes found on their previous albums are once again present here. There are fast, powerful songs such as Abandoned, Pleased, Brainwashed, Exploited, and The Cage; slower, heartfelt ballads such as Gravenimage and Draw Me. Not to be caged into stagnation, Sonata Arctica also combines both of these elements into one, creating songs like Victoria Secret. Like its predecessors before it, Winterheart's Guild helps dispel the myth that metal requires large amounts of aggression to be done well. Sonata Arctica's 2003 effort contains very little aggression. Now this doesn't mean that the distortion levels are nil. No, distortion is still a very much utilized gift. Rather, the heavy guitars aren't used to pound your ears into submission, but instead as an effect to enhance the music. For those who can accept this, you should enjoy the album quite a bit. I myself like this formula, as it presents a different take on metal. It doesn't have that mighty German power metal sound, nor does it employ the aggressive tactics of thrash. The classy traditional metal sound is also not prominent. But because of this, Sonata Arctica's style is likely among the most accessible styles in metal, and should garner the interest of those who count themselves as fans of metal and those who do not.

I'll say it right now. Sonata Arctica writes cheesy lyrics. But despite the cover art which depicts a group of dwarves participating in their dwarfish activities with their dwarf brethren, Sonata Arctica's lyrics are not cheesy in the same way that DragonForce's or Hammerfall's are. Instead, frontman Tony Kakko pens his lyrics with personal themes of love and life in mind. Yes, they're pretty cringe worthy, but it's Sonata Arctica. Expecting Tony Kakko to write about anything different would be like expecting Slayer to write Christian metal. But anyways, for what it is, it isn't too bad. Lyrically, my favourite song would be found in Victoria's Secret. Similarly too the music, it drips with emotion and is quite reflective of the band's attitude. Tony Kakko can portray a story exceedingly well and Victoria's Secret showcases this talent very well. Despite being almost nearly 100% cheese, I can still enjoy many of Tony's lyrics, as they are for the most part well written.

Of the four members that made up Sonata Arctica at this point in time, one of them stands above the other three. This man is Tony Kakko. For one, Tony Kakko is quite the talented singer. His melodic vocal lines help set the tone and mood of the music, whether it be though a sullen mood, or a happier one. Kakko can hit the high notes extremely well, as he shows in the opening track, Abandoned, Pleased, Brainwashed, Exploited. To-be listeners should also note his lower range, shout-like vocals in the likes of Champagne Bath. Tony fails to disappoint throughout the entire run time. His singing also contains a thick accent which sounds pretty funny to be honest. However, his accent is not quite as obvious as it was on older songs like 8th Commandment or Peacemaker. The other area where he shows considerable talent is on the keyboards. And boy, Tony is quite the accomplished keyboardist. Arguably the most impressive musician in the band, his keyboard solos are nothing short of amazing. Fast and precise. Melodic and catchy. Kakko's playing is extremely memorable, and extremely consistent. A very large part of Sonata Arctica's music (to an extent where it's a fault, according to some), Tony maintains a constant presence in the music and never fails to impress.

To some, Sonata Arctica's Winterheart's Guild may be everything that's wrong with power metal. To others, such as myself, the album is a fabulous offering from one of Finland's top power metal bands. It's a ton of fun to listen to, whether it be because of the passionate vocals, the exciting riffs, the interesting song writing, or the impressive keyboard solos. Sonata Arctica is always a band I enjoy listening to and it looks like they have a bright future in store for them. If you're a fan of this type of music and do not own this…well what are you waiting for? Just as they did with their previous releases, Sonata Arctica proves that aggression and heaviness is not necessary to produce worthwhile metal. Get this album; it's an excellent piece of work.

Recommended Tracks:
Victoria's Secret
Abandoned, Pleased, Brainwashed, Exploited
Draw Me
The Cage



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Comments:Add a Comment 
mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
October 26th 2006



17913 Comments


[Quote=me]I said it before and I'll say it again. You should be on staff.[/QUOTE]

teen_rocker
October 26th 2006



260 Comments


,my friend is obsessed with this band

Shattered_Future
October 27th 2006



1539 Comments


Henrik didn't play keyboards on this album. Most of them were played by Kakko, and the solos were played by various other keyboardists.

You should be a staff member. Your reviews are always consistently good, and you offer plenty of information on the albums. I like this album. It's not as good as some of their other ones, but for what it is it's quite good. I love Victoria's Secret beyond life though. That's probably one of the best songs they've ever written.

Mikesn
Emeritus
October 27th 2006



3709 Comments


That's weird, their website said he joined at the end of 2002. I guess he missed the recording session or something...Damn that means major editing.
EDIT: Which surprisingly didn't take very long at all. Enjoy.

Thanks for the kind words. This Message Edited On 10.27.06

Det_Nosnip
October 27th 2006



374 Comments


Gravenimage rocks my socks off.

antihippy
June 11th 2007



696 Comments


the cage is EPIC.

Cesar
August 14th 2007



2732 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Can the keyboard solo followed by the guitar solo on Victoria's Secret be anymore awesome. One of my all-time fav things I've heard in music ever.This Message Edited On 08.14.07

Cesar
August 18th 2007



2732 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Grew down on meThis Message Edited On 03.26.08

Zoo
August 18th 2007



3759 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is a sick album. I thought "Draw Me" was a perfect way to end it.

Silenius
November 20th 2007



302 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Very good review. Dunno how you aren't staff yet my friend. Also a very cool CD though the more ballad style songs are a bit too cheesy.

Altmer
November 20th 2007



5652 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

To answer the Henkka thing: He indeed joined during the mixing process and played with them for the tour.

DWittisarockstar
January 13th 2008



1501 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Without the ballads, this is a 3.5. Other than the ballads, this is a pretty interesting cd. And I hate Power Metal, so kudos.

racerX71
January 13th 2008



73 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is my 2nd favorite Sonata Arctica album, Ecliptica is better. the ballads bring this album down.

Yazz_Flute
April 23rd 2008



18735 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Gah, i'm pissed. I just got this in the mail, and Draw Me is defective. I can't get it onto itunes. The suckiest part though, is that the part that can't be read is well after the actual song ends...

Sucks, cuz i've heard the song, sounds like their best ballad other than Shamandalie.

Digging: Anekdoten - Vemod

Yazz_Flute
April 23rd 2008



18735 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

/double post

This album was better than i expected, tracks 4 and 5 are lacking though. The keyboard solo at the beginning of The Cage is sexy.

Bfhurricane
April 23rd 2008



6194 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is my least favorite Sonata Arctica album. The Misery, Broken, and The Ruins Of My Life sort of hold this down.
Draw Me is decent at best. ^I suggest you get the remainding SA cds if you dont own them, they quickly became one of my favorite bands.

Yazz_Flute
April 23rd 2008



18735 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I have all of their cds except for Unia.

I think The Misery is the only track that brings this down for the most part. I like Broken, and The Ruins of My Life is one of my favorites =/

Draw Me is very good as far as their ballads go imo. I wouldn't say its among the best on the cd, but its definitely one of their best ballads.

I think my favorite is Abandoned, Pleased, Brainwashed, Exploited.

Babyss
September 15th 2009



66 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

modern power metal exactly as it should be. Raw but techical as well, full of beautiful melodies , well structured songs, a nice male voice, you can listen to it for headbangin but you can close your eyes and enjoy it as well.

Giblover
November 3rd 2009



35 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Just finished a full listen first time through, and I didn't immediatly like it as much as Ecliptica or Silence, but it was definatly good, i'm sure after a few more listens il like it more

TheHamburgerman
January 22nd 2010



1251 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nothing technical about it, lacks anything creative. But along with Ecliptica the only releases that don't stab theirself in the face with a progressive knife.



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