Sonata Arctica



by Altmer USER (175 Reviews)
December 27th, 2006 | 4 replies

Release Date: 2001 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A typical Sonata Arctica record from back to front, it encompasses the essence of the band and what power metal stands for with some very haunting and upbeat songs, despite some filler lowpoints and letdown moments this album is an enjoyable listen for fa

From my other review any reader may have deduced that I am an avid Sonata Arctica listener and often will put on any of their records at random intervals, or occasionally come across them when shuffling songs on my mp3 player (on which this band seems to start to feature more and more prominently). In my opinion, Sonata is one of those bands that do albums that just can't go wrong anywhere. And indeed, their 2001 release Silence is indeed a worthy record in the SA catalogue. Featuring Mikko Harkin on keyboards to replace Tony Kakko so he could concentrate on vocal duties, it is indeed another worthy addition in their collection of albums.

Now, Sonata Arctica played slightly less to their own sound on this album. You can see how they grew: where on Ecliptica they were sometimes referred to as a kind of Stratovarius II, especially since both bands are from the same country and definitely play metal in a similar vein, not to mention that Stratovarius was a huge influence on the band and that SA have toured with them, here they veer a little more into their own style of music, which encompasses for one more variety than Stratovarius does; yes, it's still generic power metal. But it isn't the same SONG everytime, although some songs on here could be easily described as filler (Land of the Free, anyone?), and Tony Kakko's voice sounds way better than the vocals of Timo. In short, where Stratovarius somehow manage to always fall into overdone wankery, SA are more concise and to the point.

Although this is not always true. Power Metal will always be Power Metal, and no album in this genre is complete without at least one full-scale epic breaching the eight-minute mark. Here that is The Power Of One, but I find that to be a slightly boring song. In contrast to Destruction Preventer or White Pearl, Black Oceans... this is a bit of a letdown. It just doesn't have the same amount of energy or captivation, although the end with the Tell me the colour of the rain... chorus is very resonant and can really stick, when I think of Silence, I think not of the epic.

One of the songs that really stick for me on this album is the other lengthy song, The End Of This Chapter. Gradually growing in intensity, the haunting voice of Tony Kakko portrays the feeling of unreturned love very well. The song is just scary, from beginning to end, although the lyrics are somewhat so-so through Tony's mediocre English, some of the lines stand out, such as the frightening "Look out the window..., c'est moi!", or "I have never wished you dead...YET" The stalker vibe this gives off is just out of the wazoo. SA pull off all their stuff on this song, keyboard atmospheres, cool spoken intros, vocal hooks, and typical power metal riffing. Of course sometimes you'll need a ball vice to sing along, but that is just part of what Sonata is all about.

The other type of songs on here that really stand out are the upbeat "LET'S BASH OUR INSTRUMENTS AT FULL SPEED" songs, such as Weballergy, San Sebastian(revisited), Black Sheep and Wolf & Raven. All three are typical songs with the unbelievable vocal hooks sung in registers far above normal masculine levels (apparently even baritone Power Metal vocalists are a rarity, not counting Matthew Barlow haha), the keyboard and guitar solos at lightning speed (man, I wish I had practised finger exercises, I want to be able to do that), the bass which is not really audible, but when you can hear it they do some cool stuff with it (although it's mostly limited to root notes: the bass playing on Reckoning Night blows this album out of the water easily), and SA drums have never really been top shelf, Portimo doesn't really have a lot of variation, sure the guy can keep a beat no prob, but it's always "LET'S RAM THE BASS DRUM AND SNARE" to infinity, I haven't exactly counted the different beats he uses but I don't think I'd have to go far. But they don't really make the songs what they are anyway, it's all about the hooks which are really awesome and make these upbeat songs ace tracks in the SA Song Hall Of Fame.

There are also the obligatory ballads, like the WAY too sappy Tallulah (it's a nice song musically, a bit in the vein of Shamandalie and Replica), with Tony's bad lyrics obstructing the otherwise genius of the song. They fluffed a chance here in my opinion, if Tony had hired a native speaker for the English lyrics it might have been slightly better, I can't get through anything Tony pens down. His musical talent is undeniable, but his lyrics and English are very shoddy here, sounds like kindergarten work. Luckily he's improved over the years, which is visible and audible on Reckoning Night. Sing in Silence is a genuinely good song, a very ace track, despite being a lot slower than most tracks on here it fits very well for the sake of variety and it's just awesome. SA get another gold star here.

Last Drop Falls is the last downtempo track, but it's cheesy like Tallulah (Walking in the cold night air without underwear? Tony, you're not a seven-year-old!), it doesn't have anything to offer that Sing in Silence or Tallulah can't, okay, the vocal lines are catchy, but other than that I don't really feel that this song is really anything but filler. SA ballads tend to blow excessively on here.

False News Travel Fast, Land of the Free and Revontulet are all filler tracks, False News Travel fast has a catchy chorus but the verses and bridge and solo go nowhere, Land of the Free is just pure wankery, looks like a very bad outtake from a Helloween album, and Revontulet is pointless filler instrumental wankery, unlike Reckoning Day, Reckoning Night this just doesn't do anything for me. It kind of kills the album too, thirteen songs was just too much, they tried to cram too much on here, I can understand the inclusion of Last Drop Falls and even Revontulet if it was a little longer and more well thought-out, but the other two could have been left off for my tastes.

To come back to what I said before: Silence is a generic power metal record. If you like this genre, like I do, you will like this album. In my opinion there are more low points on here than on Reckoning Night or Ecliptica, and if you're new to these guys, get these two albums first, they're better. Silence is a good record and a worthy buy if you like Power metal, will do absolutely nothing to convert you to the genre like most other power bands (look for something else if you want to get into this genre the easy way: Blind Guardian, Iced Earth or Helloween maybe), I like these guys, so I like this record, and it has some definite gems in the SA collection, but this album will never make any top-ten album rankings.

Recommended Tracks

The End Of This Chapter
Black Sheep
Sing In Silence
Wolf & Raven

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Comments:Add a Comment 
December 27th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review. I haven't picked this up yet but I plan to. I'm submitting my review of Ecliptica sometime today so keep an eye for it!

March 23rd 2008


Album Rating: 3.5

I got this and The Sham Mirrors today from my parents woot. With one listen I think this is marginally better than Ecliptica, need more listens to decide if it's better than Reckoning Night though.

Wolf and Raven is pretty much flawless, and San Sebastian is the next best. The Power of One and The End of This Chapter are also fantastic (though I hate that "acting" that opens up The End of This Chapter, but then again I hated that when it opened up Wildfire at first so maybe i'll grow to like it.)

Oh, and Tallulah was my favorite ballad oddly enough. Loving that solo...

March 23rd 2008


Album Rating: 4.0

the acting is because end of this chapter/don't say a word/caleb form a storyline together

March 23rd 2008


Album Rating: 3.5

I've decided this is SA's best out of the three I've heard (still need Winterheart's Guild and Unia)

San Sebastian makes me happy.

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