The words “Sonata Arctica” and “power metal” go hand in hand with each other. Sonata Arctica are one of today’s leading bands in the power metal scene. With their catchy riff-writing and beautiful melodies, they have repaved the road set by their predecessors, and remind us why power metal is so good.
They’re Finnish as well. That usually helps.
Sonata Arctica - Reckoning Night
February 8th, 2005 on Nuclear Blast Records
Tony Kakko - Vocals
Jani Liimatainen - Guitars
Tommy Portimo - Drums
Marko Paasikoski - Bass
Henrik Klingenberg - Keyboard
Aside from having hard-to-pronounce names, the members of Sonata Arctica are remarkable musicians. Tony Kakko is one of power metal’s biggest vocalists today. His voice has that distinct ring to it, and his is unsurpassed. Although he tends to stay in the higher vocal range, he can belt out some low parts as well. He has great control, sustain, power...everything a good vocalist needs. Like him or hate him, you can’t help but respect his prowess.
Jani is a severely underrated guitarist. He can shred like crazy, bust out with some unforgettable riffs, and will never cease to amaze you. Just listen to the guy, is all I have to say.
For every man, there is his equal...unless you’re afraid of others. In any case, Henrik is surely Jani on keyboards. His harmonies with Jani are spot on, he can keyshred while harmonizing with both hands, play beautiful, uplifting piano parts...everything. Janne Warmen" Never heard of him. Henrik is what’s hot.
Per usual, the bass is mixed a bit low...there’s a few interludes where you can hear it though. Marko does a decent job with it. Unfortunately, you can’t really hear it.
The drums are probably the weakest link of Sonata Arctica. Tommy can keep a beat...but not much else. He’s your average power metal drummer; double pedals, snare, hihat, a couple of fills, and that’s about it. He suffers from a rare disease that only allows him to play 3 styles of drumbeats...the straight double pedal beat, the alternating bass/snare beat, and the 1-2 styled double bass beat, if you understand that (I sorta don’t either...). However, he does his job.
Finally, after all this mindless drivel (who actually READS that crap anyway") we’re on to the actual review. I’ve hope you’ve enjoyed the short biography section. Please fasten your seatbelts, as we descend into the interior of this disc. Barfbags are located to your left and right. Have a safe trip.
Reckoning Night will shock some who are used to old Sonata. They put out 3 brilliant albums, all more or less in the same vein...fast, melodic, catchy power metal. Sure, there was the occasional ballad, but who really cares about those" The band’s biggest hits were the fast, upbeat ones.
With Reckoning Night, the band took a complete 180 degree turn, without loss of braincells. They crafted a completely different, completely original new album. I’ve never heard anything like this...they blend almost traditional metal with power metal elements, add some heaviness, a dash of cheese here and there, and bake for a few years. The best part" It’s actually GOOD.
As was stated before, the album is much different (this repetition is for the illiterate out there). The crazy harmonized guitar/keyboard parts are all but gone from this release. The band shows a more mature style of songwriting...they mix it up a bit. The album emphasizes heaviness; Jani uses the fact that he has a 7 string guitar to his advantage. The album also possesses a darker, more sinister edge not found in their earlier albums. It’s as if the band was cut off from their alcohol for more than 24 hours, and got rather pissed about it.
Tony’s lyrics also show a much more mature edge; the lyrics on Reckoning Night are his best yet. Gone are the days of “Walking in the cold night air/Without underwear”. His lyrics have taken on a more sinister edge, and he shows it. Even so, he can write some absolutely tear-jerking lyrics as well.
The band has also taken up using a choir on certain songs, which is good and bad. The good, it creates a more epic quality to their music, not unlike the crazy drunken German choir stylings of A Night At The Opera-era Blind Guardian, just without the ball vices. The bad" It creates for some of the cheesiest, most hilarious moments in Sonata’s history. Some may find this a good thing...but even I find it going over the top.
So, in short, if you’re a close-minded moron, you won’t like this. Anybody with half an inkling to try new music, check this out, as well as Sonata fans. Although this is MUCH different than their previous albums, it’s also quite better. It’s surely on par with Ecliptica, if not surpassing it. The cheese is kept to somewhat of a minimum on this album, which will please some. There is not as much as some of their other albums.
For those of you who are too chicken to buy the album before hearing it, the recommended tracks:
Blinded No More:
A slower itineration. Very melodic, uplifting, and easy to listen to. Kakko’s vocals are top notch on this track, and the keys are quite enjoyable to listen to.
Don’t Say A Word:
The single from the album, and possibly the best song here. Once again, Kakko’s vocals take center stage...he is at his peak here. His vocals are absolutely epic. Backed up by some great solo work and a general feeling of greatness.
The Boy Who Wanted To Be A Real Puppet:
This is another slower song...more midpaced, actually. Some decent keyboard work, guitars are good as usual, and Tony is his everperfect self. The lyrics are actually what make this song good...although cheesy (it’s about a man doing anything to get his hands on a puppet), the lyrics weave a tail of deception and lust. It’s a story, rendered inside 5 minutes.
Possibly the most evil song on the album. It starts with your classic cheesy PM moment...a voice asking what they should do to a town. Then, your sinister whisper: “Burn it...burn it all”. Creepy (read: cheesy), eh" Don’t worry, it gets better...goes straight into a heavy riff. Even though it’s an evil song, it’s predominantly written in major keys"! There is some choir work on here as well, the cheesiest moment on the album. However, this song is good...just listen to it.
Here’s your obligatory ballad. It also happens to be one of the best ballads Sonata has ever written. The lyrics are unbelievably sad (I actually looked at them)...it’s about Tony losing one of his best friends, undoubtedly a girl. Standard MTV emo fair, yes, but he makes it work without being irritating as hell.
. I’m giving it this simply because there will be SOMEONE who thinks this album is bad because it is different. It won’t appeal to everyone...however, those who can accept change will like it. Enjoy, and remember to support your local drunken crazy Finnish metal bands.