To listeners who crave exploration, a gradual change in taste is inevitable; a paradigm shift, if you will. A shift sometimes so great, that it renders us reacting differently to albums we used to know and love so passionately. There's just a different air, presence and overall feel installed in those albums all of a sudden and it's difficult to point out exactly why they feel so... different
. Beyond these occurring changes to our preferences and tastes, there'll always be one constant that keeps us going back to revel in our past joys. It is of course nostalgia and it's exactly what has overwhelmed the power metal band, Sonata Arctica. Having always had the curiosity to reinvent themselves, they were an enigmatic group throughout the latter half of their career, only now finding themselves looking back to their most humble of beginnings.
In an interview regarding this release, Tony Kakko himself said:
"Ecliptica is the starting point of this band and a very special album with a certain feel of innocence and enthusiasm, which cannot be recreated as such since we're not teenagers anymore."
Words which thoroughly describe everything Ecliptica
had to offer. Through unparalleled exuberance and energy, they were able to craft an album that was instantaneous and gripping. Tracks such as 'My Land' and 'Blank File' effectively showcased how fun and catchy this band were with their high-flying, soaring choruses and electric vocal performances. Whilst not being the perfect and astounding debut it could have been, it was still a remarkable achievement nevertheless, which is unfortunately something that Ecliptica: Revisited
fails to be.
All the bright qualities that made Ecliptica
great find themselves diminished and weakened to a point of redundancy. The vocals and instrumentation are particularly responsible in contributing to this; both guilty of being lacklustre and dull. Among the myriad of examples, 'Replica' and 'Fullmoon' prove to significantly worse than others, exemplifying Tony's horrendously cringe-worthy oversung vocals and instrumentation that doesn't fit the song at all. It's sadly a recurring theme, with many songs lacking any critical punch and the enthusiasm brimming within Ecliptica
. Maybe it's a little petty to continuously compare this to the original as a band will obviously change after time. However, even Sonata Arctica's competent harmonies, a trait that the band withheld throughout their career, is often flat and mediocre. Granted, the acknowledgment that Sonata Arctica aren't teenagers anymore is considered, but it's still no excuse for the lack of heart and soul in this.
That being said, it's important to note that only 2 members of the original line-up existed during the making this album. The members who left were integral within Ecliptica
, acting as secondary writers and crafting the instrumentation into their own, an asset that ultimately became the cohesion of each song. It's then inevitable to think that the endeavours of the current members would simply not be able to emulate the unique subtleties done on the original, regardless of the quality of their prowess. Such is shown in more or less every solo in the album, most notably in 'My Land', for almost being carbon copies of what they once were but are undeniably distant. But this is what happens when one tries to imitate the intricate emotion in someone's solo; it's simply impossible. As a result, Ecliptica: Revisited
suffers in its predecessor's shadow, especially when trying to replicate it too much.
"... This new version is more of a tribute and an update on how these songs sound when played by our current line-up."
And maybe this what truly happened here. This album, though riddled with flaws, perhaps isn't supposed to be their defining album that excels in bringing together their most favourable characteristics, but more a contrasting example of who they were 15 years ago and who they are now. There's no doubt that this band has changed and experimented with new styles, so perhaps this isn't actually them looking back, but them looking forward and seeing exactly how far they've come, even if results may vary.