Sonata Arctica
The Ninth Hour


3.5
great

Review

by Rolling Girl USER (6 Reviews)
November 6th, 2016 | 21 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Blending the old with the new with satisfying results.

The Ninth Hour is the ninth full-length album by the progressive power metal band Sonata Arctica. Clocking in at just over an hour long, this album continues to see the band fuse their speedy metal roots with their more melodic, progressive sound that they developed post Reckoning Night. It is much more than a commendable effort that is sure to please both kinds of their fan base.

Stylistically The Ninth Hour attempts to blend prior efforts such as The Days of Grays and Reckoning Night with surprising success. Tracks like “Rise A Night” open up with blistering a riff and thrashy drums hearkening back to the bands speedy roots while tracks like “Life” are more melodically driven. No one in Sonata Arctica gives a bad performance even if they fail to break new ground. The drumming keeps a driving pace throughout the album without having to rely on over the top fills, the bass lines alternate between staccato pulsing and chugging riffs, and guitar and keyboards work in tandem with vocalist Tony Kakko to create lush melodies and enhance each other’s fitting solos throughout the album. One of the highlights is the epic “White Pearl, Black Oceans, Pt. II”. Despite its 10 minute run time, the song manages to feel pleasantly short due to the parabolic arrangement of the song. Listeners are introduced to oceanic ambiance before the band delivers a beautiful symphonic arrangement until Kakko arrives with soothing verses. Sonata then proceeds with wave like crescendos before climaxing with energetic guitar and keyboard solos, before a diminuendo finally fades away leaving listeners with ambiance once again. The Ninth Hour is not Sonata Arctica at their most ambitious, but it certainly plays toward their strengths.

Lyrically, Sonata Arctica step away from the quirky themes of Pariah’s Child; while quirkiness is still present, make no mistake, the band uses them to speak of more serious concepts. “We Are What We Are” for example makes a plea to take care of the environment, unfortunately the echoing “but we are what we are” in the chorus can get irritating. “Fairytale” takes some jabs at a certain toupee sporting billionaire in an upcoming election somewhere, while “Life” makes the case to simply enjoy life. That may sound dull or generic but rest assured that the quality of the lyrics remains on par with everything else the band has done in recent years, with a healthy dose of complimentary cheese, of course.

“Life is better alive
It is a dumb thing to say
But the fact won’t wane away
Sing with someone today
When your team makes a game-winning goal
Get ready to sing”

The biggest issue with The Ninth Hour comes from its production. It seems to try to blend everything together in order of creating richer harmonies; however, climatic moments becoming nearly impossible to achieve if no one steps into the spotlight. Vocalist Tony Kakko has almost always been at center of the band’s music; and for good reason, his theatrical voice has never failed to deliver over the top enthusiasm and energy that made predecessors so enjoyable. But this time around his voice is much more concealed in the mixing. The guitar and keyboard solos are often softened in the mixing as well; they sound as if they are trying to blend in with the rest of the song rather than steal the show, which detracts the whole point of a “solo” in the first place. Whether the Sonata intentionally wanted to blanket these moments so they could fit in with the more lush melodies is all up for debate but it is equally frustrating when these should be standout moments fall flat because they weren’t delivered with the punch that they need.

Overall, despite not breaking from any mold musically, The Ninth Hour is certainly a fitting contribution to the band’s discography spanning 17 years. Sonata Arctica’s tackling of more serious topics comes at a fitting time and manages to convey a strong message without sounding obnoxious at the risk of alienating fans. The stylistic blending of albums like Unia and Reckoning Night will certainly please their newer fans and their older ones simultaneously as it offers material both can enjoy.



Recent reviews by this author
Papa Roach Who Do You Trust?Pop Evil Pop Evil
Tokio Hotel Dream MachineIcon For Hire You Can't Kill Us
Sonic Syndicate Confessions
user ratings (88)
3.1
good


Comments:Add a Comment 
Rolling Girl
November 6th 2016


1906 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Is there a way to align text on here? Like Centering and Indenting?

Feedback is appreciated.

Digging: Astrophysics (BR) - Cute Tragedies

EvoHavok
November 6th 2016


8000 Comments


You can use [center]your text[/center] for centering.

Rolling Girl
November 6th 2016


1906 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thank you!

EvoHavok
November 6th 2016


8000 Comments


No problem.
"...somewhere. While “Life” " - you may want to put a comma there instead

Nice read!

Rolling Girl
November 6th 2016


1906 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Fixed it and thank you!

Rik VII
November 6th 2016


4130 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Nice to see a review for this. It's also a well-written one, have a pos!

Rolling Girl
November 6th 2016


1906 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks, Roach!

Snake.
November 6th 2016


24275 Comments


jam power metal or parachute into mt. vesuvius

DungeonBoy
November 6th 2016


8976 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Hey dude, good review. I'm checking this out now. I heard a couple singles off this and thought they were okay. Just finished listening to Closer to an Animal and it was pretty bland and uninspired for an opener, but met my expectations for this band. I have a feeling when I'm done listening, I'm going to want to throw on Silence.

Digging: Suppression - The Sorrow Of Soul Through Flesh

Rik VII
November 6th 2016


4130 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Yeah, this is another step down the rope imo. It has a few good tracks though.

Rolling Girl
November 6th 2016


1906 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks Dungeon! Yeah, the opener is a bit lackluster but I still enjoy this band's later work. Though you might enjoy "Till Death's..." and "Rise A Night"

Rik VII
November 6th 2016


4130 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

"Till Death..." rules

Sabrutin
November 6th 2016


8566 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

-fixed-



Pos'd, I'm happy to see a positive review for this album. I feel it's weaker overall than Pariah's Child but it was an album much needed as I implied in my sound-off. Underrated already.



Favorite tracks: Fairytale, Rise a Night, Till Death's Done Us Apart. I was also surprised by how much I enjoyed the ballads. They even played We Are What We Are live and it went better than expected

Rolling Girl
November 6th 2016


1906 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Fixed.

And thanks Sabrutin! Considering Pariah's Child is my favorite by these guys this was definitely a step down but it's being overlooked.

I'd kill to see them live but I'm going to be in class when they get close. :c

Sabrutin
November 6th 2016


8566 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

That's an interesting choice for a favorite. It does have some unique traits, like playfulness (balanced with things like Blood) and quirkiness. It also has a few tracks that I consider to be amongst Sonata's best, like Larger than Life

Rolling Girl
November 6th 2016


1906 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Tracks like Larger Than Life and Cloud Factory set the album above the rest for me. I find that album just so fun to listen to.

Xenorazr
March 26th 2018


1461 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

This album is devoid of grit. Frustratingly so.

Sabrutin
March 26th 2018


8566 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

The only thing I really dislike about this album is the "let's goddamn suffocate our listeners" production (kinda their trend lol). But as far as songs go I'd say there are quite a few keepers for SA fans, both old and new fans

DungeonBoy
March 26th 2018


8976 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Interesting opinion, I think this album suffers more from bizarre song writing. I'm all for bands experimenting, but new Sonata Arctica is not something I really enjoy or find myself coming back to often.



Don't get me wrong though, the production is also not very enjoyable.

Rolling Girl
March 26th 2018


1906 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I've honestly enjoyed post-Reckoning Night SA more than their older stuff.

The production on this has been lacking though.



Till Death’s Done Us Apart still slays.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2019 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy