Sonata Arctica



by Bartender USER (42 Reviews)
January 14th, 2005 | 44 replies

Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Released 1999 on Spinefarm records.

Tony Kakko - Vocals, keyboards
Jani Liimatainen - Guitars
Tommy Portimo - Drums
Janne Kivilahti - Bass
Raisa Aine - Flute on track 7.

Power metal is pretty much a genre you either really like, or really hate. If you fall into the latter category, Sonata Arctica's debut album will do nothing to change your mind - it more or less follows the Stratovarius power metal blueprint, meaning the album is full of clean, crisp guitars, uplifting melodies and reasonably high-pitched (and often harmonised) vocals singing fluff lyrics.

The vocals are top notch, probably my favourite in the genre. Tony, despite his unfortunate surname, is adept at switching from regular singing to falsetto in the blink of an eye (see My Land, one of the album's stand-out tracks), and as far as I can tell never falters throughout the album. His voice is probably my favourite aspect of the whole thing, especially on the slower tracks (Replica and Letter to Dana, another two of the higher-placed songs) where his Finnish accent sounds really good, and is fun to imitate whilst singing along (or trying to, anyway). The lyrics don't live up to the promise of the vocals, but what do you expect from power metal? They fit the songs on the album really well, so they're good enough.

Of the instruments, the emphasis seems to be very much on the guitars and keyboards. Like I said above, the guitars are clean and crisp, and the high quality of production throughout the album spotlights that. Their level of technicality isn't huge, but they're skilled enough, and the solos are suitably fast and widdly, which can only be good. The keyboards are great. They're not hugely cheesy (though to be honest, I wouldn't mind if they were), and they're used enough to have a presence, but not so much or so prominently that you just hate keyboards by the end - another thing Tony has done well on the album.

The other instruments - bass and drums - are solid and competent, and provide a good foundation for the other, more striking elements. The flute on Letter to Dana isn't used much, just in the intro and towards the end, but it's a nice touch to one of the most downcast songs.

The album basically has two speeds - fast, and slow(er). That's fair enough, but Sonata never seem to use both within the same song; if a track starts off at a pace, it'll stay fast, and similarly, if it starts off at a slower speed, slower it will remain (with the possible exception of Destruction Preventer, but that suffers from being overlong anyway).

As for negative points, well, the resemblance the band bears to Stratovarius is so great that they are often accused of being essentially a cookie-cutter Stratovarius clone. The main argument I have against this point is that, based on what I've heard, I don't like Stratovarius, whereas I really enjoy Sonata Arctica. However, I can't really deny that, at least here, they are doing nothing new - they're just doing it well.

And that's what it comes down to for ratings. If you're already well-versed in power metal, then Ecliptica offers nothing more than just another solid album, though it'd probably make a good starter. Personally, I'd rate it a 4/5, or maybe even slightly more, but in the grand scheme of things I think a 3/5 serves better.

Recommended tracks:
Blank File
My Land
Kingdom For a Heart
Letter to Dana (probably my favourite on the album, despite being a slower one).


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user ratings (562)
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Bfhurricane (5)
    Sonata Arctica hits near-perfection in their debut Ecliptica, and this is a sure must-have...

    neurosisxeno (4)
    Ecliptica is a breathe of fresh air in the congested world of Power Metal....

    Xenorazr (3.5)
    Sonata Arctica's debut fits their genre archetype with ease and, occasionally, finesse....

    Altmer (4)

  • when_darkness_falls (4)
    The album that brought Sonata Arctica onto the scene. And what a debut it was!...

Comments:Add a Comment 
July 21st 2004


This is my fav sonata arctica album. Letter to dana is my faovrite song as well.
I think 3/5 for this album is very low. I'd give it a 4.5/5
Good review.

July 22nd 2004


Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks. And yeah, maybe 3 was a bit harsh, but I was trying not to let personal bias interfere too much (or else I probably would've agreed with you and given it 4 or 4.5). I try to avoid .5s wherever possible though, so I was stuck deciding on either 3/5 or 4/5.

July 22nd 2004


8th Commandment owns.
My friend has my Ecliptica cd, and I'm never going to get it back. :upset:

July 22nd 2004


Album Rating: 4.0

Why not?

July 22nd 2004


Indeed, they are a good band, I haven't heard the album yet though.

Good review

July 23rd 2004


[QUOTE=Bartender]Why not?[/QUOTE]

Well now he's in a mental institution, and he probably lost it. I haven't seen him in like a year, ****. Good times at his house.

July 25th 2004


^^^ That sucks. That's why I never let my friends take any of my cds.

June 3rd 2005


Album Rating: 4.0

In my opinion it's their weakest album (although it still has some of their best tracks, My Land, Letter to Dana). It's still pretty damned good though.

The band has since evolved into something different (and in my opinion far better) from Stratovarius whom they are often compared to. Silence, Winterheart's Guild and Reckoning Night are also excellent albums.

June 3rd 2005


I have Silence but not this. I've heard a few songs that Bartender sent me. Good and accurate review, from what I can tell.

November 17th 2005


Album Rating: 3.0

Good review, I love this album.

November 17th 2005


This has some absolutely crushing songs on it...Destruction Preventer, Kingdom For A Heart (my personal favorite), 8th Commandment, Replica, Picturing The Past...come to think of it, there is no weak track on this album. All of the tracks are superb.

Oddly enough, though, this is my 2nd least favorite SA album, just beating out Silence. For some reason, I like their other albums better.

10th man down
April 9th 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

i just got this album yesterday. It's already my favorite Sonata Arctica album.

November 16th 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

I just got this and am very impressed. 8th commandment owns.

Some people may think that Dragonforce were the only metal band suited for a videogame soundtrack... I could totally see "Kingdom for a Heart" in a battle scene for some cheesy RPGThis Message Edited On 11.18.06

November 19th 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

Sonata Arctica are in the same mould, yes. But I find them to be awesome.

June 23rd 2007


Album Rating: 5.0

This was the first Sonata Arctica album i´ve bought, totally random, like, i felt like listening to some new band and just picked Ecliptica out of thousands of other records.

This was roughly 6-7 years ago. I totally love this band, and this album is definately my favorite, i don´t skip a single song, love them all, and in the band´s history and genre this album is CLASSIC!

5/5 on my book

February 9th 2008


Album Rating: 3.5

I just ordered this, along With "The Sky Moves Sideways," and the new Ayreon cd. If this is half as good as Recknoning Night, I'll be thrilled.

February 9th 2008


You should have gotten Silence.

February 9th 2008


Album Rating: 4.5

This is better than Silence imho.

February 12th 2008


Album Rating: 3.5

Awesome cd, I don't think I like it quite as much as Reckoning Night, but its close.

February 12th 2008


Album Rating: 3.5

Yes, this is very good. Now check Silence.

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