It has taken two weeks of non-stop listening to come up with a solid opinion of the latest release from the Finnish power metal kings. Of all five studio albums they’ve put out, this is by far the most unique in comparison to their typical fast and catchy songs. For someone expecting more of that greatness, UNIA is a shocker, one that needs to be given a chance to show that it can be a good Sonata album if you listen hard enough.
After two songs that get the album off to a great start, \”For the Sake of Revenge\” suddenly leads things in a bizarre direction It’s very slow paced, with a dissonant and awkward flowing chorus, like he’s trying to fit too many words in a line. \”Under Your Tree\” feels like going back to the dark mood of WINTERHEART\’S GUILD, again very slow, leaving me craving for some serious metal. They do make up for it all with \”Caleb,\” probably one of the best Sonata Arctica songs to date. Beginning with a spine-tingling piano melody that continues throughout the verses under the heavy guitar riffs, the stellar vocals of Tony Kakko lead it all back into the style the band should never stray from.
Things get wacky again with \”The Vice,\” a song complete with comical lyrics and music jumping all over the place. That’s the theme with UNIA – each song is made up of great pieces linked and mixed around with weird and not so great pieces, therefore creating few standout tracks. It’s at this point that I come to the conclusion that these guys really wanted to try something different (they even changed their logo!) rather than doing the same old thing, an understandable decision. But after an album as awesome as RECKONING NIGHT, the little gems hidden within these songs can’t quite add up to make this another classic release. The absence of guitar and keyboard solos in most of the songs is disappointing too; guess we won’t be seeing Henrik with his keytar much during these songs live. Though not a complete bummer, UNIA doesn’t quite meet the expectations of a die-hard Sonata fan. But as the term die-hard implies, I still love them anyway.
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