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Sonata Arctica
Reckoning Night
February 2005
Released: 2004, Nuclear Blast
Rating: 5.0/5
Reviewer: MetalGeorge

For years standing as Power Metal’s best kept secret, Finland’s Sonata Arctica have slowly but surely clawed their way to Europe and Japan’s upper echelon. With RECKONING NIGHT, and the band’s forthcoming US debut at the New England Metal/Hardcore Festival, Sonata Arctica also seem to finally be making their name here in the States, as well.



About damn time, too, because I’ve been singing this band’s praises ever since my world was changed upon my first listen of the band’s ECLIPTICA debut. I actually owe it to the man himself, Evil G, in part, for turning me on to these guys, so thanks G! Anyways, the quality of the band’s records since that debut has remained steady, mainly due to the incredibly strong songwriting.



Very few Power Metal acts can construct songs which affect a listener the way Sonata Arctica’s do; vocalist Tony Kakko creating a bond between singer and audience the way I’ve seen few metal performers do ever. Yes, Sonata songs tend to burrow their way deep within your heart and stay there, and RECKONING NIGHT continues in this tradition, with tracks like “Don’t Say a Word”, “A’int Your Fairytale” and “Misplaced” destined to be played on this tour.



What is different about many of the songs on this album, however, lie within some of the tunings, structures, and overall HEAVINESS this record possesses. In addition to guitarist Jani Limatainen’s shred-technique, seven string guitars and progressive elements have also been incorporated this time around, to an off kilter, and sometimes jarring effect. The moshy breakdown/outro in “A’int Your Fairytale” (courtesy of the band’s underrated drummer, Tommy Portimo) serves as a good example of this, as well as within many of the album’s latter half; songs like “Wildfire” and the hard rocking “Boy Who Wanted to Be a Real Puppet”.



Another cool detour stylistically is displayed in the track, “Blinded No More”, where a more melancholic side of the band is shown within the song’s strummed, repetitive verse riff. Typically Finnish in style, it reminds me of the Suicide stylings of a band like For My Pain, or newer Nightwish. The album is surprising devoid of the numerous ballads that comprised much of the band’s previous long player, WINTERHEART’S GUILD, although “My Selene” is a great melodic rocker that stands alongside album closer “Shamandie” as the lone songs which fit this bill.



While longtime fans may be taken aback at first with some of this album’s experiments, I think that most (like me) will respect and enjoy these diverse tactics taken by the band, for the overall presentation of RECKONING NIGHT is one of pure musical bliss; melodic, epic, and emotional.



I also feel that metal fans who found themselves at odds with Sonata’s admittedly Euro-centric style of Power Metal will something to change their minds here, as well. RECKONING NIGHT has something for everyone, and is destined to be yet another brick in the wall for the Heavy Metal fortress Sonata Arctica have built for themselves.



Are you ready for the RECKONING NIGHT?
Track Listing

1. Misplaced
2. Blinded No More
3. A’int No Fairytale
4. Reckoning Day, Reckoning Night
5. Don’t Say a Word
6. The Boy Who Wanted to be a Real Puppet
7. My Selene
8. Wildfire
9. White Pearl, Black Oceans
10. Shamandie

Lineup

Tony Kakko-vocals
Jani Limatainen-guitars
Marko Paasikost-bass
Tommy Portimo-drums
Henkka Klingenberg-synth


Next review: » Sonata Arctica - Reckoning Night
Previous review: » Sonata Arctica - Reckoning Night

Sonata Arctica
Reckoning Night
December 2005
Released: 2004, Nuclear Blast
Rating: 5.0/5
Reviewer: MetalChick

The fourth studio release by this Finnish five-piece takes Sonata Arctica’s songwriting to the next level. They’ve gone from happy, loveable cheesy power metal, to a more sophisticated form of…well, cheesy power metal. Though that might be an oxymoron, this band has indeed polished up what they already were on their way to mastering.



“Misplaced” starts the album off with a blast, jumping right into the asskicking riffs at pounding speed that makes you want to headbang eternally. Sonata’s characteristic melodies are laced tightly throughout the entire song, and Tony Kakko’s vocals are at their best yet.



Kakko has also progressed in his lyric writing skills. Looking back at their earlier albums, ECLIPTICA and SILENCE for example, the lyrics are so basic, and in many cases it was quite noticeable that English is not their native language. Now Kakko’s lyrics are poetic; he knows how to take a simple idea and subtly express his thoughts, in perfect English no less. The lyrics of “Ain’t Your Fairytale” are so cleverly written that it can truly be interpreted in many ways. The darkness of them, however, doesn’t quite match the upbeat melodic music; it’s not until you read the lyrics without the music that you realize what he’s really trying to convey. And then there’s the song with the title that says it all: “The Boy Who Wanted to Be a Real Puppet.” Well…I said he has progressed. He’s not perfect yet.



The main single from the album, “Don’t Say a Word,” is truly an addicting song. It’s catchy as hell, which is something this band has never had a problem achieving, and the layering of vocals in the chorus gives it so much power and energy that I feel the rush each time I hear it. The light, almost jingle bell-sounding keyboard melody that is perhaps a Sonata trademark, pops up throughout and is a great variation from the typical synth sounds in power metal.



Speaking of melodies, guitarist Jani Liimatainen and keyboardist Henrik Klingenberg bring this album to life and beyond with their combination of skills. The two can sure shred in their dueling solos, and Liimatainen’s chops truly kill all, but it’s never over-the-top.



Their second single, “Shamandalie,” is great proof that power metal heads can write some of the most beautiful songs. This ballad ends the record, and its beauty of piano, acoustic guitar, and perfectly executed singing is so dominating that you just want to listen to it non-stop because the chill it gives is so fixating.



RECKONING NIGHT is clearly Sonata Arctica at their finest. The Brie of cheese metal, if you will.
Track Listing

1. Misplaced
2. Blinded No More
3. Ain't Your Fairytale
4. Reckoning Day, Reckoning Night
5. Don't Say a Word
6. The Boy Who Wanted to be a Real Puppet
7. My Selene
8. Wildfire
9. White Pearl, Black Oceans
10. Shamandalie

Lineup

Tony Kakko - vocals
Jani Liimatainen - guitar
Tommy Portimo - drums
Marko Paasikoski - bass
Henrik Klingenberg - keyboards


Next review: » Sonata Arctica - Silence
Previous review: » Sonata Arctica - Reckoning Night





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