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The Ninth Hour
Released: 2016, Nuclear Blast Records
After my first listen through THE NINTH HOUR I don’t know how I felt. No overwhelming feeling cursed through my veins. I was disappointed that I didn’t experience the same feeling when I first played Wintersheart Guild and didn’t take it off my player for about six months. But then, that’s my problem and I think I need to face the fact that my fandom of Sonata Arctica has reached that point where they’ve already released my ultimate album I should stop expecting another of Sonata Arctica albums to slap me in the face in the same way. So, I hit replay and listened to it a few more times. I’ve noticed that with each new album the writing is moving further away from the power metal Sonata Arctica for which they earned their reputation. It took a few listens of THE NINTH HOUR and a refresher course in the back catalogue for me to get my Sonata Arctica groove back, but after that exercise, I better understood the album.
The Ninth Hour was a great sounding name for the band’s ninth studio album, but it wasn’t until singer, writer Tony Kakko researched the meaning of the term, he realised how well the lyrics he had already written fit the title.The first track “Closer To An Animal” is an interesting lyrical history of evolution to industrialization and humankind’s regression back to its animal status. “Life” and “Fairytale” took me back to the Sonata Arctica of old, especially “Fairytale” with its quick to hum melody and faster pace. Tony Kakko is one of those who is so believable when he sings in despair and “We Are What We Are” has that exact flavour. Storytelling songs are also a fort of Sonata Arctica’s and not since “The Boy Who Wanted To Be A Real Puppet” has there been such a strong story song as “Till Death's Done Us Apart”. Kakko writes with literary realism where there is seldom a happy ending and when I really think about those songs, they give me shivers. What would Sonata Arctica be without the majestic wolf? Fear not, we get our wolf fix in “Among The Shooting Stars” and I get my power metal galloping drum hit with “Rise A Night”. I did something I’ve never down before with sequel songs. I went back to “White Pearl, Black Oceans” and listened to “White Pearl, Black Oceans Part II ‘By The Grace Of The Ocean’” straight after. They gelled perfectly into an epic piece of music. I’ve never liked CDs finishing on ballads/slower songs, because I want to feel exhilarated enough to hit Replay instead of Turn Off, but unfortunately THE NINTH HOUR does just that. Not just with “White Pearl, Black Oceans Part II ‘By The Grace Of The Ocean’” finishing slowly, but also with “On the Faultline (Closure To An Animal)”.
As he is the primary songwriter of Sonata-Arctica I understand that as Tony Kakko ages and matures from life experiences, so will his writing skills refine and mature. Maybe it’s my unwillingness to act my age that my tastes in music haven’t matured along with my favourite songwriters and I’m craving for the sounds of old that drew me to metal festivals all over Europe, but I will be a Sonata Arctica fan for as long as there is still a founding member in the band.
Tony Kakko Vocals
Elias Viljanen Guitars
Henrik Klingenberg Keyboards
Pasi Kauppinen Bass
Tommy Portimo Drums
1. Closer to an Animal
4. We Are What We Are
5. Till Death's Done Us Apart
6. Among the Shooting Stars
7. Rise a Night
8. Fly, Navigate, Communicate
9. Candle Lawns
10. White Pearl, Black Oceans (Part II: By the Grace of the Ocean)
11. On the Faultline (Closure to an Animal)
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