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sonataarctica stonesgrowhername
Artist: Sonata Arctica
Title: Stones Grow Her Name
Genre: Power Metal
Release Date: 18th May 2012
Label: Nuclear Blast


Album Review

SONATA ARCTICA is a Finnish power-metal band from a small city of Kemi, situated just behind the Arctic Circle. It is one of the best-known Finnish acts, although not as big as NIGHTWISH or APOCALYPTICA, but with some really solid audience throughout the world. Alongside its long history (dated back to 1999) band performed all around the globe. The overall style is a mix of fast power-metal and sensual "ballads". The band is also noticeable for their fantasy-styled cover arts, reminding of BLIND GUARDIAN covers, although for current release they went for something more artsy and sketch-styled.

The band got its very recognisable sound, which however started to evolve since the time of ‘Unia’ album (2007). Although some old fans claim that there is no more the band they like, I do support this change. It's better than you play all the time the same thing (like certain band that starts with M). It has to happen. And new album is crafted the way that would ensure the continuity of SONATA ARCTICA distinctive style yet allow for creative freedom. I desperately avoid the term "experimenting", because experiment is, well, something that might turn up too funny, something weird that you might test on audience, some guesswork. No guesswork here - all tracks are made up to great professional level.

So, let's take a look at the material. Album starts from ‘Only The Broken Hearts’ - fast, major, melodic song, designed to make a descent introduction to the whole release. Sound is complex and multilayered. A lot of great guitar parts here (thanks to highly skilled Elias Viljanen). A bit of downside is a vocal that mixed too much into the whole sound and somewhat "drowned". ‘Shitload of money’ is a more Rock’n’Roll type song, basically about shitload of money that some girl got with her. Although definitely a SONATA ARCTICA song, I would call it rather simple - cool to listen when driving a car, but not something for a quiet room. Right after, a much more complex ‘Losing my Insanity’ hits in, starting from lyrical piano intro and continuing with fast and high-pitched sound, that also employs frequent reciting of the title in the chorus. This is apparently a live show thing - it's easier to make audience to sing along some catch lines (my only concern, can audience remember anything but these choruses?).The composition, as the release itself, heavily relies on guitar parts (thumbs up for Elias).

‘Somewhere Close To You’, on the contrast, is heavier and uses really nice pumping sound in the middle of the track and, for a change, minor scale. ‘I Have a Right’ again uses keyboard intro and reciting, and finally, we have a clean, distinct vocal of Tony Kakko in all its beauty. Very nice captivating melody is present, so even in an acoustic room it's not boring to listen to the track. Philosophical ‘Alone in Heaven’ pays (a rather common among Finnish bands) homage to matters like eternal winter and deals with complex, mystical matters, revealing an interesting contrast with simplistic ‘Shitload of money’. The chorus of the song is quite symphonic and catchy, but say good bye to distinct vocals again. Another beautiful and rather atmospheric song, ‘The Day’ comes very uniform with some heavy parts, some air in the sound and slowing down to the end.

Well, up to now it was just another SONATA ARCTICA material which, perhaps, should mainly fill in the "continuity" part. But here the fin goes - ‘Cinderblox’ is no less than a metal-country song. Beginning of track still kind of looks like metal, but at some point guys just give up and start play very nice country stuff, that is guaranteed give a listener a great mood. (I do love bands that do not try to sound almighty-true-metal, but do not forget to have fun). The following is ‘Don't be mean’, a sensual ballad, quite mandatory for the genre. There is a lyrical cello for you, and interesting "drums-acoustic-voice" parts (so remember to play it back when you have a romantic date, especially considering the title).

What I personally like the most are ‘Wildfire II’ & ‘Wildfire III’. These are epic. First one starts with some simplistic country intro which slowly turns into a huge soundscape, with lonely cello playing against thunder sounds.  Strong melody in minor scale and powerful chorus, then acoustic reprise, then again, complex back-vocal. This song reveals a true compositing power of the creators, as it's build in a symphonic way. Some really huge distinction with previous simple pieces, and I will certainly be willing for the band to continue working in this direction. Note that while first songs were, you know, tailored to format of broadcasting (3-4 minutes), the last two songs make 15 minutes total! Although more rock-sounding, the closing track is again complex, where heavy rhythms, blast beats, and evolving to some well-made mix of atmospheric cellos and metal guitars. Obviously the outro of the song is a ballad and the sound fades as lyrical hero is whispering some lines.

Resume: A nice album with interesting unusual tracks.


Tracklist

01. Only The Broken Hearts (Make You Beautiful)
02. Shitload Of Money
03. Losing My Insanity
04. Somewhere Close To You
05. I Have A Right
06. Alone In Heaven
07. The Day
08. Cinderblox
09. Don't Be Mean
10. Wildfire, Part II - One With The Mountain
11. Wildfire, Part III - Wildfire Town, Population: 0
12. Bonus Track for Deluxe Digi-Pak version ONLY: Tonight I Dance Alone


Line-up

Tommy Portimo – drums
Elias Viljanen – guitars
Tony Kakko – vocals
Marko Paasikoski – bass
Henrik Klingenberg – keyboards


Website

http://www.sonataarctica.info


Cover Picture

sonataarctica stonesgrowhername


Rating

Music: 8
Sound: 6
Extras: -
Total: 7 / 10


Buy the album here!


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