While we were all locked down in isolation, baking banana bread and binge-watching Netflix, Alienist …
Sonata Arctica is one of the pioneering acts of the modern melodic power metal scene, descending out of the north of Finland in the late 1990s with a series of albums that were big on hooks and melodies but light on meaning or any truly heavy moments.
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Over recent albums, they have started to experiment with their sound somewhat, generally with fairly mixed results.
Talviyö continues that trend as it swings from the straight-up old-style power metal they were once known for to various shapes of melodic rock. Message From the Sun is classic Sonata Arctica, hearkening back to their very early days.
It’s clear that Sonata Arctica are trying to move on from melodic power metal, but overall it feels like they still aren’t sure where it is they want to go. Fans will no doubt find plenty to like here even if they sense that confusion.
From that point the album moves in a variety of directions, as the band present a different side of themselves with almost every track, veering and see-sawing from arena rock songs like Cold and A Little Less Understanding, to the pop-laced Storm the Armada and the creeping balladic The Last of the Lambs, the latest chapter of their ongoing Caleb song cycle. Lyrically, Sonata Arctica has taken a slightly political leaning this time—Talviyö translates to ‘winter night’—as they explore the impact of climate change, a clear sign of their maturity from the often meaningless tunes they were penning two decades ago.
The band’s live sound engineer Mikko Tegelman takes the producer’s chair here, giving the album an energy and an organic feel that is otherwise lacking from a lot of power metal, but the songs are all over the place like a nervous series of costume changes. It’s clear that Sonata Arctica are trying to move on from melodic power metal, but overall it feels like they still aren’t sure where it is they want to go. Fans will no doubt find plenty to like here even if they sense that confusion. More ambiguous listeners will remain unconvinced.
STANDOUT TRACKS: Cold, A Little Less Understanding, You Won’t Fall
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