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The tail end of Sonata Arctica’s 4 album stint as a power metal band with some gothic tinges is probably best represented by this rather excellent EP. It was marked by a slight lean towards a more aggressive style, particularly in the case of Tony Kakko’s vocals, as well as a greater lean towards the progressive sound that they’ve tried to work with of late. Be this as it may, they were still a power metal band with all of the best elements of the genre: melodic vocals, competent drum work with plenty of double bass work, and crunchy speed riffs with riveting shred solos.
“Don’t say a word” is the most catchy, the most accessible, and yet somehow also one of the more dramatic songs on the “Reckoning Night” LP. For those not familiar with the song or album, picture “Black Sheep” but with twice the vocal excellence and 3 times as powerful a chorus. Tony doesn’t merely sing the melody, he owns it, and owns it so damned hard that he forces everything else into a distant background. Henrik and Jan pull off a solid keyboard and guitar lead interchange, but even though it’s a short one you immediately want to skip past it to get to the next restatement of the chorus.
The accompanying songs on here are pretty well realized. “Ain’t your fairytale” is a pretty standard speed metal track Sonata Arctica style, with plenty of dense vocal harmonies and keyboard atmosphere, although there is one heavy main riff that comes and goes that is uncharacteristic of previous SA cookers like “Blank File” and “Weballergy”. The Depeche Mode cover is very techno-like, but a good deal heavier than the original. Jan’s riff work on here actually sounds quite a bit like Zakk Wylde’s sludgy and scream-harmonic happy approach to guitar playing. “Two minds, one soul” is a song I’m not familiar with by Vanishing Point, but based on the up tempo Stratovarius tendencies and heavy keyboard work, hints at a band with a similar musical persuasion. It’s catchy, it’s fun, and it has inspired me to look into the band that first came up with it.
This EP is definitely worth getting even if you have “Reckoning Night”, the two cover songs are well worth the few dollars you’ll likely otherwise blow on something you’ll get tired of in a few weeks. Although I’d argue that the “Silence” period of Sonata Arctica’s career was their high point, this is the best single that the band has ever put out, and unfortunately one of the last things in the power metal style that they now seem to have abandoned in favor of a boring rock/metal prog. style that induces sleep and dreams of being asleep.
I'm not a big power metal fan. For the most part, I like my metal super serious. Still, you can't listen to nothing but serious stuff all the time, you gotta have stuff that will make you headbang and bring a smile on your face. Dragonforce was my default turn-brain-off kind of metal, but after buying this (and a few other) Sonata Arcitca releases, looks like I might be turning to these guys more often.
The first song, admittedly, is a bit too much. The vocals aren't all that good, and there's way too many vocals. Still, the soloing is somewhat righteous. The second song is definetly the best tune though. Ain't your Fairytale has some somewhat awesome riffing, the synths are cheesey but complement the music perfectly, and the vocals are really freaking cool. They just fit in the music very well. Combine the excellent fast riffs with an effective mid tempo break in the middle combines to create something that is super headbangable and awesome.
The third song is quite hilariously bad. I've never heard the original, but I doubt it's this terrible. I guess, that's what you expect from the mixing of two completely different bands. (Power Metal band covers Depeche Mode?? WTF??) The guitars are quite disjointed, and clash horribly with the synths and the terribly programmed electronic drums. It's a very typical example of why metal and techno should never be mixed together.Oddly enough though, the sheer badness of this song isn't as annoying as it would normally be. I think the happiness and general metal-ness of the first two tracks helps make this song more amusing then annoying. The fourth song, also a cover, is a fair bit better. I haven't heard the original, but the song really isn't that bad. It's got a monster of a chorus and the synths fit quite well with the guitars. Vocals are done fairly well in this track too.
In the end, this is an entertaining, if ultimately shallow and flowery, bit of power metal. Don't expect a life changing experience, expect something to lift weights/get drunk too. 80% for tracks 1,2 and 4, and 50% for track 3. An Average of.. 72%