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Melancholy goodness. - 88%

hells_unicorn, December 17th, 2007

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.