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Silence has more lasting power than most Sonata Arctica albums, even though it suffers from many of the common pitfalls often associated with these Finns. The proclivity for ballads is still unreasonably high, but much of this can be forgiven if the compositions have the wherewithal to back the songwriting decisions up. Do they pass the test?
Well yes, for the most part. We get the typical high-tempo scorchers like "Weballergy" and "San Sebastian (revisited)", the former of which serves as a more than passable opener. "Black Sheep" contains more classical-leaning melodies and tries to embody the second coming of "Kingdom for a Heart". It has an infectious solo section but the rest of the song falls a bit short of it's lofty goal. It is around this point that you begin to realize that Härkin features a playing style far removed from Kakko's output on Ecliptica. I actually really dig his approach to the ivories, as he contributes an almost dance-club backing to "False News Travels Fast" and "Land of the Free". "Land of the Free" deserves special mention, being the best song here by a long shot. Listen to the ethereal chords that open and close the song, absolutely sublime. The keyboard-driven breakdown near the end is unabashedly cheesy, but what else do you expect from Sonata Arctica? The approach is endearing if only in it's lack of restraint.
The obligatory ballads are a bit much to stomach, and there are still too many of them. "The End of This Chapter" is passable, disregarding the asinine guest vocals that open the track. Regardless, it is overlong and can't hope to match "Letter to Dana", which it so desperately wants to emulate at times. "Last Drop Falls" begins to show some nods at brilliance, as Kakko sounds really good on this one. The reverb-drenched acoustic passages that embody the bulk of the song sound majestic and coexist well with Härkin's understated synth backings. On a purely instrumental level, it sometimes sounds like Annihilator's "Sounds Good to Me", which is an opinion I'm sure I hold on my own. "Tallulah" sounds unbelievably serene before taking into account Kakko's angsty vocal performance. I don't know about this one, it has the potential to really be something but the vocals drag it back down to Earth just before it reaches melodic orbit.
Liimatainen's performance obviously delivers the goods, and Sonata Arctica has yet to fully recover from his subsequent departure. Despite his surging powerchords and quick picking hand, the solos are the true highlight here. They force Härkin to up the ante during the trade-off sections, eventually yielding one of his greatest keyboard solos in "False News Travels Fast".
Silence really shouldn't work as well as it does, as Kakko's accent is overwhelming and embarrassing and times. While this brings some of the ballads down, it doesn't matter a whole lot in the end. Sonata Arctica would deliver a rock-solid followup in Winterheart's Guild but would never again come close to matching this opus. Is it because of Härkin's departure? I doubt it, but my conjecture is hardly the final say anyway.
Silence is probably the album that exemplifies Sonata Arctica from 1996 to 2006. This album shows one of their most popular singles if not the most popular (Wolf and Raven), one of their most popular ballads (again, if not the most popular, Tallulah), and very subtle hints of their future progressive period.
Maybe I'm a bit biased towards the music on this album because the first power metal song I ever listened to was "False News Travel Fast". I've seen it especially as a very complete song, showcasing the standard elements of a power song in the beginning and end, but also doing some clever stuff in the middle that make this listening an individual experience.
Compare that to other songs on this album like "Wolf & Raven" and "Weballergy" where although both those songs are well-made and feature some provoking lyrics and memorable music, they are straightforward power songs without this middle element. Both alone would warrant a 95%. A breathtaking intro in "Weballergy", both with edgy, yet catchy choruses (in varying amounts), and both just the right length to get stuck in your head, but not drag on too long. "False News Travel Fast" would warrant a 100% because of just the right balance between the two in edginess and catchiness, a truly unique structure that is definitely Sonata and not Stratovarius or Nightwish or any other band, and the epicness of the ending line by Timo Kotipelto.
Aside from the usual power, a lot of slow songs on this album are spectacular. "Tallulah" is probably the most well-known SA ballad, if not the most well-received. "The Power of One" is a complete epic, and although the rain parts in the start and end might be too long (I, for one, cut them out of my copy of the album), Tony delivers a story that could make you weep on a good day. It builds all up to the line "In the world that we live in..." and perfectly delivers the emotion the band was trying to give to the listener, something tried and failed on Ecliptica (and arguably at some points in Winterheart's Guild as well). "The End of this Chapter" is also an underrated song as it is overshadowed by Power of One, but should not be missed or passed over by anyone looking to get the full experience of this album.
There are only two songs that I cringe at over the course of the album - "Black Sheep" and "Land of the Free". Both suffer from the problem that plagued "Fullmoon", the overdone chorus (or in Land of the Free, the "Hey!" part, all of it). They're tolerable, but very penetrating and have the least depth and emotion of all of the other songs. Even "Revontulet" and "Of Silence", both 1 minute songs, evoke some sort of appreciation and progression (the former) or help set a tone for another song (the latter). Although they are very short, they do a lot with their brevity and are welcome contributions to this album. "Black Sheep" and "Land of the Free" are not.
I give it 11/13 for the eleven songs of merit.
The album overall is enjoyable, however, and is a very good way to introduce people to the first four Sonata albums (although one should consider staying away from Black Sheep and Land of the Free if at all possible). It has a lot of replayability and will take a lot of time to get bored listening to it.
One thing that rather baffled me about this album was the preponderance of positive reviews. I really don’t understand why Silence has the following that it does; it’s rather baffling. I began listening to Sonata Arctica with Reckoning Night, and that one’s really the only album of theirs that I ever go back to, to listen occasionally. That album really managed to blend their über-catchy power metal instincts with a heavier, deeper, more progressive feeling in ways which continue to impress me, even if the saccharine pop conventions they brought to the album still have a tendency to make me cringe. Here, on Silence, the cringe-worthy elements are all brought completely to the fore, and the worthwhile heavier elements of the music (of which I know SA are capable), tend to be either absent or submerged under layer after layer of faceless plastic ‘80’s-style keyboard- and guitar-work, particularly on the ballads.
Three songs, ‘Land of the Free’, ‘Last Drop Falls’ and ‘Tallulah’, are incredibly annoying that way. The disco-style dance passage about halfway through ‘Land of the Free’ (‘hey, hey’ – get down, it’s Saturday Night Fever!) is a good thirty seconds of aural torture before they finally get back to the main punchline riff of the song (which actually isn’t that bad for a power metal song, just bland). ‘Last Drop Falls’ and ‘Tallulah’ are completely syrup-drenched, jingly, keyboard-driven ballads from start to finish, to the point where I wonder if I’d gotten SA mixed up with some soft-rock FM station right up to the point where Tony Kakko starts singing. Cheaply sentimental keyboard melodies and a Foreigner-style drumline pervade throughout; not a trace of power to be found here. No, Tony, I do not wanna know what love is, particularly not from you on this album, sorry. The lyrics on ‘Last Drop Falls’, however, are quite dark for the style of music, which makes for a quite incongruent and startling listening experience. That may have been the effect they were going for, but I’m still not sure whether I’m able to appreciate it or not.
But this album has some incredibly interesting sides to it as well. The high-riding, harpsichord-supported neoclassical arpeggios and unorthodox time signature on ‘Revontulet’ are just plain fun in an Yngwie kind of way. ‘Weballergy’ makes for a decent, straightforward power metal opener (always appreciated). ‘The End of This Chapter’ starts out with a simple keyboard melody, which shifts straight into a heavy, slow-to-mid-paced bass line, with some uncharacteristic (for SA) gruff-ish vocals thrown in for good measure. ‘Wolf & Raven’ is this album’s ‘Wildfire’ – a speedy, driving track which pushes the abilities of Sonata Arctica straight to their quite considerable limits, to marvellous effect. For a brief, sickening moment about two minutes into the song, there’s the hint of a wa-wa pedal and a funky drum rhythm, and one can’t help but mentally begin to prepare oneself for another glittery disco ball to descend, but instead they use it to launch into an amazing neoclassical shredding-and-keyboards session, and crescendos thundering to the end. If there is anything to be appreciated on this album, it is the rare moments like on ‘The End of This Chapter’ or ‘Wolf & Raven’ which manage to make their presence felt, and to make themselves memorable.
Conversely, though, the downside is that other songs are just… well, faceless. Blending together. As I said previously, the only notable part of ‘Land of the Free’ is that damnable dance section. ‘Sing in Silence’ is just in one ear and out the other. The only virtue which saves a song like ‘Black Sheep’ from being the same way is the presence of the counterintuitive drum rhythm when juxtaposed with the chorus, and that’s something that Sonata Arctica does well – but it’s a shame that the song should sound so overproduced and sterile otherwise.
The lyrics are actually incredibly thoughtful and contemplative, not emo at all: whether they plumb the depths of the psychology of a computer geek or a stalker, or whether they explore the flaws and tragedies of current and international affairs, each of the songs seems to have something worthwhile to say. The real tragedy of Silence is that the way they say it just plain sucks. The heavy and progressive elements – you know, the metal ones – are all still here. Buried. What infuriates me, and what I don’t understand for the life of me is why they seem to give preference to all the balladic bullshit of ‘Last Drop Falls’ and ‘Tallulah’ over the brilliance of their more shredding material like that on ‘Wolf & Raven’. Let’s face it, there are power metal albums from this era out there which are far more worth your listening time. I’d give this one a pass, given another opportunity.
10 / 20
Sonata Arctica’s second album, considered the best by some, really showed their own take on power metal, having worked away most of the borrowed Stratovarius sound. Although their songs are still mostly fast, the repetitivity on the album has been severely reduced. Sonata Arctica presents us with Silence another album containing true epics, instant classics and some of the best sing along anthems of all times.
Where predecessor Ecliptica started off straight away with a firm double bass rhythm, Silence uses a mysterious intro “...of Silence” before the bomb explodes with “Weballergy”, which is as fast as songs from Ecliptica, yet a lot different in sound. It has more colours to it and sets the right ambience for the rest of the album with its playful melodies. It’s really songs like this one that give Silence its own identity. Together with “San Sebastian (Revisited)” and “Land of the Free” we have three-of-a-kind. All three have these true sing-along choruses, accompanied by a firm double bass rhythm underneath, and very melodic verses, expressed by a fresh voice of Tony Kakko, whose voice has increased a lot in quality since Ecliptica. I will shortly describe a few highlights of the album.
First highlight you’ll come across will be “The End of This Chapter”. It’s a story about a man stalking a woman, to say it very bluntly. The song itself is mid-paced, starting off quite gently and getting slightly heavier towards the end. In combination with the increasingly epic chorus this makes one hell of a track. Then there is “Black Sheep”. Though obviously power metal, it’s a bit slower than a song like “Weballergy”, and therefore concentrates its power on the musical arrangements and the melody instead of the speed, which results in one of my all-time Sonata Arctica favorites. Last of the highlights would be “Wolf and Raven”. Seemingly just another fast song without identity, it is very different from the rest. It’s very aggressive in sound, also in the Tony Kakko’s vocals, which really seem to cry in despair during the chorus. It’s the first song by this band that I ever heard, and it’s still one of my favorites.
Where does this album go wrong? The balance on the album still isn’t to my liking. Though the tempo balance seems all right, there is a slight quality balance lacking. Songs like “Tallulah” and “Sing in Silence” for example are totally blown away by what’s before and after them, respectively “San Sebastian” and “Wolf and Raven”, that they are shot into oblivion. Then there is “False News Travels Fast” and “Land of the Free”, two seemingly okay songs, but so forgettable compared to the good part of the album. Compared to Ecliptica, the good songs are better, but the fillers have a stronger presence. The problem with these fillers is not that they’re bad songs by themselves, but only compared to the rest of the album. But since I’m reviewing the album as a whole, I will count this as a downside.
My conclusion is, surprise surprise, that Silence is a good follow-up to the average Ecliptica, but I’m sure they could’ve done better. It’s better than Ecliptica at many points, including more variety among the songs and more colours within them, but still lacking the quality-balance. I would definitely recommend this album if you’re eager to listen to Sonata Arctica for the first time ever.
Strongest tracks: “The End of this Chapter”, “Black Sheep”, “San Sebastian (Revisited)” and “Wolf and Raven”.
Weakest: “False News Travels Fast”, “Land of the Free” and “Tallulah”.
At the end of the century power metal was making a comeback. Headliners were newer acts such as Edguy and of course also Rhapsody but Stratovarius played their part in solitude as well in the depressing nineties. This revival spawned a lot of new acts from which a lot have disappeared already or released albums that sounded great back in 1999 and 2000 but lost their touch by now. Sonata Arctica’s “Silence” still stands firm.
Their debut was still a bit underproduced and Tony Kakko’s vocals still sounded a bit immature. This time his vocals had improved a lot and also the production was a large step forward. The material itself was also more mature and especially varied.
Problem with most symphonic or power metal bands from Finland is the over-use of keyboards. Most of the time this is annoying (for instance Symphony X or later Kiuas works) and incidentally the keyboards are that good it doesn’t matter (Stratovarius were briliant during their Episode-Destiny period) Keyboards also play an important role in Sonata Arctica but fortunately not too much.
This album features a decent amount of faster songs, heavily influenced by Stratovarius and eighties Helloween. Stand out songs are “Weballergy”, “San Sebastian” and “Wolf & Raven”
Tony Kakko isn’t Michael Kiske, Tobias Sammett nor Timo Kotipelto but he sure comes close. Children Of Bodom should have wished they had a vocalist like this! He sings in tune, does the trick and has a characteristic tone in his voice. I would judge him performing between good and adequate here (he was still ‘just’ adequate on Ecliptica). The keyboards and lead guitars are excellent. A bit too much at times but since the songstructures are over all fairly simple there’s plenty of room to excel.
The good thing here is that the intruments serve the compositions. Talking about how good a vocalist is or a drummer is useless since it’s the songs that count. Poor musicians can make great music if everything falls into place and if they know how to write a great song. Good musicians can make shitty music as well of course. Everyone knows how much I hate Dream Theater and those kinds of bands. I hate the look-at-us-being-good-attitude when it’s all about the songs in the end.
What makes “Silence” better than other Sonata Arctica albums is the fact that this is a rare power metal album on which also the ballads and slower songs are pretty good. I must admit, the album took a while to grow on me and I played it a lot in my car with not much opportunity to skip songs. Therefor I gave the initial lesser enjoyable songs more changes than I’d normally do. And they actually grew on me including the ballads. They’re not too cheesy but, as said, metal can always do better without keyboards. That’s the only negative aspect about them. Also in later years the band forgot how to write superb fast songs. Ouch.
Talking about cheesy lyrics? I couldn’t care less. The power metal genre has never been a philosofical highlight and incidentally a politically aware song emerges (like Eagle Fly Free, Helloween) but mostly it’s always cheesy. I quite like the stalker intro to “The End of This Chapter” by the way.
Just a question, which newbie invented the term flower metal? Skip it.
Not this album though: Get it!
After coming out with an album which was total Europe worship played faster, and with even more focus on emotion , Sonata Arctica come out with an album that focuses less on quasi-80s metalish riffs, and focus more on being more epic. For the most part, they pull it off quite nicely. The majority of these songs are amongest the best that they have ever played. However, this album does have some downer moments. These moments being in the form of ballads.
As I've said before, if it weren't for two little ballads, this album would totally slay. These two ballads being Last Drop Falls and Tallulah (what a retarded name). The formal just sounds pretty queer and just very cheesy, and the latter would be decent if it weren't for that goddamn chorus. It sounds like something a retarded person would say. TAAALLLULAAAHHH!!!! What the fuck is that seriously suppose to mean? We may never know. Apart from that, this album is just about as awesome as their debut, Ecliptica.
The best songs on here would have to be Weballergy, San Sebastian, The End Of This Chapter, and The Power of One. The formal two are would fit in perfectly with their debut, as they are both typically awesome "flower metal" songs, with plenty of speed and emotion which is what I love to hear when it comes to this genre. The solos and keyboard melodies are so awesome as well. Then, the formal two are more epic songs that keep you headbanging and loving it from beginning to end. Tony's vocals are great on these songs, and he uses so much emotion while singing, and it adds to the mood of the songs. Other songs that are worthy of mention are False News Travels Fast, Land of The Free even with that cheesy "HAY! HAY!", and the instrumental Revontulet.
Even though it's not as greta as Ecliptica, it's still definently worth getting. Though, some fans prefer this style more than the style they used on the debut. Either way, if you're a fan of keyboard sparkled power metal with great solos and lots of emotion, than get this album.
This album is divided into two halves -- the ballads and the fast songs. In my humble opinion, Sonata Arctica can't write good ballads. Every single ballad in this CD sounds emo as hell, I can just imagine Tony Kakko slitting his wrists while I listen to Last Drop Falls or The End of This Chapter. It's nausea inducing and I can't listen to it.
Now, I don't hate ballads. Some bands write good ballads. Heavenly's Dust to Dust, for instance, is a good ballad. Yngwie's I Am A Viking is a good ballad. Blind Guardian's The Maiden and the Minstrel Knight is a good ballad. Sonata's ballads just sound emo and gay. There's something I can't put my finger on that makes them sound pretentious and emo. Wait, I know what it is. First off, Tony Kakko, while being a good singer, sounds emo anyway; he sounds like he'd be better off in MCR replacing Gerard Way than in a power metal band. So when they do slow songs, of COURSE they'll sound emo. The second part is that the songwriting style makes them sound mindlessly poncey (See Savatage's Dead Winter Dead) and pretentious. God, these slow songs are pretentious as hell.
However, the fast songs here rule. Weballergy, San Sebastian (revisited), Black Sheep, and Wolf & Raven are all solid headbanging cookers. The guitar solos here are immaculate, with heavy doses of fast and harpsichord. They're the reason I like Sonata Arctica. Of course, little is done that is new, but, they take the neoclassical power metal formula and apply it with great success here. Why should we hold that against them? If Sonata filled up their albums with fast power metal sizzlers like those, I wouldn't give this album a 50.
But 50 sums up this album well, an album divided into two halves, and whenever that happens, be it Bathory's Destroyer of Worlds, or be it Trans Siberian Orchestra's Lost Christmas Eve, the end result is something that is not listenable except for individual songs; the fact that there are 2 separate atmospheres here makes transition between the two choppy and uncontinuous.
This album isn't worth paying money for unless you have a lot of cash to blow, because I got the feeling of being cheated, since I only listen to half the album. If emo ballads are your thing, then chances are you won't like the upbeat fast power metal, so even then, don't get this album. If only Sonata would pick one thing and stick to it. As it is, this album is inconsistent and gets 50.
If you'd knew me, you would be irritated from my endless speeches of how new bands should be unique and original. Although that's true (I never lie!), sometimes bands make good music while being cliché and unoriginal. This doesn't count for Sonata Arctica.
No, they are not originial, but they aren't spectacular either. It's the standard happy power metal band you'd come across. Simple power chords switched of with boring shredding solo's. Tony Kakko has a high-pitched voice, which he uses with almost no variation. The same goes for the drummer. Tommy Portimo is somewhat gifted (shown on Revontulet) but 99.99% of the time he performs the most easy bass-snare beat you can think of. The bass is basically not there. Conclusion, the band has to have it from the talented guitarist and pianist.
There are some tracks where this line-up works well. Funny thing is that all these songs are ballads (with the exception of two other tracks). Tallulah and Last Drop Falls are two typical cheesy power ballads, but they do their work. Sing inf Silence, the third ballad, is less cheesy but just as good. It's still the simple power chord, high-pitched voice, soloing and the easy drums, but in the ballads it feels perfect. The only negative point from these ballads are the stupid lyrics.
The actually "power metal" songs are not good as the ballads, but some come close. San Sebastian and Black Sheep are two very entertaining song. No classics, but great for once or twice a listen. Sadly the other songs feel lackluster compared to these two songs. Basically the only two differences are that some songs have some progressive elements in it, and they all are average at best.
Now I said that some have progressive elements in it. That doesn't say that they automatically are better. In fact, they're just worse. The Power of One is around the 13 minutes, but unless they know how to make a lengthy song, it just sucks. Riff after riff comes up without any structure or depth. The same goes for songs such as The End of this Chapter or False News Travels Fast.
Weballergy and Wolf & Raven are the standard flower power metal songs. The Same as Black Sheep and San Sebastian. The difference though is that those two latter songs are actually enjoyable, and don't sound too forced. Although Wolf & Raven's chorus is quite good, it just fails to be interesting the whole song.
If you are a typical power metal fan, loving typical power metal, you might like this. If you are an emotional person, you might like the ballads. If you are not of those two types, you'd rather stay away from this, as this album doesn't offer anything else. I'd conclude this review by directing people who would like this album also to check out Ecliptica. It's in the same vain as this album, only less progressive, which is just a good thing.
Sonata Arctica is one of those power metal bands that can turn the unsuspecting thrash or death metal fan off to the genre, what with their melodic, sugary-sweet melodies and keyboards, big, glorious choruses, and romantic, tragic lyrics. Not exactly the most "metal" shit ever. But that leaves this band, and this album especially, for the open-minded music fans who don't mind a bit of cheesiness, and a lot of keyboard wankering, because this is actually very good stuff if you can stomach it. And it turns out that I can stomach this, because it's a highly enjoyable album full of treats for the ears.
The variety here is tremendous, and that's how they keep all 60+ minutes of this disk interesting and exciting. After the obligatory short opening track, we have speedy, melodic crackers like the careening 'Weballergy', the volleying and uplifting 'San Sebastian', and the completely fucking killer 'Wolf & Raven'. We've got midpaced tunes like 'False News Travel Fast', with killer vocal melodies, 'Land of the Free' with it's great melodies and singalong parts, and 'Black Sheep', with the best chorus on the entire album, not to mention my favorite song here, the moody, dark 'The End of this Chapter' (lyrically the best thing they've ever written, too). And we have the ballads 'Tallulah', 'Last Drop Falls', and 'Sing in Silence.' The keyboard instrumental 'Revontulet' is another little burst of energy from our keyboardist here. And finally we have the epic 'The Power of One', which features some excellent melodies and vocal lines as usual.
On the first album, Sonata Arctica drew severe comparisons to countrymen Stratovarius, but here they have come into their own, with their singer abandoning most of his Koltipelto-esque high notes and straying as far from that style as he could. Everything is improved here; the production, the vocals, the instruments, the lyrics. No sign of a sophomore slump here, no sir. This band is going places, as they have not released a bad album since this one, and they're still going strong without many lineup changes or anything. This album is more then an hour long, but you have such a blast listening to it that you don't notice. That's the effect that the energy put out by the musicians here has; it never gets boring. There's not an uninspired song on this disk.
But I have to bitch about something, and this time it's bonus tracks. Some bands have a bad habit of putting bonus tracks on discs (and sometimes it's not their fault, it's the record label---so we can't fault the bands, really) that do not fit in with the album and generally break the continuity of it all. And that's exactly what the short throwaway track 'Respect the Wilderness' does for this album. I'm glad it wasn't included with the version of the album I got, but then a friend downloaded it and sent it over, and it's...bleh. This song is uninspired and dull, with horrible lyrics, and I have no fucking clue why people here want it to be on the album itself. It's not that bad, but it certainly doesn't match up to the great songs on the real disc. So, I usually stop after 'The Power of One' now, and I do say that you should, too. I think a better choice for a bonus track would be the B-side of the Wolf & Raven single, 'Peacemaker', which is a song so addicting and catchy that I still haven't stopped listening to it. But, I digress...
This is a highly enjoyable and mature album of melodic power metal, and I'd recommend it to Helloween, Gamma Ray, and Stratovarius fans looking for the next big name, because this album is just as good as the material put out by those bands. I'm wholly impressed by this. It might not be the most crushingly evil or headbang-inducing album ever, and the lyrics might not be Satanic or 'metal-for-life', but, have an open mind and give this a spin.
When one hears the term “Power Metal”, one gets the image of Conan the Barbarian slaying the mirror monster and saving some hot blonde in distress, or maybe of a wizard wielding a spell within the realm of a green forest. Images of battles in outer space, occasional fits of political protest, and having an all around good time are also clichés associated with this genre. One of the last things that a person expects in this genre is someone to pen lyrics about a man’s descent into madness, told in the first person while obsessing over a woman, or other such psychologically introspective ventures of this nature. It is in this respect that Sonata Arctica has made itself distinct from most of the other bands playing this brand of melodic music.
Musically, “Silence” showcases many typical traits that can be observed in other Power Metal outfits. Their usage of speed riffs and blast beats have been observed in acts such as Gamma Ray, Angra and Stratovarius. Likewise, their ballads have a strong amount of piano and string synthesizer devices that can compare with Nightwish. The only real flaw in the musical presentation is that Tony Kakko’s voice retains his Finnish accent when he is singing, and although I don’t mind it myself, some may find this aspect of the music a bit odd, as some did with Klaus Meine’s voice when the Scorpions had their time in the spotlight during the 1980s.
Among the faster tracks on here, “Weballergy” proves to be the most cliché power metal, showcasing an extremely catchy chorus and a constant double bass beat. “False News Travels Fast” has some more intricate change ups and variations, though the chorus as equally as catchy as the last song. “Wolf and Raven” is the heaviest of the speed tracks, featuring some highly technical guitar and keyboard work reminiscent of Rising Force. My favorite fast song on here, however, is the melodically driven and solo heavy track “San Sebastian (Revisited)”. Although it proves to be no less exciting in terms of structure and technical flair than “Wolf and Raven”, the final chorus section of the song is astoundingly beautiful and highlights Tony Kakko’s amazing ability to create a choir of consonant harmonies.
Mid tempo tracks such as “Black Sheep” and “Land of the Free” prove to be no less exciting than the faster ones, the former having a highly memorable chorus, the latter having a bombastic interlude section after the solo section where a group of voices shout “Hey” in unison at the end of each statement of the section’s riff, a device that has also been utilized by Lost Horizon in many of their songs. “Revontulet” is a brief instrumental track that features the keys and the guitar doing some more brilliant Malmsteen worship, loaded with arpeggios and minor scale runs.
The ballads on here prove to be the most innovative out of all the songs. “The End of this Chapter” has some occasional death/black metal screams placed in between Tony Kakko’s rather cleanly sung characterization of a deranged stalker. Musically this track is fairly dense in texture, featuring some unusual guitar effects, which keep the song interesting as it has a very standard beat with little change in feel. “Last Drop Falls” is also lyrically disturbing, yet musically charming, utilizing the clean guitar tone with some synthesized piano work. “Tallulah” is the most power ballad-like of the bunch, switching between a quiet and piano dominated verse and a louder chorus that is easy to sing along with. “Sing in Silence” is the most depressing of the ballads in terms of music and lyrics. Although it is heavily keyboard driven, Tony Kakko’s vocals are the focal point, as he sings about a woman struggling with a drug addiction.
“The Power of One” is the token epic track of the album, and actually proves to be one of the weaker tracks on here musically, mostly because it takes a bit too long to get going. The subject of the song seems to be about the nature and cause of war between people, also hinting in the title that the power to recognize these errors in thought and how to correct them lay in the one person. Although the overall feeling of the song is dark, it does prove to be the least melancholy and disturbing of the tracks on here.
In conclusion, the typical power metal fan will find much to like on here musically, although lyrically the subject matter is a bit atypical. Although one can’t fully call this a Power Progressive album because the music carries little, if any traces of the latter style, it does carry a very Progressive-like theme within its words. If you are a fan of melodic metal with both speed and consonant keyboard sounds, this album is definitely for you, as it is the best that this band has put out.
Silence is considered by many Sonata Arctica fans to be THE album, and it sure is a monolith of more recent power metal albums. As soon as you start the CD, you hear the intro, which is, as the title says, quite silent. However, it builds into a crescendo and moves on to the first real song of the album. From now on, only pure melody remains.
The album has quite a wide variety of songs, from the surprisingly aggressive Wolf and Raven to the smooth ballad Tallulah. This is an album that will surely please any fan of melodic metal.
The vocals are quite good, although not as matured as on the latest albums, but Tony Kakko manages to put a lot of emotion in his voice, which sets him apart from a lot of singers who, even though might have better voice, lack this particular talent. Whether imbued with rage or sorrow, the vocals contribute to make this album very pleasing, even if you won’t escape the usual high-pitched voices so common in the genre.
Guitars and keyboards are omnipresent on the album. You’ll hear great, if not amazing, solos and the melodies are extremely catchy (especially such upbeat songs as Weballergy and San Sebastian), yet are not overly simplistic.
The drums are very sober, this is not Jörg Michael, but it still is very professional. The bass is the weak point of the album, nay, the band. If you want to hear good bass, look elsewhere. I can not deny that the bass contribute to every song, even if in a subtle way, but it is often TOO subtle, too shy.
However, it is not the individual parts that make this album so amazing, it is when taken as a whole. It then reaches a level that is really one step above many, if not most, other albums in the same vein. The songwriting talent of the brain behind Sonata Arctica is undeniable and it is clearly evident on Silence.
As much as I loved this album, I can not give it a perfect note, as some songs (namely, Sing in Silence and Land of the Free) did not really catch my attention, they don’t have that little “plus” that make every other song on this album s incredible. If you are lucky to hear the Japanese version of Silence, you’ll get to hear Respect the Wilderness, a really good song that should have been n the regular version. This album is not for everyone, obviously it will not convert die-hard Death-metal fans, but anyone who likes melodic and power metal should definitely give this album a try.
On the rare occaison that Power Metal is done right, (eg. Dragonforce) it sounds freaking awesome. The riffs are always heavy, accessible and headbangable, the vocals are super melodic, operatic and awesome, and the keys, drums and bass provide the icing on the cake. Sonata Arctica get fairly close to Power Metal perfection on this album, but the terrible ballads and lack of variety in the heavy tunes eventually create an album that starts to grate, and you're glad when the end comes.
There's some great songs in here though. The introduction is pretty cool, and it goes into the super happy Weballergy. The vocals are fairly overrused, but they're also super catchy. The keyboards dominate the song in some parts.. That's not a bad thing for this tune, as they really set the mood, and never sound out of place. The solos are melodic and hummable, and the guitars are heavy, fairly technical and placed perfectly in the mix. Unfortunately, while it's a very good start, the guys in Sonata can't manage to keep it up.
There's plenty of other good songs though. Black Sheep has some good riffs and effective Time Signature changes, Respect the Wilderness has some fairly ridiculous keyboards but has a great vocal melody and some surprisingly understated guitar parts, while The Power of One, a fairly ambitious 11 and a half minute long epic has some great guitar keyboard interplay, some fairly killer solos, and is overall a very nice way to finish the album. It's doesn't get boring either, which is fairly surprising, considering how long it is.
There are some terrible tunes though. Last Drop Falls is one of the worst Power Ballads I've ever heard, with way too many keyboards and terrible chorused guitar. Way too many vocals in that one too. The vocalist plays guitar as well, so why sing all the time? Give it a freaking break once in a while.. And the lyrics are terrible. Tallulah is slightly better, but it's still terrible. Maybe I'm just not used to Power metal ballads yet. Wolf and Raven is very technical, but also extremely boring.
In the end, Sonata Arctica are a band of two extremes. When it works, it's awesome. (As their newer albums generally show.) You're in Power Metal heaven. But when it sucks, damn it's terrible. I would nonetheless recommend this album, just keep the skip button handy.
Sonata Arctica's album, Silence, portrays the emotion of what seems to me like the loss of the loved one. Lyrically this album is very deep and powerful, but with such great lyrics were wasted on the horrible way the music portrays them on this album. Don't get me wrong i like this album, but it could have been a more powerful release. This album is split between the typical power metal songs, with the typical riff and generic drumming. On the other side of the split it's a few piano and balladic masterpieces. They throw in the cheesy songs such as: Weballergy, Black Sheep; where the songs are basically the cheesy power metal mixed sometimes with a techno style drumming and odd guitar/keyboard parts that just sound horrible. The benifit of this album is definately the ballads. The ballads, especially Talluluh, and Last Drop falls features nice mix of piano/keyboards then includes a nice guitar solo when the song comes closer to an end. I feel sonata arctica would be a stronger unit if they wrote this album as a more balladic release instead of continuing to jump of the power metal band wagon. The power metal songs are not that interesting, but the ballads make this album a beautiful work of art.
“Silence” is the album that introduced me to the vast realm of true Power Metal. It was this album, with it’s remarkable opening “Weballergy” that really brought me to realize what these guys were all about. Other tracks, such as “Last Drop Falls,” “Wolf and Raven,” “Tallulah,” and “Black Sheep” depicted the extreme melodic talent that Sonata Arctica possess, not only in this album, but in Ecliptica and Winterheart’s Guild as well. Jani Liimatainen’s guitar style on this particular album was slightly different from that of Ecliptica’s, in that he imported the use of the blues scale and basic minor scales combined. His accuracy and swiftness on the frets prove flawless…that is to say that even when slowed down, the timing on each note as compared to the time signature of the song is unblemished. You may question why I give this album only a 90. Well, the first five points are clearly lost in Tommy Portimo’s repetitive quarter to quarter rest to double eighth note rhythm on double bass. He uses it in nearly every track in various different tempos and although it doesn’t affect the overall mood of the song, it still shows his lack of creativity in double bass rhythm. That isn’t to say he hasn’t got great talent…why would I bring him up then? The last five points are lost within the bass frequency…where is it? It may be completely audible at one point, or completely drowned out at another. Quite frankly, I hate it when bands do this…why not just keep a constant volume level throughout the album? If the bassist has the talent then let’s hear the volume. All in all, however, this album deserves the credit of a full 90. Beautiful lyrics (Tony Kakko has amazing vocal ability), moving melodies that are not limited to just keys in the minor form, adrenalizing drum tone, and overall inspiration can be found on this album.
If you don't know about them by now you must be living under a rock!!! The band from the frozen lands of Finland released a great debut album ("Ecliptica"), taking the metal world by storm, though they hadn't much experience. I waited for this release that confirmed my view about the first CD. The musical way is the same, fast, incredibly neo-classically-influenced Melodic Speed Metal, always influenced mainly by Stratovarius (but they are talented enough on their own not to be called a clone of them). The new material is more mature, stronger and aggressive and I feel a progression in the technicality and it is a natural progression since the first CD. I can also note a great improvement in the vocals. Tony's vocals and keyboards are even more amazing and the album features a more mature songwriting. Every song is a jewel with catchy choruses, nice backing vocals, wonderful melodies and guitar solos. The guitars have a great sound and the melodies are breath taking. The mixture of keyboards, vocals and guitars is very precise and admirable indeed. If you thought "Ecliptica" was good, "Silence" is mind blowing right from the fast and breakneck opener "Weballergy", to the emotive mid-tempo "The End Of This Chapter". Fast songs can be found here: the already mentioned opening track "Weballergy", "False News Travel Fast", "San Sebastian" (that could be found on the previous EP), "Wolf & Raven" (featuring their typical elements: fast drums, speedy guitars and melodic vocals), "Land Of The Free"... etc; and, of course, amazing mid-tempo/ballads: "The End Of This Chapter", "Last Drop Falls", "Sing In Silence"... The album also features a killer instrumental track, "Revontulet", and ends on a long epic tune (9 minutes) titled "The Power Of One", in the vein of Edguy. The Japanese version contains an excellent song called "Respect The Wilderness". To sum up, excellent 2nd album, only the packaging is a bit dissapointing but that's a minor complaing. Get this album and you won't be dissapointed.
Two years after the titanic release of Ecliptica, Sonata Arctica is back, and they're still kicking ass with a powerful medley of fast and slow songs alike.
A sophomore album is tricky business. In my review of Ecliptica, I mentioned how Sonata Arctica should be respected for their successful debut album. Well, when a sophomore album is even better than the debut, the respect due to them goes through the roof. The guitar playing is powerful with great riffs and powerful solos that rip a hole right in the top of your skull and drain your brains out. The keyboards are not as prevalent as in Ecliptica, but the drums are, and the vocals are high and soaring as always. In other words, they got it right in Ecliptica, and they didn't fuck it up here.
The cool little intro ditty leads right in to Weballergy, which has a great melody and features vocals on par with the legendary Full Moon and a blazing fast solo section. The End of this Chapter is cheesy beyond belief, but it's still a solid ballad. It's followed up by Black Sheep, which has a very different sound thanks to the 3/4 (or something like that) timing and the call-and-response-type vocals. The result is a very catchy Sonata Arctica classic. San Sebastian (Revisited) is a great song, but it has too much keyboard and not enough guitars (for a better version, get the original on Successor). Sing in Silence is a completely underrated ballad that is very well-done and is unfortunately overlooked by many fans and critics alike. Revontulet is a pounding fast instrumental with great keyboard work while Tallulah is another very well-done ballad with a haunting piano opening. Finally, Wolf & Raven is really really really fast--even the vocals are faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, etc.
There is some really fantastic stuff on this album that is definitely worth the money of any fan of the genre/style. Play it if you own it, buy it if you don't.