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An expensive package. For diehard fans only. - 70%

Hattori, August 3rd, 2002

The idea of releasing a live album after only two studio albums is absurd. Of course, this live package is for serious, diehard Sonata Arctica fans only. Firstly, it's a stopgap live recording to whet fans’ appetites until the next studio platter. Secondly, if you are like me and want all of the bonus tracks, then you can only find them on the Japanese version. This means paying Japanese import prices (duh!). I paid $56 dollars for my copy, which despite being in Canadian funds, is still a lot of money.

The live tracks on the Successor EP were very poorly produced, especially the vocals. Thankfully, “Songs of Silence” has a crystal clear production. The performances are also fine and do justice to the studio versions. I've heard some complaints about Kakko's vocals, but I find that he gives a competent live performance. There are some spectacular vocal moments here, with my favorite being Kakko's really high and weird delivery of "The words they maim me" in album-closer, "Wolf and Raven." Kakko also uses his growling voice more often on this album, but not too much or in places where it doesn't fit.         

Because this live package was released after only two studio albums, both Ecliptica and Silence are well represented. Four songs from Ecliptica, and eight tracks from Silence appear on the main disc. You'll find favorites such as "Replica," "Wolf & Raven," "My Land," and "Sing in Silence."  I didn't think it was possible, but the crowd sounds just as into the songs as I am. Listen to the Japanese fans chant "Run away. Run away. Run away" in the chorus of FullMoon. The crowd participation coupled with that song's own strength make it a definite highlight. Another highlight occurs during "Kingdom For a Heart," when Tony sings “If I only had a hard on.” I almost fell out of my chair laughing. The first disc also features a live rendition of “Respect the Wilderness,” the Japanese bonus track for 2001’s “Silence.” For those, like myself, who don’t own the Japanese edition of “Silence,” the inclusion of “Respect the Wilderness” is an added bonus.

The three-track bonus disc features live performances of “Blank File” and “Land of the Free,” as well as a studio version of “Peacemaker,” an old “Tricky Beans” song that was previously available on the “Wolf and Raven” single. I’m honestly surprised that “Blank File” is featured as a bonus track, and that it didn’t make the first disc. Having to change discs whenever I want to hear that song is somewhat annoying. Unfortunately, two of my favorite Sonata Arctica songs, “San Sebastian” and “Letter to Dana,” don’t appear on either disc. There is enough quality SA material, however, to keep me happy in the face of such notable omissions.

Because of the timing and price of this release, “Songs of Silence” is for fans only. Those who aren’t familiar with the band would be encouraged to try either of their two studio albums first.  

Note: There is also a Finnish version of this album, but while it boasts beautiful computer-generated artwork, it does not include “The Power of One” or the entire bonus disc. Serious fans of Sonata Arctica, the only people who would be interested in this album in the first place, would probably want all of the bonus tracks, and therefore would not be interested in the Finnish edition.