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A flawless start - 98%

Ecliptik, June 24th, 2012

Debut albums are tricky beasts. They are typically when bands/artists feel they need to go all out in order to prove their worth as musicians. In a sense, this is true of Ecliptica, because in the preceding year, Stratovarius had released their widely acclaimed Visions, a daunting release for a brand new band to match up against. It was a release that made an obvious impression on Tony Kakko. An impression, come to find out, that would help give birth to on of the most prolific names in power metal today. And it all started here.

The energy of a fledgling, youthful band is clearly ostensible from the opening beat of ‘Blank File’. There is an absolutely unrestrained aura about it, as if the entire band as a unit is trying to release every creative idea they’ve ever had all at one time, and in maximum overdrive. Tony’s vocals kick in almost immediately. His skills have not quite yet been honed; his technique still somewhat unrefined. But there’s a palpable energy felt, and more importantly: it is sincere, and absolutely inspired. Incidentally, this is reflected in his performance on the keys, a role he also assumes on this album. Jani breaks in and starts plugging away merrily with a traditional speed/power lick; perfectly simple yet 100% effective. Meanwhile, Tommy’s performance is vaguely reminiscent of Blind Guardian’s ‘Banish from Sanctuary’ – just imagine more emphasis on the double bass, of course.

What’s more is that while you can feel the energy and vitality of the scorchers such as ‘8th Commandment’ and ‘Picturing the Past’, you can also hear the woeful passion of the slower pieces. ‘Replica is Ecliptica’s first offering of tamed restraint, and Sonata Arctica’s first overtly love-inspired songs. Opening with a steady and light-hearted melody, it then segue’s into a tale of war torn tragedy, maintaining a certain elegance throughout. The structure is almost like a pseudo-power ballad, never quite going over-the-top but nevertheless delivering an undeniable intensity. The albums standout anthem is ‘Fullmoon’, which leads off with an incredibly memorable piano line and a galloping chorus that I dare you to resist singing along to.

And so as the album goes on in its masterfully harmonious sensation, you get a feel not only of the remarkable consistency, but of Tony’s altogether more obvious gift as a lyricist. The word “fresh” really just doesn’t do his style justice. His stories are just so vivid, almost as if he is telling of his first-hand accounts of fantastical werewolf tragedies and the global eradication of the free-thinking human mind. The verses are concise, yet so enormously powerful, i.e. ‘Destruction Preventer’:

“Now tell me who won here tonight,
The price of winning worthless fights,
We’ll make the same mistakes again,
Unless this is truly the end”.

Can you say dismal?

In all, Ecliptica speaks for itself. It is brilliant, fun, and uninhibited. And when you consider the three powerhouse albums that were to follow, it’s not that hard to understand why Sonata Arctica have become the power metal icons they are today.
Yeah, get this album.