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Sonata Arctica releasing an entirely good album - 71%

NocturneFreeze, April 2nd, 2009

Ecliptica is the rare gem of the whole Sonata Arctica catalogue. First of all, basically because they didn't collapse under their greatness, but most of all it's because they sound more like Stratovarius. Rip-off or not, I don't care, it's better than everything they released after this album. All the songs are the typical stratovarius songs. There are the fast songs, Blank File, Kingdom for a Heart. There are the more midpaced songs like My Land and FullMoon which are borderline power ballads. There are the actual power ballads Replica and Letter to Dana and there is the stereotypical "epic" song Destruction Preventer. Sometimes Sonata Arctica slacks a little bit off, but for most of the time they're doing a great job.

Tony Kakko does a fine job on this album. He is much better than his Stratovarius idol, both in singing and keyboards. Blank File is the best example. He has a wide range on his pipes, and he shreds entertainful on his keyboard. Although none of the other songs reach out this good, he never slacks off. He doesn't experiment much, unlike later releases, keeping it all safe but enjoyable. This also goes for the rest of the band. The guitar, bass and drums are also the stereotypical Stratovarius influenced power metal. Nothing special, just the usual double base/guitar wankery stuff.

Still, in the end it's all about the melodies. And boy, Sonata Arctica succeeded in that. In Silence and later albums, Sonata Arctica experimented with different prog. related aspects. None of them were utilised good in the music, resulting in very average songs. Luckily, the only song that has some progressive influences is Destruction Preventer. No wonder that this is the failure of the album, Sonata Arctica just can't cooperate with progressive elements. Luckily there are the songs Blank File, FullMoon and Kingdom for a Heart to save the day. Actually, no song really slacks of, with the exception of the already mentioned Destruction Preventer and Picturing the Past. At those times, Sonata Arctica become to neo-classical and progressive and basically dig their own grave.

This album is mainly for the nice melodies. It's the usual flower power metal, and it's good. It's not as tedious as the thousands of unknown scandinavion power metal bands. Mainly because it's not too pretentious and neo-classical influenced. There is more emphasis on the actual melodies than on the lighting speed of the instruments. That's how I like it, and how it should be done. After all, music is there to enjoy people, and this album is so comfortable. The soothing melodies of My Land, the great ballad Letter to Dana and the even better Replica. Then there is also the song Mary-Lou, that although it's a bonus track is actually the best track on the whole album. There is nothing special to be foun in here, and I would have loved if Sonata Arctica kept that way...