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A Near Masterpiece of Graceful Elegance - 95%

metal22, March 6th, 2013

What a magnificent album this is, Reckoning Night, by the masters of theatric power metal. Sonata Arctica have always been rather diverse in the music they write. Their unique (albeit unusual) lyrical themes and melodies have always made me think of them as a kind of 'fairytale' band. Many of their songs tell stories of heartbreak and loneliness in an otherworldly way, which suits the voice of Tony Kakko perfectly. They know how to create a sound that is brilliantly different to any other power metal band, with songs like 'Wolf and Raven' and 'The Cage' having a glowing, magical feel to them. This record has many of these rich, glorious melodies.

The organ at the start of 'Misplaced' tells us that this will be an incredibly diverse, almost experimental album as soon as it kicks in. This is truly the perfect way to start this release, mainly because of the vocals. In the chorus they have a dreamlike feel to them with a real nice melody that mimics the keyboard at the start. The keyboards are prominent in most songs, standing out especially in 'Don't Say A Word'. A fantastical song which really sums this album up: graceful, enchanting and almost mischievous sounding in places. The choirs in the chorus compliment Tony Kakko's voice perfectly, giving it an epic feel. The ethereal symphonies in the background of 'Ain't Your Fairytale' are a reminder of the band's talent for atmospherics.

Whilst there are some songs that go all out on theatrics, a few are just good ol' fashioned rock songs. 'Blinded No More' struts along with a semi-uplifting vocal melody, and comes as a nice, brief change from the more symphonic tracks. Some of the drumming is incredibly well timed with 'The Boy Who Wanted To Be A Real Puppet' having a complex math-core esque time signature at the start. Each song moves along at its own unique pace, from fast traditional speed metal to dainty, gentle ballads. 'White Pearl, Black Oceans' is the best song on the album. Every member of the band shines here, and they showcase all the styles they have. From surreal, ghostly choirs to piano-laden melancholy and then fast, galloping drums. 'Shamandalie' is also a pitch-perfect track: a melody-rich piano centric track with some unbelievable high notes from Kakko. It almost has a feel of songs like Greensleeves from times long past.

Reckoning Night is a grand, entrancing and glorious release from a highly respected power metal band. Every song is distinguishable from one another, and because of the huge range of styles here it will always keep you coming back for another listen. These hymns of grandeur should not go unnoticed by diehard fans of the genre.

A career defining album.