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Yeah . . . I'm not really that impressed - 80%

OSheaman, July 21st, 2003

Live albums are hard to do. A lot of the great bands, including Iron Maiden have fucked up a live album before (Maiden's 11th Hour fucker was Rock in Rio), because on a live album there are no retakes, and even after it's all done, you still have to rely heavily on guys who do stuff like mixing and production. Sonata Arctica's performance is decent, but not spectacular, and whoever did the mixing obviously doesn't listen to metal, because he completely emphasized the wrong sounds at the wrong times, leading to a very sub-mediocre album.

Now, if you're a die-hard Sonata Arctica fan, stop reading this and go out and buy the damn thing. It doesn't completely blow monkey balls, and if Sonata Arctica owns your soul then that's all you need to know before you buy it.

The rest of you might want to wait for round two. This is not Sonata Arctica at their best. The audience is completely enthusiastic and is constantly chanting and cherring; in essence, it's every band's dream audience. Unfortunately, the band does not perform at the level of the studio albums. Ton'y vocals are choppy, and the high notes he hits without a hitch in the studio albums are barely squeaked out in the live verision. The guitar is almost completely inaudible, as the keyboards are at a very high volume, even when they're doing something that is obviously NOT THE MELODY, like playing whole notes or something.

As I said, it's not a total train wreck. The instruments are played well, and the setlist is great, playing out like a Best Of Sonata Arctica album, although there is a noticeable omission of the completely essential San Sebastian. There are also a few very cool parts in the album, including the performance of False News Travels Fast, the weird little piano ditty that leads into the opening of Full Moon (which is then played very well), Black Sheep, which sounds just like the studio version, and the very enthusiastic audience chanting during Wolf & Raven.

Buy it if you're a fan. You'll love it. If you're not that hot about Sonata Arctica, you will definitely not be falling in love with this flawed creation.

UARGH - 20%

Mortido, July 8th, 2003

No, no, what the hell is this!?! Usually live albums are supposed to sound BETTER than studio albums, but here the case is very, very different.
Many of the Sonata songs I like are played here, but they are ruined because they sound about as horrible as me playing Iron Maiden with an accoustic guitar (which I cannot even play). Face it guys - you can't and shouldn't play live. Why not? I'll tell you.

1. Tony Kakko, your singing sounds great on the studio album, but face it, you can't really sing. Your voice sounds terrible here, and knowing it you sound very desperate when singing. You can do some neat tricks with your voice, but you have to try ten times before you succeed. That you can do on the studio albums, plus the fact that you can mix your voice. But if you're going live, you've gotta learn to breathe! Oh, and you sound like a fag!

2. "We've got a problem - our instruments don't sound like Iron Maiden going
live! Help!" Because Maiden has now three guitarists, but they could do it with two just as well. You have only one guitarist, so how do you intend to play a lead guitar and backup guitar at the same time? Hmmm...

3. Your mixing sucks! Fire the mixer guy and get someone who can make it sound more powerful.

I thank God that this CD doesn't include picure. Now THAT would be hideuos -because even if the other band member are allright, Tony looks like a tall five-penny whore with beard, whose nervous and insecure performance is just so embarrasing to watch, that I wonder how the guy can survive after a gig without killing himself.

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.