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This is simply too much - 66%

MaDTransilvanian, June 10th, 2010

Sonata Arctica’s music has never attracted me in a particularly powerful way. However, releases such as the pretty damn cool Takatalvi EP have proven the band’s ability to craft solid power metal, even if at times it sounds absolutely contrary to what metal is actually supposed to be like. Thus I gave the band’s End of this Chapter compilation several good listens, and I’m sorry to say that the amount of cheesiness present on this album is simply too much for me.

End of this Chapter is basically a pretty damn large selection of random Sonata Arctica songs, and I swear that these tracks often sound very, very similar, perhaps even to the point of tiring out the listener who isn’t necessarily a dedicated fan. Basically, the compilation contains stuff which sounds like the stereotypical Sonata Arctica power metal song, that is to say, soft cheesy stuff.

The guitars aren’t too bad. The level of technicality, memorable riffs, solos and other positive elements is remarkably high. However, it sometimes occurs that the guitar sound be drowned out by the more prominent elements on display – drumming, keyboards and especially the vocals. The keyboards are especially prominent in the mix, often jumping out right after a good, memorable solo or at other unexpected places. Again, they keyboard playing isn’t that bad but it tends to get monotonous when you realize that their playing doesn’t really change that much. Also, sometimes the keyboards simply take too much place, leaving no actual audible riffs at work. That’s a problem, rendering the music visibly less strong or metal. The drumming isn’t quite as bad, being standard power metal stuff. Varied patterns and decent levels of loudness are at work here, rendering the whole thing pretty good, if not particularly outstanding from the mass of similar work on other albums of the genre.

Power metal is a genre within which the vocals play an essential role, perhaps more so than in any other metal genre except traditional heavy metal. Sonata Arctica’s sound is instantly recognizable due to Tony Kakko’s vocals, and he’s not going to surprise anyone with his performance on these songs. The same extremely clean, high-pitched vocals abound. And I must say, while his vocals aren’t necessarily that bad, 17 tracks of this stuff is just way too much for me. The cheesiness is simply overwhelming, and it gets worse due to the band’s obstinacy to adopt the exact same sound on each damn song.

Sonata Arctica’s End of this Chapter is a pretty good compilation, in that at least it gives a very good idea of what the band’s music is like. But it’s simply too much cheesy power metal concentrated in one spot. It tires out the listener. Sure there are highlights like the outstanding Victoria’s Secret or the intense (by their standards) San Sebastian, but the mass of the songs is relatively hard to distinguish. Approach this with a very high regard for the band’s type of power metal, and a decent dose of caution.