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Sonata Arctica: Keyboards on Fire!! - 92%

OSheaman, July 21st, 2003

Remember how I said that the keyboards in Silence were less prevalent than in Ecliptica? And maybe you caught the implied assertation that this was the beginning of a trend towards a more guitar-favored sound?

Well, so much for that idea. This album is 90% keyboard work. Thrashy Power metal fans should stay away, as this album is most definitely NOT for you. For those of you who can appreciate the sound, however, there is a lot of good stuff on the album. The keyboard work is smooth and very well-done, with a handful of solos by guest artist Jens Johansson, one of the Gods of Metal known collectively as Stratovarius. The guitar plays backup, but it plays backup well, with solid underlying riffs that often double up with the bass. The drumming is solid and steady, and the vocals by Kakko are spectacular as always. Sonata Arctica fans will almost certainly not be disappointed, although as I said, this isn't for everybody.

Highlights. The opening track, which is very poorly named (Abandoned, Pleased, Brainwashed, Exploited) is nonethless the best track on here. Gravenimage is a nice, long ballad, and it is immediately followed by The Cage, which opens up with one of Jens's godly keyboard solos and features a damn catchy chorus line. Silver Tongue is probably the heaviest song on here, featuring great, thrashy riffs by the guitar (it is probably the only real headbanger on here). Champagne Bath is catchy and well-done, although it sounds suspiciously similar to some of Sonata Arctica's other stuff. Broken is noteworthy simply for the killer vocal harmonies in the verses, and the bonus track is a very well-done song, although the beat is getting to be a bit overused in the music.

The low point of the album is Victoria's Secret. I honestly cannot understand why a solo release was made of this piece of filth. The riffs are mushy, and the production is one of those disasters where you have to listen really closely to hear the melody played by the keyboards. The vocals are too soft for the music, and unlike Kamelot, Sonata Arctica can't pull that trick off. The chorus is OK, but it doesn't save the overall song.

In general, though, this is a solid release from Sonata Arctica. It's worth the money, and I have enjoyed it.

Although, to be completely honest, they should bring the guitar back.