|Review: Sonata Arctica - Reckoning Night|
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Year released: 2004
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: February 1, 2009
Reviewed by: Christopher Foley
Album number four, Reckoning Night is where the boys from Finland really started to come into their own, gone was the Strato-worship, and in was the heavier guitar sound and some absolutely awesome choirs and gang vocals. Really, Reckoning Night could be seen as Sonata Arctica's masterpiece. Sure Winterheart's Guild was an absolute corker, as is their entire discography. However there is just something about this album that screams "masterpiece."
For starters, Sonata Arctica have really upped their game; seven string guitars give a altogether heavier sound, Tony Kakko's vocals sound fantastic, hell even his English improved. The rhythm section steps it up, giving a riveting backbone, and the addition of the awesome Henrik Klingenburg to the keys was certainly not a mistake. Opener "Misplaced" kicks in with a fucking awesome Hammond-like sounding double kicking intro, breezing nicely into pure Power Metal open string guitars. Catchier than the common cold, you'll be humming this for weeks, already you can hear the heavy guitar sound with a perfect tone. The mid-section of this track really shines, with some classy as hell riffing and a sick guitar/keyboard duel. Jani Liimatainen really shines here, with kick-ass solos and some fantastic riffs. "Blinded No More" is a nice mid-paced track, again very catchy and some very classy instrumentation, ending with a pretty bizarre animal-sounding growl, taking us nicely into "Ain't Your Fairytale"; classic Sonata Arctica. "Don't Say a Word" is one of the best tracks these guys ever put to paper, and it's a shame they edited out the best parts for the music video because you need to hear this song the way it was originally recorded. The mid section is phenomenal, especially the riff 3:52 in. From here onwards we start to see a lot of different sides to Sonata Arctica, especially "The Boy Who Wanted To Be A Real Puppet", with its almost prog-like stylings - the drum work especially stands out here.
"Wildfire" begins with a pretty amusing spoken intro, taking us into one of the heavier tracks these guys have written. Again the prog influences show through, especially in the guitar work. Without a doubt one of the braver tracks on offer, fans who have yet to hear this album could well take a few listens to fully appreciate. "White Pearl, Black Oceans..." sent my jaw diving to the floor, with sublime vocal work, beautiful compositions, but altogether just a damn enjoyable track, one of their best. Closing things off, "Shamandalie" is a very powerful semi-ballad, vastly preferable to cringers such as "Tallulah" or "Letter to Dana". If you're a Sonata Arctica fan and you don't own this album already, it's time to pull your finger out and buy it, because as it stands this is the best they've done. A fantastic journey through an uplifting, well written Power Metal album should not be turned down by any fans of the genre. It's rare, and becoming increasingly rare that we see things done this well. Absolutely essential.
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