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Review: Sonata Arctica - Unia
Sonata Arctica

Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Year released: 2007
Duration: 58:39
Tracks: 12
Genre: Progressive Metal

Rating: 3/5

Review online: December 14, 2007
Reviewed by: Bruce Dragonchaser
Readers Rating

Rated 2.8/5 (56%) (40 Votes)

I find it hard to admit to myself that "Unia" is below standard. Thinking my initial opinion would change after I first heard this at their listening session earlier in the year, I set aside some time to get to know the band's fifth release inside and out, and yet I feel I'm still no further forward. Why? Because Sonata Arctica's history has revealed a continuous thread of self-pitying and ersatz sentiment throughout vocalist/songwriter Tony Kakko's lyrics, and this time, they've gone too far, actually taking over the tracks on offer and plying them with self-effacing, longwinded manifestos. Funny thing is; the lyrics are the best element of "Unia", and are probably the most profound Kakko has penned to date. So what's the problem? The effect these longer passages have on the melodies is detrimental, and the danger Kakko faces is that of over-complicating what was initially their signature component, the ingredient of their music that powered their appeal. Without the catchy hooks and memorable choruses, Finland's greatest begin to sound like third tier fodder, having more in common with the bands that have based their output purely on imitation, rather than innovation.

With every track falling into the "Don't Say A Word"/ "Broken" mould, the pace remains mid throughout, with only "The Vice" and "The Harvest" baring any resemblance to their cage-rattling symphonic speed of their past. This is decidedly darker and more mature than anything they've put their name to thus far, and tracks like "Paid In Full" and "Good Enough is Good Enough" are rather arresting in their lyrical content - plus the delivery of Kakko himself is probably his most sincere - but the Stratovarius-worshipping of old has been replaced with Nightwish-esque staccato riffs, gothic overtones, and no hint of the uplifting nature "Reckoning Night" offered in contrast, which lead me to believe that "Unia" would have served better as Kakko's solo album rather than an addition to the Sonata discography.

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