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Review: Sonata Arctica - The Ninth Hour
Sonata Arctica
The Ninth Hour

Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Year released: 2016
Duration: 1:02:04
Tracks: 11
Genre: Power Metal


Review online: October 29, 2016
Reviewed by: MetalMike
Readers' Rating
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Rated 2.86/5 (57.14%) (21 Votes)

The Ninth Hour is the ninth album (clever) from Finnish Power Metal veterans Sonata Arctica and follows what was largely regarded as the "return to form" album Pariah's Child. For those unaware, Sonata Arctica was at the vanguard of the "happy" Power Metal movement with classics of the genre like Ecliptica and Silence. The band has always explored darker lyrical themes like man's evolution ("Blood") and the ills of modern society ("Blank File" "Cloud Factory") and after a few albums the music followed suit and fans got depressing, down tuned offerings like Unia and The Days of Grays. More recent efforts have steered back to their roots and the band seemed to have struck a balance with Pariah's Child. The Ninth Hour, while not a retreat to the unpleasantness of Unia, is not as good as Pariah's Child.

On The Ninth Hour the band continues to try and find the right blend between the speedy, happy double-kick anthems of their early material ("Rise a Night") and the thoughtful, melancholy odes ("White Pearl, Black Oceans Part II: By the Grace of the Ocean," a follow up to "White Pearl, Black Ocean" from Reckoning Night) and does fairly well. All the band's lyrical tropes are here; evolution of man ("Closer to an Animal"), modern society ("We Are What We Are") and the complications of love ("Candle Lawns"). The performances are excellent and the band easily handles main songwriter/singer Tony Kakko's compositions. The main difference for me between this album and the last is the darker feel and lack of "fun". On Pariah's Child, Kakko and company lightened the mood with the upbeat speed of "Larger than Life" and the irreverent humor of "X Marks the Spot." Those flourishes are missing from The Ninth Hour and the album can feel like a bit of a downer once you get all the way through.

At the end of the day, The Ninth Hour is not Pariah's Child and certainly not Silence or even Reckoning Night but it is quite good nonetheless. I enjoyed it a lot (insert obligatory fanboy admission here) and while I was hoping for more like Pariah's Child and didn't get it, it is a solid release.

More about Sonata Arctica...
Review: Clear Cold Beyond (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: Clear Cold Beyond (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Ecliptica (reviewed by Larry Griffin)
Review: Ecliptica (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Review: Ecliptica (reviewed by Pascal Côté)
Review: Ecliptica - Revisited (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: For the Sake of Revenge (reviewed by Bruce Dragonchaser)
Review: Pariah's Child (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: Reckoning Night (reviewed by Christopher Foley)
Review: Reckoning Night (reviewed by Larry Griffin)
Review: Silence (reviewed by Christian Renner)
Review: Sonata Arctica Tour 2014 (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: Stones Grow Her Name (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: Talviyö (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: The Days of Grays (reviewed by Bruce Dragonchaser)
Review: The Days of Grays (reviewed by Larry Griffin)
Review: The Days of Grays (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: Unia (reviewed by Bruce Dragonchaser)
Review: Unia (reviewed by Larry Griffin)
Review: Winterheart's Guild (reviewed by Christian Renner)
Review: Winterheart's Guild (reviewed by Larry Griffin)
Interview with keyboardist Henrik Klingenberg and bassist Pasi Kauppinen on September 9, 2014 (Interviewed by MetalMike)
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