Sonata Arctica: Unia
We last heard from Sonata Arctica with their stellar performance CD/DVD combo For The Sake Of Revenge – this blistering concert piece came courtesy of the tour supporting Reckoning Night and it showed the world just how incredible the guys were on the stage and in general. Now the Finnish masters of Melodic Power Metal have returned to continue the valiant quest for world dominance over the genre with the presentation of Unia. It's an album that takes time to remind us a little about where Sonata has come from musically and one that also helps us chart the course of where they are headed in the future. As one might expect from the guys there is a heaping dose of energetic musical forays to enjoy along with some rousing sing-along anthems. Yet this time around instead of being a full throttle pounding there seems to be a little bit more subtlety and experimentation into slower numbers that hold quite an impact. It starts off strong with "In Black And White", a tune that has a lot of that old school Sonata Arctica feel to it. Yet the second tune slows it down just a little bit with "Paid In Full" but that picks up during the chorus parts. I'm confident that the main tune that will bring people a smile is "It Won't Fade". The track possesses the effective Sonata trait of blending several different melodic styles to success. Lead singer Tony Kakko is as on point as ever across the recording but when it hits "Caleb" you see just how much so. As one of the richest tunes on the record, we get incredible keyboard displays and then a page out of the Queen songbook is used as they deliver the multi-layered harmony chorus that makes this track a winner. Musically there is a lot to appreciate and as their catalog stands this one has more in common with Winterheart's Guild than that of Reckoning Night with the slight difference of the band not blazing through every track. The band seems to be aiming a little bit at the Progressive side and if this is the sign of how they do it I would like this ride to continue. The good thing about SA is that they don't seem to fear change in their style as they push the experiment to new limits. While I am a fan I still maintain they are best observed in the live sense and much of this album has a solid live "feel" to it which is always a good thing to feel from a studio album. One of the main areas of appeal on this release is the standout work of Henrik Klingenberg whose keyboards are so much more upfront than I recall him ever being on the other albums. As a band they have had a continually growing fanbase and part of me feels that this album is a really good jumping on point for the new listener based on the offerings here. There are numerous adventurous tracks like "Fly With The Black Swan" which is among the deeper offerings to be found but they also pull at the heart strings with "Under Your Tree". This tune lyrically finds Tony singing to the memory of a departed pet and if you are an animal lover I really think this song will affect you in some fashion.
They close out the release with another ballad and this solemn number is "Good Enough Is Good Enough" and the choice surprised me as the way to end an album. Given the ability for the band to deliver a show stopping tune I was amused that they opted to let the new release close simply and subtlety. I've followed Sonata Arctica for a couple of years now and each time they give us new music it is something that takes a couple of listens to best appreciate yet when you do you find the results among the pleasurable things in life. Overall I felt that this was a tasty bit of Metal candy from a land that has been a flowing cornucopia of great music. The album's title of Unia is translated into "Dreams" and I think music fans everywhere will enjoy seeing just what kind of dreams Sonata Arctica are having.
1. In Black And White
2. Paid In Full
3. For The Sake Of Revenge
4. It Wont Fade
5. Under Your Tree
7. The Vice
8. My Dream's But A Drop Of Fuel For A Nightmare
9. The Harvest
10. The World's Forgotten, The World's Forbidden
11. Fly With The Black Swan
12. Good Enough Is Good Enough
Added: June 13th 2007
Reviewer: Ken Pierce
Related Link: Sonata Arctica Website
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|Sonata Arctica: Unia
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-06-13 09:17:09
Seems that Sonata Arctica are finally growing up after all. While much of their back catalog is solid, frenetic power metal, on this latest Unia the band seems to have discovered that 'faster' is not always 'better'. Unia is littered with soaring melodies and boatloads of layered vocal harmonies, as if the band just discovered Queen and Blind Guardian and realized that the world is not just about double bass drum hysteria and blazing guitar riffs. In addition, there's much more room here for keyboards and atmospheric interludes. Fear not though, Sonata still inject plenty of virtuoso guitar and synth duels, so expect the usual catchy riffs and blazing drum work. It just seems like the band is concentrating more on songs this go 'round as well as theatrics, which makes for an appealing and enjoyable listen. Hot tracks include "The Harvest", "Paid in Full", "In Black and White", and "Fly With the Black Swan", but really there's no bad tunes here. While Sonata Arctica still have a way to go to compete with bands like Dragonforce, Kamelot, and Symphony X, Unia might just be one of their strongest releases to date, and sure to gain them even more listeners in the growing power metal fanbase.
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