Posts Tagged ‘Sonata Arctica’

The_savage_poetryEdguy were in an interesting position at the turn of the millennium. Starting the group as a bunch of wide-eyed teenagers in the early to mid ’90s, Tobias Samet and the rest of the boys who would go on to become legends of German Melodic Power Metal, were initially a rough an ready influences-worn-on-sleeves kinda band. They released a demo quality debut album called Savage Poetry in 1995 and then through years of practice and touring went on to become a leading force in Power Metal and one of the finest to be doing it at the time. After releasing their absolute magnum opus Theater Of Salvation in 1999 and being considerably more famous and beloved, fans kept asking if they would reissue Savage Poetry which had long since been out of print. Doing them one better, the band took all the talent, skills and confidence they’d been developing over the years and remade the album. No reissued, not re-recorded, but remade entirely.

Everything is different here, new artwork, new logo, new track order, new guitar solos, heck even the bassist and drummer are new when you think about it as neither were on the original version. They added a ‘The’ to the title as well, that’s new. Essentially, what happened was the band listened to these old songs and then wrote them again in 1999 as only the band who had released Theater Of Salvation could have. What resulted was a mix of old and new, that ticks all the right boxes to sound classic and modern, naive and accomplished, charming and sophisticated. There’s a duality to it that works as well as your go to metaphor (be that chocolate and peanut butter, tits and dragons or whatever people are saying these days, the point is the two compliment each-other despite seeming like different worlds).

For most people this is just some handy background information for a pub quiz however because unless you go out of your way, you aren’t hearing the 1995 version easily and the differences between the two versions are therefore largely academic. Regardless, because this is Edguy in 1999 we’re talking about here, this is an absolutely superb album not to be missed by Edguy fans, or indeed anyone with an interest in this style of music. If you listen to Gamma Ray, Helloween, Hammerfall, Blind Guardian, Freedom Call, Sonata Arctica, Stratovarius or anyone of that nature, you really want to get up on this album. I would be so bold as to say The Savage Poetry is either the band’s second best, or sometimes if I’m feeling generous, joint-first best studio album.

There are a lot of similarities between this and Theater Of Salvation. They were both recorded around the turn of the millennium at Rhoen Studios in Fulda, Germany, and were both self produced by the band, with the same line-up. They both feature a mixture of Maiden and Priest influenced speed metal sections, bombastic grandiose sections with pianos and choral singing, and then some occasional ballads, and happy Helloween-influenced melodies. They both come before the band went a bit more Hard Rock in direction and they both come before the band started letting their humour play a big part.

Highlights include the speedier more metallic tracks ‘Sacred Hell’ and ‘Misguiding Your Life’ as well as the slow stompy Hammerfall-esque opener ‘Hallowed’ and possibly best of all, the diverse multi-faceted ten-minute ‘Eyes Of The Tyrant.’

The album works really well from start to finish, the two ballads break things up (and are surprisngly tasteful), the longer tracks take you on a little journey and then the rest of the album gets its head down and delivers exactly what you love about the band perfectly, only with a little bit more of a NWOBHM gallop than usual.

Overall; be sure not to miss out on one of the band’s absolute finest hours. If you like the glorious melodic guitar lines, crunchy riffs and pounding drums of Edguy at their most metallic, this is seriously up there as one of the finest examples of that. If you like the band being adventurous and writing long complex stuff, that’s here too. If you like them when they drop some ballads, these are some of the band’s best. If you’re tempted by the band but scared off by the more commercial Hard Rock stuff or the comedy stuff there’s none of that here. This is the band at their best, with some damn fine songs and a sterling production job, updating some charming old songs into an absolute beast of an album. Highly recommended!

Sonata Arctica – Ecliptica Review

Posted: September 28, 2017 by kingcrimsonprog in Metal, Metal - Studio, Music Reviews
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220px-SonataArctica_EclipticaSonata Arctica are a Finnish Power Metal band, starting their career in the late ’90s, and Ecliptica is their now-classic self-produced debut album from 1999. This is back before they started getting orchestras and turning progressive, before their concept albums. This is the band dealing purely with the basic, glistening, unaltered, raw and pure perfect formula without experimentation.

In terms of musical direction the material is very much in the style of their fellow countrymen Stratovarius. Very melodic, speedy European-style Power Metal with plenty of doublekicks, keyboards and sweet falsetto vocals. The band have toured with Stratovarius and covered their material so its very much influences on sleeves here. However, just like Airbourne and AC/DC’s sonic relationship, just because they are very similar to someone else’s style doesn’t mean they aren’t doing a damn good job at it. On this album they do that pounding speed metal with keyboard solos and gorgeous melodies thing as well as any of the originators of the scene. The band have such joy, enthusiasm and energy that just sparks off every chorus and solo. Its very pleasant listening. Its like somebody captured smiles and sunshine in audio form. There’s a reason cynics call Power Metal ‘Happy Metal’ and bands like Sonata Arctica play a big part in that.

The songs here are some of the finest examples of the formula in the history of the genre. ‘Blank File,’ ‘Destruction Preventer,’ ‘Kingdom For A Heart’ and the lead single ‘UnOpened’ are all particularly strong. The bouncy powerballd ‘Letter To Dana’ is memorable. (Also the bonus track ‘Mary-Lou’ if you get that version, is very enjoyable). The album is really strong and consistent without much filler and nothing you would want to skip immediately. It is succinct, memorable, flows well and works well as a whole. You can play it from start to end and stay entertained the whole time.

If you scoff at ‘Flower Metal’ and all its cheese, then maybe this will confirm all your worst fears (apart from maybe songs about wizards and dragons and fairies). But if you are a fan of Freedom Call and Stratovarius its hard to see how you wouldn’t love this band and this album.

Tony Kakko has such a strong voice and his contributions on keys add great colour to the material. He conveys such emotion. If you don’t usually like this type of music you may find him a bit too flowery but if you are into this music there are only a handful of singers on the planet who do it as well.

Its almost amazing that the band started off with such a strong debut right away. A lot of bands took a while to get their style down, especially in Power Metal where a lot of bands started off as Thrash or Heavy Metal bands and took a few albums to get where they were going. I guess having other bands already blaze the trial beforehand helped. But much like Hammerfall; even though they didn’t start off in the ’80s like Blind Guardian or Helloween or Running Wild, they just arrived seemingly out of nowhere and dropped a rock-solid gem of a debut, coming out of the gate already formed. The band would go on to very different things with complex concept albums and musical exploration, but this debut finds them focused into the absolute perfect basic speedy melodic Power Metal formula and doing it as well as any of their peers or indeed any of their idols.

Overall; this is an absolute banger of an album. The speed, the melody, the sentimental ballads are all exactly what you want from a Power Metal group and Sonata Arctica have absolutely mastered the form. If anyone were to sling any criticism at the album it could only be that it sounds a lot like Stratovarius, but that can equally be praise because its a difficult thing to achieve, and they do it so well, so consistently and very memorably indeed.

I think Djent has become an independent subgenre now.

I understand that people were arguing about whether or not it was a real subgenre when it was starting out, but I think so many bands have come out sounding like eachother, so many record labels group them together, so many Djent fan sites and concert line-ups have been made that it has come online, become self-aware and is now a real genre.

People had the same problems with Thrash Metal when it was new, with Hair Metal when it was new and with Nu Metal when it was new, but now, most fans agree that they are real subgenres.

Sure they might argue about the name “Hair” is interchangeable with “Glam/Sleeze/Teeth/Pop Metal” and “Thrash” sometimes gets intertwined with “Speed.” “Nu” sometimes gets called “Rap” or “Alternative.”

There’s disagreement over all of them “Glam is just a look” “Nu is just rapping and DJs over the top” and people say the names are stupid. Nowadays, a few people say “Djent” is a stupid name and “Djent is just a tone” but there’s more to it than that, and it has become a real genre due to the critical mass of bands making Djent music.

Sure; Uneven Structure, Tesseract and Periphery are all pretty different, but so are Kreator, Anthrax and Metallica.

So are Linkin Park, Powerman 5000 and Korn.

So are Bon Jovie, Quiet Riot and Motley Crue.

In Power Metal, there’s a vast difference between Stratovarius, Helloween and Sonata Arctica. And its named after power? All Metal is Powerful.

I agree that naming Djent after a tone is unusual, but its better than naming it after a look (Glam/Hair) or the fact that it is new (Nu) is equally silly.

Maybe they should have called Thrash “Chug.” Sure, some non-Thrash bands like Motorhead and Sabbath had chugging, but that ties into the idea of how much Djent took from Messugah. Its similar to how much Nu Metal took from Faith No More and Primus. I know that some non-Djent bands have the Djent-Tone like Architects did on Hollow Crown, but that ties in with the idea of bands like Anvil and Metal Church being heavier than most Heavy Metal bands but not quite Thrash.

Maybe the name will change, but the subgenre will stick, if history is any indicator.
Maybe some of the bands will escape the tag becuase they’re too different, eg. maybe Animals As Leaders are too different than the core Djent sound like the way Slipknot are too different than the core Nu Metal sound, but overall, Nu Metal is still considered to exist.

Just go to Got-Djent.com and have a look at all the bands who play Djent music, or music similar to Djent, and check out all the similarities and differences.

Try out one song each by the top-25 most popular bands. Try that same trick for other subgenres like Black Metal, Death Metal, Hair Metal, Nu Metal, Power Metal, Doom Metal, Thrash Metal etc.
Pay attention to all the similarities and all the differences from bands still considered to be within one subgenre. Pay attention to how there are some bands or songs that are a bit borderline and ones that are definite. I believe that same balance now exists in Djent and that Djent has become a real subgenre.