Sonata Arctica - The Days of Grays

1. Everything Fades to Gray (Instrumental)
2. Deathaura
3. The Last Amazing Grays
4. Flag in the Ground"
5. Breathing
6. Zeroes
7. The Dead Skin
8. Juliet
9. No Dream Can Heal a Broken Heart
10. As If the World Wasn't Ending
11. The Truth Is out There
12. Everything Fades to Gray (Full Version)

Tony Kakko – vocals, additional keyboards
Elias Viljanen – guitar
Marko Paasikoski – bass guitar
Henrik Klingenberg – keyboards, Hammond
Tommy Portimo – drums

Ecliptica (1999)
Silence (2001)
Winterheart's Guild (2003)
Reckoning Night (2004)
Unia (2007)

Orchestral arrangements by Mikko P. Mustonen.
Mixed at Finnvox Studios by Mikko Karmila.
Mastered at Chartmakers by Svants Forsbäck.
Produced by Tony Kakko & Sonata Arctica

Johanna Kurkela – female vocals
Perttu Kivilaakso – Cello

Released: 18/9-2009
Reviewed: 26/1-2009

nuclear blast

Finish band, now why the hell would I do that? Sorry, I mean Finnish band Sonata Arctica who have (at least in Swedish Press) been compared to countrymen Stratovarius, actually as much as they have been referred to as copies or clones. Which is strange as they don’t sound much like said band, especially not from their later albums. I also find it rather strange that band Hammerfall would not fall under the same comparison as the band they clone, Helloween but I guess they are so alike that a better name for it would be deja vu, and that is certainly nothing that can be said about Sonata Arctica. If that is true then, why do I bring that thing up? Well you will know more about that later in this review which I hope will be a little less lengthy than the Swedish one.

Now, however I will go into the description of how the band sound. If you want to know, watch the video. No, really do it, the song in the video is a very representative song for this band, the speedy type of song they do and did a lot more earlier. Still of course there are some variations, some songs are very much slower and more epic and so forth but it is still a good guideline. If you know the old material of Sonata Arctica I can state that this album is not quite as complex as it’s predecessor Unia but clearly more complex than the album before, Reckoning Night. It can in quick for the initiated reader be described as a mixed breed between Reckoning Night and Unia with just a touch of Silence.

With that said we move on, or back, to the introduction again and the whole clone/copy deal. There is surely really nothing that can make me think about Stratovarius when I hear this album, well if I discount the fact that both these bands sound Finnish but that can mean a lot of different things and that they both are from Finland and start with an S. However, there are certain things that make me think of other bands and things when I start listening to this album. First of all the intro, it reminds me for some reason of Dead Like Me (my brother will bug me about mixing in TV-shows in my reviews again, he always does), not so much that it sounds anything like it but the tones of the intro song Everything Fades to Gray (intstrumental) makes me think of the theme song of said TV-show. Then we have the first part of second song Deathaura that reminds me very much of Kamelot as the way the female vocals are presented makes me think of Epica or The Black Halo. But does this mean that Sonata Arctica have become clones? Well, no!

Instead of becoming copies this record opens with an instrumental track called Everything Fades to Gray which is actually the same as the ending track which has lyrics to the same song and is about a minute longer. This frames the record and makes it a bit more close or whatever the appropriate thing to describe it would be. I was actually about to first write that it also was the one thing making this record as the songs in between were rather dull and lacked real profile. But that was before, now I know better as these songs grow on you, like the epos called Deathaura which is an epic in several parts and leads on very well from the instrumental opener. Then we move on to the Last Amazing Grays which for me is about everything that is Sonata Arctica, it is a wonderful track that feels so typical for the band without sounding like any of the band’s prior songs. Then we have the video track Flag in the Ground which is also as much Sonata Arctica as a speedy track can be, and I can go on like this throughout the record but I feel it would just be annoying to read.

Still, the best tracks are the opener and ender the way they frame this record is just wonderful, it feels much like the opener is a sort of teaser for the full blown version of the same song in the end. The last song is also definitely the best one on the record, it is beautiful and powerful as well as great.

At first as I said, this record felt not so good but as time went by I grew to like it more and more, the songs really grow on you after time. For you who are familiar with the band, this record is not really as good as Ecliptica, Silence or Unia but very close to Reckoning Night or Winterhearts Guild. So you can see that it grew quite a bit from being a bit daft to being a very good record. The sixth great studio album out of six for Sonata Arctica, that’s quite a track record really.

I would however say that this record still has a small weakness that has bothered me a little bit still: it feels a bit long when you listen to it. I don’t know how long it is in minutes but it feels like it should have been something like a song shorter. Still, this is mainly nitpicking as this record is still really good and some of you maybe even likes a little more of the good stuff, I however likes to keep my experience more intense and love the feel that you miss the album when it ends, with this I wait for it to end.

This minor thing aside, the album correctly states that everything fades to gray and it really brings you into the music in a great way and I have to say that Tony Kakko and his friends once again succeeds in making a great album so all glory to Sonata Arctica.


Label - Nuclear Blast
Three similar bands - Stratovarius/Kamelot/Edguy
Reviewer: Daniel Källmalm