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Sonata Arctica – 'Talviyo' Album Review


1. Message From The Sun

2. Whirlwind

3. Cold

4. Storm The Armada

5. The Last Of The Lambs

6. Who Failed The Most

7. Ismo’s Got Good Reactors

8. Demon’s Cage

9. A Little Less Understanding

10. The Raven Still Flies

11. The Garden

I listen to quite a lot of Symphonic Metal, and Sonata Arctica are well known as one of the stalwarts of the genre, having been around since the late nineties. So it was with a certain amount of anticipation I approached this album, excited about what I might find.

And my first reactions were definitely positive – this is definitely an album made by a band who are very comfortable with the music they play and very competent at doing so. They can craft songs well and every member of the ensemble is clearly very talented and very happy to be doing what they do.

But for some reason, it just didn’t grab me in the way other albums of this genre have done. It’s always very hard to categorically state what it is about an album that means it doesn’t have a huge impact on you, but I’ll do my best.

I think the most obvious thing for me is the production and the overall sound. It feels a bit small, a bit light – maybe even a little weedy. And that sounds terrible I know, and I must stress that this is a personal opinion and it’s not so bad that I can’t listen to it or anything, it just doesn’t blow me away. And that kind of dulls the high points for me.

There are some songs that I think are great – “Whirlwind”, the second track on the album is great, especially the shifting guitar parts in the chorus and just the overall feel of the song is epic. “Who Failed The Most” is a chug-along anthem that really feels like it should be a part of something greater, and the instrumental “Ismo’s Got Good Reactors” is 3:43 of sheer musical entertainment (although that may just be because I’m a music nerd and enjoyed all of the extra touches and flourishes).

Unfortunately the album is let down (in my view) by a couple of weaker tracks. “Storm The Armada” feels like it never really gets going, “Demon’s Cage” doesn’t really live up to it’s name, and the 7 minute 39 second epic “The Raven Still Flies” feels like a couple of good ideas stretched out.

Now I should clarify – I don’t hate the album, far from it. Not once did listening to it feel like a chore, and I genuinely enjoyed the high points, but the more times I listened the more these minor niggles reared their ugly heads.

But hey, what do I know. This band have been around for two decades or more, and I suspect they have fans who will insist that I’m wrong – and good for them. Music should make you passionate, and I love that it has the capability to do so.

To conclude, this is an album that is definitely worth a play on Spotify (or whichever streaming service is your service of choice) – you’ll enjoy 56 minutes of finely crafted Symphonic metal – which some days, is what you need in life.

Review - Michael Braunton

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