Lords of Metal review » Sonata Arctica - Winterheart’s Guild

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Sonata Arctica - Winterheart’s Guild
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Sonata Arctica - Winterheart’s GuildFerdi: From their first cd on, the band Sonata Arctica has been the main dish in the banquet of every self-respecting powermetalfan. Winterheart’s Guild is their third cd, not counting two mini’s, a live-album and a handful of singles – and has become another masterpiece. But alas, even masterpieces have their faults.

The most striking aspect of this cd is the fast that the band has let off some steam and doesn’t play all the songs as fast as they used to. Obviously, Sonata never were a band who’d play an entire album at the same neck-breaking speed. But this cd contains more mid-tempo songs than any other album. The instrumental parts benefit a lot from this new angle of approach. All of the songs are literally stuffed with epic string-arrangements by Tony Kakko. If the previous cd’s were notable for their melodies, this one is for it’s atmosphere.

Don’t let these words trick you into thinking that there are no fast songs, though. That would be a fault, because the band does pull off a couple of those too. The terribly fast song ‘The Cage’ is a mighty fine example of this: a stupendously-fast track, with a catchy chorus and amazingly dubbed choirs to boot. But for each ‘The Cage’ there’s a song like ‘Victoria’s Secret’: a slower song with more nuances in the compositions.

To still label Sonata Arctica as a typical speed metalband would be very short-sighted. In that respect, this third album is likely to be an essential cd for the band. They’re noticeably trying to break the chains with their Stratovarius-laden past and are clearly trying to establish a sound of their own; despite not finding it through this cd. The urge to make musical developments has resulted in a cd that’s a tad schizophrenic and aimless. What, for example, is the band trying to accomplish with the off-beat composition ‘Abandoned, Pleased, Brainwashed, Exploited’? And what to think of the slightly eccentric ‘Champagne Bath’ or the annoyingly unpredictable ‘Broken’?

You hopefully see my point, dear readers. The new Sonata Arctica contains so much experimentation that it borders on an identity-crisis. Not a terrible crime of course, but it surely underlines the fact that this band still is learning. It also means that for all its strangeness, Winterheart’s Guild lacks the unity that made the previous two cd’s so great. It’s still a terrific album in it’s own right, but it pales in comparison to the other material of the band, both past and future. Because believe me, there’s still a lot of untapped potential in this band. Sonata Arctica have yet to record their ultimate masterpiece, and that’s an encouraging prospect.

 

Rating: 90/100


http://www.sonataarctica.info/


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