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Sonata Artica “Ninth Hour” Album Review

Genre: Melodic Metal
Released by:Nuclear Blast
Release date:October 7th, 2016

Tracklist:
01. Closer To An Animal
02. Life
03. Fairytale
04. We Are What We Are
05. Till Death’s Done Us Apart
06. Among The Shooting Stars
07. Rise A Night
08. Fly, Navigate, Communicate
09. Candle Lawns
10. White Pearl, Black Oceans Part II – “By The Grace Of The Ocean”
11. On The Faultline (Closure To An Animal)

Tommy Portimo – Drums
Marko Paasikoski – Bass
Tony Kakko – Vocals & Keyboards
Henrik Klingenberg – Keyboards
Elias Viljanen – Guitar

One of the representatives of Finnish melodic metal is Sonata Arctica. This five-piece from Northern Europe can look back one quite some releases with the newest one being in the pipeline. “The Ninth Hour” is its name and it belongs to the really good ones.
I have to admit that I lost a bit track of the band over time. The more I was positively surprised when I listened to “The Ninth Hour”.

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The title of Sonata Arctica’s new longplayer could be seen as a biblical reference since it’s the hour of Jesus dying at the cross. The Finns instead use this expression more as a metaphor without focusing on the original meaning.

The band gives the expression more in a sense of reflecting the the here and now. Nowadays we are living in a world that has to deal with a constant ecocide – a devastation of nature and our planet. Tony Kakko and Co. address this issue on the album, a topic that is more important than ever before.

This very serious topic could be in contradiction with the melodic, sometimes very positive seeming sound of the band. In general this might be true, but Sonata Arctica adds elements to their songs that have this dark expression. “Fairytale” as an example could be, at first hand, seen as a swinging melodic song and the first tones are also reflecting this peaceful atmosphere. But some samples announce an upcoming storm. A harsh riff starts this ‘force of nature’ and even though the vocal lines include a great melody, the tunes stays in this oppressive mode. The following “We Are What We Are” has a similar expression while being a total different ballgame. It’s a power ballad in the best meaning of the word.

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The heart of the album comes more towards the end when the ten minutes epos “White Pearls,Black Oceans Part II” shows the complete picture of Sonata Arctica’s capabilities. The tune is like a movie done as a musical masterpiece. Soulful parts with piano support interact with bombastic outbursts that are loaded with pure power. Also to mention in this context is Tony Kakko who’s vocals are the extra add-on. Not only that his a great singer, he also manages to bring the emotions closer to the listener. In this sense he’s almost a singing narrator of this story.

Sonata Arctica’s ninth album (here the ‘9’ comes back) is a great longplayer. It brought the guys from Finland back on my radar and I guess they will stay there for quite a while.

 

Reviewer: Markus Wiedenmann

Rating: 8/10

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