WITH the release of their 10th album Sonata Arctica can rightly claim that they have nothing else to prove and on Talviyö they have seemingly made a conscious decision to stake a claim as the kings of Scandanvian melodic metal.
They have created sumptuous soundscapes and mesmerising melodies as they move foward in this phase of their career – all but gone are the rampant power metal and symphonic elements as Tony Kakko and his compatriots carve a path that, at times, veers close to AOR but retains enough of their metal sensibilities.
That Talviyö can sit with their most recent releases is one thing, but it represents an evolution.
True some will find the likes of the haunting closer ‘The Garden’ a little bit off the beaten track, but its gentleness sits as an appropriate countepoint.
Stand out tracks such as ‘Cold’ and ‘Who Failed Most’ have the drive and craft to be live favourites. The last’s refrain of who can be ‘Lord of the Rings, and Master of Puppets pulling the strings’ will have audiences ready to chant.
It is true that there was an initial difficulty with ‘A Little Less Understanding’; Too commercial? Too self-aware? Too damn catchy? Struggling through it is easy to damn it, except it is an earworm in a good way.
Talviyö is – so we are advised in the accompanying blurb – Finnish for ‘Winter Night’ and to a certain extent this is a conscious decision to delve into some darke elements, and to continue some themes.
‘Demon’s Cage’ is close in its subject matter to ‘Fairytale’, from the 2016 release ‘The Ninth Hour’. Equally, says Tony ‘The Last Of the Lambs’ continues the storylne from the Caleb & Juliet’ stalker saga.
And, that is why this is an evolutionary album, picking lyrical and musical threads and rolling them out to see where they will end up, however, a truly refershing moment on the album is the instrumental ‘Ismo’s Got Good Reactors’. The intensity of the other tracks is shrugged aside as Tony, Elias, Pasi, Henrik and Tommy let loose and it is almost as if you can hear the band having fun.
What is also clear throughout the album is that Sonata Arctica are making a statement, they’ll not be shackled to any pre-conceived ideas of what they should do. And, that works so well on Talviyö.
Talviyö is released on Nuclear Blast on September 6th.