Sonata Arctica - Winterheart's Guild
Reviewed by Michael on 27th April 2003
This album is frankly a huge disappointment. Everything that Sonata Arctica have been praised for in recent years is missing from this album, with an complete failure to enthrall the listener regardless of the tempo of the track. Previously, Sonata Arctica were the masters of sucking you in with infectious songs, before giving you a moment's respite and then proceeding to knock you off your feet. This sadly has been lost in this release - with the exception of a couple of gems.
Even before we open the album, we can see that this album is an change from the norm' due to the release's title - Winterheart's Guild. This suggests that something different is in store when compared to Eliptica/Successor/Silence, the albums that have gained them considerable recognition in Finland and elsewhere.
Everything starts to go wrong from the very first track, Abandoned, Pleased, Brainwashed, Exploited. This song tries to blow the listener away in the same style as Black Sheep, but instead loses itself in the mix. The next track, Gravenimage is an attempt to mix the fast and the slow, and it fails miserably. However, there is refuge in the next four tracks, which are the most closest to previous work. A notable mention must go to Silver Tongue and The Misery for being the closest to the old, successful formula. The last three tracks are also a huge disappointment, being of a vastly inferior quality when compared to the previous gems.
One thing that seems to be notable about the entire album is that Tony Kakko's voice seems to lack power compared the epic masterpiece that was Silence. This could be intentional, but it sets the tone for the entire album - weak and uninspiring.
My last gripe is that their official website hasn't been available for a considerable while. With a band so dependent on foreign success as they are, a lack of an Internet presence is a terrible thing.
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