“Under the moon I hold a wake for a promise torn
Mortally wounded, feelings sheltered me
Once again my shadow will enter your life
Time to walk with me the last mile…“
Sonata Arctica are, without a doubt, the best Power/ Symphonic Metal band in my universe. Period. The Finland maestros have been around for many years, lead by the superb vocalist and conductor Tony Kakko and have never disappointed me through their whole catalogue of consistency.
Kakko is a unique mixture of Rob Halford, Michael Kiske and Freddie Mercury and sings with his heart on his sleeve. He also writes pure poetry in his lyrics. The music is complex, yet has hooks that you could hang your wardrobe on and this album is better than the critically approved Keeper of the Seven Keys recorded by Helloween.
Reckoning Night was the first Sonata Arctica album I listened to, after stumbling across it with a fistful of iTunes vouchers and a hankering for something different to stimulate the senses. The fantasy art of the cover persuaded me of the band’s imagination and I was sold. Even after a number of years of looped repeating, the record doesn’t disappoint with its soaring choruses, pumping guitars and virtuoso keyboard work (even some keytar for lovers of 80’s rock). It pummels and tugs at the heart strings in one brilliant long playing performance.
Opening with the absolute boom and prominent keyboards of “Misplaced”, a statement of clear intent is marked up and never veers from the path of Power Metal perfection.
“Blinded No More” is my absolute favourite track, stirring memories of Pretty Maids and has a chorus that is up there with the best in class. The solo by guitarist Jani Liimatainen is also total class, short and yet oh so memorable. The keyboard solo is also stunning by Henrik Klingenberg.
The tempo of the record heats up with “Ain’t No Fairytale” and this lingers long in the memory – it will stick in your mind like gum to your shoes, but without the irritation.
Moody melodic instrumental “Reckoning Day, Reckoning Night” calms down the blood and the rocker anthem “Don’t Say a Word” reassures that this is a band who will entertain you – live this is a real peach. Their Live in Finland release has a storming (Norman) version that will blow your socks off.
The epic song “The Boy Who Wanted to Be a Real Puppet” is as sophisticated as can be and combines incredible orchestration with an interesting Pinocchio reversal tale. Kakko handles the
vocals with an intensity that is bombastic but filled with humility.
The poppy “My Selene” breaks up the tracks with a tale of captive love – quite a twist on the traditional love song!
BOOM! “Wildfire” and “White Pearl, Black Oceans…” get the adrenaline surging and keep the energy levels working overtime.
“Shamandalie” closes out the album proper in a reflective mood, but final track “Wrecking the Sphere” is a goofball goodbye with acoustic guitar and tambourines.
The whole collection is pretty flawless and has a very special place in my heart and music collection. If you haven’t heard it yet, check it out and you will wonder why Sonata Arctica aren’t one of the biggest bands on the planet.