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Stones Grow Her Name

Sonata Arctica

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Customer Reviews

A "back-to-their-roots" album

Though, not in the sense you'd think. This is a much more matured version of their EARLY-early days, when they were known as Tricky Beans. Tony himself has said in an interview that this album is much closer to their original sound than Ecliptica even was. The passion in this album is beautiful. Their full level of maturity is heard. There isn't a single skippable track. It may not be what they got famous for in their power-metal days.. or as chaotically complex and gorgeous as Unia.. but Tony knew exactly what he wanted, and he truly achived it. Every Sonata fan will appreciate this unchained sound.

An intense and rather frightening journey... that I greatly enjoyed

These guys are by far my favorite band, but I have to admit that I was not a fan of Days of Grays. I just felt that it had too many uninteresting or poorly written songs, and the prog kind of threw me off. However I see now that it was only a stepping stone to Stones. This album was scores stranger than Grays, but instead of disappointing me it took me by the throat for a ride I can only describe as exhilarating.
When I read the track names, I was more than a little frightened. I thought that there were a bunch of weak ballads packing the album (seriously, Only the Broken Hearts Make You Beautiful, Somewhere Close to You, Alone in Heaven, and Don't be Mean sound like the least metal songs ever written). Now, Don't be Mean turned out to be just that, but the difference between expectations and reality on the others gave me whiplash. Broken Hearts was true Progressive Metal, and even the less intense Losing My Insanity was a thrill to hear.
Shitload 'O Money didn't sound like a promising track either, and to be honest I didn't enjoy it on my first listen though (similar story to I Have a Right). However, it has really grown on me, and now sounds like an integral part of the album.
Somewhere Close to You was the second biggest surprise of the album (I'll get to Cinderblox later), and the fast and brutal riff coupled with near-demonic synth in the solo actually made me jump up several times over the course of the listen.
I Have a Right is this album's Fullmoon, but without any of the epic story or thrill of their past hits. It was the mainstream song off the album meant to appeal to the mass of potential new listeners, and would be one of only a few complains about the album from me.
The Day was also disappointing, as I felt that it had potential as one of their narrative pieces, but the cheesy keyboard kind of ruined it for me. It was a bit too much of a shock after hearing the intensity that I knew the album contained from Broken Hearts and Somewhere.
Ah, Cinderblox. Honestly one of my favorite SA songs ever, and I got this album on the 18th. The banjo was shocking, but strangely haunting and passionate. I never thought a banjo could be metal, but now my cry is more "bring on the bluegrass metal!" (yes, I am aware of Psychobilly, but I never gave it much thought until now). For those that say this album lacks any kind of intense and catchy chorus, I point to Cinderblox with gusto.
Yeah, Don't be Mean was bad. I mean, I liked Shy and Samandalie, but this was just kinda... meh. It was slow, cheesy, and power-ballady; an unfortunate throwback to the worst part of 80's hair metal (Every Rooooose... Has Its Thornnnnnnne). I hate that song with a fiery passion, btw.
Alright, after that crap is done, we move on to the Pièce de résistance: the Wildfire Sonata. I call it that because that's what it is. Sonata Arctica have finally done what their names implies and have written a Sonata. This thing was thrilling. Also, if you listen to the first part off Reckoning Night (my favorite album by them) and then right into One With the Mountain, it flows perfectly, which cannot be a coincidence. This also has my mind racing, trying to get the story straight. The artsy lyrics of these guys have often set up plots open for interpretation, which in my opinion is a major part of their success and greatness as songwriters.
As for the quality of the music, I can give only praise for a band that can put chirping birds as the backdrop to an insanely metal riff and have it work. Well, there is that one thing... You know, the GreenPeace lecture at the end of Population: 0? The computerized voice was supposed to sound haunting, but to me it just sounded stupid, and honestly it ruined a perfectly good fadeout. Honestly, the ambient sound effects would have worked marvelously, and I really hope they take that out when they do the Wildfire Sonata live (which they absolutely have to do as at least a medley/abridged version).
So then, after the gatling guns, critters, and guy with a synthesizer in a tree fade out, there's this bonus track that I don't really know what to say about. I like the song, and have no problem with it as a single, but as an album closer and special treat to those who pre-ordered the album, well, I expected something a bit more imaginative. For instance, I thought that In My Eyes You're A Giant was one of the best songs off of Grays, and we all remember Wrecking the Sphere and Respect the Wilderness as great contributions to their albums. Tonight I Dance Alone really didn't do that for me, and felt more like album filler. It missed its potential, but that's one of those minor complaints that can be easily overlooked in the wake of this otherwise great album.
I'm sure that everyone will join me in lamenting that the band's direction remains an enigma, but I also encourage you to celebrate that fact. Look at what they gave us after seemingly getting lost in their own ideas and putting out two good, but rather confusing records. So, I choose not to speculate as to their future, but instead to lean back, hit play on my stereo for the tenth time today, and close my eyes as I fall into a Prog trance that usually takes Floyd or ELP to bring on.

Can't you just feel the passion?

Sonata Arctica has been a band that has maybe four or five songs per album that really strike my fancy, but here, they show some real capability. They've always been a great band in my mind, with a lot of diversity and potential, and I think they really hit the nail on the head here. Amazing album, with all the elements of greatness added in. Great effort, from a great band.

Biography

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Finnish prog metal quartet Sonata Arctica specializes in a soaring, orchestral variation on European heavy metal, fusing the sweeping, romantic bombast of bands like Europe with the over-the-top instrumental chops of Dream Theater. Born in 1996, the band, which included vocalist Tony Kakko, guitarist Jani Liimatainen, drummer Tommy Portimo, keyboardist Mikko Harkin, and bassist Janne Kivilahti, recorded a handful of demos before releasing their first single, "UnOpened," on Spinefarm Records in July...
Full Bio
Stones Grow Her Name, Sonata Arctica
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  • $6.99
  • Genres: Metal, Music, Rock
  • Released: May 22, 2012

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