Album Reviews : Sonata Arctica – The Days of Grays
I am almost certain that I was not the only person that was disappointed by Sonata Arctica‘s last release “Unia” which was generally bland and lacked the dynamics that made their previous releases such as “Ecliptica” and “Winterhearts Guild” so addictive. The band themselves have gone on record that their latest album “The Days of Grays” would not be a return to their sound of old but, despite this, I was still prepared to give the album a chance. Whilst things have gotten better to some degree this is not the return to form that I was hoping for, more of a subtle adjustment to the sound of “Unia”.
There has always been a strong theatrical edge to the music of Sonata Arctica that revealed itself in not only the music but also the quirky lyrics of Tony Kakko and that has certainly not been lost here. What does seem to be missing is consistency in the songwriting that used to be standard practice on past releases.
I can see the reasoning behind the song “Flag in the Ground” being chosen as the first single as it is the closest Sonata Arctica come to their past and it does feature one of those extremely catchy choruses that used to be so prevalent but, unfortunately, this is more an exception than the norm.
And that, for me, is the biggest disappointment listening to “The Days Of Grays”. The musicianship is as always beyond reproach, there is great potential in some of the ideas and there are occasional glimpses of the magic Sonata Arctica once showed on a regular basis, such as “Juliet”, however the songs are just too inconsistent to carry the album overall. If anything, the album title itself sums up the music perfectly in the sense that there is not a lot of colour to the album and it does tend to pass by with few standout moments to grab your attention despite there obviously being a lot going on musically.
It is unreasonable to expect that a band sticks to a formula, change is an inevitable part of the creative process, but it presents a problem when the elements that were so appealing in a bands sound are diluted or lost. I can’t help but feel that it would have been better if Sonata Arctica could somehow have retained the strengths of the past whilst moving forward.
I am not going to say “The Days Of Grays” is beyond redemption for it is one of those releases that is competent in every facet but I don’t know if that is what I want from a band that I held in such high regard previously. I would still love to see them when they visit our shores in January, I just hope they delve back further into their back catalogue than their most recent albums so we can all experience the true essence of Sonata Arctica. 6/10
Band: Sonata Arctica
Album: The Days Of Grays
Genre: Power Metal
Label: Nuclear Blast
Australian Distribution: Riot! Entertainment – Click here to purchase
1. Everything Fades To Gray (Instrumental)
3. The Last Amazing Grays
4. Flag In The Ground
7. The Dead Skin
9. No Dream Can Heal A Broken Heart
10. As If The World Wasn’t Ending
11. The Truth Is Out There
12. Everything Fades To Gray (Full Version)
Review by Peter Schulz