Fans of melodic power metal are an unforgiving bunch. Haters went into meltdown as Sonata Arctica began experimenting with a more hard rock-based direction, and some still won’t take them seriously again until the return of Jani Liimatainen, the co-founding guitarist whose exit in 2007 was enforced by military service.
Despite such inconsistencies they’ve continued to make fascinating music. Sonata had promised to return to a traditional melodic metal sound with this, their eighth studio album.
Its contents are certainly cheesy enough but the problem lies with the mid-paced tempos and sheer wholesomeness of material such as Wolves Die Young, Running Lights and What Did You Do In The War, Dad? Still, there’s some great musicianship and for all the criticism levelled against him in the past, Tony Kakko seems to have learned how to sell a song.
An almost 10-minute operatic workout, Larger Than Life is also deliciously bonkers, though ultimately Sonata Arctica’s dominant, sometimes shrill use of keyboards will probably horrify most casual metalheads.