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Track Listing
1. "Blank File" - 4:05
2. "My Land" - 4:37
3. "8th Commandment" - 3:41
4. "Replica" - 4:55
5. "Kingdom for a Heart" - 3:51
6. "FullMoon" - 5:08
7. "Letter to Dana" - 6:00
8. "UnOpened" - 3:43
9. "Picturing the Past" - 3:36
10. "Destruction Preventer" - 7:39

1999 Century Media

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More Releases by Sonata Arctica:
Silence (2001)
Related Releases (in sound)


When I first introduced myself to European power metal, I wasn't that impressed. In the beginning I dismissed most of the bands. I didn't like the speed coupled with the often cheesy lyrics and saccharine vocal melodies. However, I did eventually warm up to some European power metal bands. First, it was Stratovarius and Balance of Power. Later, it was bands like Rhapsody, Silent Force and Kamelot (though three-fourths of the band are Americans, Kamelot is definitely European power metal in style). I began to like the genre, even though European power metal began to stagnate a bit by the turn of the century. Too many European power metal bands were sounding too much like each other. With a few notable exceptions, there was a certain level of sameness prevalent throughout the Euro power metal medium and I began to tire of the genre. Enter Sonata Arctica.

Sonata Arctica surprised just about everyone when they released their debut album, Ecliptica, in 1999. Though Sonata Arctica didn't wow everyone with their originality-they were following Stratovarius's Helloween/Malmsteen influenced power metal blueprint very closely- they still managed to stun the metal world with outstanding musicianship and absolutely beautiful vocal melodies. In fact, the vocal melodies on Ecliptica are so gorgeous and catchy, I think Sonata Arctica outshines their predecessor, Stratovarius, in their consistency when it comes to writing catchy songs. I don't believe any one Stratovarius disc is, overall, as unfailing in the vocal melody department as Sonata Arctica is on Ecliptica. To put it bluntly, Sonata Arctica does Stratovarius better than Stratovarius does! Yes, Sonata Arctica is that good!


The first track, "Blank File", is Euro power metal perfection as speedy guitar and catchy vocal melodies intertwine beautifully reminding me of some songs by Stratovarius ("Black Diamond" comes to mind). Not as fast as track one, "My Land" boasts some fabulous vocal melodies and crunchy guitar work. "8th Commandment" is fast, furious and unforgettable-this song will stay in your head long after you've listened to it. "Replica" is a semi-ballad that tells the story of a returning war veteran who can't re-assimilate into society. Perhaps this is odd subject matter for a Euro power metal band to be covering, but the song works and it's even touching. The fifth track, "Kingdom for a Heart" is possibly the best Euro power metal song I've ever heard. It is extremely fast and catchy and I'll never get this song out of my head! "FullMoon" starts off with a quiet piano and soon becomes an excellent rocker. "Letter to Dana" is a powerful, sweeping Irish ballad. You read that right: An Irish ballad. I don't know what a power metal band from Finland is doing writing Irish ballads but I'm glad they did. "Letter to Dana" is a song about hope, missed chances and innocence lost. Cliched, perhaps, but the emotional performance of vocalist Kako and the fabulous lead guitar work pull you into the story. Unbelievable. Sonata Arctica may worship Stratovarius, but "Letter to Dana" shows us that they are no mere Stratovarius clones. "UnOpened" marks the return to Stratovarius-like songs as it moves at blinding speeds. "Picturing the Past" is another classically-styled power metal speedster that will stay in my head until my death. Finally, the album closes with the fantastic and epic "Destruction Preventer" which again boasts stunning vocal melodies and lightning fast guitar playing.


Though Stratovarius is clearly the band's main influence on this album, Sonata Arctica doesn't just mindlessly ape their power metal forefathers as they do a masterful job of crafting truly memorable songs. "Kingdom for a Heart", "Letter to Dana" and "Destruction Preventer" are exceptional songs on an album where every track stands out. Vocalist/keyboardist Tony Kako wrote Ecliptica and his ability to come up with outstandingly beautiful vocal melodies without sounding sappy is a gift. Like the band Shadow Gallery, Tony Kako is able to write vocal melodies that are catchy yet unpredictable. This makes Ecliptica the best European power metal album I've ever heard. Keep it up, Sonata Arctica, you're doing fine thus far.

Ratings and Wrap Up:

(a great album)

Review by Alanna Evans -

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