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Sonata Arctica - 'Pariah's Child' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/63/41/45/ssss-2-1401502523.jpg Hot

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A step back in time perhaps yet also a bold leap forward ... this band can do no wrong!

Taking the sophisticated Symphonic Power Metal of Stratovarius, Angra and Blind Guardian and imbuing it with a joyous melodic sensibility all their own, Finland's Sonata Arctica have certainly made their presence felt in the last fifteen years or so. I remember being literally stunned when I first heard their 'Ecliptica' debut in the early part of the millennium year and whilst they've perhaps never quite managed to illicit that same response again since (first impressions and all that), any impending new release of theirs is an event to savour.

Follow up to 2012's excellent 'Stones Grow Her Name' opus, 'Pariah's Child' (their eight full-length studio set in all) steps away from the Progressively-infused Hard Rock sounds of its predecessor and returns the band to the dynamic, kerosene-fuelled Symphonic Metal with which they first made their name back in the late 1990s. For most bands such a move would be seen as a somewhat risky backwards step, but that early SA sound was such an iconic step forward (a sound that has been copied by many, but frankly never bettered) that it seems entirely logical that they should once again revisit it.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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So, apart from the odd curve ball or two (always a delightful SA trademark which they try to shoehorn into every album), what you get for your hard earned is a surfeit of blazing riffs, opulent keyboards and magnificently ostentatious melodies. Opener 'The Wolves Die Young' sets the tone from the beginning, its galloping rhythms, machine gun riffs and spiralling keyboards all coming together perfectly to underpin one of those atypically unforgettable hooks.

Other highlights to watch out for include the dramatic 'Blood' with its lengthy foreboding intro, the kaleidoscopic 'What Did You Do In The War, Dad?' (somewhat verbose title I know, but the undulating moods and insightful lyrics are a real high point), and of course the closing epic 'Larger Than Life' which encapsulates everything that's great about SA for me into one gloriously incandescent ten minute tome.

Produced by the band themselves and wrapped in some pointedly esoteric artwork, 'Pariah's Child' once again shows why Sonata Arctica are so revered in their chose genre. A step back in time perhaps yet also a bold leap forward ... this band can do no wrong!

Dave Cockett

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