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Sonata Arctica - 'The Ninth Hour' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/dc/07/fa/Sonata-Arctica-The-Ninth-Hour-33-1484252052.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     January 12, 2017    
 
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The good ship Sonata Arctica continues to steer its own wonderfully individual course towards an ever more glorious future.

Quite simply the best Symphonic/Melodic Metal band to spring forth from the abundant oasis that is the Finnish scene since the mighty Stratovarius, Kemi quintet Sonata Arctica have certainly changed beyond measure since their early days as Tricky Beans!

Now enjoying the kind of global reach most bands would gladly sell their bass player's kidney for, they've finally found musical nirvana ... no, not talking about Dave Grohl's old mob, but that magical plateau where artistic creativity is dictated solely by their mood and not some overzealous record company exec looking for a quick payback.

It's been two years since the exuberant 'Pariah's Child' opus first emerged – two years where they've headlined countless shows around the globe and toured North America with fellow Finns Nightwish – and with the sun now rapidly setting on the 2016 European summer festival circuit, the band are readying themselves to promote their latest effort, 'The Ninth Hour' (fittingly, their ninth, all new full-length studio set).

Dressed in striking cover artwork that vividly represents the dichotomy between a natural utopian future and a dystopian man made armageddon, like its predecessor 'The Ninth Hour' harks back to that earlier SA sound where (to these ears at least) they were at their most creatively opulent. Ostentatious, melodramatic – their Andrew Lloyd Webber-esque sense of theatrical opulence crops up liberally throughout – atmospheric, yet always superlatively moody and melodic; their seemingly perplexing marriage of Stratovarius styled Speed Metal symphonies and Nightwish-like Gothic grandiloquence continues to beguile and amaze.

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Compare and contrast the galloping 'Rise A Night' with the ethereal 'Among The Shooting Stars' which precedes it for instance... by rights it just shouldn't work in any shape or form whatsoever, but in the skilled hands of craftsmen like these guys it shimmers with broiling passion and emotion! I have always been a fan of vocalist Tony Kakko (one of the best in this particular field in my opinion) and, once again, it's his rousing clarion call that leads from the front on bombastically overblown masterpieces such as 'Closer To The Animal' (check out the clip on YouTube), 'Till Death's Done Us Apart' and the epic 'White Pearl, Black Oceans Part II: By The Grace Of The Ocean''.

With the rest of the band providing their usual high calibre musical masterclass, the good ship Sonata Arctica continues to steer its own wonderfully individual course towards an ever more glorious future...

Dave Cockett

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