Sonata Arctica: ‘harsh, progressive’Mar 6th, 2013 | By Rebecka McAleer
| Category: 2013-03-07, Additive Noise, Columns, Entertainment, Features, Spotlight, Spring 2013, Top Headlines, Web Exclusive
Welcome back to Additive Noise, your #1 source for music recommendations. We’ve touched on all varieties of cultural music recently, but now it’s time to strike a harsher chord. Follow me to Finland, home of semi-famous power metal band Sonata Arctica.
Power metal as a subgenre does not come with the most respect. In fact, power metal bands are generally viewed as the pansy-ish boy bands of the metal scene. However, Sonata Arctica has managed to take their progressive style (for example, their use of the keytar) and use it to brand power metal with a new face.
When the band first formed in 1999 from the ashes of an attempt at hard rock, it took a little while to get some traction. They first found real fame with their 2004 album, “Reckoning Night,” which featured the single “Don’t Say a Word.” Both single and album topped Finnish charts for over a month, and even earned Sonata Arctica a place on a European tour with popular symphonic metal band Nightwish.
“Don’t Say a Word” is one of Sonata Arctica’s harsher, raw pieces. It speaks of the agony of love, how one loves and hates simultaneously, leading to the destruction of the soul. The chorus is an upstanding voice of morals among the chaotic, painful verses: “Mother always said, ‘My son, do the noble thing/You have to finish what you started no matter what’.” This combination of emotional weakness and strength makes the song one of the most relatable songs in Sonata Arctica’s repertoire.
Two albums and much success later, Sonata Arctica smashed through the charts once more with their single “Flag in the Ground,” from the album “The Days of Grays.” Unlike “Don’t Say a Word,” “Flag in the Ground” is a smoother listen, designed to tell a story rather than invoke emotions. It tells the tale of a couple from the days of exploration and settlement, torn apart as he sails across the sea to find land for them to live on. He leaves behind his wife and unborn child. The lyrics come straight from the letters they share: “Please let me know everything’s alright/thinking about you though you’re out of sight.” It is a much more melancholy album in general, but earned the band great praise for their willingness to try something new.
After the success of “Flag in the Ground,” it appears that Sonata Arctica became even more different. In an interview with Metal Temple in June 2012, their most recent album, “Stones Grow Her Name,” was described by front man and lead vocalist Tony Kakko as “melodic heavy rock” with “less parts per song, smaller and better arranged songs with strong lead melodies so the backing harmonies would remain just that: backing harmonies.”
The leading single from “Stones Grow Her Name,” is called “I Have a Right.” It speaks with the voice of a child, declaring children’s rights “to be heard, to be seen, to be loved, to be free, to be everything I need to be me, to be safe, to believe in something.” While it may not be the band’s most complex piece, it brings to light an important issue, reinforcing it with strength and repetition.
These three featured songs are, of course, only the tip of the Sonata Arctica iceberg. Whether you’re a diehard heavy metal fan or have never heard a metal song in your life, Sonata Arctica is definitely worth a listen.
To listen to the songs featured in this article, visit http://www.vsuadditivenoise.blogspot.com/.