SONATA ARCTICA – Pariah’s Child (2014)
On their eighth studio full-length “Pariah’s Child”, the veteran Finnish quintet SONATA ARCTICA returns to the roots that originally forged its reputation, mixed with the more hard rock approach of their the last efforts.
I would say this new record is the definition of Sonata Arctica past and present, and the blend has satisfied my ears.
As stated by the band, “We knew from the start that we wanted to record in a more old school fashion, meaning that we all went to the studio together as opposed to the way we worked on the last three albums with everyone recording in different places.”
Furthermore, Sonata Arctica take a trip back to their own past, as far as the artwork is concerned. Vocalist Tony Kakko explains his thoughts behind the album title and the artwork: “I started to think how we’d in ways abandoned our ‘totem animal’, the wolf and all what comes with the territory. It was clear we need a wolf on the cover. An abandoned wolf. A pariah. Or Pariah’s Child, actually. The new generation to bring the old logo back.”
As of late, at least with their previous album, and the current Pariah’s Child, Finland’s Sonata Arctica has been throwing their faithful some musical curve balls. Putting them in the category of traditional Scandi power metal is no longer fitting, although they still play few songs in this style.
No, their sound is much more diverse, enterprising, these days. A good example is the song “Half A Marathon Man”.
It’s opening strokes of guitar, keyboards, then drums could lead to most any sound. But it delivers this huge hard rock grooved monster with hooks galore, from vocals to lyrics to riffs.
Then there’s the power metal romp of “X Marks The Spot”, disguised as a rock tune, and wrapped in the motif a religious revival. It’s familiar, but strange; clever and a whole lot of fun.
Also of note is “What Did You Do In The War, Dad?” which merges the feel of classic metal anthem with the bluster of polished melodic metal in places.
Frontman Tony Kakko is at his Freddie Mercury-like best with grand harmony vocals on “Take One Breath”, and channels Styx crashing an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical on “Blood”. There’s beauty, hope, and tragedy aplenty here.
Yet something more familiar comes with the longest number “Larger Than Life”, which sounds like old school Sonata Arctica and where they draw upon their symphonic progressive power metal roots.
I think “Pariah’s Child” represents Sonata Arctica as a band being carefully faithful to their roots, yet always moving forward in their creativity.
This album combines elements of traditional Scandinavian melodic metal with accessible, ‘happy’ riffs in a classic hard rock mould, with melodious vocals and the keyboards noticeably taking more of a leading role.
If you always avoided Sonata Arctica for its ‘more-of-the-same power metal’, forget it, this new album combines strength with catchiness, always around a strong melodic line.
01 – The Wolves Die Young
02 – Running Lights
03 – Take One Breath
04 – Cloud Factory
05 – Blood
06 – What Did You Do In The War, Dad ?
07 – Half A Marathon Man
08 – X Marks The Spot
09 – Love
10 – Larger Than Life
Tony Kakko – Vocals, Keyboards
Henrik Klingenberg – Keyboards
Elias Viljanen – Guitars
Pasi Kauppinen – Bass
Tommy Portimo – Drums