Sonata Arctica

Ecliptica

Written by: NB on 23/11/2008 12:14:27

Sonata Arctica is probably one of those bands which you either love or hate. Although that is hard for me to recognise or admit, being one of those who are of the "love" opinion. Their music is fairly original but is also unashamedly cheesy power metal. However, in the same way that Dragonforce is lovable stupidity, they take this to such extremes that it becomes clear that they aren't a band to take themselves too seriously. "Ecliptica" is a re-release of their 1999 debut which is "re-mastered with expanded artwork, sleevenotes and bonus material". Since the tracklist is identical to the original version I assume "bonus material" refers to the foreword by vocalist Tony Kakko (and Dante Bonutto from the label) in which he reminisces about the band's first release and also mentions that the last track is a re-recorded version of "Letter to Dana". Essentially then, this is a collector's edition.

The first track, the bizarrely named "Blank File" (I thought my computer just couldn't find the title on the internet, but no, there it is on the sleevenotes), was unfamiliar to my ears; a very upbeat and sudden intro to the album, even by Sonata's standards. However, from this point on, the album will seem like an old friend to anyone who has seen the band live or has the "For the Sake of Revenge" DVD. In fact, the next five tracks are all on that twelve-song DVD which shows how important the band considers their first release to be. I certainly agree that these songs showcase what it is about the band I love: catchy rhythms, whimsical, soaring vocals, and spirited solos.

The other tracks on the album are somewhat forgettable, and indeed have been forgotten in subsequent live shows, with riffs and choruses that seem only to be variations on the other songs. Halfway through, the album takes a slight break from the frantic pace of the start with "Letter to Dana". This is the original recording featuring a flute intro (which reminds me of Jethro Tull). It contrasts starkly with the re-recorded version at the end of the album - an altogether more reserved and sensible version and therefore devoid of Sonata Arctica charm.

If I was reviewing this album when it was originally released I would probably score it very highly; it is full of the madness Sonata Arctica is known for. Now though, there is no real reason for anyone but a diehard fan to have both versions of this album and for anyone who hasn't got the first release I would still recommend the "For the Sake of Revenge" live recording over this record for its proliferation of classics and more emotive renditions of most of the best tracks.

6

Download: My Land, Replica, Kingdom for a Heart
For The Fans Of: Dragonforce, Nightwish, Opus Atlantica
Listen: MySpace

Release Date 08.10.2008
Spinefarm Records

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