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Straight to the point - "Reckoning Night" is Sonata Arctica's most mature and diverse work to date. It crosses the speed and intensity of their "Silence" album with the more intricate song structures of "Winterheart's Guild" and, of course, ventures into unexplored musical territory as well. Icarus. 2004.
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"Misplaced" is a powerful opener, with throbbing central choruses and an urgent pace. "Blinded No More" reminds me somewhat of "Broken", with a more relaxed tempo that is deceptively friendly before accelerating into an angry pitch. Like "Winterheart's Guild", the second song segues into the third almost seamlessly, and I love "Ain't Your Fairytale"'s opening rhythm. I like the theme, too, which seems to address the killing of wolves and their message to their hunters. The only song I could do without is "Reckoning Day, Reckoning Night", which is a brooding piece with somber pianos, ominous synths, and a moody aura. It serves better as a prelude to "Don't Say a Word," which has a fantastic chorus that gets my adrenaline spewing. "Wildfire" is a nasty little number, with the evil narrator from "The End of this Chapter" hissing more verbal venom. Amazingly, this song seems to channel Blind Guardian in both song structure and melody. Tony Kakko even sounds like Hansi in some places, and there's a nice juxtaposition of gruff, harsh screaming with mellow intonations. To me, Kakko sounds awesome belting out hostile lyrics with his supple windbags.
My favorite song is "White Pearl, Black Oceans", which is a clever description of a lighthouse beacon being swallowed by thrashing tides. This nine-minute song is about a man who neglects his duty as a lighthouse tender and the tragedy that ensues when a ship crashes. The song is crammed full of emotional singing, epic choruses, and great soloing. Oh, and I have to say that an emphasis has been placed on very melodic interplay between the guitars and keyboards. Virtuosity is top-notch here, but the soloing is a little less fever-pitched and more developed, with slower moments that balance out the more frantic speed displays. The album ends with "Shamandalie", a nice acoustic folksy song that is very soulful and satisfying.
I am extremely pleased with "Reckoning Night". It is an excellent addition to Sonata's impressive discography and hopefully lays the groundwork for future albums. They are quickly becoming one of progressive rock's most consistent bands.
Reckoning Night still doesn't surpass Winterheart's Guild in my book, but that really doesn't matter when the album packs an extremely major punch. Sonata once again keeps things fresh by experimenting and expanding upon the sound that makes them who they are.
Don't Say a Word, the sequel to Silence's The End of this Chapter is worth the price of admition in itself, being downright creepy and merciless to the very end. Wildfire is just to die for, and is probably the band's most ruthless and angry sounding song after Dream Theives from the Broken EP (another personal favorite). White Pearl, Black Oceans takes the Sonata sound to new heights, and is downright sad when you decipher the story behind the lyrics. Jani Liimatainen's My Selene is also a strong point and a surprise as well, as it is usually vocalist and mastermind Tony Kakko behind the creative process.
It's really hard to say anything negative about Reckoning Night, but I was quite suprised upon my first listen that the production had taken a very noticeable hit in quality. The overall sound is not as clean as the first three albums. Still, there is enough sweet ear candy to be had here to make up for that.
However, I must admit I really didn't like shelling out an extra $15 bucks for an import, especially considering the bonus track "Wrecking the Sphere" is completely worthless. I know I'll sound like a broken record, but I do get really sick of waiting a few extra months to get a domestic copy of an European metal outfit's CD in the U.S.. I mean how long did we have to wait for an American copy of Nightwish's Once ~ FOREVER. But, hey, I'm a sucker for great metal, so I guess I'll calm down.
Sonata shows no signs of slowing down with Reckoning Night. I'd recommend this to anyone with an interest in the genre, but I still recommend Winterheart's Guild or Ecliptica as one's first Sonata purchase.
Don't get the impression that this cd is a lot softer than the last or anything, because it still has all the same elements that their last one had and they do it just as good. But here we see them polishing their skills at crafting better and better songs and maturing as a band.
I really like this release and I think it will provide more enjoyment over the long term compared to any other release of theirs previously!
This album features one song, "My Selene", that is not written by Tony Kakko alone.
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the music is exceptional and I would have given it
5 stars, except both of my CDs have a blank space shortly