Sonata Arctica – “Stones Grow Her Name”

Sonata Arctica – “Stones Grow Her Name” (Nuclear Blast)

These Finns have been through quite an evolution in their time starting off as hard rock before becoming a Stratovarius inspired power metal band. On this album they have evolved yet again into a decidedly lighter direction that incorporates new styles from country to renaissance to medieval although it remains upbeat with Tony Kakko’s trademark high end vocals, chundering rock guitar and keyboard atmospherics all of which add up to make for strongly melodic songs that are both energetic and actually sound like the band are having fun! Rather than go for complexity, ballads like ‘Alone In Heaven’ sound like they’ve been composed acoustically before switching on the power, whilst the likes of ‘Wildfire Part III’ see SA almost going into Queen rock opera territory resplendent with loads of piano and tweeting birdsong LOL. If that isn’t strange enough then try ‘Shitloada ‘O Money’, which is a throwback to 80s LA rock n roll although the prize has to go to ‘Cinderblox’ – a country toon no less complete with fiddle and banjo so much so that I was expecting C.W. McCall to be rappin’ in – c’mon! Definitely one of the more bizarre releases this year….

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