After the success of the stunning "The Days Of Grays" and the excellent "Live In Finland", Tony Kakko’s Sonata Arctica once again dive in the magic, colours and sounds of Finland, going back to a simpler, more straightforward songwriting that better fits the original style of this wonderful machine of cathartic melodies. Forget the complicated structures of “Unia” and the orchestra parts of “The Days Of Grays”: Tony will address his (many) fans by simplifying his songs and just focusing on the heart of the melodies and the sound.
The result is “Stones Grow Her Name”, a nice, well-made album that’s easy to listen and keeps all the characteristics that made Sonata Arctica so popular, including a reflexive approach and their habit of writing choruses that start off as basic only to turn to unforgettable. In fact, you won’t forget the refrains of “Only The Broken Hearts” and “Loosing My Insanity”, two tracks that are worth the album price just for themselves: the first one sounds like Sonata Arctica of the new generation thanks to its modern sound, while the other one is much more similar to the previous albums for its very open melody. Between these two gems there’s a really rock song, “Shitload Of Money”, which – if I know Tony well enough – is a foretaste of the future Sonata Arctica.
As highlighted in the interview about this album, the sound is modern, which urges us to a comparison with “Unia”, an album that still raises debates among the fans and instilled doubts within the band itself. The only downside I can see in the production of “Stones Grow Her Name” is the ultra-compressed sound of the rhythm guitar, too much in contrast with the fairytale spirit of the eleven tracks. The ever-present ballad, “Don’t Be Mean”, with its sweet violins, is one more masterpiece that’s worth mentioning; rave praise also to the middle part of the album with the abstract melodies of “Alone In Heaven” (a tribute to Queen), “I Have A Right” and “The Day”. And don’t miss the country-flavoured “Cinderblox”, which will reveal a west-coast version of Sonata Arctica before they pay a double homage to the fans of “Reckoning Night”: parts 2 and 3 of a cult song, “Wildfire”.
Like we said, “Stones Grow Her Name” is a well-made album. Many of the songs were created to work perfectly in a live situation, which the band has been facing for years: listen to them, learn and treasure them until the next show, when Tony & Co will need our help once again to turn what we usually call a nice show into... real magic.
Translation by Elisa Bonora