Friday, March 28, 2014

Sonata Arctica - Pariah's Child

Well the hype that was leading up to this album was immense. They went back to their old logo. The teaser songs they released sounded almost like a return to the power metal days of first three Sonata Arctica albums...and when I say almost I mean that some of the elements were there but not enough to fan boy jizz over them like some people did. As with the Queensryche "return" it seems that people were listening to different songs than what I was listening to. Anyway, it seemed that after three very disappointing albums from our beloved Finns the new album, titled Pariah's Child, would see a return to the direction that really worked for this band. I'm not asking for another version of Ecliptica since their first three (and most of Reckoning Night) were good power metal albums without being repeats of Ecliptica. I want the riffs, the speed, the solos, and that melodic magic that made me love this band immediately. Sadly, the return of the logo did not bring the music with it.

So we have the opening bars of the first song, "The Wolves Die Young." Sounds like old Sonata...but then the verse comes in and where's the riffs? Single note chugging over double bass drums does not make it power metal. There's a good melody and a catchy chorus but a serious lack of riffs. The solo is decent but since it's a dual solo with the keyboards it gets kinda buried. Tony's vocals sound good in most places so he hasn't lost his abilities. This is one of the teasers that was released and the reaction was like this was the true successor to Winterheart's Guild. I was wondering what the fuck they were listening to? "Running Lights" follows up the opener and at least we have some riffs here, though they seem to be a bit poppy. It's melodic and a bit catchy but some of the vocals sounds like Tony's playing around. Not sure what to make of this. It's a decent song and better than the opener but I'm still not buying it.

It really never gets going here. "Take One Breath" is another chug fest with no riffing. It starts off sounding really poppy with piano and harps then going into this down tuned chug that seems to go nowhere. The melodies are here but there's no magic here. Tony sounds like he's struggling on this one. The piano and harps come back to the bridge in the middle then being mixed with chugs. Not working for me, sorry. The second teaser "Cloud Factory" was a better song and I guess I could see why people got all excited over this album. But what the fuck is up with the song "X Marks the Spot" with the annoying voice over through the song like some rock and roll evangelist? Makes what would be a really decent song by the band annoying as fuck! The lyrics are just stupid but the song's really good but with that annoying voice over I can't listen to it.

It's a shame because buried in between this tripe are a few decent songs like "Half a Marathon Man." This is a strange song that's fast and bouncy with some decent riffs...yep there's some riffs on this album! The keys sound like old school rock organ and give the song a nice feel. It's catchy and full of hooks. So it appears that they are capable of writing good songs. "Blood" is an epic song that starts off a bit eerie that leads to a nice hook in the verse and a good guitar sound. This song isn't really a riff fest either but it works better because it doesn't rely on chugs. There's some power metal riffs here and there and the chorus is really good. This is definitely my favorite song in the album. "What Did You Do in the War, Dad?" is actually another really good song that could be the sequel to "Replica." It's pretty much a slower ballad type of song in places. It has a catchy chorus and has that typical Sonata Arctica melody.

The last two songs on the album are just forgettable. "Love" is just a ballad that's so cheesy bordering on pukey! It's slow and is mostly piano though some guitars (electric and acoustic) comes into the chorus. I can barely get through it. I like metal ballads but this is really bad. Which leads me to the final song, "Larger Than Life." This is ten minutes of going nowhere. It starts out slow with orchestral parts and piano as the song makes you think it will build up to something epic but just goes nowhere. It's directionless and I'm not sure what Tony is going for in the vocals but he sounds like he's singing a show tune in places. Thew chorus is decent but he seems to be playing around with his voice, as I mentioned before. This is a ten minute snooze fest.

So here we have one of the most anticipated albums of the year and it just doesn't live up to the hype. It's not a return to form. It's not even a good album. There are a couple really good songs mixed in with songs that are trying to be something but fail miserably. As I said, I'm not asking for a re-run of Ecliptica, I'm just asking for good songs. I know they are capable of much better than this, why are they not doing it? There's no magic here and it seems they are just going through the motions. Keep your finger near the skip button, folks. Your going to need it.


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