Sonata Arctica – Reckoning Night – Review

sonataarctica200Sonata Arctica

Reckoning Night (Nuclear Blast)
by Eric Chon

Okay, I’ve got some mixed emotions about this album. I think the Editor is slowly trying to make me appreciate power metal. Perhaps it’s only to laugh at me as he blasts his old-school Obituary while I’m immersed in stratospheric arpeggios and falsetto voices singing about elves and shit. Well, goddamn it, it’s working.

When first I clashed with this Reckoning Night, I hated it. I mean, dude, it felt like a kick in the nuts. I shelved it, embracing the naked savagery of Napalm Death and Meshuggah instead. I avoided Reckoning Night, and only when really pressured did I play it once more.

Imagine my surprise when I didn’t vomit right away! The first few songs are actually wonderfully complex with some driving rhythms. Guitar work, as always, is fantastic, and the song-crafting is quite good. Power metal’s inherent cheesiness factor is present throughout, but shoved to the side as superior writing and musicianship take center stage to theatrics.

sonataarcticaphotoBut like a bad guest, it overstays its welcome and eventually gets on your nerves. Really fun songs like “Ain’t Your Fairytale” which display just the right amount of flagrant pomp, are replaced by over-the-top, drama-filled shenanigans like “Wildfire” where a spooooky voice begins the song with: “Oh, why are we so sad? (sinister laughter) Are we feeling hurt by their evil eyes? We are thirsty for payback? What would we like to do to the town? Would we like to make it dance? Like an animal? Would we? WOULD WE??”

And it just gets sillier from there. Man, pull out the Players Handbook and give me 3d6, stat! Part of me thinks that if I start in the middle rather than from the very beginning, I might enjoy the latter half more. The rational side tells me that won’t be the case. At least this ain’t Rhapsody.

Fans of power metal will flock to this release (if they haven’t already). It won’t let them down. For me, it was an interesting foray into overly theatrical metal and I can’t say I regret it.