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- Everything Fades to Gray (Instrumental)
- The Last Amazing Grays
- Flag in the Ground
- The Dead Skin
- No Dream Can Heal a Broken Heart
- As If the World Wasn’t Ending
- The Truth Is Out There
- Everything Fades to Gray (Full Version)
Sonata Arctica are one of Finland’s finest metal exports, having released increasingly complex and progressive albums since their 1999 debut, Ecliptica. Although their origins are firmly rooted in Scandinavian power metal (their first few albums are strongly reminiscent of fellow Finns Stratovarius), their music has become much more refined over the years, with last year’s release Pariah’s Child having only a few tracks that could truly be called ‘power metal’.
Sonata Arctica’s breakthrough album was their sophomore effort, Silence (2001), a sprawling 15-track epic that at times harkens to their influences in 70s and 80s power rock such as Scorpions. They followed this with Winterheart’s Guild (2003) and Reckoning Night (2004), but it was with their fifth album, Unia (2007), that their style truly matured into something unique and different from the many other power metal bands around them. Losing the blastbeats and double kick drums, Unia saw more sophisticated songwriting and album planning (the songs flow beautifully one into another), and although they reintroduced some of the power metal influences with The Days of Grays in 2009, this more progressive style has remained with them ever since.
The Days of Grays is one of their most important albums for me, because it was largely the soundtrack to The Redemption of Erâth: Consolation when I was first writing it. I immediately fell in love with the haunting and sad introduction Everything Fades to Gray, and the forbidden love story of Deathaura echoes the unspoken love between Brandyé and Sonora (in my mind, anyway). However, it’s the third track, The Last Amazing Grays, that truly stands out for me as a song that speaks for everything in Consolation, with its reminders that everything is doomed to fade and die eventually:
“I feel the time is catching up with us
How many days until its hunger is satisfied
Living the final golden days, we are the last Amazing Grays
Hoping the young will lead the pack now”
Sonata Arctica, The Last Amazing Grays (2009)
I played this song endlessly on repeat whilst writing the death scenes in The Redemption of Erâth: Consolation, and it probably explains the tears when they died (don’t want to spoil too much if you haven’t read it yet!).
Other standout tracks include Flag in the Ground, an epic tale of adventure and freedom (the most ‘power metal’ song of the album, and the most upbeat, too), and Juliet, the third part of a series of songs started with The End of this Chapter on their second album, Silence. As If the World Wasn’t Ending and The Truth Is Out There lead into the dismal finale, a reprise of the opening track, but this time with vocals and a majestic, hope-dashing conclusion.
Sonata Arctica followed this album with 2012’s Stones Grow Her Name and last year’s Pariah’s Child, which though both excellent albums, don’t quite match the grandeur and sadness of The Days of Grays. If anything their style has become slightly poppier and a little more upbeat, which isn’t always to my miserable taste. If you were looking to get into Sonata Arctica for the first time, you could do worse than to listen to this album.