September 4, 2019 Sonata Arctica – Talviyö (Album Review)
Winter is coming, and Sonata Arctica is bringing it along sooner than expected! How so? With their brand new album Talviyö set for release on Friday, September 6th through Nuclear Blast Records.
Finnish for winter night, Talviyö marks the tenth overall studio album from the Power Metal outfit out of the northern town of Kemi. A follow-up to 2016’s The Ninth Hour, in enough words, the music of Talviyö paints the picture of a perfect Finnish winter in front of the inner eye. Complete with eleven tracks, it is summed up in just under an hour, and much like previous Sonata Arctica works, plays out in a cinematic fashion.
Matched by a lyrical theme inspired by the music itself, the album additionally finds Sonata Arctica – Tony Kakko (vocals), Tommy Portimo (drums), Henrik Klingenberg (keytar), Elias Viljanen (guitar), and Pasi Kauppinen (bass) – at a peak performance level. This could be in part due to opting to work with outside Producer Mikko Tegelman. In fact, the last time they had an outsider involved in production was 2004’s Reckoning Night. What does this really mean? Well, sometimes when an outsider is involved it can help challenge you and even experiment a little more.
All these factors in mind, Talviyö enters in a breathtaking manner with angel-like chants leading into “Message From The Sun.” From here the album continues in full force with strong, melodic guitar riffs, fast rhythmic drumming/bass and impeccably strong leading vocals from Tony Kakko. With little down time, you are pushed through as tracks like “A Little Less Understanding” attack with heaviness and procession, but as others like “The Raven Still Flies” serenade you with a more calm, relaxing, yet rich sound. That in mind, perhaps the biggest surprise of the album comes in the form of closer “The Garden,” a subtle, slow piece that bookends the fairytale-like album beautifully.
Which leads us to the lyrics of Talviyö. Admittedly the last thing Kakko thinks of when writing a Sonata Arctica song, Talviyö’s is quite interesting. Each song and each word acts like a brush stroke telling tales of winter and inevitably causing your mind to get lost in the world of Sonata Arctica. Arguably most reflected in the song “Cold,” where the title explains itself, on the other end of the spectrum, “Whirlwind” is the most a-typical musical and lyrically Power Metal themed cut.
All this said, each song on Talviyö has its own character and soul that magically come together as one whole story. Featuring arrangements that are complex and sonic quality that is so wide, the music has the power to sound different every time. Whether it is the howling winter wind between songs or an instrumental that guides you through a frozen land, the rich arrangements are mind-blowing. Timeless and never gets boring, CrypticRock gives Talviyö 5 out of 5 stars.