Sonata Arctica has never been able to entice me with their power metal. However, I’ve decided to give them a go again with their new album Pariah’s Child. Reading into the history of the band it appears that the previous few albums have deviated from their power metal roots. I’m interested to see what they have done with this one.
Opener ‘The Wolves die Young’ is still a bit poppy but also has enough elements of power metal, with a lot of synths and fast vocals. It is still pretty generic, but easy to listen to and it gets stuck in your head. Still I have the feeling that there is something missing, the sound isn’t as full as I would like it to be. ‘Running Lights’ is rather loud, with quick drums and sweeping guitars. The vocals are a bit overdone unfortunately and the song seems to have little coherence at first listen. The pace of the song adds to this feeling. It isn’t fast nor slow and therefore isn’t easy to get excited about. ‘Take one Breath’ suffers from the same problem regarding coherence. The beginning has pretty folky keys, but soon the pace changes and with that the mood of the song. The vocals change between outrageous and calm, but thankfully end on the beautiful emotional note that Tony Kakko can do so well. This makes it worth to listen to the song the whole way through, which can’t be said for ‘Cloud Factory’. The up-tempo guitar and keys are nice to hear and the same can be said for the vocal lines. The chorus is one to sing along to and the guitar solo can be appreciated. The ending however is rather strange and doesn’t seem to fit with the rest at all.
‘Blood’ is one of the darkest songs on the album and very bombastic. But this too suffers from too many different influences, which makes it hard to grasp. ‘What Did You Do In The War Dad’ is emotionally heavy and better to listen to, but doesn’t live up to its full potential either.
From there on out is just seems to get worse. ‘Half a Marathon Man’ has a very strange intro and the hard rock sound of it just hurts my ears and doesn’t fit the band at all. After the previous songs this feels like a complete culture shock. ‘X Marks the Spot’ seemingly tries to top the weirdness with complete over the top vocals and more. The whole thing seems cartoonish and almost like a parody of the band itself. The ballad ‘Love’ at least tries to be serious and has nice emotional vocals and a soaring solo.
The ten minute long closer ‘Larger Than Life’ at least has the full sound I’ve been missing. With keys, strings and a choir it is more epic than anything else on the record. However, the vocals return to the horrible, angry, musical variety and the chorus is impossible to understand. Within four minutes this song goes in every direction imaginable and then some. It seems completely out of control.
Pariah’s Child doesn’t appear to be a return to true Sonata form. It has some nice elements, like some fast keys and drums and a few soaring guitar solos. Tony’s vocals are nice when he keeps them in check, but as with other parts of this album they are too out of control sometimes. Some songs are plain strange and others have too many strange elements. A little less experimenting next time boys and you might still have something.
01. The Wolves Die Young
02. Running Lights
03. Take One Breath
04. Cloud Factory
06. What Did You Do In The War, Dad
07. Half A Marathon Man
08. X Marks The Spot
10. Larger Than Life
Tony Kakko – vocals, keys
Elias Viljanen – guitars
Tommy Portimo – drums
Henrik Klingenberg – keys
Pasi Kauppinen – bass