SONATA ARCTICA: Ecliptica – Revisited: 15th Anniversary Edition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sonata Arctica from Kemi, Finland, started in 1996 as Tricky Beans, (briefly changed to Tricky Means) playing hard rock/pop music that later evolved into Stratovarius-inspired power metal.

Fast paced, clear lyrics makes for a very nice job of updating their debut album Ecliptica that came out in 1999. This one came out in 2014 and it shows they remain true to their sound and things do get better with age, such as this album. Even though some of the current band members have joined in the 2000s, for example; Elias Vilganen (guitars, backing vocals) (2007-present), Pasi Kauppinen (bass) (2013-present), Henrik Klingenberg (keyboard, keytar, backing vocals) (2002-present), you can’t tell that they aren’t the original members, they sound so good. They still have original members Tommy Portimo (drums) (1995-present), Tony Kakko (lead vocals, keyboards) (1995-present). The sound on this album is powerful, and in your face, but not in a bad sort of way. There aren’t enough tracks on this album, you just want to hear more, but it has the same track listing as the original, so listen to this, then the original…lol.

A great revamp that adds to the original songs, and makes you want to hear more from them. Grab a copy and enjoy it again, or for the first time.

Review by: Amy East

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THRESHOLD: For The Journey: CD

Threshold began in London, England’s suburbs back in 1989, and this is the sextet’s third studio release for Nuclear Blast Records, following Dead Reckoning (2007), and March Of Progress (2012). The latter album saw the return of Damian Wilson, the band’s vocalist from 1992-1993, and 1996-1998, after the departure (and subsequent tragic demise) of Andrew ‘Mac’ McDermott.

“Watchtower on the Moon” is upbeat, with a strong, groovy riff that carries the track, stellar vocals, catchy hooks, and power. “Turned to Dust” is a heavy track, with riffs that punch through with, and a great chorus. “Autumn Red” is a smooth track with heavy riffs, and great lyrics. “Siren Sky” is one of the more heavy metal tracks on the album with tons of riffage surging forth. “The Box,” is the centerpiece of the album with its twelve minutes of textures and moods. “The Mystery Show” has one of the smoothest chorus lines backed by keyboards, and a smoldering riff. Other notable tracks are “Unforgiven,” and “Autumn Red.”

This is a great album of intelligent, well-written progressive music that keeps you riveted from start to finish. Try not to like this one, you just can’t help replaying it.

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WHILE HEAVEN WEPT: Suspended At Aphelion: CD

While Heaven Wept has existed in various forms since 1989 (though the actual moniker wasn’t settled upon until 1991), and co-founding guitarist / composer Tom Phillips has been the one constant for the past 25 years. Despite countless line-up changes in the early years, the core of the band, featuring bassist Jim Hunter, guitarist Scott Loose, and his sister Michelle on keyboards essentially came together in 1998 and has remained intact ever since, though her husband and Brave band mate Trevor came on board in 2004 after a series of drummers came and went.

Starting out playing doom metal, they have expanded into progressive, and symphonic metal on this far-reaching release. With a prologue “Introspectus,” and epilogue “Retrospectus,” both instrumentals at each end of the disc, they really show off the technical skills that are present in this band. “Icarus And I,” features a huge chorus, a catchy melody, and includes harsh, growled vocals. “Heartburst” is slow and soulful, and features a fantastic guitar solo from founder Tom Phillips. “Indifference Turned Paralysis,” is another instrumental, but it’s faster and brings a progressive feel to the track. “The Memory of Bleeding” and “Souls in Permafrost,” are powerful songs with the latter featuring an amazing chorus. “Reminiscence of Strangers,” has blinding guitar work from Phillips and guest guitarist Victor Arduini. You need to listen to the album as a whole, because it is a dynamic and richly textured experience.

Grab the headphones, turn the lights down, and drink in the sweet sounds that are on display here. Not everyone can pull off such a feat, but this is one experience that is worth having over and over again.

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FREE FALL: Power & Volume: CD

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Hailing from Sweden, this quartet bring back the good old days of hard rock from the 70s and early 80s and kick ass while doing it.

“Power & Volume” starts off with some KROKUS sounding vocals and the band playing a take on THE SWEET’s “Ballroom Blitz”. “Free Fall” is the next song and it starts off with a bit of a wink to THE WHO, but the sound of the late 60s just totally works on this song with Kim Fransson’s lead vocals being nice and raspy and very strong, Mattias Bärjed’s guitar playing has nice leads, Ludwig Dahlberg on drums is playing very much in the let’s go a bit crazy, but still on this side of losing it completely, and Jan Martens’ bass playing is nice and heavy. His bass features nicely on “Midnight Vulture” and the guitar playing gets you in a mood to play air guitar along with the song, “Top Of The World” has that driving song feel to it, you know the kind, where you put it on and drive like crazy on a nice warm day. “Attila”  has a nice rubbery bass going on, the guitar playing is creative, the drumming just is something to behold, such great subtle work to heavier hitting, but so melodic, the band’s 60s vibe is strong on here almost like LED ZEPPELIN and THE WHO together on one exotic sounding track. “World Domination” keeps a similar vibe, but gets a more hard rock vibe going throughout, kind of like what THE CULT wish they could get right nowadays. The band just plays with such conviction on this album that it’s hard not to put on a song and just instantly love it. The four-piece, one-guitar lineup is the epitome of a classic heavy rock band and luckily, they have the ability to go beyond their influences and create an album that makes repeat listening mandatory. “Love Bombing” comes back to the hard rock party sound and makes you just bang your head along with them. “Damnation” is nice and heavy with an AC/DC sound that makes this a horns up, head banging classic, “Meriola Blues” has a groove right from the beginning that put a smile on my face, and “Meat” has some of the best playing on it, everyone gets a bit of the spotlight and shines on this track, one that would be great in a live setting.

Free Fall seem to have made the perfect start with this album, they’ve managed to take inspiration from their rock idols and come up with their own interpretation which isn’t a blatant rip off of anything, but holds its own. For fans of classic hard rock, there are very few bands who could hold a candle to these guys…all I can really say is WOW!

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