Sonata Arctica – Pariah’s Child (Nuclear Blast)Wednesday, 12th March 2014
Figuring that another mid-tempo/rock-oriented album ala 2012’s Stones Grow Her Name wasn’t fitting of their 15th anniversary, Finland’s Sonata Arctica have made somewhat of a concerted effort to peel back to the sound of their first three albums with Pariah’s Child. Bear in mind that in no way is this a literal re-write of said seminal works (could you imagine the band trying to do a song on par with “Blank File” again?), yet the peppy, upbeat flavor is there, along with the necessary bouts of tempo pick-up. By no means a climatic work, but it’s probably a step above 2009’s iffy Days of Grey, and the aforementioned Stones Grow Her Name.
The album is largely without a flighty, ultra-zippy cut that would make hay with Ecliptica or 2001’s Silence, yet the flighty, saccharine flush of lead single “Wolves Die Young” has some instant sway, especially considering wolves were often a topic of choice for the band during their halcyon period. The rampant “Running Lights” could be mistaken as clumsy by some; others might find value in its tongue-and-cheek feel, which also could be said for “Cloud Factory,” which is sure to draw all sorts of ire from the lot that finds power metal of this sort to be a little too light in their loafers.
The flat ballads that are “What Did You Do in the War, Dad?” and “Love” are throwaways, yet the charming “X Marks the Spot” (complete with gospel-like testimony) is worthy; same for “Larger than Life,” so Pariah’s Child should be able to nestle up somewhere between the orchestral huff of 2004’s excellent Reckoning Night, and the underrated song-smithing of 2007’s Unia. Above all else, it shows that Sonata Arctica haven’t forgotten where they came from, even if it took them a long while to get back.