SONATA ARCTICA – Clear Cold Beyond

March 8, 2024, a month ago

(Atomic Fire)

Nick Balazs

Rating: 8.5

review heavy metal sonata arctica

SONATA ARCTICA – Clear Cold Beyond

The prodigal (pariah) child returns home. The power metal fire still burns with Sonata Arctica on their newest full-length Clear Cold Beyond. The friendly Finns shine with up-tempo anthems, thoughtful lyrics, blazing solos, and their quirky humor. It’s like the lost album between Reckoning Night and Unia.

The hard rock/pop elements have evaporated into thin air – the only misstep is the syrupy ballad “The Best Things”, but it can be forgiven in the context of the album. It is incredible how a tonal shift in music style, focused songwriting, and production can cure the ailments. Singer Tony Kakko always captivates with his vocal prowess and while he doesn’t let loose with staggering highs like in the early days, he utilizes the strengths of his aging voice. Kakko excels on Clear Cold Beyond along with keyboardist Henrik Klingenberg. His keys provide flash solos and also memorable, rhythmic melodies.

The songs are there and possess imaginative melodies, memorability, and yearn for additional replays. The cheery, although lyrically dark “California” reminds of “San Sebastian” and opener, first single “First In Line” really does set the tone with its gliding, classic power metal comfort food. Electric keys and choral vocals greet the different “Shah Mat”; but nonetheless bursts into speed and cheerful chorus although the lyrical content is not. It’s a tricky track that will turn into a favorite.

“Cure For Everything” starts with a mid-tempo bounce that again bursts into epic power metal glory with top shelf vocals, chorus, inspiration, and musicianship. The dancing keys and bounce “Teardrops” also takes an eeriness in the bridge to the chorus. Kakko delivers great vocals and it’s this type of stuff that separated them from their peers back in the day. The surprise of Clear Cold Beyond is the sinister “Angel Defiled” – an unexpected aggressive, yet catchy number that’s like a spiritual successor to “Of Wolf & Raven”.

“A Monster Only You Can See” is a song only SA could write with its ironic jubilance and funny use of “asshole”. “Dark Empath” continues the Caleb saga with its creepy lyrics and would have fit nicely on Reckoning Night. The closing title track is a brooding, atmospheric piece with gloomy synth work, but concludes on a hopeful note. It’s a highly subdued song that becomes better on continued listens.

Clear Cold Beyond is Sonata Arctica doing what they do best and is the reason why they became so popular in the first place. Now let’s get some live dates in North America and hear this new stuff as it is well-deserved.

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