08 May 2015

Favourite artists: Sonata Arctica, top10. Finland #2

This is the other part for this week's theme: heavy metal music from Finland. In the other part I featured four different Finnish heavy metal bands, in this post I am featuring only one. I did not want to feature this on the previous post, since it is one of my favourite bands all time and it deserved its own Favourite Artists -post. So, here it is, one of my ultimate favourites: Sonata Arctica.

Besides being one of my ultimate favourites, it is my top favourite music act from Finland and by far my favourite metal group. I had so hard time choosing only five songs (the usual amount of songs in my posts), that I decided to make a top10 post. Now I do not have to leave so many songs that I love out of it. Since these top10 posts tend to prolong quite long, I will try to keep the amount of text minimal and introduce the band in between the songs. On that note it is better to start right away.

(currently. This list may not be accurate as the time goes by)

1. Shamandalie, 2004

Sonata Arctica is a band from Kemi, Finland. The band was formed in 1995 (back then it was known as Tricky Beans and later Tricky Means, and it played more of hard rock than metal) and it plays power metal, symphonic metal and progressive metal. Even though they have many different kinds of songs, I find there is a certain sound that I always connect with the band.

My ultimate favourite song from Sonata Arctica is Shamandalie. It was released in 2004, as a single from their fourth studio album. I do not remember exactly when I became a fan of the band (I still do remember exactly how it happened), but I think it was 2004 or 2005. Shamandalie was the very first, or the second at most, I heard from them and I immediately loved it. I find this song is not that heavy as most metal songs, so it is easier for non-metal-fans to like it too.

I must say, before that I was not much of a fan of metal music, but Sonata Arctica got me into it too. This song is very full of memories for me and I absolutely love the lyrics. It always makes me very emotional and I feel some parts very deep in my spine. Since the song is so special to me, I do not think any other song can pass by it. I do not have a favourite song, but Shamandalie could easily run for the spot.

2. Paid In Full, 2007

Most of Sonata Arctica's music is power metal. You can find many symphonic metal elements in their songs and from their more recent songs also progressive metal. Especially their ballads are that kind that even a non-metal-fan could like them. I myself really love their lyrics; they have very interesting stories and as a history nerd I like they take ideas from history and fairy tales. Many metal bands have interesting story-like lyrics, but Sonata Arctica's writing style is my favourite and a big part of my love for the band.

Paid In Full was released in 2007 from an album called Unia (which is Finnish for Dreams). I remember waiting excitedly for it, since it was the band's first studio album released after I became a fan. Before this I had been more of a fan of their ballads and slower songs, but Paid In Full made me love their heavier songs too.

I find these lyrics very special and emotional to me, and like Shamandalie's these too make a feel shivers deep down in my spine. This is currently the most listened song in my iPod (I know I recently said it was another song, but these two have been fighting for that spot going back and forth. Now Paid In Full has taken the lead.), which tells how much I listen to this. Along with Shamandalie, this song reminds me of the book I have been writing, so it has another special meaning to me. It is a very special song to me.

3. Tallulah, 2001

Tallulah could have been the first song that I heard from Sonata Arctica, but I am kind of certain it was Shamandalie. So, Tallulah was the second. These two songs were the ones that made me love Sonata Arctica and got me into their music. Even though Paid In Full managed to pass by Tallulah, this song holds a very special, unaffectable spot in my heart and will remain as one of my ultimate favourite songs.

Tallulah is a ballad and some would probably not even realize to it is in fact a metal song. It is absolutely beautiful and touching. The lyrics especially are very beautiful. I think this is that kind of song that even those who do not like metal could easily like.

4. Don't Say A Word, 2004

If not all, then at least almost all of Sonata Arctica's songs are written and composed by the band's lead singer Tony Kakko. I always respect when a musician makes their own lyrics and I feel that when a singer sings their own words, they sound more meaningful and emotional. In its lifetime, Sonata Arctica has had multiple member changes, which is obviously expectable for a band that has been going on for so long time. From the original members, only Tony Kakko and drummer Tommy Portimo are left. The other members are keyboardist Henrik Klingenberg (2002), guitarist Elias Viljanen (2007) and bassist Pasi Kauppinen (2013).

From Tallulah, Don't Say A Word is quite a change. This song is very dark and very, well heavy metal. I would advise this song is NSFW (not safe for work), since it contains swear words and language is fairly rough otherwise too. Actually, not that many of Sonata Arctica's songs contains swearing. Even though the lyrics are very dark, I really like them. And I absolutely love the music, even though when I first heard this song, it was a bit too overwhelming for me. Since then I have really grown to love this song.

5. Black Sheep, 2001

Back in the day, Sonata Arctica has done very well in the Finnish charts with multiple number ones and gold certifications. They have also had very good success abroad; The band has toured around Europe, South America and Japan. I do not know why, but it always surprises me when I read that a Finnish heavy metal band is touring in Japan or Brazil in example. But of course it makes me extremely happy that a band I love is touring all around the world.

Black Sheep was released in 2001 on an album called Silence. I do not know which I love the most in this song: the lyrics or the music. I love them both so much and I think they make a perfect combination. The song is very interesting and very fast-paced, which can be kind of surprising.

6. Alone In Heaven, 2013

Alone In Heaven is the most recent song that is featured in this list. Even though I like their most recent album, Pariah's Child, for some reason none of its songs made this list. Perhaps this is because it is newer and the older songs have had more time to make me love them, and for this they obviously feel more special to me. That is probably why many of this list's songs are from years back. Alone In Heaven is far newer than the other songs in this list, which tells how good it is, since it managed to make me love it this much in lesser time.

And as a site note: even though the most recent songs did not make the list, I still feel the songs on this list are very well spread out throughout the band's career. There are only two studio albums that did not get any of their songs on the list (Sonata Arctica has released eight studio albums) and the songs range from 1999 to 2013. To me it proves that Sonata Arctica has made great music all through its lifetime.

Alone In Heaven is more of a ballad. It is absolutely beautiful song. The lyrics are very moving and they make you think. The story of the lyrics tells about a person who has died and gone to heaven while all of his loved ones are in hell. This is very interesting subject, and even though as an atheist I do not really believe in this kind of stuff, it is a subject that I have sometimes thought about; Would a heaven really be a heaven if you were there by yourself?

7. Flag In The Ground, 2009

Along with Alone In Heaven, Flag In The Ground is a song that I have played the most recently. It will eventually end up in my 2015 most played list, if I remember to do it. I really have gotten into these two songs lately, though maybe I have listened to this one more. I actually considered changing their placings around (I originally made this list couple weeks ago), but I decided to keep them this way. But I must say, it is pretty much a tie between Alone In Heaven and Flag In The Ground.

Flag In The Ground is yet another example of why I love Sonata Arctica's lyrics. The lyrics tell a historical story of a man who leaves his loved one and unborn child home to move into America to try to make fortune enough to bring his family there too. These kind of stories always move me and it gives me the creeps, when I think that there were so many people back in the day to whom this was reality. And even though it is the story that makes me love this song so much, I really love the music too.

8. Wolf & Raven, 2001

Wolf & Raven was Sonata Arctica's second ever single, released back in 2001. It is very dark and mysterious song. The music is fast-paced and interesting to listen to. The lyrics have an interesting story, though it is very dark too. This too is that kind of song that could be hard to like for someone who is not a metal fan. But I absolutely love it, but music- and lyrics-wise, though once again I think I am leaning more towards of favouring the lyrics. It just that these kind of lyrics affect me deeply and I find them fascinating.

I just realised that I have completely forgotten to praise Tony Kakko's vocals and I must do that before this post comes to an end soon. The vocals are of course a major part of any band and the singer makes a great deal in whether somebody likes the band or not. I absolutely love Tony's voice and I find it interesting; I can not name any other singer with similar voice. And he obviously sings very good. His voice is recognizable and a big part of Sonata Arctica's appeal.

9. Replica, 1999

Like mentioned, Sonata Arctica started already back in 1995. Their first single and album were released in 1999 and last year they released a 15th anniversary edition of their debut album, Ecliptica. In this album they re-recorded all of the songs from the original Ecliptica. I really like this idea and find it as a special way to celebrate such a milestone. Sonata Arctica's first single, and only one from Ecliptica, was called UnOpened. Though I think another song from the album has risen into one of Sonata Arctica's trademark songs: Replica.

Besides from being re-done for the 15th annivery version Ecliptica, Replica was re-recorded also for Sonata Arctica's collection album (The Collection) in 2006. I am nowdays actually more use to this version, so the song above is the 2006 version. No matter which version of this song, it is brilliant. I really love the song overall; The lyrics are emotional and the music great. This was amongst the first Sonata Arctica's songs that I heard, so it has that special value to me.

10. FullMoon, 1999

FullMoon is also from Sonata Arctica's debut album. The song's lyrics have yet another interesting story: as you might be able to guess from the title, it tells about a werewolf. The lyrics are a bit creepy, though brilliant. The music fits the theme perfectly and changes fittingly through the song (like when they sing about running the music is very fast). I have loved this song for years and years, and I still manage to find new sides from it. A brilliant end to this list. FullMoon also marks the 200th song featured in this blog!

And as usual, I ended up blabbering and the post got very long. But I just had so much to say since I love this band so much! I only featured ten songs in this post, but there are many, many other amazing songs in Sonata Arctica's albums. Sonata Arctica is one of my ultimate favourites and I never get tired of listening to me. Especially since they keep making great music.

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