Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sonata Arctica - The Days of Grays


I’ve listened to this album so much that it feels like it’s been in my collection for over five years. When in fact, it’s only been a mere year and a half. Yes, I’ve known about this band for quite a while, in fact, my introduction to them was seeing them live with Mutiny Within and Powerglove. I was mainly there for Mutiny Within, but I can remember my experience of first hearing Sonata Arctica like it just happened an hour ago. The crowd was mingling amongst themselves when all of the lights suddenly turned off. The intro track “Everything Fades to Gray” played and then let a couple moments of silence create suspense amongst the audience. Then, the lights turned back on like the band wasn’t ready to start their set. Almost three whole minutes later, the lights quickly dimmed all the way and the soft sound of the violas and violins played the beginning of Deathaura as the band quickly entered the stage and exploded with a sound that was so beautiful and powerful that it brought some of the people there to tears (literally). When I saw those people, I could tell that they had a HUGE emotional connection to the band’s music.

As that one song continued on, I was sucked in more and more with each passing second. When Deathaura finally finished, I was sold; these guys took the show and turned it into a blinding star made completely of sound. My emotional connection to this album has been so strong that (for some reason) I’ve been afraid to admit that to me, it’s one of the best albums ever written. I know that the hardcore Sonata Arctica and power metal fans typically prefer the older Arctica albums over the new ones (although all of them are nothing short of amazing). For me, I prefer the really early albums, but The Days of Grays won my heart from the beginning (not because it was the first Arctica album I ever heard, but because it was and still is the BEST I’ve ever heard).

I’m going to be honest, Tony Kakko’s singing voice doesn’t fit my description of an amazing singing voice. But oddly enough, his voice managed to pierce my thick-ass ribcage, go clean through my frozen heart, out the other side, and keep going for an infinite distance. In most of the other Arctica albums, Tony’s singing sounds a little too much on the whiny side, but not so much in The Days of Grays, therefore making it MUCH easier for me to enjoy the music. But don’t get me wrong, Tony is one of the best and most underrated singers in the heavy metal genre.

But Tony isn’t where all of the beauty is, instead of it being a ball of beauty being spread out into a thin layer that covers the entirety of the music, the entirety of the music shines with an utterly blinding amount of beauty that is too much for some to handle. Every single fucking centimeter of Sonata Arctica’s music deserves all the attention in the world, but it’s literally impossible to do all of that in one single review that’s at a somewhat reasonable length. I’m going to get it out that this album is more than enough hard evidence to prove that Tommy Portimo is the best drummer in the power metal genre. Not only does he have the ability to do fast double kicks without making the music too heavy, but he also has strong skills when it comes to dynamics, creativity, and variety. Yes, I know that there are better single guitarists in the power metal world, but the two that play on this record are some of the most emotionally moving musicians I’ve ever heard in heavy metal. The solos that they play are absolutely breathtaking; they do a great job of not drowning anything out, but still shining like a phoenix in the dead of night.

Now, the element of this album that not only completed, but solidified my emotional connection with it is the symphonic sounds created by the keyboards. The music is beautiful enough without all of the keyboards on top, but with the addition of what I think is the most beautiful and emotional keyboard symphonics I’ve ever heard in metal, this album is one of the best records known to mankind.

When I said that the music has tons of variety, think of Opeth and how they have long songs that have several parts/movements that have a lot of contrast. When you listen to Deathaura, there are more than five different “parts” to the song that display excessive creativity, knowledge, and mood changes. When you listen to the album, after experiencing every single mood you can imagine, the album leaves you with a feeling of overwhelming beauty-induced joy. Now that I’ve made a huge confession on my true opinion of this album, it’s time that I concluded my review with a perfect score and move on with my evening in order to avoid going on and on about this album. Because you won’t know the true beauty of this album unless you sit down and experience its power yourself.