Sonata Arctica – Pariah’s Child

Sonata Arctica
“Pariah’s Child”
Power metal
Released on 26th March 2014
via Nuclear Blast

 photo pariahschild_zps278d99b1.jpg

OK, this is a good one… I mean really damn good.  I don’t usually listen to power metal, but when I do, this is the kind of band I like.  Sonata Arctica and their newest release Pariah’s Child gave me exactly what I wanted from this type of album.  This is my first time listening to them, so I can say, if you have never heard of them or have just never got around to listening to them, this album is a great jumping on point. That being said, I do feel the album is a bit of a grower, it took me a couples of straight listens to truly get in to it.

The record starts well with great sounding production, solid riffs, a creative lyrical style all in all the signs of a decently composed record, and this sets a good atmosphere for the album to come.  Track one is the lead in single, The Wolves Die Young, a great intro that keeps to the bare bones of the the genre’s formula, it’s light hearted and has some nice twinkly synth happening in the back of the production.  However, it’s only when you truly think about the lyrics of this song, that you get the general ideas and themes this album is trying to convey; in short, it’s about the regret of an elder generation, and the crimes of today having to live on through our youth.

It definitely took a few listens but the album is littered with this symbolic language, in it’s lyrics and even in the atmosphere and tone of the music itself.  The most blunt example of this type of writing, would be in the song What Did You Do In The War, Dad.  To be honest I just thought this was another typical power metal song.  Well it is about war and conflict, set to fast power chords, and fast bass-drum kicks.  You know… the usual song and dance. However, this verse caught me off guard, “What did you do in the war, dad, tell me, Why can’t you smile when the children sing, Did the wages of war cut your soaring wings, And your soul is now torn, unlike mine, Do you fear yesterday will in someway, Define the life of your child?”  This line goes by so quickly you don’t fully hear it the first time.  It’s subtle and simultaneously powerful.  This line shows a guilt-ridden father struggling to deal with the present, because he feels guilty about the past, and then, putting those mental burdens on his child.  The child then realises, that their dad may never be the same person and as a result, the child must grow with these mental strains as well.  It makes you think about the subject matter but not so much as to ruin the enjoyment of the record, it’s just great writing, nothing more, nothing less.

If I step aside from the lyrics and talk about the music for just a moment.  I would say for the most part it’s very well written, it’s catchy and fun with a lot of great riffs and hooks. There appear to a lot of odes and nods to classic rock and that gives the songs some interesting grooves to hear, check out the songs Half a Marathon Man & X Marks the Spot to see what I mean.  The melodies are well crafted and set an interesting tone for every song.  Especially in the ballads, which this album is not short of…  Nope, you can’t have a power metal album without the slow songs, and usually they’re the weakest part of the genre, but Sonata Arctica find a way to make them sound great and give them sense of sincerity.  Again, this is a sign brilliantly written music.  The song Love could have just been a typical metal ballad, but the band takes their time with it and allows the song to build slowly and naturally, then, the big metal chords come in at the end. It’s just so great to hear in this type of music.

OK, so any songs in particular to check out?  Well, I would say just buy the album, but if you’re looking for a sample to get your interest going, I would recommend the track Cloud Factory.  It has a fun and bouncy beat, creative and poetic language and it’s probably the most interesting song on the album, considering its premise.  Overall though, this is a great record, I don’t think I’ve had as much fun listening to an album in a while. Great tunes, beautiful atmosphere and just enjoyable, check it out.

4.5/5

Mick Birchall

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