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on 31 March 2014
Sonata Arctica have always been a band that's done things their own way. Despite the howling and gnashing of teeth that accompanied more recent albums, these once darlings of the power metal world seem more than content to keep doing things their own way regardless. So here we are with Pariah's Child, the bands 8th full length, nearly 7 years after Unia heralded the arrival of the bands 'second era'. Despite the fact that I really like Stones Grow Her Name, as a die hard fan of Winterheart's Guild, I must admit I wasn't brimming with expectation when this landed in my headphones, which may have something to do with how much I have been enjoying it.

Pariah's Child is not the return to the bands glory days that some have claimed. It's not fast enough, for one. However, this might be the most consistent and solid album since Reckoning Night, and it incorporates many elements of the bands power metal glory days without necessarily being a pure power metal album. In fact, the more I think about it, this does sound a lot like a slower, more rock orientated Reckoning Night. Tracks like Blood, Running Lights and Take One Breath could quite comfortably sit on said album, possibly even Winterhearts if they were speed up a bit. Overall, the band seems to have kept a tighter lid on Pandora's box this time, as tracks are shorter, simpler and have a greater emphasis on catchy hooks and memorable choruses then anything the band has put out since Unia, and a lot of the melodies and guitar leads are classic Sonata. Even a song like X Marks the Spot is quite simple and down to earth if you take away the psychotic hillbilly narrator. After the exercise in the bizarre that was Stones Grow Her Name, I was surprised at home simple and accessible songs like Cloud Factory and Running Lights are.

That said, thinking that Sonata have given up entirely on the quirky experimentation of Unia, Days of Greys and Stones would be erroneous. Pariah's child has weird in bucket loads, albeit this time round weird is consigned mostly to the lyrical content rather than the song structures. However, there are a few notable oddities that have flowed to the surface. Cloud Factory could almost be some cheesy crossover of a manga theme tune and a Eurovision entry from Bulgaria (its brilliant though), Marathon Man sounds like a stowaway from a Skidrow album, and What Did you Do in The War Dad? has a very pronounced Danny Elfman/ Tim Burton soundtrack feel, definitely a highlight of the album. Finally, just as Reckoning Night had Black Pearl White Oceans, Pariah's Child has Larger Than Life, a gorgeous 10 minute rock opera which beautifully marries its theatrical lyrical content with a metal-meets-musical sound. Its long, complex, highly emotive and the kind of song Andrew Lloyd Weber might have written if he grew up listening to Malmsteen and Stratovarious. Top notch.

As I'm turning into a bit of a curmudgeon in my advancing years, I have to say Tony Kakko and co play it pretty safe and simple, perhaps a bit too safe. Stones Grow Her Name was a much more ambitious and diverse affair; its a shame they didn't retain more of the wild eyed ambition and progressive rock aspirations. On the other hand, its almost refreshing to hear the band knuckle down and write some simple yet solid tracks after the last three albums. The jury's out in my book, but it's worth mentioning.

After a few albums of experimentation and new ideas, Pariah's Child sees Sonata Arctica coming almost full circle, finding a comfortable melodic rock meets power metal sound that retains the wintery melodies and power metal edge of their earlier works, but doesn't turn it's back on the quirkiness of their post-Unia years. We are not getting Winterhearts Guild 2.0 any time soon, but I'll happily continue to follow the band if they keep putting out albums as good as Pariah's Child.

p.s. If you are looking for something like older Sonata then try Catheyron by Winterstorm. It might be up your street. Its a lot more folky than anything Sonata ever did, but it does remind me of their older stuff a lot.
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on 27 July 2014
This is an absolutely fantastic album which I've been playing to death ever since it came out. Their previous couple of albums had lost some long term fans but this sees them stick a toe back into the power metal pool without abandoning the more rock opera styling of recent years. In fact it's the sheer variety on offer here that keeps me coming back, the album shifts from power metal to rock opera to ballad to hard rock to a song almost bordering on pop with consummate ease and flair. A current candidate for album of the year.
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on 1 April 2014
Finnish melodic metallers Sonata Arctica abandoned their crowns as the kings of power metal years ago, and yet I think we're looking at power metal album of the year with "Pariah's Child", a record that perfectly unites their new and old work. For a start, this album makes you cold, which is what you want in a SA album; it is one tumbling winter landscape full of avalanches and snow storms. Secondly, this is the best set of songs Tony Kakko has penned in years. From the sprawling "Running Lights" to the bouncy "Cloud Factory", Sonata Arctica rip things up with chopping double-kick work, swirling keys, and Tony's impeccable taste for melody. At times this is full on metal majesty, others tender, mature art. Fans who have dismissed their last three records need to give this album its due. Sonata Arctica have created a masterwork here, one that power metal fans need in their collection. There are melodies here you will never forget.
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on 18 August 2014
best sonata arctica album in years I absolutely adore it and very pleased they have gone back to their roots could become one of my favourite albums ever with time. I love the songs "The Wolves Die Young" "Cloud Factory" "Love" and "Larger Than Life"
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on 25 August 2014
Oh Sonata Arctica,
to be honest I am not a fan of this album at all, I don't like the direction the band has taken compared to their earlier albums that seemed to be have better composition and theme. Unfortunately, I can't recommend this one and would instead suggest their earlier power metal albums such as Silence or Ecliptica, it almost seems like they are struggling for an identity at the moment.
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on 16 September 2015
Let me start off by saying that I am a big, big fan of Sonata Arctica. Tony Kakko is a vocal powerhouse, and they have produced some truly wonderful songs that I know will stay with me for a lifetime. In general, I'm on board with their experimentation in more recent albums, too - songs like The Vice from Unia, Zeroes from The Days of Grays and even S***load of Money from Stones Grow Her Name really work for me. However, Pariah's Child just doesn't seem to have the staying power of their previous work. I have listened to it a fair few times, and few of the songs have a hook that really grabs me, or that makes me stop and really pay attention. This was the case with Stones Grow Her Name too - several of the songs were a little all over the place and not memorable, and some of them, like I Have A Right, just seemed lazy. Overall, though, the compositions on SGHN were tighter and more inventive than those seen here. It is unfortunate that Tony Kakko has foregone much of the richness and complexity that characterised Unia and TDOG in favour of a form of songwriting that's less layered and more straightforward, but also more erratic. At times during Pariah's Child, I get the sense that he's stopped caring about or putting his soul into the melodies he writes and is coming up with things that are far too childlike and basic, while at other times, there are so many weird elements going on that I feel like he might actually care too much. Also, I think he has a bit of a hillbilly obsession going on, which I think he may need to nip in the bud, as he's starting to overdo that aspect in his music (I can't help but roll my eyes at that narrator in X Marks The Spot).

The only tracks on this album that truly stand out for me are Cloud Factory and Larger Than Life (and perhaps Half A Marathon Man). Those are the only two that really make me feel any kind of emotion. The ballad, Love, and the first single, The Wolves Die Young, are both pretty disappointing given the band's track record as far as ballads and classic power metal numbers are concerned, and most of the other songs, while perfectly listenable, don't really have any individual characteristics that make them memorable or make me feel hitting the repeat button. 3.5 stars from me for this effort... but Sonata Arctica are still an amazing band, and I am confident that they will come back far stronger with their next venture.
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on 22 April 2014
Soanata are an interesting band.Ostensibly a power metal band they also step into the musical territory of a Nightwish in terms of epic theatricality and also can do a nice line in straight up hard rock when they want to.
It's doesn't get boring for one minute and will put a smile on your face,which is a nice change from the latest album from Satan's Frosted Horn of Misery.
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on 1 May 2014
Was better than expected, The second half of the album is much easier to grab, but then even the fiest half grew on me. A good album definetly worth a listen :)
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on 15 April 2014
Great album, but not stellar. A good recovery from the disappointing "Stones Grow Her Name". Tony Kakko is awesome as ever :)
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on 22 May 2014
another solid album from the scandanivan masters good solid songs from first to the last well worth buying this album
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