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4.0 out of 5 stars
Winterheart's Guild
Format: MP3 Download|Change

on 24 March 2018
Operatic metal.
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on 9 February 2016
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VINE VOICEon 21 March 2005
Look at the review title. Now think back back to the last time an album had that effect on you. Was it the first time you heard Master of Puppets, back in the glory days? Number of the Beast or Seventh Son maybe? Or was it when you heard Hammerfall reinventing Power metal and making it cool again? This is one of those albums. I haven't played my guitar in about 3 years. This album made me pick it up again.
Seriously, this album doesn't have a bad note on it anywhere, and the production is impeccable. Moreover, despite all the Stratovarius comparisons that could be drawn, these guys are head and shoulders above their Finnish compatriots in terms of both songwriting and musical subtlety. The lyrics are unwaveringly excellent, as is delivery. Tony's range is unbelievable, and the harmonies are out of this world. The solos are never self indulgent, and never sound out of place (are you listening, Tolki?), and the keyboards are perfectly executed to add just the right amount of spine-tingle to an already gobsmackingly good mix. However, the songs themselves are the real stars here. Winterhearts Guild is not a short album, but it feels like it's about 10 minutes long because you lose track of time when you listen to it. That's the highest recomendation I can give.
I listen to music of every type, from Metal to Jazz Fusion to Trance, and I love all good music regardless of genre. This is one of my favourite albums ever. Any fan of Power Metal needs to own this album. Essential.
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on 10 October 2003
This is one of the best Power Metal records I have heard in quite a while, and while comparisons between Sonata Arctica and Stratovarius have been made in the past, this album shows that Sonata are in a class of their own.
The songs are very varied and Tony's vocals suit every one of them perfectly. The lyrics seem much deeper than on "Ecliptica" and "Silence" but there is no re-hashing of anything from those records on this one. Jens Johansson of Stratovarius appears on a few of the tracks and delivers some amazing keyboard solos.
Here is my summary of each song:
1) Abandoned, Pleased, Brainwashed, Exploited - Good opening track and a real tone setter for the album (8/10)
2) Gravenimage - One of the most moving tracks and displays the real power of music (9/10)
3) The Cage - An awesome metal song with great guitar and keyboard solos (9/10)
4) Silver Tongue - Another strong track with thunderous drumming and some wonderful vocal harmonies (9/10)
5) The Misery - One of the best ballads ever written, in my opinion. Very powerful and moving (10/10)
6) Victoria's Secret - An amazing song with fast rhythms, blistering solos, and soaring vocals. A masterpiece (10/10)
7) Champagne Bath - Very catchy song with some quite angry lyrics (8/10)
8) Broken - A very moody song with very dark lyrics. The pain can be felt all the way through (9/10)
9) The Ruins of My Life - A very powerful song which continues the themes of Broken and The Misery (9/10)
10) Draw Me - A gentle piano led piece which finishes the album on a very melancholy note (9/10)
All in all, this is an amazing record and if you are a fan of this type of music or want to find out more about it for the first time then this record is for you
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on 4 February 2004
There must be something in the water in Finland. This country never ceases to amaze me with the musical talent it's given to the world. I mean there's Children of Bodom, Nightwish, Sentenced, Charon, Stratovarius and so many more. Enter Sonata Arctica with their third studio album.
I discovered this band by accident more than anything. Well, it's the best accident I've ever had. Winterheart's Guild is one of those albums that I could leave on repeat and still never get bored.
The album kicks off in blistering fashion with 'Abandoned, Please, Brainwashed, Exploited' which gallops along at a frantic pace with time for melodic breaks. 'Gravenimage' slows things down and is one of the most moving songs I've heard in many a moon. After hearing track 3 'The Cage' you will be humming the bridge and the chorus for days. This is a very typical catchy power metal anthem and it's a delight to listen to. 'Silver Tongue' is not a typical Sonata Arctica song but nonetheless it's great mid-paced stomper which will stick in your head aswell. Next up is 'The Misery' which moves me every time I hear it. I'm not the most emotional person in the world but this song makes every hair on the back of my neck stand up. It's simply beautiful and the lyrics compliment the music perfectly. 'Victoria's Secret' speeds things up again. This song has some truly great symphonic moments and a storming ending aswell. 'Champagne Bath' is one of their angrier songs and is probably the heavisest track on show here but at the same time it's melodic in places and contains some great guitar work. Track 8 'Broken' is one of the most emotional songs Tony has ever written and you really feel like this song is from the heart. This starts off slowly but quickly builds into something very special. For those like me with the Japanese version, a bonus track is next. Titled 'The rest of the Sun Belongs to Me' it's a fast paced storming anthem with a huge chorus. 'The Ruins of My Life' is the penultimate track and again, contains some real heart-felt lyrics. this song also has one of my favourite choruses on this album. Closer 'Draw Me' just leaves me in awe. Like the previous ballad 'The Misery' this song moves me greatly and is a great way to end an awesome recording.
The band have clearly evolved musically and lyrically. Ecliptica was a stunning debut, Silence was a great follow up. Both albums would also score full marks from me, but this one has atken them to a new level.
Some have labelled these Stratovarius clones but listen for yourself and you'll see just why I rate this band as the best around at the moment. The musicianship is first-rate throughout, Tony has an awesome vocal range and the songs contain such melody and atmosphere that listening to these songs can seriously be an uplifting experience.
This band will appeal to all fans of metal and probably other music fans aswell. Check them out now or you are missing out.
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on 5 January 2005
ok, you know the deal - its a bunch of ridiculously talented power metallers from finland: look at the bottom of the page there... you'll see a few other bands who can make exactly the same claim and show you to their album collection instead.
So what sets Sonata Arctica apart? Well, the answer would be this album! It is without doubt one of the greatest achievements mankind has produced, ever. The music is so brilliantly composed, including the most catchy - and powerful - melodies you will ever hear. The raw emotion behind the songs comes out perfectly, such as in the beatiful 'broken', an incredibly moving piece, or the fast paced 'victoria's secret', a great tune but with real emotion behind it, an feeling that comes out every time you listen to the songs.
I would recommend this work of art to anyone in possession of some sort of music playing device - I honestly can't understand why anyone wouldn't enjoy listening to a collection of the finest music in the universe.
It doesn't deserve 5 stars - it deserves a lot more, perhaps some kind of award.
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on 1 July 2005
This is the first album I've owned from Sonata Arctica, and I am amazed by it. First of all, look at the artwork. If you like fantasy, you can tell you're in for a treat!
The opening track sets the pace for the album (melody, catchy chourus, powerful guitars), but don't be fooled! The best is yet to come!
Gravenimage has a beautiful theme, and Tom Kakko's keyboard exellence plays a big part here. The Cage is awesome, with a chourus I cannot forget! I'm not too impressed with Silver Tongue, nevertheless a good song. The Misery is outstanding. Victoria's Secret is again, a song with a catchy chourus. The Ruins Of My Life is a brilliant, brilliant song.
Into Power Metal? Get this. Into talent? Get this. I don't think you'll regret, I certainly didn't.
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on 29 January 2006
How many bands consistently deliver these days? Although I love all of Sonata Arctica's studio albums, Winterheart's Guild is probably my favourite. It was songs such as "Broken" and "Victoria's Secret" that drew me further to the band, after initially purchasing Reckoning Night (after listening to previews on their website).

The songs on the album are as follows:

1. Abandoned, Pleased, Brainwashed, Exploited - As with all of Arctica's albums, Winterheart's Guild explodes into life with it's opening track. A great, meaningful Arctica classic. ("Abandoned, PLEASED! Brainwashed, EXPLOITED!"). 4 out of 5.

2. Gravenimage - Beautiful song, fantasy-based with some excellent guitar and piano solos. Slow for the most part, quick part in the middle. 4/5

3. The Cage - Another fantasy song, my favourite song overall on the album. Fast-paced throughout with a great chorus and a superb ending. 5/5

4. Silver Tongue - A catchy song for both vocals and instruments; mainly guitar riffs. 4/5

5. The Misery - Another slower, beautiful song, although I don't play this one as often as the others. 3/5

6. Victoria's Secret - Fantastic song, catchy and whimsical to lose yourself in. Maintains the same speed throughout in a kind of medieval-sounding style. 5/5

7. Champagne Bath - Probably the "lightest" song on the album; more upbeat than the others. A bit of odd keyboard work here and there but still a good song 4/5

8. Broken - As mentioned, one of the songs that drew me to Arctica. Though the vocals carry most of the rhythm it still sounds great, and there's a cool double-kick beat in the background. 5/5

9.The Ruins of My Life - This is probably the "epic" track on this album, and it holds it well. Another mix of beautiful music and speed fluctuation, and a powerful ending. 5/5

10. Draw Me - One of Arctica's slower offerings, with good keyboard and acoustic guitar, but this particular song never really grew on me that much. 3/5

And although the last track wasn't the best for me, the end result is, Tony Kakko and co. have produced a real winner here. Sonata Arctica are like nothing I have heard before, and Winterheart's Guild sum them up. Kakko's vocal spectrum compliment the awesome music generated by his band mates superbly.
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on 24 October 2003
This cd is fantastic so good i bought all their others too.
Track 3 the cage is especially good.Great guitars great vocals great band , absolutely awesome.
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on 11 October 2005
...thats how this CD made me feel. I bought it on the strength of the glowing reviews here, never again. The whole thing sounds contrived from start to finish.... The vocals are messy at best, the drums do that drrrrrrrr 'bumble bee in your head' thing on too many tracks and the guitar playing is the same. They sound like Europe on a VERY bad day..... save your money. If you want great scandanavian metal go buy some King Diamond instead........
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