4/25/2008 - Review by: Vinaya Saksena
Now this is what I call a fine album. No, I don't mean great; and obviously it's not a bad album. It's just fine, thank you. Like the most recent efforts by fellow power metal minds Kamelot and Freedom Call, Unia pushes plenty of the right buttons, but for the most part, just does not linger in my memory very long. Unlike those albums, however, this one does not suffer extensively from a feeling of coasting or cliché.
Actually, there are annoying bits of that familiar open-string chugga-chugga syndrome that so heavily afflicts Kamelot's "Ghost Opera" and other supposedly progressive-leaning power metal offerings of late, while fans of power metal in its speedy, double bass-ridden "caffeine substitute" form will likely lament the dearth of fast fairyland tales here. Personally, this doesn't bother me much, and frankly neither does much of anything else on this album, except for the fact that, well... there's so little to bother you here. Yes, despite the band's obvious and commendable attempts to escape the stylistic confines of rote power metal, there's a slight but slightly annoying uniformity to this album, with most songs seemingly laying back and not leaping out at the listener for attention.
This trait is both good and bad. The bad part is, again, uniformity-a lack of the rich musical palette afforded by a broad range of tempos and tones (see "It won't Fade"- yawn!). Instead, there's lots of middle of the road fare here, of both the heavy and not-so-heavy variety, again with little in the way of memorable tuneage. On the upside, however, the band's musicianship is as solid and tight as one could want, and plenty of attention was obviously paid to elements that enhance mood (including un-flashy, atmospheric keyboards).
The star of the show, however, is definitely Tony Kakko, whose vocals are smooth, mostly mid-range-y in pitch and expressive almost to a fault, occasionally running the risk of overshadowing the rest of the band. However, all works magnificently on a few cuts, my personal favorite for the aforementioned reasons being the tuneful, complex and vaguely folk-y "My Dream's But a Drop of Fuel For a Nightmare" (damn, how's that for a song title?!?!).
Opinions are definitely going to vary on this one, but I for one am not going to get involved in the partisan discussions that may result. To me, it's simply a solid album that takes risks-not always successfully I might add-while also giving off a vague feeling of being just a little too slick, too reliant on hi-tech synth textures and vaguely synthetic-sounding vocal choirs. Still, when it's good, as on the aforementioned "...Drop of Fuel..." (How the hell was I supposed to abbreviate that?) and the smart, diverse speed chugger "The Harvest," Unia demonstrates that this is indeed a band with ideas--something the power metal world needs more of.
ALL REVIEWS FOR: SONATA ARCTICA
ALL INTERVIEWS FOR: SONATA ARCTICA
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE THESE POWER STYLED RELEASES: