Feel the Power

It's been ten years since the Northern Finnish town of Kemi produced Sonata Arctica, and as a result their record company have released a seventeen-track collection of their greatest songs as a sort of celebration. This disc goes right back to their first single 'Unopened', right through to the newly re-mastered versions of 'Replica' and 'My Land'. But is it all worth it? Is this collection a valid release or an album to fit with a contractual agreement? Who knows, who cares? Whatever the reason for this 'best of' it certainly comes early in their careers, but it is very much welcome.

For those not in the know, Sonata Arctica chock out the really cheesy power metal. Not the Judas Priest style power metal, nor the Iron Maiden style or Helloween power metal. They play that keyboard heavy lightweight power metal which is ultra melodic, super fast and smothered in cheddar. The musicianship is beyond question, the vocals are grand and the whole production is so slick you can grease back your hair with it. There's no room for raw edginess or that fuck you attitude, just unadulterated tuneful heavy metal that you either makes you smile or wince.

If you're a fan of the likes of Stratovarius, Rhapsody and Freedom Call the chances are you already own Sonata Arctica's back catalogue, but if you've had your head in a pit of snakes since 1999 then this album could be just the ticket to get you started on this Finnish five-piece. I'm sure the loyal Sonata following will spit fire and thunder over the considered 'Best of' selection. I think any fan of any band feels this way when their favourite artist releases such an album, "That's crap, I wouldn't choose that, why don't they just release their first album it's the best thing they've done," are amongst the arguments I myself have found being involved in when Iron Maiden released 'Best of the Beast.

But I think this collection is geared more to introduce prospective fans to the band. It's a well-rounded selection of songs giving a good impression of what Sonata Arctica is all about, in hope they'll go and purchase the whole bally discography. There are some great songs on this album. 'The ruins of my life', '8th Commandment' and 'Full Moon' are just to name just three, but a special mention must go to the awesome 'Wolf and Raven' which is just too damn fast and too damn good. It's a song worthy enough to grace the best power metal album of all time rather than just a Sonata Arctica end of chapter collection. Of course the cheese is prevalent in the mid tempo songs such as 'Black Sheep' and 'Kingdom for a heart'. After your ears have been sliced by the songs mentioned earlier, these tracks just cut you with a blunt knife.

Whether or not two re-mastered versions of their early cuts is enough for fans to part with their cash to obtain a bunch of songs they already own is doubtful. Any power metal hungry not aware of this band's talents can do much worse than getting their grubby mitts on the disc. It's a class CD by a class act