Sonata Arctica – Talviyö

Ten albums, it’s something not a lot of bands can say that they have achieved. The main challenge for a band which is around for that long, would be to keep existing fans entertained, yet also attract new fans and keep things interesting.

Interesting, that is a good keyword for Sonata Arctica’s tenth studio album Tarviyö,. This is not a good thing nor a bad thing per se. To be fair, the first singles that were released did not spark any hope in me that we would hear more of the good old Sonata I loved. So I was a bit sceptic going into the first listening session of Tarviyö.

As with the previous Sonata Arctica albums, it took me a couple of spins to appreciate the songs. Talviyö means winternight and the first song, “Message from the Sun”, tells about the Nothern Lights and the stories that come with it. Sadly, it can’t really grasp me. The guitars are quite boring with long chords and even the fast paced drums can’t really save the song since it’s put way back on the background.
Whirlwind” is a lot more interesting. This song has much more variation in bass lines, guitars , drums and keys, with some interesting singing by Tony. It actually feels more like the Sonata Arctica of old, yet slowed down.

“Cold” was one of the previous released singles and gets more catchy every time you listen to it, yet gets blown away by “Storm the Armada”. But once again as soon as the guitar kicks in, it feels very muffled. Some would even call it tame. Still, with the tone differences, the double singing lines and keys like we know from Sonata Arctica, it is one of the key tracks of the album for me.

“The Last of the Lambs” is well, something different and interesting. It’s a slow song but with a dark twist, which gives an eerie vibe during the whole song.
“Who Failed the Most” is another political protest song which can easily be forgotten. It’s slow and quite uneventful. It says a bit about the album that the fast paced instrumental song “Ismo’s Got Good Reactors” is the most fun of Talviyö. Thankfully this continues a bit in “Demon’s Cage”. Well, until the singing starts, then the pace disappears. It returns a little bit later in the song though and it’s still a fun song to listen to. At the end, there is a small surprise for Sonata fans of old, by the likes of a familiar voice.

A Little Less Understanding” is the spiritual successor of “I Have a Right” but feels a bit more interesting. Still, the speed of the song could have been upped a bit. The beginning of “The Raven Still Flies” reminds me a bit of “Larger Than Life”, maybe mainly because of the way of singing. It’s a decent song, but nothing that really stands out.

Reluctant, I still have to say something about the last song of the record, “The Garden”. Although the thought behind this song is very sweet, as sweet as the lyrics. This song actually almost gave me a toothache, it’s that sweet. But it’s just as boring as it is sweet. I actually have a hard time staying awake during this song, which really feels like a bedtime song. If that is the meaning of the song, then well, mission successful.

Talviyö is a record with two sides. At one point is has a few interesting songs and over the whole line you might not help yourself to hum along with all the songs actually. One thing can be said about Sonata Arctica, but even their uneventful songs are still catchy and get stuck in your head. Yet there is one problem which is quite clear right from the start, is the abysmal mixing of Talviyö. Everything seems like one big blur and nothing really stands out. One thing which I found to make the album more enjoyable, is to find the songs on youtube and play them at 1.25x speed.
Review by: Michael

Rating: 7/10

Nuclear Blast
Release: 6th of September 2019

Tracklist:
1. Message From The Sun
2. Whirlwind
3. Cold
4. Storm The Armada
5. The Last Of The Lambs
6. Who Failed The Most
7. Ismo’s Got Good Reactors
8. Demon’s Cage
9. A Little Less Understanding
10. The Raven Still Flies With You
11. The Garden