Sonata Arctica

Stones Grow Her Name

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Track Listing


Having seemingly reached the limits of their experimental comfort zone with the more progressive and/or aggressive tendencies of recent albums, Finland's Sonata Arctica retreated to safer melodic metal terrain on 2012's Stones Grow Her Name. In fact, so "safe" that metal barely appears in the picture at times. Granted, thanks to their copious displays of instrumental technique, lavish synthetic string sections, heavyweight staccato guitar riffs, and overactive drums (not to mention head-scratching eco-friendly lyric concepts?), isolated tracks like "Losing My Insanity" and parts two and three of the "Wildfire" suite check off both the prog and power metal boxes (one can't be quite sure which box is checked by the banjo-infused oddity "Cinderblox"). But notwithstanding the ballsy title of "Shitload o' Money" (see also the dark irony of "Alone in Heaven") and Euro-defining keyboard overkill, predominant radio-oriented tunes like "Only the Broken Hearts (Make You Beautiful)," "I Have a Right," and "The Day" essentially straddle the gossamer-thin partition between L.A. glam rock and AOR (also see the intolerably schmaltzy ballad "Don't Be Mean") -- ultimately reflecting the 1980s' commercial values and ultra-glossy production aesthetic. In short: pop-metal, new millennium style. Not that there's anything wrong with that, as Sonata Arctica always seem to carry this style off as well as anyone else. And as long as their loyal fans share the band's appreciation for such saccharine (by metal standards, at least) but undeniably infectious sonic ingredients, everyone should go home happy with Stones Grow Her Name. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia, Rovi