Originally written by Gregory Bradley.
The last time I heard a Sonata Arctica album, I thought it was going to be terrible. It started out with predictable melodies and melodramatic vocals about love and other boring topics that should never be in metal, if you can avoid it. But, about two tracks later, things picked up and it turned out to be an excellent album. However, with this album, Reckoning Night, almost the exact opposite thing happened. The album starts off great, with the trademark Sonata Arctica twinkling harpsichord keyboards and speedy guitars, but then almost immediately tapers off and becomes some rather generic power metal.
After the first track, “Misplaced”, comes the song “Blinded No More”, which wouldn’t be all that bad of a song for a progressive metal band. It’s a mid-paced song, sort of groove-oriented, and a catchy chorus, but it totally doesn’t fit Sonata Arctica. In fact, with the use of strange instrumentation and weird bridge moments, it sounds more suited to Aryeon or Symphony X. This isn’t to say that the song or any of those bands are bad; the fact of the matter is this and other songs seem awkward and out of place.
The album then goes right back into power metal with the track “Ain’t Your Fairytale”. Right after this song, there’s a weird and pointless instrumental, immediately followed by another power metal track. It’s this ebb and flow of crap and gold that ruins the album for me. There are great tracks that you’d think were going to be terrible, like “My Selene”, then you have high expectations of the next song and it turns out to boring or weak. The song “Wildfire” has an annoying spoken intro that sounds like something out of Lord of the Rings; this confused me. To top it off, the album is closed out by a strange tribal drumming thing. If you’re asking “what the hell?” at this point, so was I!
The frustrating nature of this album keeps me from giving it a good score. The guitar tone is pretty cool and it’s always good for a band to attempt to push their boundaries, but it seems like they did strange things with this album just for the sake of being strange, not really pushing their song creation skills or instrumentation. I wouldn’t recommend this album to anyone but the purest of power metal fans.