by MythofRock

Finnish band Sonata Arctica possesses a distinctive sound that tends to evoke strong reactions from listeners—they’re either captivated or indifferent. Personally, I find myself firmly in the former camp, drawn in particularly by the unique vocals of their frontman, Tony Kakko, and the atmospheric keyboard elements that weave through their music, bringing a range of emotions, from joy to sadness. After a period of five years, the band has returned with their 11th album, “Clear Cold Beyond”, marking a deliberate shift back to the foundational elements that established them in the power metal scene. Following two mediocre releases, this new album represents a fine return to form, showcasing some of their most compelling work yet. The album’s cover art immediately sets the tone, transporting the viewer to the band’s Nordic roots with its depiction of the northern lights—a striking and fitting image. From there, the musical journey unfolds with precision and clarity, the production quality impeccable throughout. Returning to a tried-and-true formula, Sonata Arctica delivers powerful tracks brimming with beautiful melodies and infectious riffs that leave a strong impression. Standout moments include the energetic opener, “First in Line”, which stands out as a personal favorite, along with the high-tempo “California”, the epic sweep of “A Monster Only You Can’t See” and the title track, “Clear Cold Beyond”. In summary, Sonata Arctica’s latest offering is a record of enduring talent and dedication to their craft. With “Clear Cold Beyond” they have crafted an album that not only harkens back to their roots but also stands as one of the strongest entries in their discography to date.

♦ 8/10

Nick G. Arvanitis

After having seen Sonata Arctica live for the very first time in my life, this album is the best thing that could ever happen! We all had listened to “First in Line”, the first single, but we didn’t know how the whole album would finally sound. Now that we have listened to it in total, we understand that “Clear Cold Beyond” is a true return of Sonata Arctica to the power metal sound, as we are talking about a power metal album in total. The signature power metal of the Finnish titans as we had learnt it and loved in the first four albums is here again! For me it is the best album of Sonata Arctica, since “Reckoning Night” (2004)! The best Sonata Arctica album in years and years! We are talking about a masterpiece! A magnum opus by Tony Kakko and company! An unbelievable music gem! I am so excited with this release, it has everything a power metal album should have – up tempo anthems, beautiful ballads, fantastic melodies, great solos in guitars and keyboards, soaring, emotional vocals, intricate arrangements and a magical atmosphere that only excellent metal albums have! There is no filler here, every song is an earworm, a tour-de-force of melodic power metal! It is an album of rare class and finesse, made up with gusto and inspiration – exceptional inspiration! It is incredible what songs Kakko has made for us! “First in Line” is a monumental power metal tune, just like “California”, “Cure for Everything” and “Angel Defiled”. “Shah Mat”, “A Monster Only You Can’t See”, “Teardrops” and “The Best Things” are elegiac, dramatic and send shivers down your spine! Not everyday songs like that are composed! “Dark Empath” is another majestic song, reminiscing Nightwish and the title-track, “Clear Cold Beyond” has a vintage charm only albums in the 70s had! I am in a loss for words, as I listen to this mythic album, again and again and again! Stop what you are doing, go and listen to this new album! Sonata Arctica have returned for good! Period.

♦ 10/10

Dimitris Zacharopoulos

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