If you’ve never listened to Sonata Arctica, understand that SA are storytellers. Every song is a story unto itself and honestly told like a story. Most bands make some songs which are tales of some kind or another; usually what you get, however, is “I lost my girl” or “I found a girl” or “I hate life.”
Not exactly original.
Sonata Arctica’s songs are vivid paintings of a fantastic nature; somehow in four to nine minutes they can give you a setting, some unnamed characters which they still manage to make you resonate with, and a satisfying (if not always happy) conclusion. On this album, for example:
*Ain’t Your Fairytale – Told from the perspective of wolves who must fight to maintain their world against the growing threat of men.
*Don’t Say a Word – A man obsessed with his love takes it to very creepy extremes.
*Wildfire – A boy, cast out and reviled by a town for the deeds of his father, takes his revenge by condemning the people to a horrible doom in the flames of his hate.
*White Pearl, Black Oceans – Their masterpiece. Of all the songs they’ve done, this is easily the most epic in its scope (at least to me). A lighthouse-keeper, always alone, ventures into town on New Year’s Eve and subsequently suffers a heartbreaking series of events that shatter him.
Technically they are precise and inventive on Reckoning Night; lyrically, as I’ve said, this is the most accomplished of their work. If there’s a complaint to be had about their work it’s that their English is flawed (they’re a Finnish band), although I doubt it’ll bother you unless you’re an English major.
Also, though it has nothing to do with the music – Reckoning Night has some of the best artwork in its packaging that I’ve ever seen. If you like the album’s cover you’ll like the rest of it.