Fitting it would seem for Sonata Arctica to release several their songs as Acoustic variants as their overall concept with many tales has been told as ballads. Slow, and melodic, Tony’s vocals would fit seamlessly with the style, especially when a few of the slower, tragic tales are near acoustic in style already.
Formed in the early 90’s as Tricky Beans, and later Tricky Means before finally setting on what we know today, Sonata Arctica began as a Power Metal band that shifted into melodic over the last two decades, leading to no surprise that an Acoustic series would break the waves in the future. Their story-driven, lyrically deep, and piano-strengthened tracks are, by definition, epics, and have been performed, played, and turned into CDs have scratched, playlists were lost, and the pandemic took a toll.
“Acoustic Adventures – Volume I” is, as it says, only the beginning of our take on the acoustic versions of some Sonata Arctica favourites. From the birth of ‘Ecliptica’, to 2019’s ‘Talviyo’, Sonata Arctica has shared its fair bit of dream albums, and not so desirables, offering us up much of ‘Unia’ and on this first set of acoustic pieces with tracks like “Paid in Full”, and “For the Sake of Revenge” making early appearances.
“For the Sake of Revenge” makes itself known, tearing out of the shadows as the first from the new acoustic album. It’s intense with rhythmic, with fire and passion. A journey of ferocity is brilliantly recreated in both acoustic style and as a newly released music video dropping on YouTube on January 21st, 2022. The snowy black and white with the unsettling darkness dwindling. Frigid wandering through a frozen wasteland, struggling to move forward with the haunting flicker of torchlight at the corner of your eye. It’s slow, low, and fueled by fear and memory. A truly wondrous recreation of a classic tale that still holds the strength of its original, as if truly ‘for the sake of revenge’.
A classic track, “Tallulah” settles into this album with ease as a timeless metal ballad from the 2001 album ‘Silence’. While holding an acoustic vibe in its origin, this is a dazzling version that holds up flawlessly with its predecessor.
As per the classic, a piano carries us in and Tony’s vocals repeat on the same note, without missing a moment. It removes the deepened bass but, keeps the linger of heartache through well-played piano keys. The chorus builds and still holds up with a light drum intro that keeps faith with the original. The bonfire vibe from this track holds is one that sticks in your mind and heart long after the final note fades out.
Lighter tracks seem to be admirable on this album, with “As if the World Wasn’t Ending” painting a picture of reminiscence. Despite the light-hearted melodic take that Sonata Arctica has undertaken in the last decade, this track boasts well the ability that they have to quickly turn their otherworldly melodies into fireside story songs.
The acoustic version gives us a better chance to focus on lyrics rather than be entranced by the tune itself so you can hear such intensity in lyrics like “I wait in the line to be hung by the neck until everyone sees I’m right”.
“Paid in Full” also has a feature on this album. The epic solos, passionate vocals, and inspiring lyrics make this a hard track to pass and replicate in a manner worthy of its original prowess.
“It’s hard for me to love myself right now,” still casts a sting, while “I need you less and less every day” is powerfully freeing as the song is in its entirety. Self-love, healing, prioritizing come in full swing in the original, with heavy bass cranking out the atmospheric pressure needed to solidify their true intentions.
The acoustic version is speedy, catchy, and piano-heavy but, the intensity feels lost on me. It becomes lighter, with less passion and emotion in its expressive vocalization, something that this track was fueled by.
Fan-favourite “Don’t Say a Word” was deserving of a retell and is done so phenomenally. It still holds speed, and emotion in the deep and heavy lyrics its had sung by fans for years.
“Mother always said ‘my son, do the noble thing. You have to finish what you started no matter what. Now, sit, watch, and learn!’” It’s the same rhythm but, acoustically heavy and strangely still as filled with head-banging fright as the original.
“The Wolves Die Young” is deep, dark, and heavy, while contrasting the original in light speed and gentle keys. Tony keeps vocals strong but, I miss the lengthy high notes of the original in this version. There’s the amazing guitar solo at the beginning that builds the scene and is left out, while piano keys keep true strength, it doesn’t have the same level of feeling as the melodic version.
“Wolf & Raven” is the original speedy power metal foundation of Sonata Arctica that captured many hearts. Vicious vocals, heavy drums, and double kickers with insane riffs and backing keys; it’s one of Sonata Arctica’s staples for long-time fans of the band, having moved with them from Power to Melodic. The acoustic version focuses on the speed with guitar and piano but, it is not nearly as captivating as the ferociousness of its creation.
“Alone in Heaven” off one of my less-liked albums ‘Stone Grows Her Name’ is done justice in this acoustic version. While the musical composition of the original is heavy and head-banging, the acoustic version takes note of the lyrical prowess in this track and amplifies it. While it lacks the rigid solos that make most Sonata Arctica songs outstanding, its lower tone reflects the lyrics with perfection, “what if your Heaven was someone else’s Hell?”
Overall, my love for Sonata Arctica still runs deep and this album does not deter it. There are tracks I absolutely love, and tracks I could do without but, that wouldn’t result in a diverse and creative Acoustic experience such as this. I await the next album, in hopes that my own, personal favourites, such as “The Cage” and “Victoria’s Secret” may make their appearances.