Sonata Arctica – Stones Grow Her Name
Stones Grow Her Name
This is a very interesting album. Stones Grow Her Name was my most anticipated album of 2012, as well as my biggest disappointment so far this year. After the… intriguing The Days Of Grays, I had no idea where they were going next. I thought that perhaps they would go for a Shakespearean musical type of direction, as was kind of hinted at in The Days Of Grays. But no, Sonata Arctica brings… this… to the table. I really wanted to enjoy their latest, but it just doesn’t work as a full album and it’s not fully metal. On the whole, the band’s new work is a lot slower and with more rock elements, as well as some rather interesting instruments brought into play (like the banjo).
When it comes to individual songs, it feels like they meant for every last one to be a hit. Each song (except for the last two) has the potential to be a single, which definitely explains Tony’s statement that “it was really hard to choose a single for this album”. Personally, I would have picked “Only The Broken Hearts” for this. The problem with this feeling is that every song feels like it’s competing to be the best and most memorable, making it hard for me to pick one out. My favorites include “Losing My Insanity”, “Cinderblox”, and possibly “The Day”. Anyways, “Losing My Insanity” feels very much like a Sonata Arctica song that might have come off of Reckoning Night, and it’s probably the best metal song here. In “Cinderblox” I love the use of the banjo, it really adds an element that sets the feel of the whole album, which is only reinforced by the “Wildfire” duo (more on them later): that of a western mining town kind of in the middle of nowhere. This is an entirely different a very different feel from the previous album, and one which I have dubbed “bluegrass metal”. “Alone In Heaven” has my favorite chorus on the album, and is a fun half-ballad that I greatly enjoy.
The sound of this album is… interesting as well. It sounds like rock and roll at some parts, but there is a metal influence that you can tell is definitely Sonata Arctica. I’m not even sure if I could define in one word what sub-genre this album fits into. It sounds like progressive metal at some points, but then changes to a more prog-rock feel. Adding to that problem where every song is very different: “The Day” is a good progressive metal song with some interesting lines, while “Somewhere Close To You” is a heavy metal song with a good chorus. It’s kind of haunting because Tony uses some really harsh vocals, which add to the intrigue. I also really enjoy the lyrical topics covered in this album: they have a lot to do with accepting people for who they are, friendship, morals, and shit like that. It’s a bit diverse of course, which is part of why they don’t all fit well together. I especially enjoyed the lyrics in “Alone in Heaven”: “is this really heaven, when my friends all burn in hell?”. “I Have A Right” is awful! It’s pop metal, and while Sonata Arctica has written bad songs before, this one is on a whole new level. It’s repetitive, boring, and cheesier than Luca Turilli spending a weekend hanging out with Timo Tolkki.
Now last but not least, the “Wildfire” duo; very complex and very VERY intriguing. Continuing the story from the song “Wildfire”, which is about a young, disturbed man who feels mistreated and blamed for everything, so he tries to burn down the town, “Wildfire ll” is about his return and him getting pissed off about being cast out for killing a family. Part three isn’t as good as part two, but it’s still enjoyable, with some rather abrupt stops and starts which add to the atmosphere (though I have no idea what part three is about).
Stones Grow Her Name really is a very atmospheric album, and just as emotional as any of their previous releases. I do still love the emotion that Tony pours into his singing, it’s what sets Sonata apart in my books. However, this is not a great album by any means. most of the songs work well individually, but not together. The album feels disjointed, and I would say suffers from SA trying too hard to do… something, hell if I know what. For myself and a lot of fans, the next album will either end our fandom or keep us in the fold, because they’re kind of losing me with this one.