Sonata Arctica – The Days Of Grays
The Days of Grays
This has got to be the strangest album I have ever heard, but I think that’s part of Sonata Arctica’s motif; Tony loves the strange, different, and unexpected, and on The Days Of Grays, this comes across as never before. It doesn’t have to be pure power metal to work; Unia certainly wasn’t, and neither is this. Hoewever, Sonata Arctica did address their power metal roots more than with Unia, since the first three songs (after the intro) are power metal with a mini epic, a more midpaced tune, and a straight-up metal piece that is very reminiscent of Winterheart’s Guild. That piece is of course “Flag In The Ground”, and it is dripping with emotion, but then so is everything on this album. This is basically Sonata Arctica: The Musical; the way it’s delivered I honestly feel like I’m watching a Broadway musical. The raw emotion is just incredible, especially in “Juliet” (Tony almost makes you want to cry… in a good way).
At first I was excited that they had included an introduction track on this album, but while it’s decent, it does not flow into the first song (“Deathaura”) very well. “Deathaura” is actually one of my very favorite songs by Sonata Arctica, showing off that new style that I enjoyed from Unia with a smattering of the old Sonata Arctica that reminds me a little of “Victoria’s Secret”. “The Last Amazing Grays” is another good, but rather different song. It sounds heavy at first, but the major (tonality) feel of the song and the subject matter makes it very enjoyable, light, and rather catchy. These two are my favorite tracks off this album. The rest is decent, but nothing special. “Flag In The Ground” is a good Sonata Arctica-throwback to the Silence/Winterheart’s Guild-era, but the rest is a bit… strange. “Zeroes” is probably the strangest song (among many strange songs), with a really weird beginning and ending because of some strange electronic voice settings that Tony decided to use. Lately, he seems to be rather fond of playing around with his voice. But I will say that it does give this album some more personality and easily sets it apart. “The Dead Skin” is another weird one with electronic voice filtering, and the rest of the album is basically Unia with less complexity and some darker lyrical content. Sonata Arctica’s ballads are almost as hit-or-miss for me as with Stratovarius, (for the most part) and one of the bonus tracks for this album is the best they’ve ever made. “In The Dark” is a fantastic song, and definitely one of my favorite bonus tracks of all time.
Speaking of bonus tracks, I’m dedicating a section of this review to them because, for the first time in a long time, I believe that the ones off this album truly deserve mentioning. After “Deathaura”, “In The Dark” was my favorite song, being very emotional and very emotionally romantic. “Nothing More” is a fine song, capturing some of the spirit from Reckoning Night, combined with a little Unia in regards to the progressive nature of it. “You’re A Giant In My Eyes” is pretty good as well, reminding me a lot of “The Last Amazing Grays”, with smatterings of the rest of the album in it. The bass is clearly audible in this song, its heaviness makes it a really good addition to the album.
All in all, The Days Of Grays isn’t as good as Unia, nor any album before it; there are too many songs that just don’t click for me and the second half of this gets kind of boring (not including the bonus tracks). However, it’s difficult to compare it to most other albums because it’s nearly completely different from every album they have done so far. I loved the spots where they continued with Unia’s progressive sound, and the tracks where the album forged its own identity with some very well-crafted songs are excellent as well. Personally, I hope they go back to the Reckoning Night/Unia-type of material or maybe even use “Deathaura” for inspiration. This is a strong album overall, but could have used some better material for the second half; or they could have cut out “No Dream Can Heal A Broken Heart”, “As If The World Wasn’t Ending” and “The Truth Is Out There” and replaced them with the three bonus tracks. Then we’d have an excellent album, instead of “very good”.
Ian’s rating 3.75 out of 5.0