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Sunday, September 25, 2022

Review – Sonata Arctica – Acoustic Adventures – Volume One

Label: Atomic Fire Records

Date: January 21st, 2022

Let’s get one thing straight. I love this band! From the moment I first heard them. “Ecliptica” is a classic record, with the rest of them closely following. And it’s not just music. I’ve seen them live only once, but what a spectacle it was! Not to mention these boys spent hours in front of the venue after the show, greeting fans, having fun with the whole lot. I distinctly remember there was even a billboard announcing the concert taken down and the giant poster being signed by the entire band. However, I have no idea who took it home in the end. Still, it was a massive show of character from the Sonata boys.

I love them! But there’s something wrong here, on the first part of their “Acoustic Adventures”. Gun to my head, I cannot point it out. Maybe it’s the fact that I would prefer a different track list. Then again, this is just the first one, so perhaps I will have more luck next time. Though I cannot claim this is a collection of mediocre songs. Not the least bit.

You have the mega hits, such as “Wolf & Raven” or “Don’t Say a Word”. You have the romantic wanderings of “Tallulah” and “Tonight I Dance Alone”. There are those heavier tunes, such as “For the Sake of Revenge”, or “Alone in Heaven”. A fine mix indeed, even if they are all pulled through the acoustic weaponry.

Maybe I just cannot appreciate hearing songs such as “Don’t Say a Word” in this type of setting. Especially with the lyrics all “cleaned up”. Maybe it’s “Wolf & Raven” which sounds like a parody of the original track with its bluegrass feel. Not that the boys ever lacked a sense of humor, but it’s really weird hearing this thundering gallop sounding this way.

I really don’t know. Cannot put my finger on it, but I really cannot get into this release. Perhaps it’s better I don’t say a word. Just leave it be. But it’s not my style.

This album is following a series of acoustic performances which served Sonata Arctica as a perfect way to test out this material. Still, they decided to record “Acoustic Adventures” in a studio setting. This might have been a mistake, too. It almost sounds too clean when it could use a bit of roughness around the edges. Live recording, in front of an audience, would certainly carry more of an energy this quintet is recognizable for.

Still, I cannot quite call this the “wrong” I keep mentioning. I do enjoy listening to it. And I keep doing it, hoping at some point it will stop seeming to be so unnatural to my ears. Maybe it won’t.

There’s a whole lot of these “maybes” around this release. It’s the first time I have any dilemmas about Sonata Arctica. I’m afraid of the sequel to “Acoustic Adventures” while at the same time I cannot wait for it to be released. This is a nice record, but it doesn’t seem to fit me. A duality in its essence…