Clear Cold Beyond

Sonata Arctica

Like it or not, the Finnish quintet is back with another excellent release.
June 6, 2024

SONATA ARCTICA is (and it seems that will always be) a name rounded by endless polemics about the quintet’s music. On the days of “Ecliptica” (1999) and “Silence” (2001), many Power Metal fans accused their music to be a clone of STRATOVARIUS (an unfair thing, because follow the same genre isn’t to be a copy, it’s just a matter of paying close attention); on later years, on the era of “Ecliptica - Revisited (15th Anniversary Edition)” (2014), “The Ninth Hour” (2016) and “Talviyö” (2019), there they were again accusing the band of ‘selling out’ (due the fact such albums depicted a more accessible outfit). But as always, they didn’t (and still) don’t care about such thing, and here they are with “Clear Cold Beyond”, their new full-length.

Again the band relied on the works of Mouse Finger, Hank, Pasi Kauppinen and Evil (recordings), Mikko Karmila (mixing) and Svante Forsbäck (mastering), so it’s not a sin to say that the sonority follows the same tendency of the album’s precursors: with defined instrumental, clean and loud, but with the essential weight, and with everything on its due places. And the very good artwork of Niko Anttila depicts once more a snowy landscape (similar to the ones used by the band on “Talviyö”). About the band’s musical ways: it’s the same one usual for the fans, plenty of catchy melodies and skilled instrumental parts (and rich on keyboards arrangements, a feature of the band’s music since they started their career). It can be said as another very good album of the band, in the same ways of their classic, but with a maturing view of it, and one thing must be said: Tony singing is very good, adapted to his age (please, no one can use high tunes after a certain age, it would be a suicide to sing on the shows), but still expressive.

It would be easier to say that “Clear Cold Beyond” is inspired and sounds great, and there’s would be no need to point to some songs as reference. “First in Line” and “California” depicts that use of wise fast tempos with excellent melodies and fine guitars and keyboards contrasts. “Shah Mat” (besides with emphasis on the vocals and backing vocals, and it doesn’t rely on fast tempos) and “Dark Empath” (that uses a more funny outfit and melodic accessible elements) the same melodic tendency, and “Cure for Everything” is a ‘back-to-full-speed’ moment (with excellent bass guitar and drums rhythmic support).

“A Monster Only You Can’t See” starts as ballad in the usual way of the band, but soon evolves into a more accessible song, and “Teardrops” is a silk and melodic moment full of contrasts between melancholic and heavier parts. “Angel Defiled” brings back the traditional way of the band with songs that aren’t extremely fast, but full of rhythmic contrasts, and “The Best Things” is that old and good traditional song that is part a power ballad that is usual for the fans of the band (but it’s not as melancholic and accessible), but with heavier moments. And the same can be said about “Clear Cold Beyond” (this one bears a heavy melancholic appeal on its melodies).

Yes, “Clear Cold Beyond” is excellent, besides the ones who always complain will keep on, like on the past 20 years. But again: SONATA ARCTICA is used to such a thing, and as it’s a part of the business, so why care about it?

9 / 10

Almost Perfect








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"Clear Cold Beyond" Track-listing:
  1. First in Line
  2. California
  3. Shah Mat
  4. Dark Empath
  5. Cure for Everything
  6. A Monster Only You Can’t See
  7. Teardrops
  8. Angel Defiled
  9. The Best Things
  10. Clear Cold Beyond
Sonata Arctica Lineup:

Tony Kakko - Vocals, Keyboards
Henrik Klingenberg - Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Elias Viljanen - Guitars
Pasi Kauppinen - Bass
Tommy Portimo - Drums

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