REVIEW: Sonata Arctica – Acoustic Adventures – Volume I

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Acoustic renditions are not a one-size-fits-all -type of deal. They come in many shapes and forms depending on what the artist wants to convey emotionally and musically. Acoustic doesn’t mean just vocals and one instrument (usually acoustic guitar or piano), but can employ many different instruments so as to create many layers without burdening the main melody. What SONATA ARCTICA have done on “Acoustic Adventures – Volume I” is take songs from their back catalog and re-arrange them into an acoustic format. The end result can be heard on January 21, 2022, when the album is released through Atomic Fire Records.

Employing full-band acoustic arrangements on the twelve songs on this album, SONATA ARCTICA have managed to create a delicate yet robust atmosphere where the beauty of the melody is the driving force with the rest of the instrumental section mainly acting as support. The first taste of what the band has in store, “The Rest of the Sun Belongs to Me,” was released in early December and showcases a heartfelt and gentle track that invites one to daydreaming and contemplation. Tony Kakko’s soft vocals blend so well with guitar strums, while grave bass notes bring forth a bit of darkness. Since it is the opening track of the album, it sets a magical and wondrous tone for the rest of the music. Follow-up track “For the Sake of Revenge” brings a darker and gloomier ambiance to the forefront but “A Little Less Understanding” lightens up the mood with up-tempo guitars, banjo, and even some moody organ undertones.

On a backbone of piano, vocals, and bass, “Tallulah” retains the same emotional core as the album version, not just because of the heartfelt vocal delivery, but also because of the underlying piano melody, which becomes its lifeblood. Folksiness oozes from the piano in “Paid in Full,” with a melody that invites listeners to dance, while the bass almost feels jazzy. Songs like “Alone in Heaven,” “Tonight I Dance Alone,” and album closer “On the Faultline” make for easy listening, as if their makeover into acoustic was a no-brainer while exemplifying what most everybody already knows – a good song structure and melody work just as well (if not better) when stripped down to the essentials. On the other hand, such tracks as “Don’t Say a Word,” “The Wolves Die Young,” and “Wolf & Raven” are more theatrical in nature and it takes a little bit of getting used to all the arrangements and layers added, but it’s all worth it in the end.

Creating “intimate, pure, and heartfelt renditions” of their songs was the band’s main goal with “Acoustic Adventures – Volume I,” which is a big gamble considering the fast-paced power metal that SONATA ARCTICA play. Nonetheless, they took the challenge head-on and, while they definitely delivered on that account, the Finns also created some adventurous arrangements (pun intended) in the process so as to rework some heavier numbers from their catalog, not just the ballads. In between all these different songs, the album feels well balanced, dynamic, and with enough variety to please both fans and casual listeners. 

Written by Andrea Crow

Tracklist

  1. The Rest of the Sun Belongs to Me
  2. For The Sake of Revenge
  3. A Little Less Understanding
  4. Alone in Heaven
  5. Tallulah
  6. Don’t Say a Word
  7. As If the World Wasn’t Ending
  8. Paid in Full
  9. Tonight I Dance Alone
  10. The Wolves Die Young
  11. Wolf & Raven
  12. On The Faultline

Line-up

Tony Kakko – vocals
Elias Viljanen – guitars
Pasi Kauppinen – bass
Henrik “Henkka” Klingenberg – keyboards
Tommy Portimo – drums

Label

Atomic Fire Records

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