Sonata Arctica’s new album “Clear Cold Beyond”: there’s so much power in this metal, at long last

Author Julia Suloinen - 4.3.2024

I remember several years ago I was scrolling the comment section below one of the “Talviyö” music videos, and one comment really pierced into my memory: “Try listening to this on speed x1.75 and you’ll recognize good old Sonata Arctica“. Being Sonata‘s devoted fan for more than 20 years, I will keep on insisting that every stage of their creative journey is marvelous in its own way, while I also can’t help admitting that for me personally, this band will forever be associated with power metal. Oh,  come on, these guys ARE power-metal to me, as they are the ones who introduced me to the genre when I was a teenager! So, stars aligned in such a way that after one pretty soft album, weird covid times, two acoustic albums, and a tour, Sonata Arctica, apparently, felt the urge to release the accumulated energy and power (ba-dum-tss) and, finally, decided to come back to their roots and present to the metal community one of the finest records in their history – “Clear Cold Beyond” which will see the light on the 8th of March via Atomic Fire.

The impression of the album is like their “best of” album but with brand new songs. Sounds weird, but the main point is that here Sonata Arctica shares with us all the facets of their creative vision in metal that they’ve developed within their career and puts all the years of experience in an album, which is quite eclectic within a genre. But yes, “Clear Cold Beyond” is a fully power-metal album now, and it consists of long awaited high-speed stuff, as well as more symphonic and theatrical themes, spiced up with softer rhythm experiments, known from the latest Sonata‘s albums and some acoustic tunes on occasion. And, of course, ballads!

The opening track and the first single from the album “First In Line” is a great speedy metal, framing thoughts of how much humanity is dependent on informational technologies, so it’s a straight up “Weballergy” pt.2 from(Silence, 2001( in spirit. In “California” the powermetal train goes full speed, and driving bouncy riffs turn this song almost into something you can dance to. “Shah Mat” starts with a synth riddle – for a little while, you don’t know what kind of rhythm the song will develop. Well, spoiler: it’s also quite speedy, but maybe a bit more solemnly smelodic than the first two.

“Dark Empath” slows down a bit, and here the symphonic side takes the leading role, framed by choir passages and giving off these dark metal opera vibes, this is indeed a theater performance within one song about one of the darkest phenomenons of a human psychology! After such a supressing topic, we are rapidly (literally, yes) cheered up by the philosophically optimistic “Cure For Everything” (which pleasantly reminded me of one of the band’s blockbusters “The Cage”). Going further, we witness something Sonata Arctica is an absolute pro at – acoustic melody, that opens a very expressive, vivid and diverse mid-tempo “A Monster Only You Can’t See”. This song, together with a twisted-rhythmed “Teardrops”, represents the older, a bit softer, but musically less straight-forward, Sonata Arctica on this album.

“Angel Defiled” is my absolute favorite. Purely a single material and a potential banger live, and it’s catchy AF. Tony Kakko’s voice singing here is a one man theater play (that laughter though!), and the clavier synth jingle in the beginning would make a perfect phone ringtone. Welcome to the wild witch coven party, everyone!

After such a burst of crazy energy we normally have to take a breath, and here we have “The Best Things”– a very kind and bright waltz-like ballad, which might primarily be something personal lyricwise, yet it would sound perfect as some sort of dedication to the fans during the live shows. And then, all of a sudden, we reach the finish line with the title track “Clear Cold Beyond”, also a ballad, that starts with a magic music box that follows us further and interlaces those powerful riffs and a powerful message this song delivers. Calming meditative effect is multiplied by an enchanting synth tune that drives us far deep into a cold winter night, under the solemn starts…Oh, and after the song ends – just wait for it:)