By Ola Mazzuca
Epic. Captivating. Metal. Soundscapes of symphonies and melodic riffs will make you emotional and lyrics that tell many tales will take your imagination to new heights. If there’s one Broadway hit you must watch this winter, it’s Sonata Arctica’s The Days of Grays.
If this album had a radio commercial with stock enthusiastic narration, that’s what the transcript would look like. The power/prog metal Finns return to bring a dark, extremely classical release that would be a fine fit for a heavy metal-themed production. As in a play, that is.
The album commences with the piano driven instrumental piece “Everything Fades To Gray” (where Apocalyptica cellist Perttu Kivilaakso makes an appearance) leaning into the expressive “Deathaura” featuring brilliant guest vocals by Johanna Kurkela. Most of the tracks including “Breathing” and the melancholic “As If The World Wasn’t Ending” take it down a notch in speed, supplying the album with great contrast. “Flag In The Ground” is heavy on the keys and lyrics as they are on “No Dream Can Heal a Broken Heart” where the oh-so trite topic of love prevails once again.
The Days of Grays not only provides a mental image of the album constructed into theatrical work, but strong musicality. Tony Kakko’s voice is powerful, as he enunciates each lyric with heartfelt emotion and Henrik Klingenberg supports each track with a predictable yet necessary keyboard tone.
This album has changed my entire perspective on power metal, as I have always viewed it as a cheesy and cliché attempt at applying emotion to music. If there are three things that Sonata Arctica have justified on The Days of Grays, it is that the genre is indeed epic, captivating and genuinely metal. And I don’t need an overly excited narrator to tell me so.