Sonata Arctica – Clear Cold Beyond

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It's been a while since Sonata Arctica released any new material, as the last two albums were acoustic versions of already existing songs. In addition, the last few Sonata Arctica albums have felt a little less inspired and more mainstream, so it's nice to see that with 'Clear Cold Beyond' they seem to go back to their faster and heavier roots. I think we haven't heard this Sonata since 'Winterheart’s Guild'.

Clear Cold Beyond‘ immediately starts with a bang with the fast-paced ‘First in Line‘, that is a good indicator for the rest of the album. Fans of the more recent releases might be getting a bit overwhelmed by the speed of this and most of the songs on this album. But fans of old-school Sonata should be quite happy with the direction that this album is going to. Sonata is re-awakening and re-imagining their old self. The next song on the album ‘California‘ isn’t any slower, but it still has a strong sing along vibe. Even though the song has some serious lyrics it has a very happy vibe to it, that I can only imagine being a blast to witness on a live show.

Shah Mat‘s intro is dripping of esoteric and epicness, before engulfing onto a power metal journey through the cold and snow before seamlessly transitioning into ‘Dark Empath‘. This sequel of ‘Don’t Say A Word‘ continues with the outstandingly well done, slightly eerie, stalker theme. Actually the best way I can describe it is try to imagine ‘The End of This Chapter‘ on steroids.

Cure For Everything‘ is an uplifting song about the healing power of music. It starts with a slow, almost ballad like intro before speeding up a lot. It has the same feel good vibe as ‘Life‘, just several levels faster.

Halfway through the album, we slow down just a little bit with ‘A Monster Only You Can’t See‘ and ‘Teardrops‘. While these songs don’t have the same blasting drum beats of the previous songs of the album they aren’t any less captivating. ‘A Monster Only You Can’t See‘ has just small amounts of Tony‘s quirkiness mixed in, while ‘Teardrops‘ actually gives off vibes of the Caleb-saga as well, although it hasn’t been introduced as such.

Angel Defiled‘ is possibly the quirkiest song of the album. There are odd screams and laughs that give off a slightly mad vibe without going over board too much. Generally these songs feels like classic power metal spiced with Sonata‘s, or probably more Tony‘s Mad Hatter vibe.

The Best Things‘ is my personal favourite. I’ve always loved Sonata Arctica especially for their ballads, to me Tony Kakko is just the king of sad love songs. But as he has proven already before with ‘Love‘ and now with this song, love songs don’t have to be depressing to be emotional. The soft and happy lyrics and vibe of the music just fit. The song isn’t dramatic or extraordinary, yet I would call it simply perfect.

The album ends with I think the first ever title track of Sonata. ‘Clear Cold Beyond‘ is another slow-paced song with a wintry vibe. I know it’s consider rather odd to put two slow songs next to each other, especially at the end of an album, but I must say this feels a lot more natural to me that ending with a big bang.

And of course this wouldn’t be Sonata without a fake ending followed by some weird Tony-ness.

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


  • Music / Songwriting 9/10
  • Vocals / Lyrics 8/10
  • Mix / Production 10/10
  • Artwork & Packaging 8/10
  • Originality 8/10

With ‘Clear Cold Beyond’ Sonata Arctica are re-visiting their roots. The album is a lot faster and heavier than their recent releases. Tony didn’t go overboard with experiments this time and instead just spiced “normal” songs with a little extra-ness. While this album seem like a step back in time it also appears like a good step forward into the future. Overall brings back a Sonata that I think many fans had given up hopes ever hearing again. The mix is pleasantly well-balanced, and I can’t wait to read the lyrics, so I can get the full picture of the story they’re trying to tell.

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