Sonata Arctica

You might expect a Scandinavian band to revel in the standard death-metal throes of unintelligible caterwauling, exaggerated tempo shifts and anal-retentive instrumental prowess, yet the well-coifed members of Sonata Arctica embrace a naïvely dated and, dare I say, sweeter notion of phallic guitars and high-pitched pyrotechnics. The Finland band's recent opus, Reckoning Night, owes more to '80s hair-metal bands such as Warrant, Poison and Slaughter than to the pretentiously demonic purveyors of current huff and growl. Featuring synthesizer as predominately as guitar, the quickly paced, nautically thematic tracks will bring back some painfully guilty memories. Check out such wordy and progressive workouts as "The Boy Who Wanted to Be a Real Puppet" and just try not to recall the teenage trivialities of Styx and Kansas. Ah, what the hell--be grateful that simple pleasures can co-exist with such an overbearing genre.


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