Wim S. : A well-known outfit this Finnish band. Somehow they know to reach a pretty large audience but in all honesty I must confess that I do not know where that reputation is based upon. What distinguishes this band from other bands in this genre? It is a mystery to me. Anyway, with 'The Days Of Grays' the band from Kemi releases its sixth album after 'Unia' from 2007. That last album was very successful especially in their country. In the meantime guitarist Elias Viljanen released his solo album 'Fire-Hearted' (see review of the undersigned in this issue). Sonata Arctica is a very traditional power metal band, plays mostly uptempo music (but not really fast), juiced with lots of melody and some fairytale sauce. The mature sound of their last album has been continued. After joining the stable of Nuclear Blast the times of albums like 'Ecliptica' and 'Silence' are definitely over.
The album breathes some theatre and musical aspects. This is not in the least because of the vocals of Tony Kakko who would do a great job if he was asked to sing the 'The Phantom Of The Opera'. The structures of different songs also correspond to the music structure often used in musicals (songs like 'Deathaura' and 'Juliet'). With his voice Kakko is the most prominent figure of the band. The drum, guitar, and keyboard parts are well played but also fairly unobtrusive and thus very mediocre. After listening to this CD I would not have guessed that Viljanen is a technically gifted guitarist. Because of his non-striking guitar playing and the lack of really heavy songs and a real ballad (one that sticks in your head and not a weak try like 'Breathing') the album does not succeed to please me until the end. That feeling is reinforced by the fact that the band saved meaningless songs as 'As If The World Wasn't Ending' and 'Every Fades To Gray' to the end. After listening to the album a couple of times I have to say that I regret the fact that the band never gets real heavy (damn Viljanen, please play some of those killer-riffs, I know you can do it!). Best songs are the strong 'The Last Amazing Grays' ,'Deathaura' (because from a compositional point of view this is very well done) and 'The Truth Is Out There' (only because of the beautiful guitar and keyboard duel with Elias Viljanen and Henrik Klingenberg).
No, I must conclude that I am not very enthusiastic about this album. In all its facets the album shows us nothing new compared to the earlier albums. One may wonder if the band has stopped evolving and developping. The diehard fans will not loose any sleep over it, they enjoy the little trick that the band performs perfectly. It all sounds really good but I am not touched by it. This will be such a CD that goes in my cd rack and will never come out of it again.