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Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Reviews: Sonata Arctica, Delain, Massive

Sonata Arctica: Pariah's Child (Nuclear Blast)

Finland's premier power metal maestros' eighth album is a return to their early roots, this change in style was first alluded to on their last album Stones Grow Her Name. where as that album was the sound of a band coming out of their experimental stage and reverting to type, Pariah's Child is the sound of a band actively rediscovering their youth by going back to the ramped up, keyboard fuelled, power metal gallop of their genre defining debut Ecliptica. Frontman Tony Kakko has gone on record to say that Pariah's Child is "the album that should have been done after Reckoning Night besides Unia." he's right this is Sonata's first 'proper' power metal album in a long time; the galloping bass of new boy Pasi Kauppinen, the blast beat drumming of Tommy Portimo are back along, with the lightning fast guitars and keyboard runs from Elias Viljanen and Henrik Klingenberg driving the album along with gusto so Tony can work his vocal magic over the songs, telling tales of war Half Marathon Man and What Did You Do In The War, Dad? as well as songs from the heart on Cloud Factory and Love and most importantly song about wolves, yes that's right a treat for older fans the wolves are back on opener The Wolves Die Young, before things come to a head on the 10 minute symphonic opus Larger Than Life which is just that full of orchestras, choirs and massive bombast. A riotous return to the sound that made them, this is Sonata rediscovering their past and bringing it into the present. 7/10

Delain: The Human Contradiction (Napalm Records)

Delain are now on their fourth album and much like their compatriots (and brother (?) band) they have grown up and developed their sound becoming more pulsing hard rock than symphonic metal of their early years. Yes Delain have moulded their sound and now they sound a lot heavier than they did on their last few albums, relying more on the guitars of Timo Somers than on Martijn Westerholt's keyboards. This means the band have a sound more akin to Amaranthe or the Annette Olson era Nightwish and even a female fronted Kamelot, this comparison is at its most prevalent on the opening Here Come The Vultures which strats out with twinkling piano before the heavyweight riff kicks in, this style is carried on through Your Body Is A Battleground which features Nightwish's Marco Hietala on the hook filled self esteem raising track that is the sequel to We Are The Others from their last album. As usual there are some great quality guest vocalists with Hietala and grunter George Oosthoek on the very heavy Tell Me, Mechanist, both of whom appeared on the bands debut as well as a great cameo from screamer Alissa White-Gluz (recently announced as the new Arch Enemy singer) on The Tragedy Of Commons. As usual Charlotte Wessels' voice is amazing part operatic, part pop diva, see My Masquerade and the beautiful Stardust for more evidence, if more was needed, Stardust especially could be a number 1 with it's electro-pop backbeat. On their fourth album Delain have adapted their sound again, the band are still evolving but they are evolving into something that could just explode. They are slowly adding to their live repertoire with some well known track and on this evidence they could just be the successors to the WT's crown. 8/10

Massive: Full Throttle (Earache)

Earache are quickly throwing off their extreme metal roots and starting to favour more classic rock orientated bands. It started with Rival Sons, continued with The Temperance Movement and now Massive have joined the fray. Now hailing from Oz you would think that the band would sound like AC/DC but no Massive have the sleazy, swagger of one Guns N Roses if they were fronted by Buckcherry's Josh Todd. This is snotty, alcohol fuelled rock full of dirty riffs, big solos and lashing of attitude. Burn The Sun is straight out of the Axel Rose playbook, Hollywood and the bass led Dancefloor must have been half inched from The Royal Republic before Bring Down The City sets the bands sights on arenas. Musician-wise Massive have a lot of talent for a young band the rhythm section of Aidan McGarrigle (bass) and Jarrod Medwin (drums) who bring the swagger and propulsion to the rockers like One By One (which will be played to death on both Planet and Team Rock) added to this are the riffs of vocalist/guitarist Brad Marr and the Slash-like, blues-based solos of Ben Laguda. Yes Massive are ready to take on the world and with tracks like Big Trend Setter which harks to the arena-filling anthems of Black Stone Cherry, and Lacey which has more cowbell than famous producer 'The' Bruce Dickinson and Gene Frenkle could ever need. So where as Rival Sons and The Temperance Movement draw from the late 60's and 70's rock, Massive are stuck firmly in the 80's Sunset Strip bringing a gritty, punk influenced, hard rock to the modern era much like their label mates have done with their own chosen genre. Hell they've even got a mega-ballad in the shape of Ghost. This is a strong debut album from Massive who could just be (and probably will be if their label mates are anything to go by) just that with time. 7/10

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