Sonata Arctica – Talviyo Review

Score3/10
GenreProgressive Metal
CountryFinland
Runtime56:09
Release Date6 September 2019
Record LabelNuclear Blast

This was a tough one. Seriously. Aside from the fact that I just really dislike this album, it took me half a fucking hour to even come up with something to put in the “Genre” tab up top (and I’d sooner snap my laptop in half before I call Talviyo power metal). Honestly, it’s not even really a metal album. While it’s true that metal music is expansive and encompasses many different sounds, I can barely justify calling this metal. At this point, we should expect some genre-bending from Sonata Arctica, but this is a real stretch.

So, as a result of all that, I tried really hard to not judge Talviyo as a metal album, but as a contemporary work on its own. I just really want to emphasize that I don’t dislike this album due to its unmetalness. I dislike it because it’s boring, lacks any substance, and plays like a late assignment that was finished the night before a deadline.

The album begins at its highest point (but even then its not that high at all) and steadily gets worse as it continues; whether that’s because of my steady exhaustion or the quality of music is up for debate. Talviyo begins with ‘Message from the Sun’, which is a light, fluffy, straightforward song that carries more power metal air than any other song on the record. It’s not a terrible track, but between questionable vocals, sub-par production, and wonky songwriting, it’s satisfactory at best. After this, though, each song just kind of fades into the next, offering very few moments worth talking about. ‘Demon’s Cage’ and ‘Ismo’s Got Good Reactors’ show some moments of redemption, but they fade back into oblivion before any good idea can be fully materialized.

There are a few reasons for these shortcomings. The most prominent would be the hugely-inconsistent vocal delivery, which can be good one moment and ass-backwards the next. And then we get to the guitar tones, which are also rather inconsistent (and sometimes tinny), which is likely a symptom of the piss-poor production quality. However, the biggest contributor to Talviyo‘s downfall is the songwriting itself. It tries to be a bit experimental, and I can respect that, but it comes off only as amateurish and poorly-constructed.

Despite being such a trainwreck, I did manage to find some positives within Talviyo‘s frozen, lifeless form. To start, there’s a noticeable and consistent wintry atmosphere over the music, so bonus points there for an actual coherent musical idea. The bass playing is also great, especially in ‘Whirlwind’, and there are, as I said before, a few cool gems, if you’re patient enough to wait for their arrival.

If you like light, reflective, more acoustic music to throw on in the background, you might get something from Talviyo. But, for those of you who prefer a little bit more effort in your music, you’re not missing much. It’s truly a shame that Sonata Arctica have fallen down to such a level as this. After the overwhelmingly-negative reception of The Ninth Hour, they had two choices: shift back to something they know they could do well, or try the same thing again. Well, there’s no need to say which they chose, because this disaster speaks for itself.

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Stay Metal \m/

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Categories: Progressive Metal, Reviews

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