Sonata Arctica’s The Ninth Hour (2016) is a beautifully melodic and dramatically harmonic piece of power metal

As oh-so often, I’m late to the review party, and today I come to you with my 2 cents on Sonata Arctica’s latest album, The Ninth Hour, which saw its first light of day on October 7, 2016.

I can’t consider myself a die-hard Sonata Arctica fan, but I have continuously listened to the band’s efforts since their first records and have always found several things to like, such as their high level of musicianship. This characteristic finds a strong emphasis in clever arrangements and strong instrumental parts especially on this album. The Ninth Hour is not necessarily stronger than other albums musically, but the fact that all songs were written on a very compact schedule underlines the homogenous mood and feel throughout the album. In addition, I enjoy the almost conceptual-album feel the songs bring to the table. The band cares about nature and the world we live in. Hence, that is, in general, the topics singer Tony Kakko writes about. And, the music fits the messages of the songs perfectly.

In short: Sonata Arctica’s The Ninth Hour is a beautifully melodic and dramatically harmonic piece of power metal that might not move mountains, but adds meaningful songs to the world we live in. Definitely one of my favourite Sonata Arctica albums and in my Top 20 heavy metal albums of 2016.

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What others wrote about Sonata Arctica’s The Ninth Hour:

“The Ninth Hour is the band’s best since The Days of Grays. The material is deceptively sticky, and while I know others haven’t fallen for it, I really have. In spite of my frustrations with how the album sounds, I’ve continued coming around and enjoying the weird and fun and, at times, solemn and heavy songwriting.” – Angry Metal Guy, angrymetalguy.com

“Overall, despite not breaking from any mold musically, The Ninth Hour is certainly a fitting contribution to the band’s discography spanning 17 years. Sonata Arctica’s tackling of more serious topics comes at a fitting time and manages to convey a strong message without sounding obnoxious at the risk of alienating fans. The stylistic blending of albums like Unia and Reckoning Night will certainly please their newer fans and their older ones simultaneously as it offers material both can enjoy.” – Dan Foster, sputnikmusic.com

“Is this a good album? Sure it is, but to those that aren’t already fans, the album doesn’t do a whole lot to draw and engage them in. While composed and written beautifully, with sublime guitar passages included, it feels like most of the songs just ‘plot the course’ and don’t really channel massive effort and power that might engage new fans. This is definitely one for the fans, but for anyone else that’s interested in ridiculous guitar solos, or brilliant musical composition, this is one for you to check out!” – Jake Patton, metalwani.com

“I think my overall impression of ‘The Ninth Hour’ is an album that has some exceptional moments of melodic power metal but is hindered by some less inspiring tracks and a production that threatens to undermine the band just when they are delivering some of their strongest material to date. It is therefore a good record, albeit one that is strangely and frustratingly flawed.” – manofmuchmetal.wordpress.com

Sebastiano Mereu

YouTuber + host of the #FHTZ online music show with co-producer @simonkurt + marketing & digital content producer + university lecturer