Sonata Arctica: Paasilinna


Author: Marko J. Ollila

Publisher: Paasilinna

Paasilinna chronicles the career of Sonata Arctica, the lives of its members, and the members’ thoughts on various periods in the band’s history. Having originally been released only in Finnish in November 2014, Paasilinna didn’t receive an English translation until a month later in December, and a printed copy wasn’t officially announced until May of this year. For a genre that prides itself on incredibly uplifting music, Sonata Arctica seems to stand out as a black sheep (pun intended) with its pessimistic lyrics and tales of loss and woe. That negativity seems to have ironically followed Sonata Arctica’s history too, as this book also stands as the best explanation for some of the mildly controversial events during the band’s history.

First and foremost, I think most fans will be most interested in the retelling of the events leading up to the firing of Jani Liimatainen. Lots of rumors have been spread over the years to attempt to explain the departure of the beloved guitarist, and Paasilinna’s chronological approach, album-by-album, along with its exhaustive anecdotal information from the members themselves, lends itself superbly to building a timeline to explain the event. Similarly, Sonata Arctica’s various genre shifts, beginning most noticeably with Unia, are also given context. It’s fair to say that Sonata’s fanbase has been polarized by the band’s output since Unia, and, if nothing else, the band’s input regarding each album’s mindset is entertaining and humbling.


The author with the current lineup

The book’s initial chapters covers the dismal atmosphere of Kemi, the schooling of the band members, and the formation of Tricky Beans, the demo-days of Sonata Arctica. From this point on, significant releases become the starting and ending points for each chapter. From Ecliptica to Pariah’s Child, each recorded track (including bonuses) is given a rundown by Tony Kakko, the album’s overall intention is summarized, the production standards are described, and finally the tour stories begin. It’s here where we see the majority of the band’s dissension and falling-out.

The historically private nature of the band is shattered in this book. The real-life hardships and addictions of each member are not withheld from the reader. Mikko Härkin, Marko Paasikoski, Jani Liimatainen, and Janne Kivilahti, all go in depth regarding their leavings, with Marko’s story probably being the most surprising. Another thing this book shatters is the fantasy some people hold regarding rock and metal bands. The effects of alcoholism and laziness are a running theme in Paasilinna, and the truly tiresome series of concerts that Sonata Arctica has embarked upon for the last 15 years makes it clear that being in a metal band in the 21st century is a perpetual trial by fire. It’s not often that a book is released chronicling the history of such a recent band, and the reality it paints will make any rising musician think twice about their plans.


Despite that, this book is still very much intended for the hardcore Sonata Arctica fan. Going into this without an already-adequate historical context for each album release will leave the reader more than confused and apathetic. For example, it might help to know the landscape of metal in Europe in the late ‘90s to get an understanding as to how and why Sonata Arctica was practically an overnight sensation. Similarly, the tendency of power metal bands to slow down and experiment with hard rock towards the late ‘00s is a fitting backdrop for the release of Unia. With that said, pretty much any self-professed power metal fan has probably already heard the majority of Sonata’s discography ten times through, and for those people this book will be hard to put down. The eBook I bought had several non-distracting typos scattered throughout the piece, but Paasilinna is engaging, to say the least. It’s a recommended read to anyone who has ever loved Sonata Arctica and to anyone who has ever been left with unanswered questions regarding Sonata Arctica’s members and albums.

Get the eBook here and the physical book here.

TMO Albums of the Month: September, 2015.


TMO september

 After much technical difficulty, The Metal Observer is proud to bring you seven of September’s best.

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TMO Essentials – Heavy Metal


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TMO Essentials – Death Metal


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TMO Albums Of The Month: June 2015


Abyssal – Antikatastaseis
by Nathan Hare

Antikatastaseis, is one ugly hybrid of death, black, and doom. Abyssal’s third album is an extremely dense, almost experimental, album that still has a dread-inducing atmosphere and memorable songs. Part of the reason Antikatastaseis‘s songs are so memorable is that Abyssal really have a knack for building intensity and then incorporating a cathartic, almost soothing melody. Antikatastaseis is an album that really pushes the boundaries of death metal in a way that’s both really interesting and oddly accessible.


Six Feet Under – Crypt Of The Devil
by Joshua Bulleid


There seems to be something about 2015. In a continuing trend, May sees yet another early release from a band I wasn’t particularly fond of, that turns out to be absolutely outstanding and completely overshadows everything that came after. I’ve enjoyed the last few Six Feet Under records and I still prefer 2013′s Unborn to this one, but that doesn’t change the fact that Crypt Of The Devil is packed with wall-to-wall headbangers and some of the tastiest leads you’ll come across all year. Crypt Of The Devil is a record that has barely left the player since I first got it, and one that puts Chris Barnes firmly back on the map.



August Burns Red – Found In Far Away Places
by Joshua Bulleid


June has almost been entirely devoid of interesting releases. I was banking on Refused’s Freedom (released on the 30th) to come through at the eleventh hour and give me something to write about but, while Freedom is a decent record it just didn’t excite me all that much. Thankfully long-written-off, Christian, Metalcore band August Burns Red decided to step up to the plate.

I’ve been saying for a while now that Unearth’s Watcher’s Of Rule has sort of ruined music for me a bit since its release in late October last year, as most subsequent releases have simply failed to live up to its overwhelming and intricate brutality. Found In Far Away Places (which I acknowledge sounds remarkably similar to Watchers Of Rule) is the first record to really challenge Watcher’s stranglehold on my “–core” enjoyment and is a pleasantly surprising release that’s got me paying close attention to a band whose last few releases have been a touch underwhelming.




TMO’s Essentials – Folk & Viking Metal


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