I guess that I'm one of the few, who discovered SONATA ARCTICA with their 2-track single "UnOpened" back in early 1999. I really liked it and before I could spell their name fully, their debut "Ecliptica" already swept through my speakers. Now, altogether 1 single, 1 MCD, 2 studio albums and 1 live album later, we have reached the "Winterheart's Guild" and I hold it in my hands.
These Finns around mastermind Tony Kakko had been some sort of "wunderkind" phenomenon in the Power Metal scene and their third full studio album will not only not disappoint any connoisseur of this style, but even enthuse them, because once more the gentlemen Kakko, Liimatainen, Portimo and co prove that despite their young age they definitely and absolutely play in the top division of their style, hands down!
"Abandoned, Pleased, Brainwashed, Exploited" (what a song title, some songs of other bands are shorter than it takes you to pronounce just the title here!) sets the pace right away, double bass driven, melodic, but not "happy", with top quality song writing and musicianship to boot, a start more than just in style and SONATA ARCTICA by far have not shot their load right then and there, for the whole album oozes of great Power Metal, which has its very own touch in its arrangements and Kakko's voice, which distinctly marks them from the many inhabitants of this field.
Be it fast songs like the already mentioned opener, the brilliant "The Cage", the unusual, a bit more reflective, but very, very intense "Broken" or "The Ruins Of My Life", they all show a class that only few can rival in Power Metal, with the facetful, emotional voice of Tony Kakko and the compositions that show SONATA ARCTICA as one of the top bands, no matter what.
So, if you know their past albums, you will love "Winterheart's Guild", if you do not know them, then it is about time that you do, if you did not like them so far, well, I can't help you… Fact is that in Power Metal it hardly gets any better than SONATA ARCTICA anno 2003! (Online May 15, 2003)