I let the music write itself within the loose boundaries and just enjoy the ride, reveals the creative mastermind of this mighty Finnish sound forge, radiating an inner calm as well as compassion that immediately captivates. It’s undisputed: Tony Kakko charismatic singer, composer and lyricist of Melodic Metal heroes SONATA ARCTICA is a musical genius! He has a delicatly tuned sense for incomparable, deeply epic and complex melodies which not only go into the ear but even deeper; under the skin and into the soul. It’s this atmospheric finesse which has always been born from a multitude of facets, mixed with an interplay of emotions that characterises the men from the far north and their vision. Their sound combines deep feeling and beautiful melodies in a most seductive fashion, merging dynamic-driving passages and delicate refrains. SONATA ARCTICA has long since proven that they belong to the Melodic Metal elite…
Founded 20 years ago, the ambitious Finns quickly grew into the position as gate keepers of the best melodic metal sounds; bursting with the innovative joy of playing and completed with their special, individual note; the voice of Tony Kakko. Nine masterpieces have been created in the last two decades of the band’s history, and stylistically, SONATA ARCTICA have never let themselves be deprived of trying out new ways and leaving old habits behind. From classical Power Metal to more progressive excursions, to now finally combining the best of many sonic worlds, each album has its own charm a perceptible life of its own. Yet SONATA ARCTICA have always been true to themselves. With their skills, their talent, their wealth of ideas and their daring, the band has decisively influenced the genre and had a lasting impact on it.
Now is the time to open a new chapter: “Talviyö”. It can already be stated that the band has succeeded in creating a colossal masterpiece, but let’s start at the beginning… Only three years have passed since the brilliant predecessor “The Ninth Hour”, three years in which the quintet has been anything but idle. “Basically I write songs all the time when it comes down to it” says Tony, “but at the beginning of 2018 I took care of the new album. The recordings then started in September last year, mixing and mastering were ready in May” he counts up and starts to laugh: “That sounds like a very relaxed schedule, but it wasn’t at all, since many shows and projects happened in the interim” explains the Finn, revealing that there was no concept in the classical sense in advance. “No, not really. As usual, I first wrote the music and only after that when I knew which songs would musically fit on the album, I started writing the lyrical side of things. I had some ideas ready as to what this and that song might be about, but the lyrics always tend to surprise me at the end. Just like the predecessors.”
Talviyö is a compilation of various pieces that are connected in a certain thematic way, “but not enough to describe the album as a closed concept work” Tony explains further, revealing that the band again took many liberties this time, resulting in a flowing, organic creative process. “The idea was and is to continue the string of albums we’ve released since `Stones Grow Her Name´, which was a little side step. But that’s about it. And I’m not sure how well we’ve pulled that off, being still too close to the process to see what kind of an addition `Talviyö´ makes to the collection, but at least it feels like it connects with `Pariah´s Child´ and `The Ninth Hour´”, Tony explains, seemingly visibly pleased, “because the process itself then was more natural, where one thing leads to another.”
If one asks the exceptional composer about his source of inspiration for the youngest masterpiece, he doesn’t have to think for long. “Inspiration comes from the world around me. I very rarely write pure fantasy there aren’t many dragons and elves in SONATA songs”, he smiles charmingly. “As usual, the lyrics handle human related things, sometimes veiled in cloths of wolves, life, worrying about the state of this planet, what kind a world we’re leaving for our children to live in, bits of world politics, nature and… well, winter time in Finland and the myths of northern light…”, he ponders. “My song writing process is a very difficult puzzle to explain, built one piece at a time over a long period of time, until a song starts to sound like a song, repeated many times until finally the album starts to sound like an album. As always, there’s something that brings old times to mind, both musically and lyrically.”
Nevertheless, Tony Kakko offers a glimpse into this virtuosic creative puzzle and into the depth of his thoughts. He reveals that the album begins with a hymn-like power metal anthem that will delight all SONATA ARCTICA fans from the very beginning. And certainly, in “Message From The Sun” everything that has always distinguished the band is laid bare; an epic, highly bombastic track that deals with the old myths around the wonderful, mystical northern lights. “Of course, no SONATA album comes out without relationship stories, so we have `Whirlwind´, `Cold´ and the moody `The Last of the Lambs´ that continues the `Caleb & Juliet´ stalker saga with yet another alternative story; concern about how we treat our planet with `Storm The Armada´ and `Who Failed The Most´, the politically inclined `Demon’s Cage´ is sort of holding hands with `Fairytale´ (from `The Ninth Hour´ 2016), worry over a child gone missing with `The Raven Still Flies With You´ and the difficulty of doing the right things raising them with `A Little Less Understanding´. Being thankful with the album ender `The Garden´, oh and it’s been a while or two since we’ve had an instrumental track on an album. `Talviyö´ brings you `Ismo’s Got Good Reactors´. I’ll probably be explaining the name a lot”, he laughs. “I won’t do it now, but there’s a story and a heart-warming meaning behind it.” One thing rears it’s head very quickly, the fact that it has become a highly reflective, sensitive and certainly the most personal work of the Finns to date. Accordingly, Tony wants to leave it up to the listener to how they classify the songs, “because you know that what I say here or anywhere about the meaning of the songs, those are just my ideas and views about them. I base those thoughts on my experiences and emotional background. You have your own experiences and emotional range, if you will. Give the songs your own meaning! How you see the meaning today may be vastly different from the way you see them ten years from now, or after you’ve become a parent, or lost someone or just gained experience in life and a wider emotional keyhole you view the world through.”
Talviyö; this beautiful, magical and mythical title of the current record has as the name already suggests its origin in the Finnish language and means Winter Night translated. Anyway, this is not a classic winter album, but it combines all those mysterious attributes that describe the enchanted magic of a winter night and even goes one step further. “Talviyö” contains the pure essence of SONATA ARCTICA, the heart of all their creative work; the most beautiful, slightly entranced melodic arcs and sound cascades, the unique enchanted aura and at the same time filled with energy and the pure joy of playing.”Talviyö” resembles a journey that combines sophisticated riffs and opulent bombast with the famous Finnish melancholy, plus a beguiling touch of magic.
With the beautiful cover artwork by Finnish photo artist Onni Wiljami, SONATA ARCTICA also completes a perfect presence on a visual level. “The album was actually musically and lyrically ready when I had time to start thinking about the cover art and such things”, Tony remembers. “The idea was to have an actual photo, raw or edited, on the cover. We were considering several options and at the end we managed to find a perfect set of pictures from Onni Wiljami’s portfolio. We read about him on the news after winning the World Championship titles in photography and found him online, contacted him, it was a super easy process! He edited the photos himself and the outcome is just magical. Him living nearby in northern Finland gave the whole thing a special touch. I am super happy with the way the visual side came out! He brilliantly took up the atmosphere of the album and visualised it”, enthuses Tony, who declares winter to be his favourite time of year. “Especially the spring-wintertime. I am not very much an autumn person. Winter starts with Christmas, when the days slowly begin to get longer and finally in March… well, it’s the brightest time of the year in northern Finland with sun and gleaming fields of snow. That’s why I like winter. Not because of the darkness, really. Winter is so pure and beautiful. Well, just see the picture in the booklet.” “Talviyö” has become an organic, live-oriented album; the sound has a fascinating dynamic and a quite special, atmospheric touch. “Talviyö” was recorded between September 2018 and May 2019, produced by Mikko Tegelman and SONATA ARCTICA in Studio57 in Alaveteli. Additional recordings took place in various other places. “Mikko produced the album and he really managed to push us to do our best, even with the more experimental stuff. Working with an outside producer was the biggest new thing we tried this time and I think that was quite a big difference to have an extra pair of ears in the studio. Mikko also managed to highlight our best qualities and give us the right kind of kick up the ass”, explains Henrik “Henkka” Klingenberg. The mixing was done by Mikko Tegelman and Pasi Kauppinen. “We recorded a bunch of kick ass songs and tried some new stuff as well. I’m really proud of how we managed to record the band sounding more live, playing together instead of just tracking everything one by one.”
In conclusion, what can be said, except that SONATA ARCTICA once again prove to perfection that they are the true kings of melodic Scandinavian Melodic Metal. It’s worth adding that Tony defines “Talviyö” as the third pillar of the new SONATA ARCTICA sound construct. “Yes, it’s the third leg of the new floor of the tower that makes up SONATA ARCTICA’s career”, he underlines. “You can roughly divide our career into three ages, and this is the third album of the third age. That will one day make a great compilation title.” “Talviyö” manifests one thing more clearly than ever before, that this band is a true creative fountain that will continue to offer wonderful things far into the future, as they put their whole heart and soul into the music without compromise. This can be heard and felt in every single note. So let’s remain curious to see what era SONATA ARCTICA will lead us into in the years to come…