“The Days Of Grays” is the sixth full-length studio album by Finnish metal band Sonata Arctica and was released in Finland on the 16th of September 2009. The album also features vocals by Johanna Kurkela and cello arrangements by Perttu Kivilaakso (Apocalyptica). Henrik Klingenberg described the album as “a bit darker and maybe not so complex as ‘Unia’. Nevertheless, it’s definitely not a back-to-the-roots album with fast power metal. All the trademark Sonata stuff is on there, solos, lots of singing, some slower songs.”
The album opens with an instrumental of “Everything Fades to Gray”, atmospheric with beautiful keyboard melodies, which flows into “Deathaura”, the longest song of the album. This song consists of ten parts out of which the first part is almost entirely sung by Johanna Kurkela, and is very complex, haunting, epic and bombastic. “The Last Amazing Grays” has been previously released on a single, also in an orchestral version. This tracks is very catchy, different from the usual Sonata Arctica, and the “wolf-song” from this record, this version being a bit longer than the single edit, in which the first verse “The mystery of death before us” had been cut. “Flag In The Ground”, also released as the video, is a re-make of the song “BlackOut” from the demo “Friends Till the End”. The lyrics have been re-written so that the new sound of Sonata Arctica was mixed with older elements that remind of the band’s first albums. “Breathing” is the first ballad, which gets slightly heavier towards the end and is followed by “Zeroes”, another catchy song, probably the one that reminds of the “Unia” style the most. The following two songs could be the highlights of “The Days Of Grays”; “The Dead Skin” has everything from heavy guitars to piano melodies, dark lyrics and speedy parts, and is reminescent of older albums, especially “Reckoning Night”, while “Juliet” could sound like a long, epic story together with “Caleb” and “The End Of This Chapter”, it starts with keyboard melodies and sad lyrics such as “These are my final lines/ I’ve lived all my nine lives” and grows slowly, as the lyrics become full of hate “You double-crossing, filthy whore…”. In the end, the first part is sung once again, and then it fades away with the barely hearable “This is… the end… Why…? You’re closing my eyes…”. “No Dream Can Heal A Broken Heart” is another amazing and touching song, featuring the female vocals by Johanna Kurkela once again right in the middle of the song. The keyboard solo and Tony’s soothing vocals make “As If The World Wasn’t Ending” one of their greatest ballads. “The Truth Is Out There” is another typical Sonata Arctica songs, with a catchy chorus, nice vocals, and the guitar solo. The album ends with the full version of “Everything Fades To Gray”, which gives a feeling of continuity. It begins with the same dark piano melody as the instrumental, combined with once again amazing vocals, then unexpectedly gets heavier as the part that is included in the album opener is over, and ends with a very bombastic and majestic sound that will leave you stunned, the perfect ending of an unbelievable album.
“The Days Of Grays” is undoubtedly one of the albums that many people looked forward to this year. But it was worth the wait, and most fans of symphonic- and power metal will definitely love it. Even though the instruments seem slightly weaker and there are less solos than usual, the vocals are better than ever and the way the music and lyrics were composed so that every single one is a killer-song will make it one of the best albums released in 2009.
1. Everything Fades To Gray
3. The Last Amazing Grays
4. Flag In The Ground
7. The Dead Skin
9. No Dream Can Heal A Broken Heart
10. As If The World Wasn’t Ending
11. The Truth Is Out There
12. Everything Fades To Gray (Full Version)