Released: 16 May 2012
01. Only The Broken Hearts (Make You Beautiful)
02. Shitload Of Money
03. Losing My Insanity
04. Somewhere Close To You
05. I Have A Right
06. Alone In Heaven
07. The Day
09. Don’t Be Mean
10. Wildfire, Part: II – One With The Mountain
11. Wildfire, Part: III – Wildfire Town, Population: 0
12. Tonight I Dance Alone [digipak bonus]
13. One-Two-Free-Fall [Japanese bonus]
So these days the eyes on Sonata Arctica are those curiously wondering just what the Finnish fivesome will give us this time. A super solid first four power metal albums, then a bolt out the blue with the unique Unia and a middle-ground The Days Of Grays following up. Three years on then and Stones Grow Her Name is an apt reward for the wait, or is it?
Five years ago when Unia was released, it was like Sonata Arctica lost their true identity. There are certainly great moments on both that album and …Grays, but the band seemed somewhat directionless and overcompensated with quirkiness. It was as if the band were going through a mid-life crisis without original guitarist Jani.
Stones Grow Her Name follows this trend, but is much more of a concise album than the erratic Unia and album of two halves …Grays. There are no majestic, soaring power metal classics found here, the album actually feels at a relatively slower pace than any of their other albums, but that doesn’t mean we should write the album off straight away.
In this more solid sound the band have put together some very nice melodies. There might not be any up-tempo “Flag In The Ground”-types with wonderful anthemic choruses, but the vital core and spirit of the band can still be found and does shine brightly through songs like “Losing My Insanity” and “Alone In Heaven”. The bizarre “Shitload O’ Money” does hark back to a very Unia feel, while “Somewhere Close To You” is perhaps the heaviest the band have sounded. Album highlight “Cinderblox” is a much needed injection of fun into the album, and “Wildfire Part III” does go some way to satisfying any primal power metal urges too.
Stones Grow Her Name then, is certainly not an instant hit, but given some time and dedication can be enjoyed. Sonata Arctica are a different band now, the guys are more than a decade older than when they put their first hyper-charged albums together, and this is reflected in the direction of this album more so than ever before.
Not a classic album by any means and not particularly memorable either, but good enough is good enough for the surviving fans of this great Finnish band, who will be able to pick out and cherish the golden moments found here to fuel the years of wait for the next album. A little underwhelming but satisfactory nevertheless.