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Music / Sonata Arctica

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From left to right: Henrik Klingenberg, Elias Viljanen, Tony Kakko, Tommy Portimo and Pasi Kauppinen

A progressive Power Metal band from Finland formed in 1996. They were originally called Tricky Beans and played hard rock. In 1997, they changed their name to Tricky Means. Then they moved on to traditional fast power metal in the style of bands like Stratovarius, and recorded Ecliptica. "Tricky Means" did not seem like an appropriate name for a power metal band, so they changed their name to Sonata Arctica.

In 2000, Mikko Härkin joined as the keyboardist, bassist Janne Kivilahti left and ex-guitarist Marko Paasikoski returned to play bass; that lineup released Silence the following year. Mikko left in 2002, and the band's next album Winterheart's Guild was recorded with assistance from Jens Johansson. Auditions for a new keyboardist narrowed down to two potential choices, and after lots of drinks, Henrik Klingenberg was chosen for the spot. Their next album, Reckoning Night, was released in 2004, showing signs of influence from progressive metal. In 2005, a live DVD, For the Sake of Revenge, was recorded in Japan.

Problems arose in 2006: guitarist Jani Liimatainen still hadn't finished his mandatory civil service, and couldn't leave the country, so Elias Viljanen filled in for the tour. In 2007, Unia came out with a sudden switch to progressive metal, and Elias permanently replaced Jani as the guitarist shortly after. Two years later, The Days of Grays was released, with the band experimenting with symphonic metal. Another live DVD was recorded in April 2011 in Oulu, Finland, and released in November of that year. In May 2012, the band released Stones Grow Her Name, a throwback to their hard-rocking days as Tricky Means.

In August 2013, Marko, apparently burned out from touring, left the band and was replaced by Henrik's Silent Voices bandmate Pasi Kauppinen. Their eighth album, Pariah's Child, followed in March 2014, and is a little closer to traditional power metal, but not without the band's now trademark idiosyncrasies and experimentation. The Ninth Hour came out two years later, and continued the previous album's sound.

An Action-RPG named Winterheart's Guild based on the band is being developed by Zelian Games. It's currently in Development Hell due to Zelian Games concentrating more on xOrbic, which will form the foundation of the Winterheart's Guild game. No release date has been announced as of yet, but a playable demo was shown at E3 2007. The band members themselves will be the player characters and the game's soundtrack will be provided by the band. It is confirmed that the game will contain at least one new, unreleased Sonata Arctica song.

Just remember: 1. Wolves, not dragons. 2. The lyrics are not personal stories. Not even those that really really sound like they are.


  • Vocals: Tony Kakko (1996-present)
  • Guitar: Elias Viljanen (2007-present)
  • Bass: Pasi Kauppinen (2013-present)
  • Drums: Tommy Portimo (1996-present)
  • Keyboard: Henrik Klingenberg (2003-present)

Former Members:

  • Guitar: Jani Liimatainen (1996-2007)
  • Bass: Pentti Peura (1996-1998), Janne Kivilahti (1998-2000)
  • Keyboard: Mikko Härkin (2000-2002)
  • Bass: Marko Paasikoski (2000-2013, but played guitar from 1996 to 1997)

Studio Discography:

  • Ecliptica (1999)
  • Silence (2001)
  • Winterheart's Guild (2003)
  • Reckoning Night (2004)
  • Unia (2007)
  • The Days of Grays (2009)
  • Stones Grow Her Name (2012)
  • Pariah's Child (2014)
  • The Ninth Hour (2016)
  • Talviyönote  (2019)
  • Clear Cold Beyond (2024)

This band may exhibit the following tropes:

    open/close all folders 

    Band tropes 
  • Chronological Album Title: The Ninth Hour
  • Darker and Edgier: Sonata Arctica's lyrical themes have always been dark, but over time the sound has been changing to be more fitting to the lyrics.
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil: Firm believers of it.
  • Epic Rocking: Each album typically has one very long, complicated song. Examples include "Destruction Preventer", "The Power of One", "White Pearl, Black Oceans...", "Gravenimage", "Deathaura", "Wildfire" (Parts II and III), "Larger than Life", and "My Dream's But a Drop of Fuel for a Nightmare". It's only 6:13, but it's certainly among the most progressive songs they've ever done.
    • Goes up to eleven when they add epic, rocking, banjos to their latest album Stone Grow Her Name.
  • Heavy Mithril
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: Done for at least a few of their albums.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: They often pair grim lyrics with upbeat music, at least until Reckoning Night.
  • Metal Scream: Tony Kakko does some high-pitched ones.
  • New Sound Album: In their 2007 album Unia, the band nearly abandoned traditional power metal altogether and experimented with art rock elements.
    • Also, Stones Grow Her Name, meant to be a throwback to the band's hard rock roots. It's a drastic difference from their previous album, The Days of Grays.
  • Soprano and Gravel: Tony's high voice probably doesn't count as "gravel," but The Days of Grays features two songs where he shares vocal duties with Johanna Kurkela.

    Song tropes 
  • Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable: "Tallulah". The name is usually pronounced Ta-LOO-la, with the stress on the second syllable, but Tony Kakko pronounces it in a Finnish way, with the accent on the first syllable.
  • Action Girl: If "Juliet" is to be believed, then she is most certainly one.
  • Animal Motifs: Wolves are a defining theme for the band.
  • Anti-Love Song:
    • The Caleb Saga, a series of songs about a man and a woman who fall apart ("The End of This Chapter"), leading to a violent rampage from the man ("Don't Say a Word") and the man's suicide ("Juliet"). Also there's two prequels to it, called "Caleb" and "Till Death's Done Us Apart".
    • There's also "Blinded No More".
    Love is just a little death
    Between two little lives
    Nothing more
  • Anti-Hero: The subject of "Peacemaker." The song basically gives a definition of one.
  • Barred from the Afterlife: A one-line reference in Broken: "Heaven's closed, Hell's sold out."
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • In "Zeroes", there's the line "because it's not my ass, per se, on the line". "Perse" is Finnish for ass. Also an Incredibly Lame Pun.
    • Also, "Unia" is Finnish for "Dreams".
    • The name of their third EP, Takatalvi, is a Finnish word literally meaning "backwinter", i.e. a cold spell in the spring. This is a short period of time when it suddenly gets colder and often snow will cover the landscape for a couple of days or even for only a few hours.
    • "Revontulet" is Finnish for "aurora".
  • Book Ends: The Days of Grays begins with a truncated instrumental of "Everything Fades to Gray" and finishes proper with its full vocal version, not counting bonus tracks.
  • Breaking the Cycle of Bad Parenting: "I Have a Right".
    Father, there's a little flower
    Beautiful and different, all alone, all alone
    Is it so, Dad? I'm not supposed to
    Make the world anew, and be like you? Am I you?
    You made it clear right from the start
    I am to take your sour heart within, one sad day
    But I will never teach my son
    Embittered history, tried and true, 'cause I'm not you!
  • Break-Up Song: "Tallulah", "Last Drop Falls", "The Dead Skin", "Paid In Full" ...there's a lot of them.
  • Call-Back: "Shy" contains the line "You can't be acting like my Dana", referencing the song "Letter to Dana" and the character of Dana O'Hara. It may even be a continuation of that song.
  • The Cameo: Timo Kotipelto, singing the last line of "False News Travel Fast".
  • Childhood Friend Romance: "Love", from Pariah's Child. Surprising for Tony's lyrics, as it doesn't end with bittersweet tone.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: The subject of "It Won't Fade".
  • Cold War: "Destruction Preventer" is a song about the guy in charge of launching retaliation nukes in case the other side fires them first. This may be an allusion to Stanislav Petrov, a russian colonel in charge of their nukes that got false readings on his radar caused by a sun glare. The lyrics imply he launches them after seeing a 'light in the sky'.
  • Dead All Along: The final verse of "Replica" implies this.
  • Death by Woman Scorned: Inverted in "Don't Say A Word". Caleb feels perfectly justified in raping and killing Juliet. It's her fault anyway... (Kind of a subversion, really. In "Juliet," you find out she didn't actually die.)
  • Deal with the Devil: "Fly With the Black Swan."
  • Dies Wide Open: Caleb apparently dies this way, because Juliet manually closes his eyes in the last line of the song named after her.
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil: The point of "Dream Thieves."
  • Driven to Suicide: "White Pearl, Black Oceans...", "Draw Me", "The Ruins Of My Life", "My Selene"
  • Drowning My Sorrows: "As if the World Wasn't Ending", "Tonight I Dance Alone"
  • Enemy Within: "Abandoned, Pleased, Brainwashed, Exploited" recites the following line:
    "You are one with your foe."
  • Everything Is Online: If one takes "Blank File" more literally.
  • False Reassurance: From "Fly With the Black Swan:"
    Don't worry, I've done this before. / It'll hurt like hell, and leave you sore.
  • Fluffy Cloud Heaven: Deconstructed in "Alone in Heaven."
    What the Hell would I do
    In that place with out you?
  • Genre Mashup: "Cinderblox" combines country and metal. Somehow, it works.
  • Green Aesop: "Respect the Wilderness", "Wrecking the Sphere." Which are both Japanese bonus tracks, incidentally... Are they trying to say something about the Japanese, or perhaps to the Japanese?
    • "Wildfire: Part III," a tale of greedy industrialists destroying a pristine land terminated in a volcanic eruption laying waste to the city, complete with a quote from David Attenborough at the end.
    • "We Are What We Are" from The Ninth Hour is another one.
      We could save our world, but we are what we are
      We should love our Earth, but we are what we are
      It takes care of our loved ones, but we are what we are
    • "Fairytale" has shades of this. Though it's mainly about the 2016 US election, and elections in general, it subtly accuses politicians of not giving a fuck about the environment, and Americans of denying climate change.
    Choose me, I will pour more fish in the sea.
  • I Die Free: The end of "The Power of One"
  • Lonely at the Top: The actor in "Larger Than Life", until he retires and starts a family of his own.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: "My Dream's but a Drop of Fuel for a Nightmare" and possibly "My Selene"
  • Love Makes You Evil: "The End of This Chapter"
    • The entire Caleb/Juliet story is about this.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Caleb may or may not be supernatural, (The song "Juliet" implies this) but Juliet is just a normal woman- and she kills him.
  • Mind Screw: The bizarre whispered robot voice at the end of "Wildfire: Part III." It's a quote from David Attenborough giving a Green Aesop. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The lighthouse-keeper's reaction to the fate of the White Pearl in "White Pearl, Black Oceans..."
  • Nature Metal:
    • "In My Eyes You're a Giant" is about the relationship between a wolf and his owner, told from the perspective of the wolf.
    • Several of their songs are told from the perspective of wolves, such as "It Won't Fade" and "The Cage".
  • Not Quite Dead: "Juliet"
  • Obsession Song: "The End of This Chapter" and "Don't Say A Word," part of a four-part story spread across various albums. "Caleb" is the stalker's backstory, while the aforementioned "Juliet" appears to be the end of the story.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Every album has at least one song related to wolves, except for Stones Grow Her Name.
  • Power Ballad: "Last Drop Falls", "Tallulah", "Draw Me", "Shamandalie"... a lot of these.
  • Protest Song: "Fairytale" seems to be this, with many a Take That! to Donald Trump.
  • Precision F-Strike: From "Dream Thieves":
    Why should I be there for you!? Fuck off and get a life!!!
    • "Dream Thieves" is notable in that it's the only instance (two, actually) of an f-bomb in Sonata's lyrics.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "The Harvest" - "Wind is a thief, lonelier than me, and it DOES! NOT! WANT! ME! IN HERE!"
    • "Deathaura" - "I. AM. TRU... LY. THE. ONE. Behind it all..."
  • Puppet Permutation: "The Boy Who Wanted to Be a Real Puppet".
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Mentioned in "Destruction Preventer":
    Now tell me, who won here tonight?
    The price of winning worthless fights
  • Roaring Rampageof Revenge: "Wildfire."
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: Some of the official lyrics on their website contain a few spelling mistakes, highlighting the fact that English is not their first language. In "Abandoned, Pleased, Brainwashed, Exploited" they use "look through your fingers" to mean "condone", which checks out idiomatically in the Nordic languages, but less so in English.
  • Sequel Song: "By the Grace of the Ocean" is this to "White Pearl, Black Oceans".
  • Sex Signals Death: In "White Pearl, Black Oceans," although it takes a while. The keeper of the lighthouse goes into town and has an affair with a woman he meets, leading to the light going out and the White Pearl going down with all hands. The shame of this leads to the keeper going mad and jumping from the lighthouse to his death.
    • Subverted as of The Ninth Hour album, with "White Pearl, Black Oceans Part 2 - By the Grace of the Ocean". Not only did he survive, but he found someone to love and ran away to start a new life together.
      Oh pain, float like a flower
      The darkest sea refusing me
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: "Replica", "What Did You Do In The War, Dad?".
  • Siamese Twin Songs: While not so in the studio albums, the band would commonly play "Replica", "My Land" and "Black Sheep" back-to-back in live shows.
  • Spell My Name With An S: The song's name on the Ecliptica album is written as "Fullmoon", one word. In the liner notes for The Collection, however, Tony Kakko writes "Or 'Full Moon'," and mentions that the writing of it as one word was an error on his behalf.
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: "Replica", "My Land".
  • Stalker with a Crush: "The End of This Chapter", "Shy" (although "Shy" is significantly more sympathetic to the stalker's emotions than most examples of this trope, following someone home still just isn't normal).
  • The Stinger: Most of their albums have something tucked after the final track.
    • Ecliptica ends with a higher-pitched reprise of the intro to "Letter to Dana".
    • Silence finishes with an outtake of the narrator, a minute after "The Power of One".
    • Winterheart's Guild has some studio chatter after "Draw Me".
    • Reckoning Night has the hidden track "Jam", where the band jams on a silly flamenco tune.
    • Unia: 20 seconds after "Good Enough is Good Enough" ends, its ending starts up again, this time with Tony making sheep noises and then Corpsing.
    • The Ninth Hour has some ominous chimes briefly play after the ending of "On the Faultline (Closure to an Animal)".
  • Take That!: "It Won't Fade" is a long, semi-veiled rant to former guitarist Jani Limatainen's irresponsible behavior just before his departure.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: "As if the World Wasn't Ending," "Destruction Preventer"
  • Together in Death / You Are Worth Hell: "Deathaura" is about a girl who is accused of witchcraft and is burnt at the stake. The boy finally points himself as the one responsible of the misfortunes that she had supposedly brought upon the village.
  • Tragic Monster: "Wolf & Raven", made far more evident and heartbreaking in the 2008 Remake.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: In Shamandalie.
  • Unplugged Version: Of "Letter to Dana", "Mary Lou" and "Shy" in Live in Finland.
  • Unstoppable Rage / Who's Laughing Now?: "Wildfire"
  • Updated Re-release: Done so far for Ecliptica, Silence, and Takatalvi.
  • Vigilante Man: The titular protagonist of "Peacemaker" is this.
  • Villain Protagonist: The subject of the Wildfire story.
  • Where I Was Born and Razed: "Wildfire" again.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: "My Dream's But a Drop of Fuel for a Nightmare" (a song describing a nightmare), "The Harvest", and others.
  • Xenofiction: "In My Eyes, You're a Giant" is likely a song about a dog, and how it perceives its owner.
    • Given the subject matter, it may also be a wolf.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: "Cinderblox".