The Days Of Grays review by Sonata Arctica

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Released: Sep 16, 2009
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.9 (55 votes)
Sonata Arctica: The Days Of Grays
0

Sound — 8
To start off it will be good to understand that this album is quite different than prior releases. Rather than being a fast paced, typical power metal album, it is a lot more progressive in sound. Though this is probably not due to Elias (their new guitarist), but rather to their maturing as a band; which has also been seen this year with Stratovarius and their new album, Polaris. In a sense, Sonata's new album follows the sound that UNIA had, but went into a darker tone altogether. Honestly I was not overly impressed with the album after first listening to it. This was partially due to the fact that it was so different than their other albums; but then again the same thing happened with UNIA, which later became one of my favorite albums. The Days of Grays is also shaping up to do the same, for it is quickly becoming the most played album I own. Notable is the lack of extended guitar solos; but this was even the case for UNIA, and it seems to add room for more depth in other places that may have not possessed any if it was simply just a cut and dry power metal album. Though, at the same time I would have liked to have had a solo or two where there are parts that are just layered chord progressions, but overall it was not in any way a substantial drawback from the music that was otherwise very good. Basically it is a mature sound, that may not appeal to everyone, especially someone looking for a Dragonforce type sound. Which is why this album shines, because it is dark.

Lyrics — 8
Lyrically it is what has come to be expected of them; that is a lot of lyrics about either love or emotions. Do not take this as turn off, for they do it without sounding like every other typical song of the same subject. The tone of the lyrics are much darker than any of their previous releases, and unlike UNIA, each song flows fluently with the lyrics. The best way to give a full comprehension of the lyrical content is to give a brief explanation of each song: 01. Everything Fades To Gray: (instrumental) 02. Deathaura: honestly I don't know what this song is about, it seems to follow a common theme, but also feels like a collection of songs rather than a whole song; though it is worth noting that it is a good song musically, and probably has a meaning somewhere in it. If anyone knows what it is about please comment. 03. The Last Amazing Grays: this song is essentially about how there must be hope that the new generation can keep the world alive; for the old generation is dying as "time is catching up with [them]." Also, the narrator (singer) sees that "life is just a phase" and that "in the eyes of every newborn" he sees both the "future" and the "past times." 04. Flag In The Ground: this song's easy to understand; after all, the lyric booklet tells what it is about, and to sum it up it is about immigrants who would come to America in search of land, in order to escape from serdom in Europe, and in hope of finding a new life. 05. Breathing: the first ballad on the album (though song 2 may be considered a ballad as well). The song goes right into emotional struggles when it says "no color can add a flavor," rather, the person's life is so dark that not even the brightest of days can make him feel warmth or happiness. This is definitely a song to listen to for anyone who is searching for a well written ballad. 06. Zeroes: from what I can tell this song is about how governments construct lies to feed to their people in order to trick the people into doing what it is they want for their political agenda. At one point "the sun is... ashamed to light a lie," and at other points throughout the song there are hints that also refer to political lies. 07. The Dead Skin: can probably be interpreted multiple ways, but the easiest to write at the moment is that of a love story, or rather a love story gone wrong. The story goes that there's a man who cannot stand the way he acts, and he knows that the person he is with is suffering from it as well. During the chorus he says that "if love's the neck that kept us together, and apart... Now it's broken," which shows that they are apart, and from being apart they have to move on, and the one who moves on is the one who is "strong enough to peel off the dead skin." 08. Juliet: an alternative take on the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet. Rather than tragically and romantically dying together, only the Romeo character dies traditionally, while Juliet, the "double-crossing, filthy whore" lives. The Romeo character wanted "to pave the way to memory lane" by having "two dead swans" (him and her). Nonetheless, this is an interesting take on the story. 09. No Dream Can Heal a Broken Heart: this song was not that easy to figure out, but in my opinion it seems to be about a man who knows he cannot be with a certain woman for one reason or another. Though he is constantly seduced by her, and she has made his "independant thought deleted." eventually he has a revelation and realizes he must say "goodbye love," and move on. 10. As If The World Wasn't Ending: basically the world is a mess, and that it's hard to blame it on one person for "[he is] only a man, [and] the world is imperfect to." While the world is in dismay it is best not to always ponder on it, and instead "live this night... As if the world wasn't ending." *this may actually be quite inaccurate, so if anyone has a better view on it please let me know. 11. The Truth Is Out There: yeah, this song I can't really comment on because - after doing a bit of digging around - it is about the X-files, and seeing as I have never watched the X-files I cannot comment on it. 12. Everything Fades To Gray: (lyrical version) a rather dark and chilling way to end an album. it says basically that "Death is cheating us somehow... and he's already here." and that life should be spent in the moment, "contact[ing] the living," and simply "remember the dead;" for "repetition proves its worth... [allowing us to] remember," the past. but ultimately, when we die and "everything fades to gray," it will all repeat itself. There are different bonus songs depending on which region the album is purchased, so for consistency they will not be recorded here.

Overall Impression — 9
This album should definitely be listened to by anyone who appreciates progressive metal, or anyone who is looking for something different than the typical power metal album. The mature take on the album by the band really shows its presence, and brings a lot of depth to the album. It's hard to say which songs are the most impressive; not due to the fact that they're all good or any other unthough reason, but rather due to the fact that they all seem to have a slightly different feel to them. Though it is easy to say that Breathing was the second song that I instantly became hooked to; the first being Flag in the Ground, which was also the first single released from the album. Juliet was also a song that I was easily attached to; due to it's lyrical and musical content. That is not to go without saying that there were songs that took quite some time to get used to (ie Zeroes and The Truth is Out There). Though, by having the last song just be an extension of the intro seems to be a bit lazy to me; even though other bands have done it with success it seems as if Sonata simply dropped a vocal track onto the original, and added a little bit at the end. It seems to have improved upon certain aspects of the prior release, UNIA. Overall it may be one of the best metal albums of the year, and if not it is definitely up there with Stratovarius' release, and within the next few days it will be known if it will be up there with the new Leaves' Eyes album (Njord). As an aside: I would definitely buy this album again if it was lost or stolen, after all, it has some pretty cool cover art, and is a great addition to my album collection.

35 comments sorted by best / new / date

    MountApple
    This album takes some getting used to but after a few listens to, it really is a great album.(that is if you like Sonata Arctica's "slow" songs.)
    grantjames
    This album has beautiful melodies and really catchy chorus lines. It's a shame it's just lacking in the guitar work. I was really hoping for Elias to shine but was sadly disappointed. But still...fair play to them for doing their own thing! I'd give it an 8/10.
    blake80
    I really don't care what people thing about sonata arctica...I loved them from the first time i heard them and I still love them to this day...and the bonus track "In the Dark" is by far the best song to me on this album. Yes they have matured...but in a good way... Better for them to mature and get better over the years than to keep sounding the same (i.e. Dragonforce, BFMV, etc.) otherwise they would start to get boring...but that's just my opinion
    DukeFame
    When I saw them live last year before they played "Caleb" the singer said it was part one of a trilogy which of these songs is the sequel?
    PoisonMuffin
    DukeFame wrote: When I saw them live last year before they played "Caleb" the singer said it was part one of a trilogy which of these songs is the sequel?
    It must be The End of This Chapter I think it goes like this.. Caleb > The End of This Chapter > Don't Say A Word > Juliet I loved this album, they're getting better and better over the years
    Bodomchill
    I love the new album as much as I have loved any other by Sonata. It's understandable to see why people wouldn't like this album, but no one should say it sucks. Great bands mature, so it was only a matter of time before Sonata decided to try something else, which I personally find super! I find it very technical and melodic, and am loving it!!! Deathaura, Flag in the Ground, and Everything Fades to Gray are my favorites so far. Lyrics are dark and mysterious which I like, and are still as great as they were since Ecliptica. Saw them with Dragonforce a couple of weeks ago, they were fantastic!
    Ilzu
    I think the song zeroes is pointing to the politics in Finland, which are idle in every direction. The lyrics basically indicate that both the government and the people suck: you make a billion by putting one in the front and a "row of O's" in the back. It's pretty rough text considering that this is Sonata we're talking about...
    Peres.T.Peanut
    from the songs i heard so far, this album is really good. definitly a step in the right direction after UNIA.
    08L1V10N
    For some reason every song has something beautiful but as a whole album the material feels to lack something
    Amuro Jay
    blueboxdoctor wrote: Jondy wrote: Ok I agree they're maturing as a band, but the Polaris comparison? Polaris was pure ass. It was same old same old Stratovarius except 1) they tried to make the rhythm guitar more modern and 2) the songs are straight up boring and not epic. well that album got me back into Stratovarius, before then they just sounded really repetitive to the point that their guitarist almost copied himself for multiple songs
    You know what sucks? Revolution Renaissance. It's the old guitarist's new band. Sounds like an uninspired Stratovarius clone.
    althebold711
    I think this has to be my favorite album by sonata arctica...and i think sonata arctica is my favorite band.
    JaviZ
    I prefer the old "power metal" sound of Sonata. Unia and Days of Grays are not bad... but is not the Sonata Arctica style I used to like when I first heard them.
    thrashmonkey
    why does everyone think unia is bad? i personally love in black and white, paid in full, and caleb. as for this album, flag in the ground, last amazing grays and the instrumental version of everything fades to gray are awesome, the others are alright
    dragozan
    regardless if Jani (The best guitarist ever in my opinion) leaving the band, This band stays strong as my all-time favorite. Whilst I liked the CD, I still felt Unia was a bit of a flop compared to previous work, but I think they've corrected themselves with this one. Unique song structures, catchy melodies and the same mystical feeling given by every Sonata Track out there. Also, the three bonus tracks on this Disk are also amazing (One bonus track is included per selling region), and I appreciate Henrik's great contribution with "Nothing More", which he composed. 10/10 for me
    dragozan
    thrashmonkey wrote: why does everyone think unia is bad? i personally love in black and white, paid in full, and caleb. as for this album, flag in the ground, last amazing grays and the instrumental version of everything fades to gray are awesome, the others are alright
    Fully agreed. Unia was a great transition between the genres. Days of grays did iron out the problems that Unia did have on occasion.
    Unispex
    If this album is anything like their last POP ALBUM Unia, then I'm not interested.
    sinForge xJp
    Here's some song meaning help.. -Deathaura i THINK is about a dude falling inlove with a witch.. but I might be wrong -The Last Amazing Grays is more specifically, the wolf song of the album... -Juliet is supposed to follow Don't Say A Word, as DSaW followed The End Of This Chapter. "Romeo" is Caleb, and Juliet is apparently the name of his "lady friend" All in all, I liked the album about 8.5/10.. it IS really nice to see them maturing... and it's not that i think it was "too dark," but they just spent too much time in that realm. Pretty much track 5-the end have that tone, where 1-4 had varrying tones. But where Silence matured and polished the sound of Ecliptica, this album did the same with the sound of Unia, and I liked it
    blueboxdoctor
    Unispex wrote: If this album is anything like their last POP ALBUM Unia, then I'm not interested.
    so what exactly makes it a pop album, cause i can only think of a few "pop" metal albums; Delain: april rain is one of the most recent, and that doesn't mean it's bad. I never thought of UNIA as a pop album, but that's just me.
    Jcsb1993
    The prog influence may be referring to changes in time signature that I've picked up, as well as key changes and tempo changes. I really thought this CD came together quite well, while being different than past works, it certainly lacks nothing worth complaining about.
    blueboxdoctor
    Poglia wrote: I don't like the new album so much, I'd give 6/10. The two singles and Breathing are good though. P.S.: Deathaura is about a girl being burned because people think she is a witch, but it's not true.
    so basically it's like Silent Hill then (the movie)?
    Poglia
    I don't like the new album so much, I'd give 6/10. The two singles and Breathing are good though. P.S.: Deathaura is about a girl being burned because people think she is a witch, but it's not true.
    DroogieSteve
    Why is it when a power metal band plays slowly it's called progressive? Doesn't work like that
    Lohnanmilitia
    This band has gotten to be so lame. They used to actually be a good power metal band, what happened? Enjoy your tour with Dragonforce. Crap metal tour 2009.
    GS LEAD 5
    DroogieSteve wrote: Why is it when a power metal band plays slowly it's called progressive? Doesn't work like that
    progressive influences , not progressive metal.
    AdenZerda
    I absolutely adore the first four tracks on this album, but then it just lags for me throughout the rest.
    Paranoid777
    Why some people stop appreciating these bands when they finally get mature enough to create their own sound?
    blueboxdoctor
    Jondy wrote: Ok I agree they're maturing as a band, but the Polaris comparison? Polaris was pure ass. It was same old same old Stratovarius except 1) they tried to make the rhythm guitar more modern and 2) the songs are straight up boring and not epic.
    well that album got me back into Stratovarius, before then they just sounded really repetitive to the point that their guitarist almost copied himself for multiple songs
    Poglia
    blueboxdoctor wrote: so basically it's like Silent Hill then (the movie)?
    Not really, it's more about inquisition.
    blueboxdoctor
    Poglia wrote: Not really, it's more about inquisition.
    hmm true, but that was the main story line of SH, so I thought of it.
    blueboxdoctor
    Poglia wrote: Not really, it's more about inquisition.
    true true, but i was just watching SH, and that was basically the main story
    Amuro Jay
    I disagree with the review. The reviewer said they slowed down, and that this is different to prior releases (while at the same time being similar to Unia?). In my opinion, a lot of tracks on this CD have much more in common with their older works than Unia (except without as much fret wankery). There are loads of fast powerful riffs. I couldn't even listen to Unia. This... is much better. The whole "Unia sound but darker" bit was lifted straight out of an interview, if I recall. IMO, it's a solid album, and much better than Unia (but I only say that because I'm biased against Unia for sounding way too prog-y and pansy-ish).
    Jondy
    Ok I agree they're maturing as a band, but the Polaris comparison? Polaris was pure ass. It was same old same old Stratovarius except 1) they tried to make the rhythm guitar more modern and 2) the songs are straight up boring and not epic. I like Days of Grays. I wouldn't say they are any slower or have any prog influence at all. I would just say they're doing something different that's hard to compare to anything. This album is just weird. They combined their known straight up power metal sound with pure weirdness to get something different, and it worked. It could have been a little smoother perhaps but it worked.