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4.08 | 41 ratings | 8 reviews
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Album · 1999


1. Blank File (4:05)
2. My Land (4:37)
3. 8th Commandment (3:41)
4. Replica (4:55)
5. Kingdom For A Heart (3:51)
6. FullMoon (5:08)
7. Letter To Dana (6:00)
8. UnOpened (3:43)
9. Picturing The Past (3:36)
10. Destruction Preventer (7:44)
11. Mary-Lou (4:30)

Total Time: 51:55


- Tony Kakko / vocals and keyboards
- Jani Liimatainen / guitars
- Janne Kivilahti / bass
- Tommy Portimo / drums

Guest musician:
- Raisa Aine / flute (7)

About this release

Release date: September 4, 1999
Label: Spinefarm Records

Japanese bonus track:
Mary-Lou (4:30)

Thanks to progshine for the updates


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SONATA ARCTICA emerged at the turn of the millennium with its debut release ECLIPTICA to great fanfare with its highly refined neoclassically infused power metal sound and has been cranking out albums ever since this first offering was released in 1999. After beginning under the rather unexciting name Tricky Beans which morphed into Tricky Means, this dramatic band led by vocalist / keyboardist Tony Kakko got its start in the far northern city of Kemo, Finland which sits near the Arctic Circle making SONATA ARCTICA probably the most famous metal band to emerge from the frigid lands of perpetual aura borealis light shows.

ECLIPTICA is a typical power metal album inspired by the countless bands that came before such as Stratrovarius, Helloween, Blind Guardian and Gamma Ray with super catchy pop infused melodic hooks, high octane guitar and keyboard workouts based on classical musical traditions and over the top operatic vocals. Considering Tony Kakko has described this debut as an extension of the demo where the band didn’t really know what it was doing at this point, it’s quite surprising that the album is as tightly woven and professionally executed as it is however Kakko has personally always been unhappy with this album and even took the sacrilegious act of re-recording the entire album for a 15th anniversary edition.

Since ECLILPTICA has been re-recorded almost all reviews center around the updated version but personally i find the original recording more in sync with the band’s sound and although the recording quality wasn’t as sophisticated as when the band was more popular, the delivery of the tracks seems to be forced since 15 years later the musicians had moved on and it was sort of like trying to relive past events and seems awkward. Add to that the original ECLIPTICA was the only album to feature bassist Janne Kivilahti so in a way this is one of those smooth moves which erases a previous band member’s contributions from the canon however it’s most like that the original Spinefarm label was problematic and the band wanted to reissue the album on Nuclear Blast so only a re-recording was possible. Whatever the case i suggest you stick to the 1999 version if possible.

While SONATA ARCTICA’s debut release may not be outstandingly original in the world of neoclassical power metal, it was nonetheless excellently performed with the expected mix of high octane speed metal and the tamped down ballads. Personally i prefer the following albums “Silence” and “Winterheart’s Guild” which show greater artistic developments but for a traditional sounding power metal album, ECLIPTICA is definitely a worthy one. Power melodic songs fortified with perfectly performed instrumental sections topped off with Kakko’s powerful emotive vocal. While some power metal can sound cheesy, SONATA ARCTICA avoided the pitfalls that can result in crafting overweening pomp and awe based on saccharine pop hooks. Kakko’s effortless transitions from falsetto to tenor vocals is one of the album’s strongest aspects but the instantly accessible Stratovarius inspired classical power metal hooks are quite pleasant as well.
Sonata Arctica are a Finnish Power Metal band, starting their career in the late ’90s, and Ecliptica is their now-classic self-produced debut album from 1999. This is back before they started getting orchestras and turning progressive, before their concept albums. This is the band dealing purely with the basic, glistening, unaltered, raw and pure perfect formula without experimentation.

In terms of musical direction the material is very much in the style of their fellow countrymen Stratovarius. Very melodic, speedy European-style Power Metal with plenty of doublekicks, keyboards and sweet falsetto vocals. The band have toured with Stratovarius and covered their material so its very much influences on sleeves here. However, just like Airbourne and AC/DC’s sonic relationship, just because they are very similar to someone else’s style doesn’t mean they aren’t doing a damn good job at it. On this album they do that pounding speed metal with keyboard solos and gorgeous melodies thing as well as any of the originators of the scene. The band have such joy, enthusiasm and energy that just sparks off every chorus and solo. Its very pleasant listening. Its like somebody captured smiles and sunshine in audio form. There’s a reason cynics call Power Metal ‘Happy Metal’ and bands like Sonata Arctica play a big part in that.

The songs here are some of the finest examples of the formula in the history of the genre. ‘Blank File,’ ‘Destruction Preventer,’ ‘Kingdom For A Heart’ and the lead single ‘UnOpened’ are all particularly strong. The bouncy powerballd ‘Letter To Dana’ is memorable. (Also the bonus track ‘Mary-Lou’ if you get that version, is very enjoyable). The album is really strong and consistent without much filler and nothing you would want to skip immediately. It is succinct, memorable, flows well and works well as a whole. You can play it from start to end and stay entertained the whole time.

If you scoff at ‘Flower Metal’ and all its cheese, then maybe this will confirm all your worst fears (apart from maybe songs about wizards and dragons and fairies). But if you are a fan of Freedom Call and Stratovarius its hard to see how you wouldn’t love this band and this album.

Tony Kakko has such a strong voice and his contributions on keys add great colour to the material. He conveys such emotion. If you don’t usually like this type of music you may find him a bit too flowery but if you are into this music there are only a handful of singers on the planet who do it as well.

Its almost amazing that the band started off with such a strong debut right away. A lot of bands took a while to get their style down, especially in Power Metal where a lot of bands started off as Thrash or Heavy Metal bands and took a few albums to get where they were going. I guess having other bands already blaze the trial beforehand helped. But much like Hammerfall; even though they didn’t start off in the ’80s like Blind Guardian or Helloween or Running Wild, they just arrived seemingly out of nowhere and dropped a rock-solid gem of a debut, coming out of the gate already formed. The band would go on to very different things with complex concept albums and musical exploration, but this debut finds them focused into the absolute perfect basic speedy melodic Power Metal formula and doing it as well as any of their peers or indeed any of their idols.

Overall; this is an absolute banger of an album. The speed, the melody, the sentimental ballads are all exactly what you want from a Power Metal group and Sonata Arctica have absolutely mastered the form. If anyone were to sling any criticism at the album it could only be that it sounds a lot like Stratovarius, but that can equally be praise because its a difficult thing to achieve, and they do it so well, so consistently and very memorably indeed.
Power metal has always been the ginger-haired stepchild of heavy metal. It's cheesy. It's repetitive. And sometimes it's Sonata Arctica, in which case, it kicks ass!

Sonata Arctica's debut album burst onto the scene with such gusto and youthful enthusiasm, it's hard not to like it. There's fast-paced neoclassical speed metal guitar shredding, and lots of cheesy 90's keyboard harpsichord sounds. The lyrics focus on the usual themes of fantasy, love, kingdoms and over nonsensical topics we're not really bothered about, because it comes with the territory, and above all else though, it really is 100% cheese, and that's what we love about the genre!

I first came across this band when I heard 'Replica' on a compilation CD. I loved it! I was completely blown away by how awesome this band sounded and to this day, that is still one of my favourite songs (and I still have no idea what it's about, either). I rushed out to get 'Ecliptica' and was not disappointed. 'Kingdom for a Heart', 'Full Moon', 'Letter to Dana', 'Mary Lou' and 'Picturing the Past' are all fine examples of why power metal should never be so easily dismissed. Oh, and 'Replica' too!!!. This album is worth it for that song alone.

I've been stuck for ages writing this review, struggling to think of anything clever or witty to say. The truth is, this is a typical power metal album, and if you're not a fan of the genre, you won't notice any difference here between Sonata Arctica and any other band. But there's just some sort of charm about this record that makes it fresh and exciting, and definitely worth trying out.

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Time Signature
Picturing the past...

Genre: Euro power metal

The Finnish power metal band Sonata Arctica represents a kind of power metal, which I actually have a bit of an aversion toward - namely, the über-epic type of polished power metal, where everything is smeared with keyboards and other effects that make cheesometer go to eleven. It has nothing to do with whether or not I like power metal or not, because I do - I am just not too enthusiastic about cheesy happy puppy Euro power metal.

In the light of this, I must say that Sonata Arctica's debut album "Ecliptica" more or less clicked with me already at first listen. One reason is that there is a real punch to tracks like 'Blank File', 'Picturing the Past' and 'Destruction Preventer', all of which rock hard and are full of metal energy. Moreover, Sonata Arctica really showcase their capacity for writing extremely catchy chorus lines. Just check out 'Blank File', 'Kingdom for a Heart', 'Full Moon', 'UnOpened', and 'Picturing the Past'. Indeed, the ability to create such catchy choruses is Sonata Arctica's major strength, and it does not make matters any worse that Tony Kakko is as good a singer as he is.

There is some cheesiness on this album, of course, in the form of prominent keyboards, a couple of ballads, and loads of Yngwie Malmsteen-like guitar wankery, but on an album like this, I can live with it.

One of the better Euro power metal releases, and the best release in Sonata Arctica's catalog, "Ecliptica" is definitely a classic that any fan of the genre should own.
"Ecliptica" is the debut full-length studio album by Finnish power metal act Sonata Arctica. The album was released in September 1999 by Spinefarm Records in Europe and Century Media Records in the United States. "Ecliptica" was released right in the late 90s/early 00s power metal revival and gave Sonata Arctica a name from the get go. Timing is everything in music and while few would dispute the quality of the music on "Ecliptica", the fact that the album was released when it was, certainly didn´t hurt it´s case.

Sonata Arctica has always more or less been the brainchild of lead vocalist/keyboard player Tony Kakko. With a few exceptions he has written all music and lyrics for the album in addition to his role as the lead vocalist/keyboard player of the band. Taking into consideration that "Ecliptica" is a debut album and that the band were probably very young when they wrote and recorded the album the quality of the material is amazingly high and as the main composer Tony Kakko should receive a lot of praise for his contributions.

The music on the album is traditional Euro power metal with double pedal drumming, neo-classical keyboard and guitar themes, high pitched singing and anthemic sounding choruses. "Ecliptica" features both fast paced tracks like the opening track "Black File", "Kingdom for a Heart" and "8th Commandment", power ballads like "Replica" and "Letter to Dana" and a closing semi-progressive track in "Destruction Preventer", so there´s actually good variation on the album, which is great for the listening experience. The album starts out really strong with no less than six consecutive great tracks. Unfortunately the quality drops quite a bit with the cringe worthy "Letter to Dana". Badly written lyrics and Tony Kakko´s accent shining through a bit too much has always ruined this track for me. The next two tracks are also slightly inferior to the first six tracks (they are still pretty enjoyable though) and it´s only with the fabulous closing track "Destruction Preventer" that things seriously pick up again. And I mean with a vengeance! "Destruction Preventer" is an absolute power metal classic in my book and one of the highlights of the album.

The sound production is clear and powerful, suiting the music perfectly.

Overall "Ecliptica" is a very professional, powerful and well performed power metal album and as a debut album it´s honestly quite fantastic. While Tony Kakko is quite a mature songwriter for his age, there are some imature moments on the album too. Some of those moments are actually quite charming while others count as issues in my book. At the end of the day Sonata Arctica don´t do much on this album that hadn´t already been done by other power metal acts at that point, but they deliver their music with great conviction and they generally write some damn catchy and powerful songs. a 4 - 4.5 star (85%) rating is more than deserved.
Oh, how I wish to be a child again. Hours on end spent doing nothing but running around and enjoying myself, playing baseball and building Legos without a care in the world. No worries! No stress! No social expectations either, save for maybe not hitting girls. They were days without anxiety and conformity, when I could do whatever the hell my mommy would let me and not give a crap about what anyone said; that’s what made childhood so awesome. And as the child of Sonata Arctica’s discography, Ecliptica fits the frame of our younger days to a T: relentless enthusiasm, doing only what we know and what we enjoy without any concern over what would happen in the future. Wasn’t it grand?

Technically speaking, Ecliptica has quite a few flaws that might turn off fans of more advanced or aggressive metal subgenres; this, I cannot deny. The guitar work from Jani Liimatainen is mostly just background noise for the keyboard melodies flowering uncontrollably all over the place, without many real riffs. Tony Kakko sings cheesy lyrics at an insanely high level, nailing all sorts of high notes in a way that you can’t understand what the hell he’s saying. The Stratovarius double bass patterns are out in full force, except Tommy Portimo isn’t nearly as skilled as Jorg Michael, and as such the drumming will inevitably get repetitive.

But guess what?! None of that matters. None of it. None of it matters because a) this album is still amazing and b) some of those flaws actually contribute to what makes it so great. Allow me to explain: while it’s true that Ecliptica is neither technically proficient nor original by any stretch of the imagination, the music on it is played with so much FEEL, so much CHARACTER that it’s totally negligible. Every little detail, from the over-the-top nature and cheesiness to the immature yet seemingly endless energy, contributes to the album’s charm. Take the opener “Blank File”: the double bass, the sing-along chorus (if you can even go that high), the woah-oh-oh section, the keyboard-guitar duel…all mixed together and executed in a way that will make you coming back for more, no matter how much you may want to hate it. Those types of moments are everywhere in this album: the addicting harpsichord melodies in “UnOpened,” the anthemic chorus of “Kingdom for a Heart,” the chanting backing vocals in “FullMoon”. Ecliptica is chock full of hooks that make it akin to a book that you just can’t put down, no matter how late at night it is or what television show you might be missing. That’s the mark of a really good album, right there. It’s nearly impossible to listen to just one song; I’ll go through “8th Commandment” and end up wasting a half hour doing nothing but grinning to myself as the rest of the album plays out.

…Well, not EXACTLY that, but you get the idea! This album is fun, plain and simple.

A little side note (but important!): you might have heard, or gotten the impression, that Sonata Arctica do not write good ballads. This is mostly true, and must be accepted as a fact of life, just as the Chicago Cubs will never win a championship and there will always be some sort of dishonesty and corruption in governmental systems. “Letter to Dana” can best be described in two words: SKIP and LAME. If you listen to it, you are at serious risk of barfing because of how cheesy it is. You don’t want that, do you?

But other than that, we’re good. When I say that I love Ecliptica, I don’t say that because I like the playing, or the vocals, or anything specific like that. I love this album because it is among my favorites to listen to. That’s all that matters, isn’t it? It’s energetic, it’s infectious, and it’s timeless as far as I’m concerned: the everlasting memory of a young band believing every single sappy note that they’re playing, and thus creating and album that’s both lively and pure. Unfortunately, that’s not something that you see a lot of, which makes Ecliptica all the more treasured. Yes, Sonata Arctica have made great strides lately, showing maturity in both songwriting and musicianship…but I feel that they will never come close to this, their childhood, ever again.

Growing up sucks.

Members reviews

This is the music that defined a generation of Scandinavian metal fans of the '00s!

I remember vividly when many of these songs were played in the military barracks up in northern Sweden, these Finnish lads have definitely succeeded in taking us by storm back in 2003/2004. Of course it wasn't a love at first sight for me since I had to struggle in order to actually enjoy Power Metal for simply what it was instead of the lost potential that it sounded like. You see, Power Metal reminds me of a bagel with too much cream cheese. The cheese is so thick that it goes through the hole in the bagel and makes the bagel look more like a cylinder-shaped hat than a food item! But enough of my whining, let's talk about the actual album. "Ecliptica" is, production-wise, a very raw record with both the drums and Kakko's vocals sounding very dated in comparison to the rest of the sound. This is especially interesting considering that the drummer Tommy Portimo and vocalist/front man/composer Tony Kakko have been the only two consistent members of the band!

Luckily, the album is pretty strong in the songwriting department with songs like "My Land", "8th Commandment", "Replica", "Kingdom For A Heart" and especially "FullMoon" still making the band's setlists even to this day. Outside of those tracks and the overall high energy featured all throughout this release, the debut album from Sonata Arctica sounds a bit too much like an ambitious record that might have worked a bit better if it wasn't as jam-packed with accessible brainless candy. What I'm basically saying is that it would have helped to make it more varied in its style.

The whole point of a debut album for a band is to create a powerful collective statement while still not necessary sounding completely certain about the overall direction of the sound/style. That way, you don't put yourself in a corner when it comes to following up on your strong debut statement. The band would eventually strike that perfect balance with the consecutive releases, especially "Reckoning Night", but it would make it completely impossible for them to experiment in other fields, which certainly explains the backlash that Sonata Arctica received with the release of "Unia". More on that in due time!

"Ecliptica" was a good but ultimately very dated release. Most of these songs did eventually get better in a live setting and thus becoming big fan favorites. I'd only recommend exploring this debut album if you're a huge Power Metal fan, but chances are that you've already have!

***** star songs: FullMoon (5:08)

**** star songs: Blank File (4:05) My Land (4:37) 8th Commandment (3:41) Replica (4:55) Kingdom For A Heart (3:51) Picturing The Past (3:36) Destruction Preventer (7:44)

**** star songs: Letter To Dana (6:00) UnOpened (3:43)
Sonata Arctica are beyond words !

If you can't say it, sing it, they say. And Sonata Arctica sings it like no one else. For someone who hasn't heard them but knows they're a power metal band, recollections of Rhapsody or Blind Guardian - fantasy oriented bands - may present themselves; but what sets this amazing group of musicians apart from the pack is their new, original, creative approach to a style of music that is beginning to show its age. Evil dragons plundering villages, armor-clad knights riding valiantly into glorious battle? Look elsewhere for that; Sonata Arctica's lyrics are rooted very much in reality - and in unusual examples of reality. The subjects of their songs - spending too much time on the internet, the effects of war on a person - are often unorthodox and may take the first-time listener by surprise. But this is part of what distinguishes them from the masses. Unlike most power metal bands, especially their German counterparts, S.A.'s music has a very "cold" feel to it (they are from Finland) which means you will not fully experience their music until you listen in the winter as the snow blankets the ground and your breath crystalizes in front of you.

The musicianship is breathtaking. While many criticize technical bands for being all showboat and no musical substance, S.A. has found that perfect of all places - the intersection where exceptional musicianship and technical ability meets true musical expression and taste. Their songs are catchy yet complex. The guitar lines are melodic when they need to be and shred when they need to be (and Jani can SHRED!). The drummer has unmatched endurance on the double-kick. The keyboards add the richest texture you'll ever hear in metal. What more can you ask? They deliver the total package.

And for those who pass them off as a second-rate Stratovarius, well, I can only feel sorry for you. They may have taken their cue from Stratovarius, but they have built on that foundation and taken it to a completely different level. Now that Century Media was released this in the United States, you have no excuse for missing out. This is the most incredible music I have ever heard.

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