Sonata Arctica

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Sonata Arctica
Sonata Arctica Rockharz 2016 50.jpg
Sonata Arctica performing live at Rockharz Open Air in July 2016
Background information
Also known asTricky Beans (1995–1997)
Tricky Means (1997–1999)
Origin Kemi, Finland
Years active1995−present
Labels Spinefarm, Nuclear Blast
Associated acts Northern Kings, Silent Voices, Winterborn, Cain's Offering, Symfonia, Stratovarius
MembersTommy Portimo
Tony Kakko
Henrik Klingenberg
Elias Viljanen
Pasi Kauppinen
Past members Jani Liimatainen
Marko Paasikoski
Pentti Peura
Janne Kivilahti
Mikko Härkin

Sonata Arctica is a Finnish power metal band from the town of Kemi, Finland. Created as a hard rock band named Tricky Beans, they later changed to Tricky Means and finally to Sonata Arctica, when they shifted to power metal. [1] The current line-up consists of singer, keyboardist and songwriter Tony Kakko, guitarist Elias Viljanen, bass guitarist Pasi Kauppinen, keyboardist and keytarist Henrik Klingenberg, and drummer Tommy Portimo. All the musicians of the band's history except Portimo also acted as backing vocalists.

Power metal is a subgenre of heavy metal combining characteristics of traditional heavy metal with speed metal, often within symphonic context. Generally, power metal is characterized by a faster, lighter, and more uplifting sound, in contrast with the heaviness and dissonance prevalent for example in extreme metal. Power metal bands usually have anthem-like songs with fantasy-based subject matter and strong choruses, thus creating a theatrical, dramatic and emotionally "powerful" sound. The term was first used in the middle of the 1980s and refers to two different but related styles: the first pioneered and largely practiced in North America with a harder sound similar to speed metal, and a later more widespread and popular style based in Europe, South America and East Asia with a lighter, more melodic sound and frequent use of keyboards.

Kemi Town in Lapland, Finland

Kemi is a town and municipality of Finland. It is located very near the city of Tornio and the Swedish border. It was founded in 1869 by a decree of the Russian Emperor Alexander II because of its proximity to a deepwater port.

Tony Kakko Finnish singer

Toni Kristian "Tony" Kakko is a Finnish musician, composer and vocalist. He is mainly known as the vocalist, primary songwriter, and creative force in the band Sonata Arctica since 1996.


As of 2019, the band has released ten full-length albums (three via Spinefarm Records and seven via Nuclear Blast), their most recent being Talviyö on September 6, 2019.

Spinefarm Records record label

Spinefarm Records is a Finnish record label focusing mainly on heavy metal artists.

Nuclear Blast German independent label, specialised in metal and related music styles

Nuclear Blast is a record label and mail order record distributor with subsidiaries in Germany, the United States and Brazil. The record label was founded in 1987 by Markus Staiger in Germany. Originally releasing hardcore punk records, the label moved on to releasing albums by melodic death metal, grindcore, industrial metal, power metal and black metal bands, as well as tribute albums. It also distributes and promotes two post-hardcore/metalcore labels, SharpTone Records, focused on American scene, and Arising Empire, focused more on European bands such as Novelists, Imminence, Cold Snap and While She Sleeps.


Formation and early years (1996–1999)

The band was founded by Marko Paasikoski (guitar), Jani Liimatainen (guitar) and Tommy Portimo (drums) in Kemi at the end of 1995 (Tony Kakko (vocals) and Pentti Peura (bass) joined in early 1996). Originally named Tricky Beans, they played hard rock rather than the power metal with which they grew to fame. Kakko explained that when he was invited to join the band, Paasikoski said the band was going to play "a mixture of Megadeth and Spin Doctors". [2] During their early career, they recorded three demos which were never sent to a recording label — Friend 'til the End, Agre Pamppers and PeaceMaker. According to Kakko, the band's first name was based on one of their early songs, which was "about a lady who was tricky and I didn't really know what I was talking about (laughs)". [2] Their first show was about to take place but they were still unnamed, so they had to come up with something. [2]

Jani Liimatainen Finnish musician

Jani Allan Kristian Liimatainen is a Finnish musician, songwriter and backing vocalist. He is the former guitarist and one of the founding members of the power metal band Sonata Arctica. He has also performed with Cain's Offering, Altaria and Stratovarius vocalist Timo Kotipelto.

Hard rock is a loosely defined subgenre of rock music that began in the mid-1960s, with the garage, psychedelic and blues rock movements. It is typified by a heavy use of aggressive vocals, distorted electric guitars, bass guitar, drums, and often accompanied with keyboards.

Megadeth American heavy metal band

Megadeth is an American heavy metal band from Los Angeles, California. Guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassist David Ellefson formed the band in 1983 shortly after Mustaine's dismissal from Metallica. Along with Metallica, Anthrax, and Slayer, Megadeth is one of the "big four" of American thrash metal, responsible for its development and popularization. Their music features complex arrangements and fast rhythm sections, and lyrical themes of death, war, politics, and religion.

In 1997 the band changed their name to Tricky Means, and from that point until 1999 their style was thoroughly worked upon and ultimately was drastically changed, acquiring a strong emphasis on the keyboard melodies and relying on an easily distinguishable rhythm line maintained both by the bass and the guitar. Vocalist Tony Kakko developed a clean singing style which relies both on falsetto and tenor voices. Kakko has stated that the change of sound was influenced by fellow Finnish power metal band Stratovarius. [3] At that time, Pentti Peura was fired and Marko Paasikoski left due to a lack of gigging. Two months later the band got signed to a three-album deal with Spinefarm, which left Marko displeased. [4] The band finally changed their name to Sonata Arctica, because they thought they wouldn't be able to sell metal albums with the previous name and also because Spinefarm asked them to do so. "Sonata Arctica" was suggested by a friend of the band: "sonata" for the music and "arctica" for their home (Kemi, in Northern Finland). [2]

Falsetto is the vocal register occupying the frequency range just above the modal voice register and overlapping with it by approximately one octave.

A tenor is a type of classical male singing voice whose vocal range lies between the countertenor and baritone voice types. It is one of the highest of the male voice types. The tenor's vocal range extends up to C5. The low extreme for tenors is roughly A2 (two As below middle C). At the highest extreme, some tenors can sing up to the second F above middle C (F5). The tenor voice type is generally divided into the leggero tenor, lyric tenor, spinto tenor, dramatic tenor, heldentenor, and tenor buffo or spieltenor.

Stratovarius Finnish power metal band

Stratovarius is a Finnish power metal band that formed in 1984. Since their formation, they have released fifteen studio albums, four DVDs and five live albums. In its history, the band has gone through many chaotic lineup changes and since 1995 there are no founding members of the band that remain. Currently, the longest standing member is singer Timo Kotipelto, who joined in 1994.

In 1997, they recorded a demo entitled FullMoon in Kemi's Tico Tico Studios, which was their first real metal recording. The line-up consisted of vocalist and keyboardist Tony Kakko, guitarist Jani Liimatainen, new bassist Janne Kivilahti (who started first as second guitarist [2] ) and drummer Tommy Portimo. The demo was sent to Spinefarm Records by a friend of the band and a recording deal soon followed.

Keyboardist musician who plays keyboard instruments

A keyboardist or keyboard player is a musician who plays keyboard instruments. Until the early 1960s musicians who played keyboards were generally classified as either pianists or organists. Since the mid-1960s, a plethora of new musical instruments with keyboards have come into common usage, requiring a more general term for a person who plays them. These keyboards include:

Guitarist person who plays the guitar

A guitarist is a person who plays the guitar. Guitarists may play a variety of guitar family instruments such as classical guitars, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, and bass guitars. Some guitarists accompany themselves on the guitar by singing or playing the harmonica.

Bassist musician who plays a bass instrument

A bassist or bass player, is a musician who plays a bass instrument such as a double bass, bass guitar, synthbass, keyboard bass or a low brass instrument such as a tuba or sousaphone. Different musical genres tend to be associated with one or more of these instruments. Since the 1960s, the electric bass has been the standard bass instrument for funk, R&B, soul music, rock and roll, reggae, jazz fusion, heavy metal, country and pop music. The double bass is the standard bass instrument for classical music, bluegrass, rockabilly, and most genres of jazz. Low brass instruments such as the tuba or sousaphone are the standard bass instrument in Dixieland and New Orleans-style jazz bands.

Ecliptica and Silence (1999–2002)

Later that year, Sonata Arctica's first single, entitled "UnOpened" was released in Finland. Soon after, the band had closed deals with labels from around the world, prior to the release of their debut album. The debut Ecliptica arrived by the end of 1999 and had a worldwide release. Tony Kakko then decided to focus on singing and the band began seeking a new keyboard player. Mikko Härkin (ex-Kenziner) was eventually invited to fill the position.

<i>Ecliptica</i> 1999 studio album by Sonata Arctica

Ecliptica is the first full-length album by the power metal band Sonata Arctica. It was released in 1999 through Spinefarm Records in Europe and through Century Media in the United States. It's the only album featuring bassist Janne Kivilahti. In 2016, vocalist, keyboardist and songwriter Tony Kakko described the album as "like the extension of our demo, we didn't know what we were doing so that reflects on the album and makes kind of cute if you will."

Mikko Härkin Finnish power metal keyboardist

Mikko Härkin is a Finnish power metal keyboardist, who has performed with Sonata Arctica and Kenziner.

At the beginning of 2000, Sonata Arctica was chosen to support the well-known power metal band Stratovarius throughout their European tour. Marko Paasikoski returned to the band to play bass in the wake of Janne Kivilahti's departure after the tour. According to Kakko, Kivilahti left because he thought they weren't going anywhere [2] and Paasikoski was their first choice as the new bassist since he left just before the band got their first record deal. [2]

Throughout Winter 2000/2001, the band worked on composing and recording their next album — Silence — which was released in June 2001. An extensive tour followed, which included concerts throughout Europe (together with Gamma Ray) and Japan. In 2002 Sonata Arctica made its first incursion to America, putting on shows in Brazil and Chile. A live album entitled Songs of Silence was also released that year, consisting of gigs from their tour in Japan. By the end of 2002, Mikko Härkin left the band due to personal reasons.

Winterheart's Guild and Reckoning Night (2003–2006)

In the search for another keyboardist, the band received many applications and two of them were invited for auditions. Since they were well aware of the candidates' ability, the band decided to pick the new member based on personality. To this end, they spent a night drinking with each of the potentials in order to find out which one would fit best into the band's personality and mentality. Henrik Klingenberg was eventually chosen and joined the band in time to take part in the tour that followed the release of Winterheart's Guild. With the end of their contract with Spinefarm Records, the band received invitations from most European recording labels and eventually opted for Nuclear Blast.

Their third album — Winterheart's Guild was recorded with the help of the seasoned keyboard player Jens Johansson from Stratovarius who recorded the keyboard solos, while Kakko took care of the basics. The album was released in 2003.

Sonata Arctica performing in Helmond, Netherlands, in April 2006 Sonata Helmond2006.jpg
Sonata Arctica performing in Helmond, Netherlands, in April 2006

In early 2004, the band was chosen as the opener for Iron Maiden's Japanese tour. Additionally, Tommy Portimo became a father; his wife gave birth to a baby girl in March. Reckoning Night was recorded in three months and released in October, with Klingenberg introducing the use of the organ to the band. Both the single and the EP of this release remained on the top of the Finnish charts simultaneously for over six weeks. A promotional tour was to follow, but Sonata Arctica was invited by the popular Nightwish to join their European tour, and thus made a change of plans.

In early 2005, Nightwish invited the band to open the concerts of their North American tour. This tour eventually got cancelled, but the members of Sonata Arctica opted to still make a short tour, playing concerts in Canada and the United States. On October 21, 2005, Sonata Arctica opened for Nightwish at the Hartwall Areena, Helsinki.

In 2006, the band released a live CD and DVD entitled For the Sake of Revenge , which was recorded in Tokyo in February 2005. Then, Spinefarm Records released a compilation album in order to get the most out of their contract with the band, since Sonata Arctica had changed to another label. The compilation is entitled The End of This Chapter and was released in Japan in August 2005 and in Europe in May 2006.

A computer video game was also planned, based on Sonata Arctica characters and music. The name of the game was going to be Winterheart's Guild, after the album. The game was to be developed by Zelian Games, and was to be an Action-RPG in a style between Fallout and Diablo . The game was cancelled for unannounced reasons but a demo was shown at the Leipzig video game conference in 2006, featuring Henrik Klingenberg as the playable character. In December 2006, the band began recording their fifth studio album.

Unia and The Days of Grays (2007–2011)

Sonata Arctica performing at the Galaxy Theatre in September 2007 SASeptember07.jpg
Sonata Arctica performing at the Galaxy Theatre in September 2007

On May 25, 2007, Unia was released. The album's first single, "Paid In Full", was released on April 27, 2007. On August 6, 2007, the band announced on their website that guitarist Jani Liimatainen had been asked to leave the band due to problems related to his conscription. He was replaced by Elias Viljanen who had already filled in for him in the band's Finnish and Japanese shows during the spring and summer.

In October 2007 Sonata Arctica headlined the ProgPower USA VIII. Later the band supported Nightwish across their 2008 tour of the United States and Canada and headlined at the shows that Nightwish cancelled due to Anette Olzon's sudden severe sickness. [5]

It was announced on September 4, 2008 that the band's first two albums would be re-released with bonus tracks by Spinefarm UK on October 6. [6] The Days of Grays was released on September 16, 2009 in Finland and September 22 in the USA. [7] Henrik stated that the new album would be in the same vein as Unia, but not as complex and darker. [7] Singles from this album include "Flag in the Ground" and "The Last Amazing Grays". On August 28, 2009, the music video of "Flag In The Ground" was released to the web. The limited 2CD European edition of the album featured many of the album tracks with all instruments performed by a symphony orchestra. [8]

The band also toured with DragonForce for the third U.S. leg of the Ultra Beatdown . In early 2010 they engaged on an Australian tour with Ensiferum and Melbourne band Vanishing Point. In April 2010, Sonata Arctica embarked on their USA and Canada Headlining tour for The Days of Grays. In October they headlined in Chile in support of the same album. [9]

Stones Grow Her Name (2011–2013)

In January 2011, the band hinted in an online interview for Metaleater magazine that they were writing songs for a new album while on their current tour. Elias is quoted as saying, "I've been working on some new riffs, quite dark. Tony's been stuck in his bed scratching notes about some girl and her 'Luna Lust'." Tommy states later, "We've just got back from Cozumel, we had a good time, had lots of beers, loads more sun and thought about putting a bit more Queen stuff back into the music again." In April, the band recorded a live DVD in Oulu, Finland, entitled Live in Finland, which was released on November 11, 2011 (11/11/11).

It was announced on February 20, 2012 through the official Sonata Arctica website that the new album entitled Stones Grow Her Name would be released on May 18 in Europe and May 22 in North America . [10]

The Album's first single and video "I Have A Right" was released on April 18, the second single from the album, "Shitload of Money" was released on September 14. [11]

The Stones Grow Her Name World Tour began in April with summer festivals until August. The band plans to spend the fall playing headline shows in Finland and then mainland Europe. Several shows have also been announced for North America in December.

Pariah's Child, The Ninth Hour and Talviyö (2014–present)

Pasi Kauppinen and Henrik Klingenberg at Rockharz festival 2016 Sonata Arctica Rockharz 2016 35.jpg
Pasi Kauppinen and Henrik Klingenberg at Rockharz festival 2016

In a June 2013 interview concerning Henrik Klingenberg's own band Silent Voices, Henrik confirmed Sonata Arctica would go into recording for their eighth studio album in September 2013. When pushed for more information, he assured jovially: "If it doesn't come out by next year, we're in big trouble!" Concerning the progress and style of this new album, he also mentioned "The bulk of the album, we already have the demos ..." as well as "we want to focus on making songs that work live." [12]

During rehearsals, Henrik mentioned on his blog that songs they were rehearsing for the new album seemed to hearken towards Sonata Arctica's earlier days. He also mentioned their plan to record a 10-minute track for the new album. [13]

Tony Kakko at Rockharz festival 2016 Sonata Arctica Rockharz 2016 45.jpg
Tony Kakko at Rockharz festival 2016

On August 26, 2013 the band officially announced on their Facebook page that Marko Paasikoski had left the band due to unsolvable issues with being part of a touring ensemble, and was replaced by bassist Pasi Kauppinen. [14] On January 9, 2014, the band officially announced via their official website that the band's next studio album, Pariah's Child , will be released on March 28, 2014. [15]

Tony Kakko commented [15] on the style of the new album as well as its album artwork upon the release announcement:

In summer 2014, the band re-recorded their first album, Ecliptica. It was released in October 2015. [16] Tony stated that the band was hoping to record the songs in a manner faithful to the original, not in a manner that would completely change the feel of their original album. [17]

On September 3, 2014, [18] Ouergh Records announced a Sonata Arctica tribute album. The album, A Tribute to Sonata Arctica featured bands from across the globe covering Sonata Arctica songs, with a focus on newer bands that were influenced by Sonata Arctica. Prominent bands included: Xandria, Van Canto, Stream of Passion, Arven, Powerglove, and Timeless Miracle. The album was endorsed by Tony Kakko. [19] The tribute album was released September 12, 2015. [20]

On December 18, 2015, Sonata Arctica released a Christmas-themed single, Christmas Spirits.

In February 2016, the band announced their plans to start recording a new album and release it in the final quarter of 2016. [21] In July 2016, they announced on their Facebook page that the yet-to-be-titled album was mixed. [22] On July 21, they officially announced the album's title, album artwork, and release date on their Facebook page. Their ninth studio album, The Ninth Hour , was released on October 7, 2016. [23] The artwork featured a future Utopian landscape with technology and nature in the balance. [24]

In November 2018, the band revealed that they are working on a new album, of which its production will be finished in 2019. [25] On June 21, 2019 they released a lyric video for "A Little Less Understanding" and revealed the name of the upcoming album as Talviyö, which was released via Nuclear Blast on September 6th, 2019. [26]

Musical style and influences

When asked if the band identified themselves with power metal, melodic metal or none of them, Kakko stated: [2]

In a 2007 interview with C.B.Liddell, Tony Kakko cited the English rock band Queen as his biggest musical influence. [27]

He also cites Stratovarius' Visions .



Sonata Arctica


Studio albums:

Cover songs

Related Research Articles

<i>Silence</i> (Sonata Arctica album) 2001 studio album by Sonata Arctica

Silence is the second full-length album by Finnish power metal band Sonata Arctica, released in 2001 through Spinefarm Records. It is the only studio album to feature keyboardist Mikko Härkin, and the first album with original member Marko Paasikoski, who returned to the band the previous year. Stratovarius lead singer Timo Kotipelto sang guest vocals on the album.

<i>Winterhearts Guild</i> 2003 studio album by Sonata Arctica

Winterheart's Guild is the third studio album by the power metal band Sonata Arctica. It was released in 2003 through Spinefarm Records. In a 2014 interview, vocalist, keyboardist and songwriter Tony Kakko said inspiration for writing "The Ruins of My Life" came from the film Braveheart. In 2019, he would refer to the album's recording process as a "nightmare" because he only had "two or three" songs ready when the band went in the studio.

<i>Unia</i> 2007 studio album by Sonata Arctica

Unia, released on 25 May 2007, is the fifth full-length studio album by the power metal band Sonata Arctica, following the album Reckoning Night. The first single from the album was "Paid in Full", released on 27 April 2007. This is also the last album that features Jani Liimatainen, who was later replaced by Elias Viljanen after the album was released.

<i>The End of This Chapter</i> 2005 compilation album by Sonata Arctica

The End of This Chapter is the name of Sonata Arctica's first compilation album, named after the track. It was released in August 2005 in Japan, but European release dates indicate May 3, 2006.

<i>Orientation</i> (EP) 2001 EP by Sonata Arctica

Orientation is Sonata Arctica's second EP released on August 22, 2001 through the label Spinefarm Records.

<i>Successor</i> (EP) 2000 EP by Sonata Arctica

Successor is an EP by Sonata Arctica, released through Spinefarm Records on August 7, 2000.

<i>For the Sake of Revenge</i> 2006 live album by Sonata Arctica

For the Sake of Revenge is a live album and DVD recorded by the Finnish power metal band Sonata Arctica. It was recorded at Shibuya AX, Tokyo, Japan on 5 February 2005. Along with the CD there is a DVD in stereo and Surround 5.1 sound, which also includes Finnish commentary track by the band, Misplaced Cameras On Tour, a biography, discography and some photos.

Paid in Full (Sonata Arctica song) Sonata Arctica song

"Paid in Full" is a single by the Finnish power metal band Sonata Arctica. It was released on 27 April 2007. The single is from the album Unia and features a cover of Gary Moore's "Out in the Fields". The album art also includes Sonata Arctica's new logo design.

<i>The Days of Grays</i> 2009 studio album by Sonata Arctica

The Days of Grays is the sixth full-length studio album by Finnish power metal band Sonata Arctica. The album was released on September 16, 2009 in Finland, September 18 in Europe and September 22 in North America through Nuclear Blast. The special edition of the album includes the album along with an orchestral CD as a digipak.

Flag in the Ground Sonata Arctica song

"Flag in the Ground" is the second single from Sonata Arctica's album The Days of Grays. The single was only given out to the winner of the Flag in the Ground Fan Art Contest which had prizes of several merchandise of the band for first place and runners-up, second and third. The song reached number 3 on the Finnish record chart. The melody in this song is sampled from "BlackOut", a song in the Friend 'till the End demo from the band's early years as Tricky Beans.

<i>Reckoning Night</i> 2004 studio album by Sonata Arctica

Reckoning Night is the fourth full-length studio album by the Finnish power metal band Sonata Arctica, as well as the first to feature keyboardist Henrik Klingenberg. The track "Don't Say a Word", continues the so called Caleb saga, a series of songs that started on Silence's "The End of This Chapter" and is continued on Unia's "Caleb", The Days of Grays's "Juliet"; The Ninth Hour's "Till Death's Done Us Apart" and Talviyö's "The Last of the Lambs".

<i>Live in Finland</i> 2011 live album by Sonata Arctica

Live in Finland is a live album and DVD recorded by the Finnish power metal band Sonata Arctica. Live in Finland was recorded at Club Teatria in Oulu, Finland on April 15, 2011 during "The Days Of Grays" World Tour, and was released on November 11, 2011. Along with the CD, there is a DVD in stereo and Surround 5.1 sound, which also includes Finnish commentary track by the band, making-of videos, two documentaries, photos, and music videos. The DVD's cover was created by Xabier Loebl.

<i>Pariahs Child</i> 2014 studio album by Sonata Arctica

Pariah's Child is the eighth studio album by Finnish power metal band Sonata Arctica. It was released on March 28, 2014 by Nuclear Blast. It is the first Sonata Arctica release with new bassist Pasi Kauppinen, who replaced Marko Paasikoski.

<i>The Collection</i> (Sonata Arctica album) 2006 compilation album by Sonata Arctica

The Collection is Sonata Arctica's second compilation album. It was released on November 15, 2006 by Spinefarm Records.

<i>Dont Say a Word</i> (EP) 2004 EP by Sonata Arctica

Don't Say a Word is Sonata Arctica's fourth EP released on 30 August 2004 through the label Nuclear Blast.

<i>The Ninth Hour</i> (album) 2016 studio album by Sonata Arctica

The Ninth Hour is the ninth studio album by Finnish power metal band Sonata Arctica. It was released on October 7, 2016 by Nuclear Blast.

<i>Talviyö</i> 2019 studio album by Sonata Arctica

Talviyö is the tenth studio album by Finnish power metal band Sonata Arctica. It was released on 6 September 2019 by Nuclear Blast.


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