When a band has a lineup change, there’s always a lot riding on their first release following the change, so one can say there’s a lot of expectations for the upcoming album from Sonata Arctica, Pariah’s Child. And unfortunately, it doesn’t quite hit the heights the band are capable of.
I met the album with nervous apprehension, as neither of the previously released singles seemed to showcase the band at their strongest, and as the album got going, it just felt like more of the same. The opening songs are alright, but they just don’t have the spark to make them stand out from the crowd – blending into the background somewhat rather than taking centre stage like they rightfully should be.
However, the latter half of the album is a decided improvement. Blood finally gets things going, almost sounding like a sequel to the band’s Wildfire trilogy and although it dips again somewhat for What Did You Do In The War, Dad, the album finally bursts into full life with Half A Marathon Man, a song so catchy that you’ll be grinning and wanting to dance along to it from start to finish. It’s a song that sounds like it’s made for a live environment with a huge chorus and pretty damn mindblowing guitar solo.
Of course, Half A Marathon Man is nothing compared to X Marks The Spot, which is quite simply the absolute highlight of the album. Although this could well divide the fanbase, as it is certainly a ‘love it or hate it’ number, it’s a massively fun song that sees singer Tony give the vocal performance of his life.
Is Pariah’s Child disappointing? Well, a little, because it’s clear the band are capable of so much more when you take tracks such as X Marks The Spot and the epic of a closer Larger Than Life and compare them with the songs such as Take One Breath and Love – the latter of which is the weakest of the album by far. It’s a good album, but there aren’t enough strong songs on there to make it a great one.