Seventeen years and four member changes later, Sonata Arctica returns after three years with their newest work, "Stones Grow Her Name". The album is a drastic change from their first, "Ecliptica", which quickly rose up the charts in the band's native Finland. "Stones Grow Her Name" provides a challenging listen to Power Metal fans in that it completely defies the expectations of the listener, and not necessarily in a positive way.
The album features several powerful tracks such as "Losing My Insanity," with its alluring piano intro and brilliant solo. The guitar work truly stands out in this piece, keeping a fast tempo throughout the solo, but matching perfectly with the vocals through the chorus. "Somewhere Close to You" starts off a bit mediocre, but by the halfway mark of the song it sounds a lot more like something off Reckoning Night - a bit more progressive than many of the songs on the album. "Wildfire Part II: One With The Mountain" offers a brief foray into a more bluegrass-y style at the star, a big surprise coming from Sonata Arctica. This song in particular offers a spectacular listen. With so many tempo changes and vocal harmonies, the song really is a beautiful work.
Unfortunately, for the small amount of 'great' present on "Stones Grow Her Name", there is an overwhelming amount of lackluster music, especially coming from Sonata Arctica. "Shitload O' Money" comes across more as a joke than an attempt to really write something fitting to the legend the members of Sonata Arctica have made for themselves. The song, lyrically, shows very little creativity and effort. Other songs like "Alone In Heaven" or "Cinderblox", although appropriate for an easy listen, don't truly offer anything interesting or new to the album. They almost seem to act as space filler.
Perhaps if some of the less than stellar songs on "Stones Grow Her Name" were removed and then it was re-released as an EP, Sonata Arctica would benefit more. Although mediocre at best, "Stones Grow Her Name" is still a must-listen for veteran Power or Progressive Metal fans, but those new to the style should steer more in the direction of the band's older music first.