It is now 15 years since Sonata Arctica have released their first album "Ecliptica". 15 years since the band from Finland revolutionized the world of Power Metal. Songs like "Fullmoon" and "Replica" are some of THE hymns in this genre. But a lot has changed since 1999. Except singer Tony Kakko and drummer Tommy Portimo, none of the original members are left; eight albums have been released until today and the band is not a bunch of teenies anymore who couldn't decide if they should rather call their band "Tricky Beans" or "Tricky Means".
Now, in the year 2014, Sonata Arctica re-recorded "Ecliptica". I have to admit, I was really sceptical. First, why should you re-record an album which was also perfect in the original version? Why don't you just release it again with some bonus tracks on it? And a major point for me - what about the former members? Guitarist Jani Liimatainen and bassist Janne Kivilahti have also worked hard for creating the album and have been a part in songwriting. To me, it was a kind of an impudence to just "ignore" the fact that they once have been a part of the band.
But listening to this new version of "Ecliptica" made me overthink my reaction. Of course I am still not over it, because deep inside me there is this Jani Liimatainen fangirl who will never understand this "Ecliptica"-decision. (But don't get me wrong - I'm not the kind of person who still yells for Jani to come back to Sonata. It's the same as Tarja with Nightwish. Sad it happened, but life continues as before, especially when the new members are as good as or even better than the former members. But that's another topic...)
What I really like about the new old "Ecliptica" is that mostly everything on the album sounds like the original, Sonata Arctica stayed really close to it. It is still the amazing album they released in 1999. Of course some of the solos have changed a bit and "Replica" got a new ending (which is just a repetition of the beginning, but it really fits). Also, you can actually hear that the members are now mature and put a lot more of their soul in the music. Just compare it to 15 years ago, where Sonata Arctica were like "Let's play some fast power metal in the style of Stratovarius and give our drummer Tommy an overdose of coffee, so he is able to keep up with the speed of our music." Tony's voice is now more versatile and even if Henkka, Elias and Paasi try to keep the melodies in the "Old Ecliptica" style, you still hear their own influence on the "New Ecliptica", so the music stayed the same, but the aura of the songs is now different.
Maybe every Sonata Arctica fan should check "Ecliptica 2014" out by him-/herself and then decide if you really need the new version or stick to the old one. In the end I'm glad that I gave it a try. It is addicitve, just like the original and you fall in love with it again, even after the 15 years that have passed. I promise.