One Word Review: Passionate
It was only after his leaving Sonata Arctica, I started noticing Jani Liimatainen. With the release of the two Cain's Offering albums, I was blown away by both the music and lyrics. The music was excellent, and I found the lyrics moving in a special way. The Dark Element albums were great too, and now this (Yes, I know I am a year late with this review), his first solo album delivers an incredible, impressive and varied selection of songs. Shared among them all, is empathic lyrics, memorable melodies and brilliant singing, from all involved. Different singers are on each song, but somehow, the album feels exactly right. Each song is an experience in itself, and together they make up a wonderful album, Jani’s best yet.
While Breathing Infinity with Björn Strid on vocals (The Night Flight Orchestra, among others) does a superb job of opening the album with a suffocating atmosphere, the reunion with Tony Kakko (Lead singer of Sonata Arctica) in All dreams are born to die is the first massive highlight. The song explodes with power from its opening moments and keeps up its momentum throughout. Tony brings a special emotion to the song, in the way he delivers the lyrics, while the music works as a perfect foundation to bring out this desperate, depressive atmosphere of being different, overcome by too much emotion and just giving up. Yet, somehow the song has the opposite effect, as its infectious melody turns the atmosphere into a big "Hell no!"
What do you want may not be as memorable, but is a solid display of anger and frustration. The chorus becomes an outlet of energy, and at one point I found myself singing along in an insane highpitched voice, in the most fist-clenching evil-faced way. As the vocals fade out, Who Are We delivers an experience of fragile beauty, as Timo Kotipelto sings the piano-based opening. As the song progresses and builds in momentum and strength, the passion displayed is quite empowering. The song weaves in and out of moods, and ends with a powerful section, which is just overpowering and brings a sense of yearning.
Side by Side is a personal favorite. Right from the opening with huge drums, leading the way for a hard driving section, through Pekka Heino (of Brother Firetribe fame)'s emotional vocals, and the incredible music, building from verse, though bridge to ecstatic chorus, the song just brings an incredible sense of power, and a feeling of righteousness. I love these lyrics to the extent that I used them in a poem to my wife at one point, and they just bring a smile to my face with every listen.
The saxophone brings just another layer to the song, and it is a perfect addition. If there ever was a perfect song, this is it (It is in the top 10 of perfect songs at least, right behind Savatage - If I Go Away and Redemption - Black and White World)). In every way it encompasses true beauty, and love, in a way that is both romantic and and humorous. I love everything about it, right from the Jerry Maguire reference, to that "going all out"-ending. Total perfection.
The Music Box has the most enthralling opening, and I often find myself turning up the volume and singing along, as Renan Zonta's ineffable, beautiful voice brings out this sweet, sweet emotion, and an energy that makes me wish I was there, in that moment when the song was being recorded, to sing along to this majestic symphony. The most captivating, sweeping melody reigns throughout the song, and totally wins me over with every listen. As the "Tired old man..."-section arrives and sweeps me away, I get a feeling of pure power and sadness. It is a chilling moment, and when the same section arrives later in the song, with massive keys underlining it and adding to the emotion, the song reaches a pinnacle. The Music Box is another chilling highlight of the album. Just brilliant.
Into the Fray marks the return of Timo Kotipelto, and is a more straight forward Power Metal song. That doesn't diminish its impact however. Timo sings with restrained emotion in the verses, before letting it all go in the chorus. The song burns itself into my brain, and is one I often find myself humming in totally unrelated situations. The song just has so much built up power, and it releases it in the most satisfying way.
I Could Stop Now has the single female vocalist of the album, Anette Olzon, and she does a splendid job of standing out, and delivers a completely different emotion, to what has come before. This is more playful and has an atmosphere of its own. Encapsulated in this song is a message of healing and understanding, a feeling of acceptance and moving on, and it really works.
Haunted House is tinged with deep sadness. Jani sings the song himself, and does a great job of conveying the emotional lyrics. The song slowly rises in intensity and grows with each listen.
My Fathers Son ends the album on an epic note. I can only begin to comprehend the feelings harbored in this song, as it is endlessly deep. Antti Railio sings with so much emotion, and brings real passion to the lyrics. Keys and drums bring both power and drive to the song, and it is without a doubt a highlight of the album. It is one of those rare songs, which brings often unspoken feelings out in the open and makes me, as a father, think about what I pass on to my own daughter, and how I behave in her eyes. The song harbors feelings of regret, loss, emptiness, sadness, strength, empowerment and force of will, and seen from the eyes of a son, it is endlessly powerful.
Ultimately, it underlines the importance of forgiveness, perhaps the most powerful tool in our lives. The understanding of another person does not come easy, especially when it is family, but when understanding dawns, it can be an immensely powerful emotion. This song has helped me bring that realization. The song brings tears to my eyes, and I hold it in my highest regard.
Bottom line is that this album is incredibly varied, is a great time, and is empowering beyond belief. It comes with my highest recommendation, and I hail it as my favorite album of 2022.
Written By Steen
Online: Monday, June 5, 2023