Sonata Arctica is now a hugely popular act in the metal underground and especially in power metal circles, and Winterheart's Guild is what really put their name on the map. They've always had a knack for melody, but WG took all the saccharine melodies from their earlier albums and made them spectacular and larger than life. Winterheart's Guild gave us "The Cage", one of the bounciest and wildest power metal anthems ever. Also, what about the theatrical balladry of "The Misery", the defiant wit of "Silver Tongue", and the uplifting chorus of "Victoria's Secret"?
Winterheart's Guild was the modern power metal album that bastardized the keyboard, but got away with it because it was so glorious and well-timed. To be truthful, the sound of things was often so keyboard-laden that you felt inclined to call it synth-pop with double bass. You can attribute this easily to Jens Johansson's guest solos. But really, this is what a lot of power metal-lite sounds like; the guitar is there to add viscera and save the music from being some pre-teen girl's sing-along chorus.
Sonata Arctica is not the fruitiest of the fruits in the power metal forest, though, and they actually sing about serious personal issues and use fantasy metaphors, which is ultimately more satisfying than the same tired dungeons and dragons routine with no substance. Tony Kakko has a wonderful set of pipes by the way....a sound similar to Stratovarius's Kotipelto, but richer and fuller.
You need this album if you have any sense of humor and/or a softer side. Play it loud and be a happy, fruity power metal sprite.
1. Abandoned, Pleased, Exploited
2. Graven Image
3. The Cage
4. Silver Tongue
5. The Misery
6. Victoria's Secret
7. Champagne Bath
9. The Ruins of My Life
10. Draw Me