Having seen Sonata Arctica multiple times when they’ve visited the U.S., I can definitely tell you that their live shows are electric. The last time I was in attendance for a concert from the power metal band was in early 2008, shortly after original guitarist Jani Liimatainen left the group and Elias Viljanen stepped in. Sonata Arctica’s new, four-disc release, Live In Finland, was recorded in April in their homeland and released on Nov. 11.

The first DVD starts out with songs from their latest album, 2009’s The Days Of Grays. I was impressed with their performances on “Flag In The Ground” and “The Last Amazing Grays,” and the crowd seemed to love it. “Paid In Full,” the number one smash hit single off of 2007’s Unia, was played flawlessly, especially when it came time for Henrik Klingenberg to break out his solo on the keytar. “Victoria’s Secret” follows, and while it’s usually my favorite track, Viljanen didn’t play the guitar part nearly as fast as when Liimatainen used to play it. However, you can really tell just how talented of a guitarist he is on the next listing, dubbed “Instrumental Exhibition.”

Kakko sings to perfection on the fan-favorite “FullMoon,” and the solo battle between Klingenberg and Viljanen at center stage was epic. While most of the crowd didn’t seem too enthusiastic on “Caleb,” I thoroughly enjoyed the emotional tune. The energy was brought back into the room on one of their best tracks, “Don’t Say A Word.”

You can really tell how much of a transition Sonata Arctica has made over the past few years. I recall being blown away at their live shows by lightning-fast songs such “Wolf & Raven” and “8th Commandment” but now their sound is unquestionably lighter. Still, with the concert, the bonus features and the acoustic performances on the second DVD, this is a must-own for any fan of theirs.

In A Word: Respectable

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