The band was founded by Tony Kakko, Jani Liimatainen, Marko Paasikoski, Tommy Portimo and Pentti Peura in Kemi in 1996. Originally named Tricky Beans, they played hard rock rather than the power metal with which they grew to fame. During their early career, they recorded three demos which were never sent to any recording label — Friend 'till the End, Agre Pamppers and PeaceMaker.
In 1997 the band changed their name to Tricky Means, and from that point until 1999 their style was thoroughly worked upon and ultimately was drastically changed, acquiring strong emphasis on the keyboard melodies and relying on an easily distinguishable rhythm line maintained both by the bass and the guitar. Vocalist Tony Kakko developed a clean singing style which relies both on falsetto and tenor voices and second guitarist Marko Paasikoski left the band. Tony has stated that the change of sound was influenced by fellow Finnish power metal band Stratovarius.
In 1999, the band recorded a demo entitled FullMoon in Kemi's Tico Tico Studios, which was their first real metal recording. The line-up consisted of vocalist and keyboardist Tony Kakko, guitarist Jani Liimatainen, bassist Janne Kivilahti and drummer Tommy Portimo. The demo was sent to Spinefarm Records by a friend of the band and a recording deal soon followed, during which the band changed its name to Sonata Arctica.
Later that year, Sonata Arctica's first single — entitled UnOpened — was released in Finland. It entered the Finnish Top 20 sales chart on the week of its release and, soon enough, the band had closed deals with labels from around the world, prior to the release of their debut album. The debut Ecliptica arrived by the end of 1999 and had a worldwide release, obtaining rave critics from the specialized press.
In the beginning of 2000, Sonata Arctica was chosen to support the well known power metal band Stratovarius throughout their European tour. Marko Paasikoski returned to the band to play bass in the wake of Janne Kivilahti's departure after the tour.
From late 2000 to late 2001, the band worked on composing and recording their next album — Silence — which was released in June of 2001. An extensive tour followed, which included concerts throughout Europe (together with Gamma Ray) and Japan. In 2002 Sonata Arctica made its first incursion to America, putting on shows in Brazil and Chile. According to some of the musicians from the band, it was one of their best tours to date — the other being the Japanese tour from 2003. A live album entitled Songs of Silence was also released that year, consisting of gigs from their tour in Japan.
By the end of 2002, Mikko Härkin left the band due to personal reasons. Their third album — Winterheart's Guild — was recorded with the help of the seasoned keyboard player Jens Johansson from Stratovarius, who recorded the keyboard solos, while Kakko took care of the basics. The album was released in 2003.
In the search for another keyboardist, the band received many applications and two of them were invited for auditions. Since they were well aware of the candidates' ability, the band decided to pick the new member based on personality. To this end they spent a night drinking with each of the potentials in order to find out which one would fit best into the band's personality and mentality. Henrik Klingenberg was eventually chosen and joined the band in time to take part in the tour that followed the release of Winterheart's Guild. Most of the concerts on the tour were sold out.
Reckoning Night was recorded in three months and released in October. Both the single and the EP of this release remained on the top of the Finnish charts simultaneously for over six weeks. A promotional tour was to follow, but Sonata Arctica was invited by the popular Nightwish to join their European tour, and thus made a change of plans. The concerts that followed were played for audiences of over ten thousand people.
In early 2005, Nightwish invited the band to open the concerts of their North American tour. This tour eventually got cancelled, but the members of Sonata Arctica opted to still make a short tour, playing concerts in Canada and in the USA.
The band then released a live CD and DVD entitled For the Sake of Revenge, which was recorded in Tokyo in February of 2005 and released in 2006. Then, Spinefarm Records released a compilation album in order to get the most out of their contract with the band, since Sonata Arctica changed their recording label. The compilation is entitled The End of This Chapter and was released in Japan in August 2005 and in Europe on May 2006.
A computer video game is also planned based on Sonata Arctica characters and music. The name of the game will be Winterheart's Guild, like their album. The game will be developed by Zelian Games, and will be an Action-RPG in a style between Fallout and Diablo. Further details or a release date are not yet available, but a demo was shown at the Leipzig video game conference in 2006, featuring Henrik Klingenberg as the playable character.
As of December 2006, the band began recording their fifth studio album, Unia. The album was released May 25, 2007. The album's first single, "Paid In Full", was released April 27, 2007. Interestingly, the cover for "Unia" features a barely perceptible image of a person's hair and eyes looking out through a crack in the background in the lower right-hand corner. It is likely an allusion to the person in the song "Caleb" on "Unia".
The band will be headlining ProgPower USA VIII in October 2007.
On March 2, 2007, guitarist Jani Liimatainen posted on the band's website that he will not be playing the shows during the band's Finnish Spring tour. This is in due to the fact that he must perform his "civic duties" for his country. His replacement for the Spring dates was Elias Viljanen (http://www.eliasviljanen.com/).
On August 6, 2007, the band officially confirmed on their web page, that Jani was asked to leaved the band because of his failure to fullfill his civil duties in Finland. From August 6 on, Elias Viljanen is officially a member of Sonata Arctica.
Sonata Arctica will be doing their first shows in Mexico, Mexico city which is September 7th, Monterrey, September 8th and Guadalajara, September 9th.
- Tony Kakko – (1996–present) vocals & keyboard on Ecliptica, Winterheart's Guild and Unia
- Elias Viljanen – (2007–present) guitar
- Marko Paasikoski – (2000–present) bass (formerly guitar)
- Tommy Portimo – (1996–present) drums
- Henrik Klingenberg – (2003–present) keyboards
- Pentti Peura – (1996–1999) bass
- Janne Kivilahti – (1999–2000) bass
- Mikko Härkin – (2000–2002) keyboards
- Jani Liimatainen – (1996–2007) guitar
- Raisa Aine – Flute in "Letter to Dana"
- Nik Van-Eckmann – Spoken passages in Silence and Reckoning Night
- Mika Niilonen – Spoken passages in Silence
- Mikko Karmila – Piano in Silence
- Timo Kotipelto – Sings in "False News Travel Fast" 
- Renay Gonzalez – Female passage in "The End of This Chapter"
- Jens Johansson – Keyboard solos for four songs in the album Winterheart's Guild
- Peter Engberg – Various stringed instruments on several tracks of Unia
- Elias Viljanen – Guitar for several European shows in 2007 
Studio Albums and EPsEdit
|Album Cover||Date of Release||Title||Label|
|2000||Successor (EP)||Spinefarm Records|
|2001||Orientation (EP)||Spinefarm Records|
|2003||Winterheart's Guild||Spinefarm Records|
|2003||Takatalvi (EP)||Spinefarm Records|
|2004||Don't Say a Word (EP)||Nuclear Blast|
|2004||Reckoning Night||Nuclear Blast|
Live Albums and CompilationsEdit
|Album Cover||Date of Release||Title||Label|
|2002||Songs of Silence (Live album)||Spinefarm Records|
|2005||The End of This Chapter (Compilation)||Spinefarm Records|
|2006||For the Sake of Revenge (Live album and DVD)||Nuclear Blast/Spinefarm Records|
|2006||The Collection 1999-2006 (Compilation)||Spinefarm Records|
- UnOpened (1999)
- Wolf & Raven (2001)
- Last Drop Falls (2001)
- Victoria's Secret (2003)
- Broken (2003)
- Don't Say a Word (2004)
- Shamandalie (2004)
- Replica 2006 (2006)
- Paid in Full (2007)
- Black Diamond - Stratovarius (live, short clip in Stratovarius - Infinite Visions VHS/DVD)
- Fade to Black - Metallica (Victoria's Secret, Takatalvi)
- Wind Beneath My Wings - Bette Midler (Orientation)
- Die With Your Boots On - Iron Maiden (Last Drop Falls, Orientation)
- World in My Eyes - Depeche Mode (Don't Say a Word)
- Two Minds, One Soul - Vanishing Point (Don't Say a Word)
- Still Loving You - Scorpions (Takatalvi)
- I Want Out - Helloween (Takatalvi)
- Out in the Fields - Gary Moore (Paid in Full, Unia)
- Silent Jealousy - X Japan (live)
- Crash & Burn - Yngwie Malmsteen (live)
- Excuse Me While I Kill Myself - Sentenced (live)
- I Was Made for Lovin' You - KISS (live)
- Smoke on the Water - Deep Purple (live)
- Gaston y'a l'téléfon qui son - Nino Ferrer (live)
- One - Metallica (live)
- We Will Rock You - Queen (live)
- Sonata Arctica's official website
- Sonata Arctica Myspace page
- Sonata Arctica Release Database for Collectors
- Winterheart's Guild video game
- Henrik Klingenberg interview
- Interview With Vocalist Tony Kakko