I was just introduced to Stratovarius not long ago from a friend. My friend showed me the song I’m Still Alive. I thought it was ok, and decided to investigate Stratovarius a little more. I then heard Speed of Light, and I also thought that song was ok. So I decided to buy my first Strato album. I headed down to the store, and only found elements pt 2, so I said “what the heck” and gave it a try. This is a mediocre album at best. It has some enjoyable tracks such as the album opener, I Walk to my Own Song, and I’m Still Alive. However, this album is just boring for the most part. This band has so much potential. Kotipelto can sing pretty good when he is in key, and Tolki is a good guitarist, but the songwriting is not good. This album is full of dumb lyrics. “Mr Mean you don’t know Beans”-enough said. Don’t get me wrong, this is an enjoyable album, but it isn’t anything special. I rate this album 2.5 stars, but I’ll use my rounding skills that I learned in 3rd grade and give it a 3.
Finnish metal gods, complete the epic Elements series with their latest masterpiece. Elements Part 2 is a must for fans of Rainbow, Blackmore, Iron Maiden, Dio, Dream Theater and the like. Nuclear Blast. 2003.
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This record is a great improvment over Elements pt1, it has a very good production and good songs overall. Its a shame, Strato used to be my favorite band but in the last 5 years it has go down to the 5th or 6th place in my list (of course X Japan is the best band ever!), all this because of Timo Tolkki leader of the band’s childish attitude; Ive heard 3 members will leave the band and i wish the best for them, and the remaining member too, but Timo you can go to hell for screwing one of the most promising bands in metal.Now lets go to the review:ALPHA & OMEGA (3,5): I dont mind much about this song,butits ok, i still think Elements should have been only 1 album so all the fillers will get dumped and have the best Strato album, but its done already, so just wait til next record.I WALK TO MY OWN SONG (5,0): First single, similar to Eagleheart, Save our Souls and Hunting High and Low.I’M STILL ALIVE (5,0): Very Good song, sounds a lot like old Strato, will please old fans.SEASON OF FAITH’S PERFECTION (4,5): Reminds me of Visions era ballads, nice effort.AWAKEN THE GIANT (3.0): Boring and overrated, just like Soul Of A Vagabond, this is what u call boring,extremely slow paced metal.KNOW THE DIFFERENCE (4,8): I like the keyboards here, like Find your own voice; i dont know why ppl complain about Koti singing high notes, it doesnt sound that bad.LUMINOUS (4,8): I dont know whats in ppl heads, this is a very good song, just what Strato needs which is exploring new sounds without screwing up, i must say Tolkki did a good job with this song; hope he’s as good in attitude as he is writing songs.DREAMWEAVER (4,5): Heavy song, its ok.LIBERTY (5,0): Nice ending for a nice album, very good song not like A Drop in the Ocean which is Celestial Dream pt2Overall rating (4,5)
At times it can truly be said that Stratovarius is nothing if not inconsistent. Since vocalist Timo Kotipelto joined the band in 1995 their craft has matured and earned them a place atop the power metal legions – and with good reason, as their best material is uplifting, atmospheric, and scalding in it’s display of emotion and instrumentation. On the not-so-bright side of things, each album has been severely bogged down by very ‘*off* day’ songs, serving as joyrides through ultra generic songwriting and recycled Euro-metal melodies. Dismaying as it is to say, Elements, Pt. 2 showcases itself as the best example of this imbalance in a Stratovarius album in years, in an utterly glaring way. To make things worse, on past Strato albums the aforementioned Kotipelto’s voice could at least carry one through the filler with some entertainment with it’s feel-based precision, and tasteful technique… – whereas, the complete opposite proves all too prelevant in Elements, Pt. 2. The opening song, Alpha & Omega starts out with a decidedly non-traditional slow speed, and some interesting keyboard atmospheres, both of which seem exciting, at least, until the chorus breaks in. Timo Kotipelto has apparently sold his vocal spirit to the helium demon in exchange for a higher vocal range, and the results are disasterous – especially when utilizing the old argon gasses on a chorus melody as uninteresting as the one in the opening song. This is Stratovarius by the numbers, and forgetting to divide. And yet Alpha & Omega is one of the best songs on the album, because of the few things it does do right. Blithering frustration is imminent, but nothing compared to the music ahead.The album’s first single, I Walk To My Own Song, is next, and could be considered one of the ’standouts’ on Elements 2 as well – mainly thanks to the smoking solo section by guitarist Timo Tolkki that jumps out and commands the metal horns be thrown. But mashed on either side of the burst of quality is the band playing by an average of 1/3 of their own rules and mixing every piece of bland one usually expects from a ’single’ into the song, topped off by Kotipelto’s strep-throat wailing. I’m Still Alive follows, opening with a great riff..and then morphing into a [insert random fast Stratovarius song here] part 2, but without the magic touch. Hopes grow high that this band could still pull off being inspirational with the fast-power-metal-anthem motif, but unfortunately Kotipelto’s helium induced vocals carrying bland choruses over predictable song structuring leave more than a mild disappointment. Seasons of Faith’s Perfection continues the trend of a very promising beginning, but the band once again falls into one of their own niches – this time it being the Stratovarius-slow-song-machine if you will – and once again, this time around it fails to break through with any more then potential passion. The almost eerie keyboards and acoustic guitar work are excellent, and on the other side of the coin, the chorus is indistinguishable from any other standard Euro-metal ballad. The entire album continues at this unbearable, snail-in-molasses pace, delivering all-too predictable songs in every category (a few slow songs, the fun fast songs, the mid paced anthems, et al) with an infuriatingly teasing spoonful of shimmering good ideas scattered randomly on top – and don’t forget about Kotipelto singing higher than he should and can, and losing his once great power. Lyrically Elements, Pt. 2 is Strato’s standard odd mix of Christian and new age ideas, but on the positive, the Christian influence is bolder and even pokes through as inspirational once in a while, such as in Know the Difference, which quotes part of a popular prayer (if some prayer is to be contained in such a way), the Serenity prayer originally credited to Reinhold Niebuhr. Aside from instances in the same general field (which can also be found in Alpha & Omega), and an almost pretty good song in the beautifully atmospheric Luminous, there isn’t much more truly memorable or exciting about Elements, Pt. 2. There are many things Stratovarius does well with their music, and generic is definitely the opposite and undoing of them all.
I’ll be honest, if it wasn’t for Stratovarius and my friend introducing me to their music about two years ago, I would probably still be listening to the crap some people call music in this country.But after pracrically listing to almost everything that the band has to offer, and what other metal bands have and are pumping out nowadays, Stratovarius is, a least to me, losing some of it luster. Don’t get me wrong, I am still a fan and always will be, and Stratovarius is a great band, but I can’t help but feel they are a little overrated by people, kinda like how Rhapsody is at times…Now about the new album. After the first Elements, I was contented, it was a good album, with a great balance of speed, mid-tempo, slow, and epic songs. Everything was is in its correct place and all was right with the world.But after listening to Elements Pt.2, I can’t shake this feeling of how “unbalanced” this CD really is. In essence, you have three really fast, catchy songs, and you have six mid-tempo/slow/ballad songs that you can’t really bang your head to. I mean, the songs are good, Stratovarius seal of quality, but I just cannot sink my teeth and chew into it’s heavy-metal goodness. One reason it may seem this way is technically no epic on this cd (but it was on the last one). Another reason may be that the instumental is also on the first CD is well, making the variety here somewhat slim. All and all, I still glad I grabbed up this CD, but it doesn’t really hold a special place in my heart like Dreamspace, Twilight Time, and Elements Pt.1 does.However, since early 2002 the band has really been encountered a lot of difficulties and rumors fly abound, and this is why I may feel the way I feel. I always though of Stratovarius as a well oiled metal machine, and maybe these recent rumors have damaged this view of mine. Oh well, we are at least going to see three more Stratovarius releases before the band is done, due to their recent contract signing with Sancuary records, so I should quit complaining.In closing, buy it your a fan, but start with a different Stratovarius release if your new to the band (Dreamspace, Episode, Visions, Destiny, Infinte, or Element’s Pt.1).-Added Nov. 24 2003-Guess all of us fans of Stratovarius worst nightmares have come true. A recent news post by Tolkki at http://www.stratovarius.com has informed us that some of these rurmors are not rumors, but indeed truth. Tolkki plans to keep the band going, and possible line-up changes are inevitable.
Elements Pt.2, which comes almost right out after Pt.1, is completely different from its predecessor. This album is more direct, in-your-face music. If you were unhappy with the heavy use of orchestration in Pt.1, then you should be pretty happy with Pt.2, as orchestration is not at the spotlight this time.This album sounds like a cross between the Stratovarius of old (namely Episode and Visions albums), borrowing some elements form more recent albums (such as Infinite) while still retaining the fresh sound that was found in Elements, Pt.1. One thing that may turn fans away from this album is that the ratio of fast to slow songs is the same as that found on Pt.1: there are two very fast songs, two mid tempo songs, three ballads and two slow, yet powerful and hypnotic songs.Another of the main complaints with Pt.1 was Kotipelto’s use of high notes, which could turn annoying some times. In Pt.2, high notes are used only in choruses and not throughout the song, and this time around they are done very well. There’s only one song, though, in which Kotipelto’s use of high notes can be annoying, and that song is Alpha & Omega.Let me give you a short review of all the songs in the album:1. Alpha & Omega (4.0/5.0) – This can be considered the epic of the album, but is not so much of an epic. The song starts with the sound of rolling waves, which would be the link between Pt.2 and Pt.1, because the latter ended with the sound of waves. Still, I think is a poor choice for an album opener. This is a very slow, powerful song with hypnotic drumlines. The bridge to the chorus is ballad-like. Overall a nice song, but Kotipelto’s voice can be annoying some times.2. I Walk To My Own Song (4.5/5.0) – The single of the album. Your classic mid-tempo Stratovarius song. The melody gets in your ears quickly, and the solo is amazing.3. I’m Still Alive (5.0/5.0) – An awesome fast song which could’ve belong to the Visions album. Great chorus, and the vocal performance is very good here. There’s a very good drum solo at the end.4. Season Of Faith’s Perfection (4.5/5.0) – If you’re a sucker for ballads, like me, you’ll love this song. This is an orchestral ballad (like Papillon from Pt.1, but only in style). The song starts very nicely until a very haunting keyboard interlude. The chorus is awesome.5. Awaken The Giant (5.0/5.0) – Soul of a Vagabound, Pt.2. Much more heavier and direct than Vagabound. Again, another hypnotic song with a very nice drum beat.6. Know The Difference (5.0/5.0) – A lightning-fast masterpiece. Sounds like a cross between Stratofortress and Find Your Own Voice, without the annoying high vocals of the latter. The chorus is excellent, and the use of keyboards is really good. Watch out for the cool solo.7. Luminous (3.5/5.0) – The weakest song in the album. A very peaceful ballad. If you’ve ever listenned to Into Deep Blue, Pt.1’s bonus track, then you know exactly how this song sounds. Great lyrics, but overall it doesn’t do too much to me.8. Dreamweaver (5.0/5.0) – A very agressive song. Easily the best one in the album. The song is mostly mid-tempo, but it can get fast at some points because of the constant time-changes. The chorus is one of the best for a Stratovarius song.9. Liberty (5.0/5.0) – A power-ballad and a fantastic finale for the album. This feel-good song is the complete opposite of Forever, and I predict it will become the official closer for Stratovarius concerts. All in all, a very good album which sounds very fresh. Personally, I found this album waaaay better than Pt.1, which was less-direct music because of the heavy use of orchestration. Pt.2 is more direct, and that’s what I like when listening to power metal.Heavily recommended.