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(13 Reviews)

Metal Album Reviews[RSS]

  • As I finally bought this album, I must say that there are some great riffs in each song by Jens and the new guitarist. Amazing stuff, really. As a keyboardist, it is really neat to hear what other keyboardists keepin coming up with, album after album.
    The more I listen to this album, there is certainly much more commercialism with this release than anything in the past. While this may speak to the mainstream and sell more albums, it also takes away from the true nature of this band (IMHO). The albums of old (really, anything that Timo Tolkki was involved with), seemed so much deeper and were put together so well. He certainly defined the sound of the band. There are times that it still sounds like he is playing though, and that is good. Most of the time, this album sounds like an amped up version of something Timo Kotipelto (lead singer) would do solo. ‘Higher We Go’ is a great example of this. Just listen to his last release (Serenity) and you will see what I mean.
    There are many parts of this album that actually sound like Sonata Arctica to me, and they cited Stratovarius as influences. This to me sounds much like Sonata Arctica’s earlier releases. Listen to songs like ‘False News Travels Fast’, ‘Land of the Free’ from Sonata Arctica and you will agree. Lots of commercialism here, but the lyrics seem so ‘un-Strato’ to me. While this is not a bad thing, it does take away for those of us who remember Strato in their Destiny, Infinite, Visions and even Dreamspace days……
    This is good stuff though and this release proves that these guys can still play the stuffing out of their instruments. Great musicianship all the way through, sometimes mind-boggling…..
    Their opening song has many tempo and rhythm changes in it, not unlike ‘False News Travels Fast’ from Sonata Artica. The choir vocal stylings are remeniscent of Queen too…lots of influences here.
    Overall, I give this a 3 for rating, but please check out the album. It is very good and I am sure that I will enjoy it.

    Posted on December 3, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Forget Timo!
    I personally thought the last three Stratovarius CD’s were lacking something.
    THIS CD ROCKS !!! Very talented group of artists. Their chemistry works perfectly with Matias (guitar) and Lauri (bass). This is only the second reveiw I’ve written, the first being for Threshold’s 2007 “Dead Reckoning”. I will only write for a CD that I feel that strongly about. There’s not a single flaw in the writing or production of this masterpiece! My favorite tracks are “Falling Star”, “King of Nothing”, “Winter Skies”, “Somehow Precious”, and both “Emancipation Suites”. If you’re into mind-expanding, prog-metal…then check this out !!!

    Posted on December 2, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • … that Stratovarius made an album without Timo Tolki on six string strafing. So is it still Stratovarius? Well, I’ll leave that debate to others and just plough into a review of the album;

    # The album kicks off with Deep Unknown which is a fine tune totally in keeping with the Strats vision. In fact this album doesn’t really seem to have taken any departures at all from their signature motifs of speedy riffs, lots of keys and a hammering drum attack all leavened with Timo Kotipeltos’ highly strung vocal stylings. It’s all somewhat highly strung mega-goth-speed-metal with goth twinges, the latter more by default than any real gothic leanings of the band itself. After a number of plays I think Deep Unknown is a good track to sample to see if you want to buy this album, ditto for Blind though for me this track has too much emphasis on the drums to the detriment of enjoyability.

    # Production by the band and having keyboardist Jens Johansson involved in the engineering has made sure that what you are getting is the bands musical vision. The sound is quite clean as you’d expect and kudos to Jens for not beefing up the keyboard sound until it drowns out everything else.

    # The album does contain a number of mellow tracks. But then the Strats have been doing that for quite some time, the lumbering Winter Skies being a good example of where the band are at with this tangent at present and King of Nothing being a bit too plodding for its own good.

    # The stepping aside (or call it what you will) of Timo Tolki has meant that the other band members have had to come to the party in the songwriting department. Of course most Strat fans know that the majority of the past writing has been done by Tolki and Kotipelto and most of the bands fans knew that the latter could pen a decent enough tune himself. But perhaps less people have heard the other works of Jens Johansson – albums like Sonic Winter for instance – and so his contribution to this disc will perhaps surprise many. But as I alluded to earlier, the absence of the bands main writer on this release has produced negligible effect. If you liked Infinite then you’ll like this. And as for the new guitarist – Matias Kupiainen – just check out some of the trade offs with Jens on tunes like Forever is Today. And at least this way the royalties might be shared a bit more evenly!

    All up an album that stands alongside their earlier albums and is probably marginally better than the last, self titled, studio effort though it doesn’t rise to the realms of Visions, which would appear to be an album the band will never quite be able to surpass. Ultimately this album is a victory of sorts as it could very easily not have ever gotten made and it would be a shame to no longer be able to hear these guys perform in a group which obviously means so much to them. Fans of the hard rock musings of Stratovarius should buy with confidence even if it’s not their best work.

    Posted on December 2, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Like many fans, I had no idea what to expect after the departure of Timo Tolkki. However I have to say this is a very good album. They do a good job of mixing up the pace of the album with fast and melodic tracks. Stand outs are Deep Unknown, Higher We Go, and what I think is one of their all time best releases, Forever is Today. Kotipelto is one of the true vocal gems of our time and he shines on this CD.

    If you have doubts put them to rest and buy this album, you won’t regret it!

    2009 has had three major releases from Edguy, Hammerfall, and now Stratovarius, sending a resounding message to the world that the power of metal is truly unchained.

    Posted on December 2, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Since 1989 Stratovarious have been one of a select few groups that truly define what it is to be a progressive metal outfit. Their earlier works are considered by many to be the definitive of the fore mentioned style and should be respected by all fans of the genre. 2009 shows the guys simply solidifying the fact that they are still very much alive and kicking.

    Polaris is a great album and the Sci-Fi theme is used well as merely back drop for the music rather then over powering and/or watering down the metallic side of the music. Timo’s higher pitched vocals again shine through out the album and you’ll find yourself singing along to the very well written lyrics, in which have an obvious Sci-Fi theme as well.

    As on similiar Stratovarious albums the leads take a focal point and soar above the rest of the band. New comer Matias Kupiainen shreds out some intense riffs and several amazing solo’s through out the course of the album, especially for someone whom just started playing guitar in 2005. The other focal point on Polaris would be Jens Johansson putting down some simply amazing (as usual) leads on Keyboards such as the epic and personal favorite “King Of Nothing”.

    The music ranges in tempo from mid to fast paced Power Metal such as the rip roaring opener “Deep Unknown”. While songs such as “Winter Skies” slow things down with some very harmonic and beautiful melodies. All in all a wide range of emotions from the beginning to the end of Polaris and by far an extremely strong showing.

    Many long time fans were probably fearful of the future of Stratovarious due to long time lead guitarist Timo Tolkki leaving the band in 2008 (I know I was). However as a fan whom has followed the bands career for quite some time I can honestly say the band sounds better then ever. As if the line up change and addition of two brand new members was a rejuvenation.

    If you purchase the Limited Edition version you will get a so called bonus track but it is only a slightly different version of the opener. When it comes down to it I have to give this album five stars, it is amazing from beginning to end and in my eyes doesn’t have one weak point. Fans of the Power and Progressive Metal scene need to get their hands on this immediately as it is by far the strongest release in the genre in 2009 so far.

    If this line up stick it out for more albums I fore see a great future for the band and can count on many more great releases as well as the usual amazing live show that they always perform. Fans of Stratovarious and the style of music they helped shape will enjoy this as much as I have. I truly hope that you enjoyed my review and hope that it encouraged you to purchase the album. Thank you for reading and if the review did interest you please take another second out of your time and click ‘Yes’ below. Thanks again.

    -A Loyal Stratovarian

    Posted on December 2, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now