Without any doubt, this is the best Stratovarius album, and surely it is one of the best metal releases of all times. Everything is outstanding: cool melodies, great energy and an incredible line-up (Tolkki and Johansson are two of the best player in the international scene, Jorg Michael is simply a force of nature, but listen to Visions if you really want to understand!). This album has no weak point or bad tracks, and songs like Black Diamond, Legions, Visions (a ten minutes masterpiece) are the best examples of what we call power metal of the last 10 years. But in my opinion, the best thing of Stratovarius sound is the perfect union between melody and the tipical power of heavy metal, so also who usually doesn’t listen to metal could appreciate this fantastic band.
U.S. debut for the progressive metal act’s 1997 album. Contains 10 tracks, including the single ’Black Diamond’. A Noise Records release.
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I’ll keep this review short and to the point, seeing as how I don’t listen to this record all too often. Stratovarius, hailing from Finland, are one of the most well-known acts in the power metal scene. Forming in the mid-80s, they released a long string of albums beginning with Fright Night (1989). Visions is their sixth (if I am correct) album, released in 1997 under Modern Music. Highlights include opener “The Kiss of Judas”, anthemic single “Black Diamond”, the vocal-driven “Forever Free”, chilling ballad “Before the Winter” and the fast headbanger “Legions”. The album features energetic riffs and killer solos from Timo Tolkki, some insane drumming from Jorg Michael, complemented by Timo Kotipelto’s soaring voice. Although I think Kotipelto’s vocals could have been a little better, and some songs too, Visions is a great metal album reinventing the classic style of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Check it out if you’re into this genre, especially for fans of Hammerfall and Sonata Arctica.
“Visions” is by far and away the crowning moment in the musical history of Stratovarius. I thoroughly enjoyed the dreamy landscapes on “Twilight Time”, the experimental splendor of “Dreamspace” and the epic grandure of “Fourth Dimension”. But I’ll reveal an embarassing truth about “Visions”…the first time I ever heard the opening track “Black Diamond”, I became incontinent…that’s how stunning this music was and is today! I also still get chills (at the very least) from the amazing song “Paradise”, potentially my favorite Strat song ever! Yes, these boys have had their share of line-up changes over the years now and are getting washed out in a power metal scene that is overflowing with flashier material with updated sound. But this band was one of (if not THE) the true pioneers of the power metal genre as we define it today. And their willingness to stay devoted to music like this at a time when, at least in The United States, more bands were having financial success rapping and grunging, should never be forgotten or under-appreciated! All hail Stratovarius and their remarkable late 90’s accomplishment with “Visions”. An album that I still keep a box of Depends* in close proximity for, just in case I decide to listen to! 5/5 *****!
This is my favorite Stratovarius album. The band never sounded better. The writing is amazing and the vocals and guitar are mindblowing. This album sounds like a mix of Helloween, Dio, Iron Maiden, Yngwie Malmsteen, Rainbow, Queensryche and classic Stratovarius. This was the first Stratovarius album I bought and it blew my mind. This album made Stratovarius one of my all time favorite bands and made me go out and buy other Stratovarius albums.
1.The Kiss of Judas- 10/10 Amazing melodic opener. The opening keyboards and the intro riff are great. Kotipelto’s vocals are excellent and the lyrics are great. The chorus is excellent too. This song has a strong 80’s feel to it. The riff right before the solo is excellent too and the neo classical guitar and keyboard solos are excellent. Melodic metal at it’s best.
2.Black Diamond- 10/10 The keyboards sound great on this fast song. Kotipelto’s vocals are great and he does an excellent job of singing on such a fast song. The lyrics are excellent and Tolkii and Jens Johannsen’s keyboard and guitar trade offs are excellent. Another classic.
3.Forever Free- 10/10 An excellent fast paced song with an excellent guitar riff. Kotipelto’s vocals are excellent too. The lyrics are excellent too. Tolkii’s melodic shredding solo is excellent too.
4.Before the Winter- 10/10 The soft intro is amazing. Kotipelto’s vocals are great. This song shows off Kotipelto’s range too. This song has a real mideval feel to it. Kotipelto’s solo is amazing and it has a ton of feel and some excellent neo classical shredding. Another classic song and one of the best power ballads ever.
5.Legions- 10/10 Another classic song. the main riff sounds like Lightning Strikes by Ozzy and the neo classical guitar fill is awesome. Kotipelto’s vocals are amazing and the the drums are great. Great solo by Tolkii again.
6.The Abyss of Your Eyes- 10/10 An excellent progressive song with a lot of changes. There is a heavy part, a really heavy part and a soft part. Kotipelto’s vocals are amazing on this song. The keyboards work great and Timo Tolkii’s solo is incredible. Another classic song!
7.Holy Light- 10/10 A great instrumental with exceptional playing from Timo Tolkii. This is up there with yngwie’s instrumentals as far as neo classical instrumentals go. Very progressive and plenty of changes including a beautiful soft part.
8.Paradise- 8.5/10 Another good song. Timo Kotipelto’s quiet vocals sound like Bruce Dickinson. Probably the worst song on this album. I don’t why but the feel of the song just isnt’t that good. Kotipelto’s vocals are good but really not one of the better songs.
9.Coming Home- 10/10 Another amazing power ballad. The arrangement is incredible and Kotipelto’s soft vocals are amazing and when the song goes into the heavy part Kotipelto’s vocals soar! The lyrics are great and the solo is amazing and rivals any Yngwie Malmsteen solo. The solo has a ton of emotion and shredding.
10.Visions (Southern Cross)- Stratovarius’ best song ever! An epic over 10 minutes long! Rainbow has Stargazer, Iron Maiden has Hallowed Be Thy Name, Deep Purple has Child In Time and Stratovarius has Visions(Southern Cross). This is there big masterpeice. The lyrics are excellent and the riff is great. The drums and bass are amazing. The use of keyboards is great on this song too. Kotipelto’s first high high note is excellent but he belts out even higher notes later on! The demonic voice sounds great and the soft part of the song is incredible. Timo Tolkii’s solo has a lot of feel and fits the song perfect.The high note right before the solo is incredible and shows that Timo Kotipelto’s vocal range is over 4 octaves! An amazing epic that is one of the best songs of all time. Kotipelto’s ending note hold leads into a great voice telling a short story.
This album is a metal milestone and is up there with Rainbow Rising, Dio Magica, Iron Maiden Number Of The Beast ect. This album has everything mind blowing vocals and guitar, great songwriting, an awesome instrumental, slower rockers, fast songs, epics, ballads everything. Visions (Southern Cross) is one of the best songs ever. This is an album that any metal fan will love.
Timo Kotipelto- Vocals
Timo Tolkki- Guitar
Jorg Michael- Drums
Jari Kainulainen- Bass
Jens Johansson- Keyboards
I’ve just recently became a Stratovarius fan this year and have now listened to all their CDs over and over and over. I have to say that not only do I think Visions is the band’s BEST CD, I think this is one of the GREATEST albums EVER. Every track on this cd is great. I cannot even pick 1 or 2 songs that I think are the best, because I think that besides Holy Light, Before the Winter and Coming Home (which are still good songs), the other 7 songs are simply AWESOME. The title track is a 10 minute masterpiece that ends the CD perfectly. That final chorus simply blows me away. If anyone says this track is too long, they are SORELY mistaken. The song is so good, it doesn’t even seem like 10 minutes. I wish it was longer. Try listening to this song with headphones on your home stereo and crank it up as loud as your ears can take. The affect is AMAZING. If I HAD to pick my 3 favorite tracks, they would have to be “Paradise”, “Legions” and “Abyss of your Eyes” with the others (first 3 tracks) certainly NOT TOO FAR BEHIND. In fact I might even say it’s a 7-way tie. That’s how much I love this CD.Stratovarius has taken Hard Rock to whole new level especially starting with the Timo K era and all their 6 Timo K cds are great but Visions is a TRUE MASTERPIECE of music. Any hard rock fan will like this album to some degree. If not, then they don’t appreciate good/creative music.It’s only a shame that Stratovarius is not even heard of here in the United States (nor ever on tour here) because we can SURE use their talent over here because today’s hard rock bands in the United States simply stink. And that’s putting it mildly. Look who we have over here, System of a Down, POD and Drowning Pool? PLEASE!!! Those bands are sickening compared to Strato. Whenever I saw the song “Drops of Jupiter” by Train win the Grammy for best rock song of the year a couple of years ago, I said “never again will I ever watch the Grammys”. How can a song LIKE THAT win when you have Stratovarius songs (pick any one) that can raise your adrenalin level to the highest meter mark? Thank God for Stratovarius! I’ll show my support for this band ALWAYS even if it means buying their CDs over the internet if I cannot find it here. They are a mountain of talent and have proved it with Visions.BUY THIS CD NOW. You won’t regret it. It’s worth all 5 stars.