Review Summary: Boring, cliche power metal.6 of 7 thought this review was well written
Hola, Finland. Everyone in that country seems to be born with a musical instrument in his hand, be it flute, guitar, or drums. Everyone also plays metal, with a lot of bands drawing heavily on the Helloween-influenced "look at our guitar/keyboard duels" and ball-vice singing. There is also bass you don't hear, the riffs sound like synths, and plenty of that double-kick workout fans of the genre insist on.
Stratovarius, one of the genre's long-standing names, fits all this to a T. High "I have no testosterone" vocals with cheesy melodies? Check. Speedy double-kick machine guns: check. Unoriginal, tepid guitar riffs: check. Keyboard and synth overuse to create an "epic" sound? Check. Inaudible bass? Check. And, since I love power metal, why don't I like this band?
Because Stratovarius is the kind of band that does this style every album, on every song, with the occasional ballad to up the tempo. They aren't as excruciatingly hilarious as DragonForce, either, nor do they shred at the same insane speeds: they just keep playing the same power metal songs at the same upper midtempo range with the same vocal melodies, song after song after song after song. Frankly, that's just lazy and utterly repetitive songwriting.
Andnot to mention this style is done to death: Stratovarius was the first to popularise it, but not only did they already sound watered-down and inoffensive in the first place, the rest of Finland followed in their footsteps and brought us the whole horde. Why would you listen to this album when you can listen to Sonata Arctica, who did this sort of thing with a lot more originality and quality than these guys, or Blind Guardian, who just sound a whole lot better at the whole "epic" layered sound? It bemuses me that there is a demand for bands like this.
Now this album isn't necessarily "horrifying." There are definitely hooks, such as the chorus of Anthem to the World, or the speedy guitar riffs and energy of SOS. No doubt the guys can play their instruments and do it well. It's not the kind of record you put on and then off because the singers' voice excruciates you or the production is ridiculously awful or anything like that (although the typical power metal vocals may be a hinder for some.) It's just so inoffensive and, quite frankly, boring, that I've fallen asleep halfway listening to the album and decided I wanted to do something else. Frankly, I find art homework more interesting than this album, and I hate art homework with a passion.
So, what's the bottom line? If you are a fan of this style, and are a rabid collector of all things Stratovarius or power metal, this will suit your tastes perfectly. If you are not a power metal enthusiast, this isn't bound to change your opinion anytime soon, because it conforms to every single cliche this genre is subject to, and sounds like every other album out there. What an absolutely grand snoozefest.