Review Summary: Despite all odds, Stratovarius comes through musically and begins form their inevitable signature sound.
For whatever reason Timo Tolkki quit vocals to focus on his guitar virtuosity, was it really for the better or for the worse? Well, in all do respect to Tolkki's vocals, it was a bold move to to get a full time singer that would ultimately bring in a new direction for the band. After establishing a cult like movement of a fan base, it's safe same to say tensions were high with anxiety and anticipation for their fans. To the fan's dismay, it turns out to be an unexpected force that will bless the power metal genre with ground breaking efforts to come. For every beginning, there has to be a starting point, and Fourth Dimension
is that starting point.
From the start of the album, the first song is a complete reminiscence of the very songs that have blatant power metal influences that were featured on albums such as Twilight Time
. Even, the next song “Distant Skies”, hold similarities to “Against the Wind”, that firmly grasps the upbeat tempo that defines power metal. Only until you reach songs like “Galaxies”, will the listener hear a mixture of the dark prog sections, that Stratovarius became known for in their earlier albums, along with their newly developed brand of power metal. Other songs such as “Winter” and “030366” follow the path that was featured conceptually with the incorporation of dark prog sections with the fusion of power metal. One song that really stuck out between the opening tracks and the last two epics that close off the album was “Nightfall”. With a mesmerizing intro that has a legend of Zelda vibe to it, as well as acoustic arpeggios is truly an “eye-catcher” within the album right-off-the-bat. Besides that, the song features an amazing chorus, and an emotional solo from Tolkki that nodes to their older work.
What's interesting about the album is that it closes off in two epics and then a little acoustic outro. When “We Hold the Key”, starts off the word epic comes to mind immediately, as well as the song “Twilight Symphony”. Now, both songs are completely different by any standards. “We Hold the Key” focuses more so on a dark atmosphere, that has an extremely catchy chorus, and an awesome melodic arrangement from Tolkki in both rhythm and his solo. While, “Twilight Symphony” focuses on neo-classical elements to the nth degree, to the point were there's some sort of renaissance inspired violin breakdown. Despite these differences, it surely is a dramatic exit for the band to conclude the album's climax in two different styled epics; especially when you have a typical cliché of an outro.
For the most part, the album mainly focuses on two key individuals. 1.) Timo Kotipelto: the man didn't really write an entire song all by himself, but instead we see his presence manifold Stratovarius into an entity that's irreversible. As well as a stronghold within the genre as a prominent vocalist that deserves his respect. 2.) Timo Tolkki: in Fourth Dimension
we see clear defining moments throughout the album that showcases his ability to shred in a more focused neo-classical style. This album is also the tipping point for Tolkki to be recognized more so as a shredder amongst the metal community for his very distinctive style of playing.
In conclusion, Fourth Dimension
show a drastic change musically for the band to the point of no return. While Kotipelto is doing an excellent job at handling vocal duties; Tolkki has reached a point where he has an extraordinary difference in breathing room to show off his talent as a guitar player. Forth Dimension
is a must have for any fan of Stratovarius.