¨Stratovarius¨, one of Finland's proudest power-metal bands along bands as ¨Nightwish¨ among others. This band has been considered to one of the most influential Euro-melodic-power-metal bands. The band sounds similar to bands like the german ¨Helloween¨ and ¨Blind Guardian¨for example. This album was released in 2001 and this album is a bit of an compilation CD, it has both new songs, two live songs and other bonus tracks. This album was made to please the fans in waiting for the bands upcoming studio album at that time, these types of albums are often directed towards more dedicated fans but I'm pretty sure that this is a great ¨Stratovarius¨ to start with as a 'new-comer'.
The crew of this band is a group of five members and they are:
Timo Kotipelto - vocalist
Timo Tolki - guitarist
Jari Kainulainen - bassist
Jens Johansson - keyboards
Jörg Michael - drummer
The things that I like about this album is many, the first thing is the great vocals. I would say that Kotipelto is the counter part to Tarja in ¨Nightwish¨ except that Kotipelto does not sing opera stuff. His vocals are strong and they fit the songs almost perfectly, there are some small smalll glitches in some songs but there is nothing that would ruin the song. The second thing that I enjoy about this album is the variety of songs, there are fast songs, there some nice ballads and songs which is somewhere between. Most songs are very melodic, many of them are pretty catchy and the variety of different guitar work in the songs in good, such as riffs, solos and acoustics.
Some things I didn't like was basically nothing, everybody has their favorite songs and stuff like that and so have I. There was just a few songs that I didn't dig as much as the other songs but that doesn't mean that this album will be classed as a classic album. If I had to complain about something then it would be the keyboards, I don't like keyboards that has lot of 'electricity' or EQ I think. I prefer regular piano notes and I think that the songs would sound a bit better in that way but that is just my opinion.
The songs that I enjoyed the most is about eight songs so I think I will try to give a fast but detailed description about these songs. We begin with ¨Will My Soul Ever Rest In Peace¨, a some sort of power ballad. It begins with melodic and calm acoustics, the chorus is the most powerful part in the song when everything is lifted such as vocals and instruments. ¨Falling Into Fantasy¨ is a very powerful song because of the uplifting guitars and heavy drum beats in the chorus, the song has more speed then the opening track and it has also calm acoustics. The song has also some excellent and complexive guitar soloing, great song! ¨The Curtains Are Falling¨ is one of the fast songs, the song has great drum work, good keyboarding and has a catchy pattern. ¨Kill The King¨ is a cover I suspect because it sounds similar to ¨Heathen's¨ version of the song. The song is quite heavy, the vocals are good and a bit variating and the song is somewhat catchy too, but not as good that you want to listen to it many times in a row. ¨We Are We Here¨ opens with some scratchy guitar shredds, the song is pretty melodic and calm. The intro shredds is also included in the chorus which is not so good because of the vocals, the way Kotipelto sings makes it sound a bit boring. ¨What Can I Say¨ is a great ballad, it opens with some strong soloing and it later goes down to slow-mode. The vocals are very good because the song gets more spirit and feel, the guitar solo is not so good though. ¨It's A Mystery¨ is solid and melodic song where the lyrics describes the disappearing of the ' Majas'. The vocals are great, the song pattern is catchy but the drums just plays then same pattern throughout the song which makes the song it bit boring. ¨Hunting High And Low¨ is one of the live songs, this is the strongest song of the whole album, the song is fast and very catchy. All the instruments are loud and clear and the vocals is great as always, an incredible live song.
The songs I least enjoyed were ¨Requiem¨ which is just a filler song based on edited sounds basically. ¨I Surrender¨ is also a live song which sounds more like a NWOBHM-song, it does not come near power-metal at all. ¨Keep The Flame¨ sounds more like a psalm, the is just some slow piano notes and Kotipelto's vocals. ¨Dream With Me ¨ is also a ballad with many piano sections and calm vocals. The song gets a bit more 'serious' in the chorus but it do not grab my attention so good so... ¨When The Night Meets The Day¨ is also a some sort of power-ballad, it is quite similar to the oter ballads on this album, acoustics, very melodic and calm soloing. ¨Cold Winter Nights¨ begins with some quite simlpe guitar riffing, the song is fast and somewhat catchy but here is an example of the annoying keyboards I mentioned, there are not many sections but they are still a bit annoying.
I guess that was it, I don' t know how this was for you but I hope this made sense though. This was my first ¨Stratovarius¨ album and it hooked me pretty good, I think that there is a song that would fit most people I'm pretty sure. I would recommend this album to power-metal fans of course and poeple who want to expand their musical taste.
+ Excellent guitar work
+ Very melodic material
+ Great variation of the songs
+ This album would go home to most people I'm sure
- From my part there is just the annoying keyboards
-- Can My Soul Ever Rest In Peace
-- Hunting High And Low
-- Kill The King
-- It's A Mystery
Overall album rating will be: 4/5