Review Summary: Nemesis is a stepping stone for Stratovarius that has center focus on experimentation.
After two relatively successful albums, Stratovarius returns with Nemesis
and aims at something expected and something totally unexpected. The issue of experimentation pops up, and just like any other band there will be praise and knee-jerk reactions. It’s no lie that Stratovarius has been on the bit of the frisky side with their electronics since their comeback on Polaris
.For instance, look at the intro Jens Johansson plays in “Deep Unknown”. In Nemesis
we see Jens expand his horizons with newly acquired use of electronics that, without a doubt, comes from direct influence from touring with Amaranthe to promote Elysium
. In doing so, every band member is on board with this bold approach. However, the most surprising aspect of this bold direction of experimenting is that Nemesis
is the most consistent album that Stratovarius has put out since Infinite
I’ll be honest with you, I was skeptical after listening to the promotional single “Unbreakable” and its lack of a solo. Unfortunately, I experienced more skepticism after listening to “Halcyon Days” only a week or so later. Don’t get me wrong or anything, the two afore mentioned songs are without a doubt enjoyable and worth the listen, they also showcase Kotipelto at a career high too, but the songs have an unusual structure we hardly see from Stratovarius. For starters, “Unbreakable” has a ‘solo’ section but the song doesn’t have a melodic solo(s); instead it has a thrash-like riff that lasts for a while. Any first impression will probably register that one moment as “Oh, it’s just a single so it’s not that big of a deal”. On the other hand, “Halcyon Days” – which is not a single - shows Jens Johansson playing around with electronic backgrounds, as well as some sort of electronic voicing with Kotipelto in the beginning of the chorus. Any first time listener maybe thinking that this is pretty cool and all; that is until you hear the 1 minute section where there could’ve been a solo. Instead the listener will hear epic choirs and, dare I say, pseudo-dubstep in the replace of a solo. I know it’s difficult to get use to, but trust me they’re growers.
Despite there being some questionable moments such as the ones on “Unbreakable” and “Halcyon Days” we still see overwhelming positive characteristics on Nemesis
. “Fantasy” and “Dragons” are instant classics; “Out of the Fog” is a 7 minute epic that has everything to love about Stratovarius; “Abandon” falls under the category of ‘superb album openers’; “If the Story Is Over” has a guest appearance of Jani Liimatainen (ex-Sonata Arctica); and the eponymous of the album, “Nemesis”, is yet another classic Stratovarius song. With every song practically being overwhelmingly catchy, upbeat, etc… there’s only one real problem with Nemesis
that has nothing to do with some of the eyebrow raising moments on “Halcyon Days” or “Unbreakable”. That problem is “Castles in the Air”. The song itself is interesting and just like its sister songs on Nemesis
it has Kotipelto performing another catchy chorus. The problem is Matias and Jens when they’re up to bat out a solo, but no one would’ve expected to hear solos… oh, what’s a good way of putting it"...that are… lazy and drunk and out of place.
In conclusion, Stratovarius creates a pretty solid effort that mainly focuses on Kotipelto and Jens’ newly acquired use of electronics. In fact, the album is so intent on focusing on Kotipelto’s vocals and Jens that any listener will completely forget that there’s a new drummer in town. Another thing is that most listeners jumping into this album shouldn’t expect anything amazing from Matias either; though he does have a lot of solid moments.
Disclaimer: there are four different bonus tracks that can be found on a Japanese, Limited Edition, and Vinyl release.
Out of the Fog