Elements, Pt. 1



by PsychicChris USER (361 Reviews)
December 28th, 2021 | 2 replies

Release Date: 2003 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I don’t hate Elements, Pt. 1 as much as high school me did on that disappointing first listen, but it remains a disjointed, overstuffed effort

Respectively releasing in January and October of 2003, Elements Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 have a rather strange place in Stratovarius’s long-running trajectory. They aimed to push the band’s signature power metal style to even further extents with more ambitious song structures and grandiose symphonics than before. However, the results are a very noticeable step down from the string of classic albums that had come to define them, and the lofty presentation does little to hide the onset fatigue that would cause their classic lineup to implode a couple years later. And as a teenager in the mid-2000s who purchased Pt. 1 as a blind buy with no proper context of what they were going through, this wasn’t exactly the strongest first impression…

For what it’s worth, at least the album starts off with its two strongest numbers. Like “Hunting High and Low” before it, “Eagleheart” is the quintessential burst of loveable power metal cheese that kicks things off with a bang. The opening guitar melody wastes no time with its infectious optimism and the relentlessly cheerful vocal lines are supported by the sort of energetic structure that gets more saccharine as it goes along in the best way possible. “Soul of a Vagabond” follows it up with effective contrast, applying its swells and choirs to a mid-tempo stomp and eastern melodies in classic Rainbow/Malmsteen tradition complete with another effective refrain.

From there, the subsequent songs aren’t quite as effective. “Find Your Own Voice” shows some promise with more intense chugging and double bass but the vocals’ insistence on going as high as they possibly can ends up coming at the expense of an actual hook, most egregiously during the abrasive chorus. “Learning To Fly” and “Stratofortress” offer more serviceable speed runs but end up being middle of the road, overshadowed by both the album’s best and worst tracks.

Speaking of which, the saccharine quality that makes “Eagleheart” such a fun opener ultimately comes back to bite the band in the ass when it comes to the album’s most symphonic tracks. I always end up zoning out during “Fantasia” as the near ten minutes of syrupy swells and occasional chugs just come off as directionless, and the twelve-minute title track doesn’t fare better in terms of memorability despite its heavier makeup and dramatic choirs. Elsewhere, “Papillon” ends up on the awkward side of Disney metal as its sweeping buildup doesn’t offer much in terms of depth or catharsis and “A Drop in the Ocean” ends the album on a soft whimper.

I don’t hate Elements, Pt. 1 as much as high school me did on that disappointing first listen, but it remains a disjointed, overstuffed effort. The shift likely made sense at the time, promising a theatrical step forward from the solid but perhaps formulaic albums like Destiny and Infinite. But with those extra bells and whistles not bolstered by more manageable structures, the pacing drags to the point of exhaustion despite the overall runtime not being that much longer than the albums before it. I can imagine diehard Stratovarius fans still finding a lot to enjoy here but unless you can handle some extra lactose, there’s not much that warrants revisiting beyond the first couple songs. Thankfully Pt. 2 is considerably more palatable.

“Soul of a Vagabond”

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Venpts16 (4.5)
Elements, Pt.1 is everything good about Stratovarius in a 61 minute package. Taking their grandiose...

Comments:Add a Comment 
December 29th 2021


Album Rating: 4.0

Not crazy about this band but this is my fav Strato album. I'd rather listen to Fantasia, title-track or Papillon over the powermetalish tracks.

Well written review though.

December 30th 2021


Album Rating: 3.5

Stratovarius only have 1 must listen album for me (Nemesis), but this record is pretty decent. Not my favorite style of power metal, but it gets the job done.

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