The year 1995 was undoubtedly the most important in the career of STRATOVARIUS. A new vocalist was brought to the band and he would take the band into a new dimension. Today it is hard to imagine STRATOVARIUS without the voice of Timo Kotipelto, even if it seemed possible not so long ago. His voice became one of the trademarks of the band, which was only underlined by the live performances. But it would be unfair to assign the success of the band only to him, because actually the mentor of the band is Timo Tolkki having written and composed almost all of the songs of the band.
But now back to the ones on this record. With “Against The Wind” the guys deliver a Power Metal hymn and many of its kind will follow in the coming years. The typical Timo Tolkki riffs, partly inspired by Yngwie Malmsteen are accompanied by a constantly pounding double-bass. “Distant Skies” follows the same pattern and over the next years the song will prove as one of the best live songs of the band. “Galaxies” calms the spirits a bit, but it still remains a sure headbanger. The keyboard plays the leading role, gracefully accompanied by the guitar of Timo Tolkki. “Winter” gives the impression of a cold winter night, with the wind just a breeze, playing with the falling snow, sometimes harder, sometimes more gentle. The master delivers one of his inspired solos and all these blend into a divine song.
“Stratovarius” is a track for the instruments and even without vocals they offer a stunning performance, the instruments speak for themselves and for the musicianship of the guys. And then you have to think of the fact, that in the same year two other musicians will join the band: Jörg Michael and Jens Johansson… “Lord Of The Wasteland is maybe my favourite track from this album. Guitar and keyboard form a perfect duo, supported by powerful drumming performance and bass-play and of course the voice of Mr. Kotipelto. Altogether: a Speed/Power taster.
“030366” is one of the strangest songs not only of this album, but of all their releases, maybe recently “Maniac Dance” (from the album “Stratovarius”) claimed this crown. Before you would start desperate attempts to decipher this code, I will tell you a little secret: it is not a secret code, it is plainly and simply the birth date of Mr. Tolkki. And another little secret: if you listen to QUEENSRYCHE’s “Rage For Order” album you will be amazed to find a quite similar song.
“Nightfall” continues there where “Winter” ended. The snow slowly seizes to fall, or it seems like that, cause the night falls down and you cannot tell anymore. But then the moon appears and you can see that still “the snow is silently falling”… and the snowflakes are ensnared to dance by the evening breeze… a beautiful ballad with fitting guitar performance. “We Hold The Key” with its slowly hammering tempo is a track which convinces both on this album and live as well. One should once again praise the musical skills of Timo Tolkki. All these are true for “Twilight Symphony” as well. The song is opened by the keyboard and stays in font for the rest of the song too. It is a mid-tempo track with a tiny violin intermezzo which yet again reminds of Yngwie.
The short instrumental song “Call Of The Wilderness” is a calm ending to the album and offers the possibility to let yourself enchanted for a while by the impression the album has made on you. My impression at that time and today is the same: it is a felicitous record, but there is space for more, what was skillfully recognized and used on the next releases. But that does not change the fact that “Fourth Dimension” is a good Power Metal album and is a must for all those who like melodic Power Metal. (Online July 11, 2006)