STRATOVARIUS were a hell of a talented Symphonic Power Metal band. They had a run of three high quality releases in "Episode", "Visions" and "Destiny". They then started on a run of what I think was powerless, mediocre, heard-it-before Power Metal with "Infinite", "Intermission" and even more so "Elements Pt. I". Sure these last few releases had some great tracks and some stellar moments yet…they just seem to miss something they had in days gone by. Heart and desire might have been it.
This brings us to "Elements Pt. 2"…obviously the next chapter in the bland saga brought forth on their previous album. Good news for those who loved that CD as this is more of the same. STRATOVARIUS have the skills and a fairly simple formula thus I thought it hard for them to slide a complete failure our way. That being said, they do manage to create some enormously bland, straight forward Power Metal that reeks of ripping off their own previous material. I am not the raving Kotipelto fan that many are. I thought his solo CD was a lyrical abomination and a platter of dullness to say the least. I find him to be a man with, for the most part, an amazing voice when the music and lyrics is top notch but if either of those are lacking, he just can't save it so he really is a letdown for me. Timo Tolkki's well of ideas seems to have gone very dry. Even tracks I like have nothing new to offer and he just doesn't seem to want to shred as he once did. Those were the STRATOVARIUS highlights for me. Can we get more of that please Timo…oh please can we?
It takes until the fifth track to get my attention. That is never a good thing, especially when the CD has only nine tracks. I like "Awaken The Giant" because it has serious BALLS, a deadly riff and here, Kotipelto sounds wicked. He is so much heavier on this track than usual. This style he should definitely do more of in the future. "Alpha & Omega" opens the CD in a non-traditional Power Metal way by being slow and frankly pretty dull. The lyrics and chorus just fail to grab me and this sets up for a pretty low level of expectation. "Season Of Faith's Perfection", "Luminous" and "Liberty" are all atrocious ballads that make me yearn for 80's cheese. "Know The Difference" is just awful because of the frequently out of tune vocals…the nice keys try to salvage it but I am afraid it is of no use. Ugh! The rest are passable…absolutely nothing more.
What can I say? I hate shit-canning bands I really once liked. The pattern of crap though had been started by STRATOVARIUS and only they could turn it around. Sadly, not here…I believe "Elements Pt. 2" is the worst release they have put forth yet. I will never tell bands to give it a rest, hang 'em up, etc. That is way too easy. STRATOVARIUS need to do some more soul searching and maybe then they can get back to being the band we knew and loved. This release is unnecessary to all including STRATOVARIUS completists…do yourself a favour and don't tarnish their image in your mind any further. (Online October 28, 2003)