You can’t argue about the strange state of Finland’s once hottest Power Metal export, I’ve seen worse sitcoms than this but it made me sad to read about them fighting each other about who should go and who should stay. All this negativity around the band paved the way for a reason to write this review, I want to look back at this landmark album and treasure the brilliance of one of my all time favourite Power Metal band.
All right, I’ll keep this one short and simple. This, my friends, is the first of many super albums that STRATOVARIUS released through the second half of the nineties with “Infinity” ending the inspired run at the door of the new millennium. This is also the first album with the best line-up the band could possibly have with Jørg Michaels being added to the drum stool and keyboard maniac Jens Johansson completing the formation.
What can I say, this is STRATOVARIUS at their best which means Symphonic Power Metal with lots of atmosphere, lots of double bass races, lots of high pitched harmonies and lots of solos both keyboards and guitars. Any dumbass can feel the high levelled enthusiasm and energy that flows through every track on this album; musically I’d say that this album is more talented, unique and much better than the previous albums which had more to do with Power Heavy Rock or something along those lines.
This album holds some of the band’s best songs, just listen to ”Will The Sun Rise”, ”Babylon”, ”Father Time” (a track that never gets tiresome because of the hymnal chorus), ”Seasons Of Change” and ”Stratosphere”. There are three instrumentals on the album; the title track is a keyboard based piece incorporating some distant soloing, ”Stratosphere” is a true Tolkki show off (man he can play) and ”Forever” moves the listener with its mellow atmosphere and Kotipelto’s emotive vocals.
The band sounds more professional and tight with this line-up. You can hear how every instrument just blends in perfectly, then add the heavy and clear production and you have a world class product.
My first STRATOVARIUS album and I daresay my favourite although the following records also hold a special place in me. I would imagine that Power Metal fans already have most of the STRATOVARIUS classics starting from this album, so I’ll just end right here with a honest salutation to the band and this work of Power Metal perfection. (Online October 2, 2004)