Rating:
8.0
Stratovarius - Elysium
12 January 2011


Disc I
01. Darkest Hours
02. Under Flaming Skies
03. Infernal Maze
04. Fairness Justified
05. The Game Never Ends
06. Lifetime In A Moment
07. Move The Mountain
08. Event Horizon
09. Elysium
    1 - Part 1
    2 - Part 2
    3 - Part 3
10. Castaway [Japanese bonus]
11. Last Shore [collector's edition bonus]
12. Hallowed [collector's edition bonus]

Disc II [Digipack edition demo's]
01. Darkest Hours
02. Under Flaming Skies
03. Infernal Maze
04. Fairness Justified
05. The Game Never Ends
06. Lifetime In A Moment
07. Move The Mountain
08. Event Horizon
09. Elysium


Stratovarius...That's that Finnish soap opera, right? Well, yeah, it's easy enough to chock this bands last few lack-lustre albums up to piss poor band chemistry and the downright cartoon-like drama that ensued because of it. So they "eliminated" the "problem", and came out with Polaris - an inching recovery, but a recovery nonetheless. Polaris, to put it lightly, was hit-or-miss on many tracks, but overall left most people, aside from perhaps the die-hard fans with an overall "meh" feeling. Fair enough, you can easily blame the new guy for that one, maybe the band chemistry just hadn't clicked yet? Well, the new guy is no longer the new guy, and there's been no reported in-fighting since Mr.Tolkki's days. I guess you could say every silver lining has a black cloud, because at this point they no longer had any excuse to release anything but their best. I'm not entirely sure what Stratovarius' "best" sounds like, but I can imagine it sounds something like this.

So being the leaders of the "Euro Flower-Power" scene (alongside Sonata Arctica), I'm always a little guarded against bands like this. Generally, it's soft, overtly feminine sounding guitar melodies drenched in harpsichord and symphonics. So naturally, I was a little shocked to hear a band like this pumping out some genuinely heavy riffs. It's very typical to hear bands falling under this sub-genre accomplish two pre-settings; top speed, needling neo-classical, and ballad, take your pick. While these aspects are very prevalent in Elysium, the band still manages to grind out some slow heavy-as-bricks stompers like "Lifetime In A Moment", or the less harmonious heavy metal "Under Flaming Skies".

It's without a doubt Stratovarius. If you're still violently opposed to power metal, then there is enough stomach curdling moments to turn you off Elysium. However, if you're somewhat on the borderline, (ie you secretly enjoy all those keyboard/guitar harmonies to from time to time), this is surprisingly more varied than what we've heard from similar acts.

Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Production: 9


Band profile: Stratovarius
Album: Elysium


 



Written on 26.01.2011 by
Doc Godin
Former EIC. Now just a reviewer guy.
More reviews by Doc Godin ››

Guest review by
Mountain King

Rating:
8.2
After the surprisingly good Polaris and yes it is surprising since Timo Tolkki wrote most of the band's songs and hits, I had really high hopes that the new album would be even better but after listening to the single "Darkest Hours", I felt "Deep Unknown" was on a higher level.

Well I was wrong! The album is as solid as it gets. Unlike Polaris which contains some of Stratovarius' best songs ("Deep Unknown", "Falling Star", "King Of Nothing", "Winter Skies"), but also had its share of mediocre moments ("Blind", "Higher We Go"), Elysium on the other hand starts with the fairly good "Darkest Hours" and continues to impress me with each passing track. The production is crystal clear and not over polished at all, the highlight being the sound of Lauri Porra's bass guitar. The groove he provides on "Lifetime In A Moment" and "Fairness Justified" is phenomenal and contributes positively to the overall sound. The absence of the typical fast double bass songs is eminent throughout but that's not to say that there are none. "Infernal Maze", being one of the finest tracks on the album, has the best vocal performance by Timo Kotipelto since the Infinite album. Perhaps the biggest surprise in Elysium is the presence of the 18 minute epic title track with its epic feel and changing moods which stands as one of the most impressive works the band has released to date. The admission of guitarist Matias Kupiainen was a good choice even though the change in the band's sound might be repelling to the Tolkki enthusiasts but Kupiainen is doing more than well in filling the big shoes of Timo Tolkki, his influence on the 18 minute title track brought some very inspiring moments and showcased what drummer Jörg Michael is capable of ("Elysium" Part II is worth mentioning).

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published 27.12.2011 | Comments (13)



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Req - 03.04.2013 at 20:39  
Written by Angelic Storm on 27.01.2011 at 18:55

Written by Luneth on 27.01.2011 at 18:44
Too bad the album doesn't match the epicness of it. I think this album is absolute shite.


And here, we have entered the Twilight Zone.. where someone who normally hates power metal likes this album, and a power metal fan hates it. Its a strange world.. lol


I am a big Stratovarius fan and I didn't like the album either . Though I don't consider myself as a big power metal fan. Other than Blind Guardian and some Dragonforce (if I feel cheesy) I don't listen to it. Still this album sounded very unimpressive. Stratovarius' past below avarage work is more interesting than this imo.

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