Stratovarius - Elysium review



Reviewer:
8.0

402 users:
7.89
Band: Stratovarius
Album: Elysium
Release date: 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.


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


 



Written on 26.01.2011 by Former EIC. Now just a reviewer guy.

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)


Comments page 2 / 2

Comments: 51   Visited by: 508 users
29.01.2011 - 03:53
RavenKing
Written by Mr. Doctor on 26.01.2011 at 19:34

Both "Black metal pandas" and "Death kitties trying to be brutal" are also a joke (Don't even get me started with Metalcore). This sort of jokes has been used in reviews (with positive ratings) about albums of completely different metal subgenres... People getting sensible about it just make Power Metal an easier target than it already is


Indeed. Fans of other genres don't overreact as much as flowermetal fans.
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They shake your hand and they smile and they buy you a drink
They say we'll be your friends we'll stick with you till the end
But everybody's only looking out for themselves
And you say who can you trust I'll tell you nobody
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29.01.2011 - 07:27
LeChron James
Helvetesfossen
I saw a commercial for this album yesterday on VH1 and i was confused. Not that it was on VH1, but because Stratovarius decided to advertise this album on TV and not any others.
----
Kick Ass, Die Young

Less is More
Stay Pure
Stay Poor

Music was my life, music brought me to life and music is how I will be remembered long after I leave this life. When I die there will be a final waltz in my head that only I can hear.
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30.01.2011 - 23:26
LordFezzington
Lost To Apathy
Not really listened to any Stratovarius since Elements Part 2, might have to check this out though!
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"Pay no heed to anyone and do what seems right to yourself." - Franz Kafka, The Trial
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01.02.2011 - 18:03
Dark Blood
The Avenger
Written by Angelic Storm on 26.01.2011 at 14:34

Written by YoreLore on 26.01.2011 at 13:03

Why is someone who labels a band as "flower metal" doing a review? The hatred towards one of metals most popular and established genres is tiresome. You review this album as someone who obviously does not really enjoy this music and throw in some lines for other people who are in the same boat as you, acting like Power Metal is some sort of guilty pleasure you can enjoy in secret. Awful.


I do think giving someone who has a very obvious dislike for a certain genre, an album from said genre to review is a bit stupid and counter-productive. Its really no different to someone reviewing an album from a genre with which they give every band unwavering praise. I find the best reviews are from people with no pre-disposed bias to a specific genre, one way or the other. I think this review is interesting though, as Doc obviously finds quite a bit to enjoy in this album, despite the fact he doesn't normally like the genre it's from. When you take that into consideration, 8.0 is actually a great score, and high praise for the album indeed. I do find the term "flower metal" nauseating, but everyone is entitled to their opinion, no matter how unpalatable that might be for some to take. I don't think Doc (or anyone else for that matter) should be criticised merely for voicing their opinion. *gets off soap box*

I myself would rate the album 8.5, maybe a 9 if I was feeling generous. Stratovarius have done better, but this is the best work they've put out in many years. Nice album, and good review! xD

I agree with you about the different opinions. And honestly I hate the term "flower metal" too but I think he based his review in facts, and I think he did a nice job.
Although this term doesn't come from reviewers or anyone like that, this comes from the so called hater community, people who don't listen to power metal and are more familiar to other genres. What annoys me about this is the fact that Power was labelled as "flower" by people who's tastes have nothing to do with it. I can't imagine myself labelling things I don't like (and therefore, don't listen). I simply move away from it, and keep the opinions for myself. I would never bring down Black metal for example. I tried to get into it, and I can't enjoy most of the bands from that genre (I'm talking about pure raw Black btw) but that's not a reason to bring it down. But of course, that's the opposite of what most people would do, sadly.

Anyways, about the review. I think it was smartly written. And it made me want to check out this album, which I wasn't intending to.
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It is humanity who must pay homage to the greatness of the Universe... not the Universe to the human narcissism.
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01.02.2011 - 19:03
Ag Fox
Angel No More
Wow... I was just dropping by to thank Dr Rock for guiding me into check this out by reviewing it. Instead I see a truckload of drama lol

What's wrong when someone who doesn't normally like the genre and gives the album high praises? Doesn't it make it an even better reason to check out the album, especially for people like me who have quite a sceptical attitude towards this band based on their recent outputs? I know I'm not the only one (=

Besides, those who have been around for a while would realise Doc bashes every genre anyway when given the chance. I'd much prefer that over some song by song description of a review.

If you don't like the review style here, either write your own or start your own metal site Piece of cake.
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loves 小巫
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02.02.2011 - 17:20
Mountain King
K i K o
Every genre has it's generic bands and it's overused sound specially 80's heavy metal and 80's thrash. Tons of bands sounded the same. That is the case with Death metal too where almost every bands sounds the same to me at least. It's not just about Power Metal, Prog metal has a million bands that sound like dream theater or other famous bands! Important thing is that we enjoy anything we like. My favorite genres are heavy and power metal but i enjoy many songs from different genres (Melodeath to Industrial and symphonic). And people talking about Power metal as happy and soft?!!! A lot of Power Metal songs are more technical, heavier, faster and more evil than a lot of Melodic Death or whatever genre that is said to be so brutal...
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03.02.2011 - 13:29
Luneth
Written by Dark Blood on 01.02.2011 at 18:03

Written by Angelic Storm on 26.01.2011 at 14:34

Written by YoreLore on 26.01.2011 at 13:03

Why is someone who labels a band as "flower metal" doing a review? The hatred towards one of metals most popular and established genres is tiresome. You review this album as someone who obviously does not really enjoy this music and throw in some lines for other people who are in the same boat as you, acting like Power Metal is some sort of guilty pleasure you can enjoy in secret. Awful.


I do think giving someone who has a very obvious dislike for a certain genre, an album from said genre to review is a bit stupid and counter-productive. Its really no different to someone reviewing an album from a genre with which they give every band unwavering praise. I find the best reviews are from people with no pre-disposed bias to a specific genre, one way or the other. I think this review is interesting though, as Doc obviously finds quite a bit to enjoy in this album, despite the fact he doesn't normally like the genre it's from. When you take that into consideration, 8.0 is actually a great score, and high praise for the album indeed. I do find the term "flower metal" nauseating, but everyone is entitled to their opinion, no matter how unpalatable that might be for some to take. I don't think Doc (or anyone else for that matter) should be criticised merely for voicing their opinion. *gets off soap box*

I myself would rate the album 8.5, maybe a 9 if I was feeling generous. Stratovarius have done better, but this is the best work they've put out in many years. Nice album, and good review! xD

I agree with you about the different opinions. And honestly I hate the term "flower metal" too but I think he based his review in facts, and I think he did a nice job.
Although this term doesn't come from reviewers or anyone like that, this comes from the so called hater community, people who don't listen to power metal and are more familiar to other genres. What annoys me about this is the fact that Power was labelled as "flower" by people who's tastes have nothing to do with it. I can't imagine myself labelling things I don't like (and therefore, don't listen). I simply move away from it, and keep the opinions for myself. I would never bring down Black metal for example. I tried to get into it, and I can't enjoy most of the bands from that genre (I'm talking about pure raw Black btw) but that's not a reason to bring it down. But of course, that's the opposite of what most people would do, sadly.

Anyways, about the review. I think it was smartly written. And it made me want to check out this album, which I wasn't intending to.


I tend to believe now that the majority of people who use the term 'flowermetal' know about the Power Metal genre; I kinda understand to a small extent why certain bands get that label, but in relation to this review, there's absolutely no reason for any controversy, reviewer doesn't even like the genre much but thinks highly of the album, I think 8 is too generous and love Power Metal.
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Evil? I am not Malevolent, I simply am!
Apocalypse, X-Men
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04.02.2011 - 06:36
Wintersun616
Kotipelto's singing is bugging me on this album. It sounds good, and in choruses there's nothing wrong with it. But outside the chorus, he always sings somewhat in the same stretchy melody. That makes the songs sound like modified copies of the first one (I'm judging singing here only). I enjoyed this album a lot when I first listened to it on the background doing other stuff at the same time, but when I sat down and actually listened it, I found myself just more and more annoyed by how he sings outside of choruses and hoping that the next song is different and has some good tunes and melodies even outside the chorus, but no.
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06.02.2011 - 22:43
Milena
Learning To "X"
The review is perfectly fine, except fitting Sonata Arctica into the flower-power metal scene, they dropped that thing, like, ages ago.
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"There comes a time when you look into the mirror and you realize that what you see is all that you will ever be. And then you accept it. Or you kill yourself. Or you stop looking in mirrors."
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07.02.2011 - 02:40
Luneth
Written by Milena on 06.02.2011 at 22:43

The review is perfectly fine, except fitting Sonata Arctica into the flower-power metal scene, they dropped that thing, like, ages ago.


Yeah...by becoming shit. No one counts Unia or Days of Grays in the equation.
----
Evil? I am not Malevolent, I simply am!
Apocalypse, X-Men
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07.02.2011 - 10:33
Milena
Learning To "X"
Your opinion
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"There comes a time when you look into the mirror and you realize that what you see is all that you will ever be. And then you accept it. Or you kill yourself. Or you stop looking in mirrors."
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07.02.2011 - 23:28
Sword_Chant
What I love about Strato is they are damn cheesy - but at least they're GOOD at being so damn cheesy. Theres a lot of bands that just don't cut that fine line.
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21.02.2011 - 17:32
Sephiros7
It's just one of those things where the reviewer probably didn't think anyone would take offense, gotta be careful when writing reviews there are some passionate fans out there. I'm a recent fan of Stratovarius, I don't think their lack of heavier songs warrants a "flower power" rating but whatevs. It's good quality music through and through. To each his own...
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23.02.2011 - 22:45
EmeraldSword
Long time fan of Stratovarius. I think Lauri Porra was the unsung hero of this album. Well done. I'd give this a 8.3.
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Progress to not digress.
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04.03.2011 - 08:30
Savior
I think this isn't a bad album but it's far from what Stratovarius used to be... I still remember fast rythm epic songs... they are missing from this and Polaris. In my point of view there is too
much mid-tempo songs reminding more Hammerfall but having a lot more difference in riffs in one song. As for Kotipelto, he's good songwriter but still his solo work sounds better than
songs he made for these albums. Remember it's just my opinion... Looks for me now that finally Sonata Arctica has passed Stratovarius or it passed them before Tolkki left.
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15.05.2011 - 21:05
Breakerr
I just say that I have VISIONS and EPISODE and Destiny and I never get tired of listening to them, Is a great band and music regardless the members and genre categorization, Look forward to hear this latest album Elysium.
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Break the system and be free inside to reach the goal and find peace of mind.
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08.08.2011 - 23:06
ErnilEnNaur
Account deleted
Written by Doc Godin on 26.01.2011 at 13:26

Perhaps you should also consider the fact that maybe, just maybe the reason I'm not terribly crazy about this genre is because of the sheer amount of generic bands I've come across using the same overused sound, not just in power metal. Though my comments regarding this genre may be rude, they're not exactly untrue, it's one of metals softer, more melodic genres, perhaps I should start pumping out dry, boring reviews that won't offend anyone.


The hatred for your review is quite unreasonable. People really need to learn to not take every damn line in a review so personally. I love power metal (when it's done well) and if anything, I think you went a little bit too easy on this album. I find Elysium to be a pretty good album, but not in the same league as Strato's best albums.
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21.08.2011 - 21:32
GammaRayForever
I just can't enjoy Stratovarius after Tolkki and Kainulainen left.
The two Timo's were a great team together, and though they're doing quite good separately, it just isn't the same anymore...
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13.12.2012 - 23:29
Sword_Chant
Written by GammaRayForever on 21.08.2011 at 21:32

I just can't enjoy Stratovarius after Tolkki and Kainulainen left.
The two Timo's were a great team together, and though they're doing quite good separately, it just isn't the same anymore...


I think if Tolkki were to re-enter the band, that would be very risky. Chances are high that another 'Elements Part 2' would be churned out.. or something like the Symfonia release we heard last year. Not that I really dislike Elements 2, but Strato needed to test some new waters. At least with this lineup, we are seeing more consistency in releases and even some of that memorability is returning, the kind of approach that was there in the mid 90's (their pinnacle of music imo) and not so prevalent in the 2000s. I personally look forward to hearing their later releases, even if it doesn't sound the same. The lineup is very talented and with enough effort there could be some great songs in the future. Not only is there a return to form, but a return in band chemistry which had definitely disappeared in the last Tolkki 2005 self titled album.

"It's without a doubt Stratovarius"

Quote this from the review
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29.12.2012 - 19:01
LICH
I love stratovarius with a passion to me this was a reasonably good effort id give it an 8.8 or 8.9 , i didnt really like tolki , he was a good musician but just an asshole ...
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03.04.2013 - 20:39
Req
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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