Stratovarius

Picture of Stratovarius

Dreamspace

Stratovarius - Dreamspace ©1994 T&T
1. Chasing Shadows
2. 4th Reich
3. Eyes Of The World
4. Hold On To Your Dream
5. Magic Carpet Ride
6. We Are The Future
7. Tears Of Ice
8. Dreamspace
9. Reign Of Terror
10. Thin Ice
11. Atlantis
12. Abyss
13. Shattered
14. Wings Of Tomorrow

Dreamspace has been a real chore to sit through. Lacking much of the ability of latter day Stratovarius to pull me in and grab my attention, this album has been tossed numerous occasions from my CD player in search of something just slightly more interesting. For the most part, this earlier version of Stratovarius in which guitarist Timo Tolkki still handled the vocals (it was a good thing when they recruited a full time singer) comes across as just another Helloween inspired power metal band with scant original ideas of their own. I would venture to say that at this point in time, their songwriting ability hadn't quite progressed to the finely polished state it is now. Unless you are one of those completists who must own a band's entire back catalogue, I wouldn't suggest this one.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/1999

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The Fourth Dimension

Stratovarius - The Fourth Dimension ©1995 FAD/T&T
1. Against The Wind
2. Distant Skies
3. Galaxies
4. Winter
5. Stratovarius
6. Lord Of The Wasteland
7. 030366
8. Nightfall
9. Twilight Symphony
10. Call Of The Wilderness

The Fourth Dimension featured a new vocalist for the band that helped make them a little less two dimensional. While still not as honed on strong songwriting as their most recent effort, The Fourth Dimension is easily a huge improvement over Dreamspace. The band's approach was becoming a bit more over the top in symphonics (check out "Winter" for an example) but also perhaps a bit of Queensryche's Rage for Order era weirdness ("030366") and failing miserably. Much of the material lacks the edge to make more than background music. Of the half dozen or so listens I've given it thus far, none of them have made much of an impression. Stratovarius has certainly improved their songwriting on recent efforts, but at this point they were simply derivative of their influences.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/1999

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Visions

Stratovarius - Visions ©1997 FAD/T&T
1. The Kiss Of Judas
2. Black Diamond
3. Forever Free
4. Before The Winter
5. Legions
6. The Abyss Of Your Eyes
7. Holy Light
8. Paradise
9. Coming Home
10. Visions (southern Cross)

Don't ask me to explain why one power metal album bores me to the point of self-inflicted torture in order to remain awake while others catch me by the ear and drag me happily about. Whereas Blind Guardian, Nocturnal Rites and a couple other bands who play that style pioneered by Helloween way back when haven't done a thing for me (except lighten my wallet a couple bones), Stratovarius has kicked my little behind and got me playing Visions over and over. Let's see, what exactly is it they are doing that makes them so darn good?

First, when these guys go full speed ahead on a song such as "Holy Light" or the opener "The Kiss of Judas", it's done so snappily and with such punch that you are compelled to hop out of your chair and play your air Fender--flying V of course. Keyboards play an integral part to the music, either underscoring it with an atmospheric effect or playing just as aggressively as the rest of the band. And though Timo Kotipelto really, really reminds me of a certain Mike Kiske, his voice is superb, confident and powerful. Finally, the true strength in Stratovarius is in their songwriting--I can't get their tunes out of my head. The end result? This CD keeps showing up in my player each day. 100% Enjoyment!

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/1998

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Destiny

Stratovarius - Destiny ©1998 Noise
1. Destiny
2. S.O.S.
3. No Turning Back
4. 4000 Rainy Nights
5. Rebel
6. Years Go By
7. Playing With Fire
8. Venus In The Morning
9. Anthem Of The World
10. Cold Winter Nights

Stratovarius continue to impress with their sparkling sharp power metal approach, quite possibly creating a stronger album than the excellent Visions. Insidiously memorable and played with only the highest levels of talent, Destiny is the kind of album that seemingly becomes your best friend after one listen. Simple by no means, it feels as though you've heard these songs a thousand times and know them by heart after but a couple listens. These Finnish boys know the value of a chorus and exploit them to the max without becoming campy or sappy. "No Turning Back", "Years Go By", "4000 Rainy Nights" and "Rebel" all grab you with excellent choruses while "Anthem of the World" or "Playing With Fire" use nice orchestration and/or guitar playing to snare you. Don't get me wrong. There are some moments that are a bit too pretensious in the grand metal tradition: singer Timo Kotipelto sometimes overdoes his role (check out the "die-yi" in the title track) and the aforementioned "Years Go By" is almost too sappy for me. But that said, if you have a hankering for speedy, extremely well written and played power metal with tinges of Queensryche, Helloween, and classic Maiden, then you really need to be looking for Stratovarius.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 12/1998

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Infinite

Stratovarius - Infinite ©2000 Nuclear Blast
1. Hunting High And Low
2. Millennium
3. Mother Gaia
4. Phoenix
5. Glory Of The World
6. A Million Light Years Away
7. Freedom
8. Infinity
9. Celestial Dream

The thriving persistence of this kind of bombastic Northern European melodic power metal into the 2000s is an object of wonderment to some and ridicule to others. Regardless of one's feelings for the genre as a whole, one must admit that this album does nothing to endanger Stratovarius' place at the top of the heap.

No surprises here - the music is roughly identical to previous Stratovarius albums (and mid-career Helloween, Malmsteen and subsequent spinoffs), with reasonably compelling moments ("Glory of the World"), ultra-speed riffing, remarkable drumming, and fantastic keyboards by ex-Malmsteen and Jonas Hellborg sidekick Jens Johansson. However, a handful of songs rival France, Holland and Milwaukee combined in the amount of cheese they put out as the chorus makes itself heard ("Phoenix", which sounds like the metal version of Sweden's yearly contribution to the Eurovision song contest). A few chord progressions are as tepid and predictable as a Mel Brooks joke, and guitarist Timo Tolkki's guitar sound is a little boxy.

Other than that, if you take your metal melodic, fast, a tad sappy, anthemic, and virtuosic, you just can't go wrong with this album. But I'd suggest saving a few rupees by purchasing a handful of old Helloween albums, a couple of Malmsteen CDs, and playing them in random order, which should quench most people's thirst for this kind of music.

Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier

Review date: 06/2001

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