A band in turmoil, members
leaving, internal conflicts, the bands fight over name and song rights,
this is all well documented events that have overshadowed one of the
most influential metal bands in recent years. But now in 2009 a new
chapter in Stratovarius’s career is about to be written with their
latest album 'Polaris'. This long awaited return has been seen as
the bands rebirth with new members and a new outlook on life. This is
Stratovarius take on their biggest challenge and find out that no one
man is a band and with that they have conquered their fears and
financial downfall, and together the band return stronger than ever
before and ready to take on the world.
'Polaris' is an album
that shows the world that Stratovarius are not only back bigger and
better than before, but that they have nothing to answer for and nothing
to prove, letting the music do all the talking for them.
The album opens up with
‘Deep Unknown’, a great way to introduce the bands new lease of
life, which I feel is in part due to the successful addition of their
fantastic new guitarist Matias Kupaiinen to the fold, who after seeing
him play live I can confirm, this guy is one hell of a guitar player.
Along with the rest of the band they seem to have their sights set high
on regaining some of the fan base they lost with their infamous
'Elements' albums and the self titled 'Stratovarius' album that followed
(which I myself enjoyed).
The album continues with
‘Falling Star’ with keyboard wiz Jans Johanson getting things
underway, and with frontman Timo Kotipelto showing what a majestically
powerful vocalist he is against the backbone rhythm section of Lauri
Porra on bass and Jorg Michael on drums, they're really keeping that
Power Metal element intact. But it's Kupianinen who really shines
on this song as he shows what a real find he is, as he displays some
real fret burning skills.
This album is a real test
of strength for the band as it continues to impress with ‘King Of
Nothing’, a great track that again shows the band haven’t lost any
of their power and majesty. This is pure Stratovarius to the core
and one of my favourites off the album.
‘Blind’ is a perfect
example of how the band are showcasing their new side. The gentle
melodies of the intro ease you into a false sense of security before all
hell breaks loose and the rampant guitars and powerhouse rhythm section
take over and ignite this power infused spectacle. This in my eyes
is what this band is all about, they do meaty big riffs and
thumping rhythms alongside Kotipelto’s soaring vocals, all woven
together to produce a perfect marriage of melody and metal. Great
Even the mellower moments
like ‘Winter Skies’ are superb pieces of the whole Stratovarius
puzzle, stirring guitars from Kupaininen once more soaring like a six
string eagle above the fantastic keyboards and vocals.
One of the most
outstanding tracks of the album has to be the fantastic ‘Forever Is
Today’. This is true power metal at its finest. Spell
bindingly fast keyboards, thunderous bass and drums all interwoven with
a fret burning guitar, simply a great track and on that reinforces the
fact that Stratovarius are back and are going to kick some serious ass.
the likes of ‘Higher We Go’ we have another stomping slice of power
metal, while the superb ‘Somehow Precious’ shows the band's still
got what it takes to compete as giants in the Power Metal arena.
Although it's the likes of the fantastic ‘Emancipation Suite’ and
'Emancipation Suite Pt II: Dawn' that show the band still have the craft
for putting together a few epic pieces, which more than emphasizes
this bands tremendous return to form.
Having seen the band play
live just recently I can say that this is totally regenerated band, they
are relaxed on stage and are a united band unified with a new spirit
that is ever present on the live stage and can be heard throughout this
The fires burn deep in the hearts of these musicians and with this album
they've let that phoenix rise and erupt into this spellbinding
collection of songs.
The fires burn deep in the hearts of these musicians and with this album they've let that phoenix rise and erupt into this spellbinding collection of songs.
This is without a doubt the bands finest release in years and one that will once again cement the name of Stratovarius with great Power Metal and shows no one man is a band and band is “A group of musicians playing popular music” and that’s what Stratovarius have become a group
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