Artist: Stratovarius 
   Title: Polaris
   Label: earMUSIC

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 stuff!

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.

With 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 new album. 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

 

Tracklisting:

1.Deep Unknown
2. Falling Star
3. King Of Nothing
4. Blind
5. Winter Skies
6. Forever Is Today
7. Higher We Go
8. Somehow Precious
9. Emancipation Suite
10.Emancipation Suite Pt II Dawn
11. When Mountains Fall

 

                  

 

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