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Released: 1997, Noise Records
Editors Note:. Metal-Rules.com was founded in 1995 as a forward thinking site. Our goal is, and always has been, to support Real Metal. The decision was made that very rarely do we ever go back and review an album from before 1995. Does the world really need another CD review of Master Of Puppets, Powerslave or Screaming For Vengeance? We don’t think so. We have always supported what is happening now.
Starting in January, 2014, as we head towards our 10,000th review and the 20th Anniversary of Metal-Rules.com, we are looking back and filling in a few gaps in the review database. We want to complete the post-1995 review catalogue of some of the bands that we have supported since 1995, when very few, if any website were supporting real Metal. It’s fun to go back and revisit some of these albums that we did not review when they were first released. Enjoy!
VISIONS by Stratovarius represents the band at the height of their power. The band had a phenomenal and unparalleled five year run in the late 90’s with four undisputed, classic Metal albums with what most now consider the ‘classic’ line-up of Kotipelto, Tolkki, Kainulainen, Johansson and Michael. The members and sound may have changed as the band evolved and continued on but this era was where they cemented their place in Metal history.
VISIONS came out in 1997 a mere year after EPISODE as the band was on a creative roll. Some people consider this to be the best Stratovarius album in the catalogue. The hour-long album has a steam-lined ten tracks, an instrumental ‘Holy Light’ and the epic, 10-minute title track, a story of the prophet Nostradamus complete with narration to close out the album. ‘Visions (Southern Cross) ’was, until that point, the longest and most ambitious song they had attempted and it ties in nicely with the gorgeous cover art by Andreas Marshall. This was also the album where they introduced their new logo.
The album is loaded with fast, catchy songs, and the album is loaded with the signature sound of the band. Five of the songs on VISIONS (Kiss Of Judas’ , ‘Black Diamond’, ‘Legions’ ‘Coming Home’ and ‘Visions’) are still in their current set-list all the way in 2014, more than any other album. Tolkki wrote all the music on the album and his neo-classical influence is incredibly strong and Kotipelto really settled in by that point no longer the ‘new’ guy behind the microphone. Kotipelto wrote even more lyrics this time and his delivery is sincere, passionate and helped set the template for almost all other Neo-classical Power Metal vocalists for years to come. The happy, bouncy, infectious keyboard lines of Johansson really come to the forefront of the songs, becoming a strong component of the bands sound for the next several albums until a shift in direction in 2003 with the pair of ELEMENTS albums.
VISIONS demonstrated a united, successful and popular band at a creative and energetic high point. This album came at a time when some doomsayers were still bemoaning the fact that in the mid to late 90’s that ‘Metal was dead’ and VISIONS effectively silenced the critics and launched an entire wave of new, young bands captivated by the bands style and sound, while still retaining the core components of Metal. Combined with strong songs, excellent individual performances combine to make this one of the very best Stratovarious albums.
1. The Kiss of Judas
2. Black Diamond
3. Forever Free
4. Before the Winter
6. The Abyss of Your Eyes
7. Holy Light
9. Coming Home
10. Visions (Southern Cross)
Timo Tolkki Guitars
Jörg Michael Drums
Jens Johansson Keyboards
Jari Kainulainen Bass
Timo Kotipelto- vocals
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