Next review: » Stratovarius - Infinite (Special Edition)
Released: 2000, Nuclear Blast
OK, you're wondering what's with the box-set? Basically it's the Infinite CD in digi-pack format along with a CD single containing two bonus tracks and a CD-ROM portion. Also included is a sticker and a short picture booklet. To my knowledge, this box-set version is not available in North America. I actually obtained my copy through eBAY! I was going to just buy the CD, but figured why not try for the box-set. Anyway, onto the CD.
I've read a couple of negative reviews of this CD from people complaining about the keyboards and the reduction in the number of all out speed metal tunes. Well to a point they are telling the truth. However, Stratovarius are not, and never were, only about speed metal. Keyboards have always been a major ingredient in their music, almost as important as the guitars. That's not a problem when you have a wizard like Jens Johansson on keys. As always, the main ingredient in Strato is MELODY. This is still metal, without a doubt. Some may call it "happy" power metal and so what!?!? It's still powerful, well written and played by some of the finest musicians out there today!
The cover art for Infinite was done by the renown artist Derek Riggs who is best known for his work for Iron Maiden. The artwork relates to the Infinite concept, even though I don't believe this is not a concept CD but more of a theme in some of the lyrics. My favorite tracks on this CD are (no surprise) the heavier and faster ones. That would be "Millennium" with it's monstrous, thundering sounding double kicks provided by the legendary Jörg Michael. The drums drive this song, and the tempo is head-bangingly awesome. "Hunting High And Low" is another favorite and although it's more of a "sing-along" kind of track it's very, very catchy. The other standout track is "Infinity" which is also a fast-paced epic track that is also the albums title track. The bonus tunes on the CD-ROM - "Why Are We Here" and "It's A Mystery" are not throw away tracks by any means. The better of the two is "It's A Mystery" with "Why Are We Here" being a bit on the simple side, except for the godly soloing of Timo Tolkki. For those interested in knowing about the CD-ROM portion...well I'll tell you simply - it blows! They could of done SO MUCH MORE with this. My CD-ROM didn't even autorun when inserted into the CD-ROM drive! I had to individually open up each of the five quicktime files on the CD to watch them. They consist of a so-so interview with guitarist Timo Tolkki. The sound quality on this interview is poor and you have to crank it and strain to pick it out. There are no live videos and more importantly NO music videos on this CD-ROM! Considering that Strato made a video for "Hunting High And Low" you think they could of at least included that on here. This was probably the doing of the band's label and not their decision. It would of been nice to have a short interview with each member, some behind the scene footage of the recording of Infinite and some music videos. Is that too much to ask for? Hopefully the rumors of a home video will come true and my complaints will be silenced.
Unfortunately, this CD will be the last that us fans will have from the band for a while! Tolkki estimates there will be a two year break after the Infinite tour is done. He says "It's time to sit down, rest and think about other things than Stratovarius, at least for me." Well at least for me, this is disappointing but we still have this and there excellent back catalog to listen to.
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