Released: 2011, Armourey
Stratovarius has had a long turbulent history dating way back into the 80’s. They are one of those rare bands that have no original members and have weathered many storms to get where they are today. History lessons aside if you are familiar with the catalogue you could pick any three albums from the various eras and you could feel that each album could be a from a different band.
So where does ELYSIUM fall in the Stratovarius continuum? The album is somewhat of a continuation of POLARIS. It also has some hints of ELEMENTS as well. In short it is a diverse dynamic record with all the bands trademarks. It’s a shade heavier and darker than the last album and a bit more progressive in parts.
Stratovarius are no longer content to be just speedsters. The song-writing is mature, confident and relaxed. Sure there are some fast numbers like the cut ‘Event Horizon’ buried at track eight, which recalls the speedy mid-years. There are lots of keyboards, and just tiny hints of modern influences, the occasional sound-effect or studio trick. There are not enough of these to distract or annoy but added for hints of aural flavour. Album highlight is the title track, a monster 18- minute epic with many progressive tendencies including a gorgeous, acoustic interlude about 12 minutes in. It’s the bands tour-de-force, the centerpiece of the album, despite being the last song. I’d love to see them do that live!
ELYSIUM might not be as accessible as some of their other material, perhaps not as catchy, the songs relying less on simple hooks, but more on epic, dynamic compositions. It might not have the immediacy of an album like INFINITE but there is lots of depth, progression and evolution. It’s a brave, ambitious and compelling record while retaining their distinct sound in part, no doubt to the vocals. Timo’s voice is in top form; he really stretches out and delivers some great performances using his whole range.
Some fans may still pine for the simpler, classic era of EPISODE, VISIONS, DESTINY and INFINITE but in reality that was a long, long time ago. They are a very different band now. After the slight misstep with the self-titled album, Stratovarius has delivered two very solid albums in a row that compliment each other nicely as the band heads confidently and bravely into the fourth decade of their career.