During the last years, Stratovarius went through difficult times with the band facing something sort of a “civil war” between two sides; Timo Tolkki, Lauri Porra and Jens Johansson versus the rest of the band then. Timo Tolkki finally signed over the Stratovarius catalog, the Stratovarius name, and all royalties to Timo Kotipelto, Jens Johansson, and Jörg Michael. Since then, the band has made a pretty good comeback with a one album in 2009 called “Polaris” which took positive critics but failed to impress any further as Tolkki’s absence was surely a fact.
The Finnish pioneers of power metal make their return in the beginning of the second decade of the 21th century with a brand new album, “Elysium”, which can only be compared, among the latest records of the band and its members, with Kotipelto’s “Serenity” of 2007.
If we take a quick look at “Elysium”, it seems that the band returns to its roots as any experimentations during the last years failed to impress, even if they didn’t take any negative critics. Stratovarius remain classic yet they manage to renew their sound by enriching with orchestral parts that add something more to their music rather than endless blastbeat, fast guitars and high vocals by Kotipelto. Secondly, it is obvious that the “veterans” Kotipelto and Johanssen take the responsibility of creation and execution with Matthias Kupiainen, although talented, being set aside to a secondary position. This fact, however, is one of the few weaknesses of “Elysium” as the bands fails to take advantage of all its resources.
Now what about the tracks? I’ll say that each one of them can be characterized as “top quality staff” with “Move The Mountain” and “Event Horizon” failing to confirm this rule including “The Game Never Ends”, which reminds us a lot of their hit “Hunting High And Low”. Best moments, undoubtedly, “Darkest Hours”, “Under Flaming Skies” and “Fairness Justified” with the first two of them reminding us the good ol’ times of European Power Metal in its 90’s prime.
On the whole, this album can be characterized as “fans only”. Besides, Stratovarius don’t need to prove anything having behind them a career of nearly 25 years and almost 3 million records sold over the world. Having overcome the difficulties of recent years, they manage to do just what they want to and they do it real well.
|Track List||Line Up|
01. Heavenly Divine
02. Infernal Maze
03. Elysium, Part I, II and III
05. Darkest Hours
06. Under Flaming Skies
07. No Return
08. New Horizon
09. Move The Mountain
10. Castaway (Japanese bonus track)
|Timo Kotipelto – vocals
Matias Kupiainen – electric guitar, production
Jens Johansson – keyboard
Jörg Michael – drums
Lauri Porra – bass