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Stratovarius – Elements Parts 1 & 2

Label: Nuclear Blast
Format: CD
Released: 2003
Reviewed By: Rich Catino

Elements Part 1

Elements Part I is definitely one of the most anticipated releases for 2003. "Eagleheart", the lead-off track and first single is clearly a hit with all of the band's trademark qualities heard. "Soul Of A Vagabond" starts with a crunchy riff and solid rhythm section. This track clearly has a heavier mood to it. "Find your Own Voice" brings us to another trademark of the band, with its fast paced guitars, tempo, high-pitched vocals and keyboard to guitar solo trade-offs. "Fantasia" starts off very 'Disney' sounding with its choice of instrumentation, which is a quality heard throughout the track. The chorus is very melodic, with lyrics reflecting the beauty of its title. just when you thought the tune was too light, the guitars and rhythm section kick in.
 
Moving on to "Stratofortress" we have an instrumental that the band usually includes on their releases. "Drop In The Ocean" is a pleasant acoustic tune to end the disc. With this release, we find Stratovarious incorporating more symphonic elements to their sound. Overall, they have created another strong piece of music, though not quite as good as "Episode" or "Visions". Stratovarious are obviously masters of this brand of melodic progressive power-metal and with a lengthy track record to prove it.


Elements Part 2

Stratovarius are part of what I consider the “Big Four” to emerge from the 90’s along side Blind Guardian, Gamma Ray, and Iced Earth. I really love this band and enjoy this second part to “Elements”, finding it stronger than Part 1. First single “I Walk To My Own Song” is probably their catchiest, brightest, and most uplifting song thus far in their catalogue. They have not strayed from the Strato formula but the songs just work better this time around. Tracks are less orchestrated than heard on Elements Part 1 although “Luminous” also has that Disney feel of “Fantasia”.

“Alpha and Omega” and “Awaken the Giant” are mid tempo headbangers in the vein of “Babylon” and “Eternity” rolling along at a nice pace. Of course the typical double bass Euro Power metal songs that the genre is famous for are present on two selections, one being “Know the Difference” which draws many parallels to a Symphony X arrangement, and “I’m Still Alive”. I do think many of these tunes with this arrangement are great, but after awhile very few stand out while the rest sound the same. Sort of creating an Achilles heel in the genre, and Stratovarius are not exempt from it. Be careful boys!

“Season of Faith’s Perfection” is an acoustic ballad with soft strings behind the chorus about starting a new day and carrying on with life, a theme they incorporate into many of their lyrics.

This band deserves much more respect than they receive and unfortunately America has not caught on, yet.
 
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