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Stratovarius - Enigma: Intermission 2

Label: earMUSIC
Format: Download
Released: 2018
Reviewed By: Jack Mangan
Rating: 9/10

Stratovarius are an easy win for a reviewer, even with compilation releases. They’re as consistent, reliable, and dependable as any of the greats in the Power Metal game. “Enigma: Intermission 2” is a sequel of sorts to their 2001 compilation album, “Intermission,” featuring rare tracks and three brand-new songs. These kinds of albums are sometimes considered “Greatest Misses” (Rap band Public Enemy even released an album of unused material, called “Greatest Misses”), but Stratovarius fans shouldn’t miss out on the songs collected on “Enigma.” The new songs are “Enigma,” “Oblivion,” and “Burn Me Down.” All three are fantastic examples of what Stratovarius do best, in the Power Metal template - - but some of the rare stuff is also exemplary. “Kill it With Fire,” previously only available in Japan, and “Hallowed” are new old classics, even if the former reminds a bit of 1990s video game music.


There’s a strong Classical flair and current to Stratovarius’s sound (not a coincidence). They also feature inspired uses of acoustics, electric, and keyboard tones on the “Enigma” tunes (a harpsichord sound?), all played with dizzying, virtuosic ability and taste, with Timo Kotipelto’s majestic Power Metal voice over the top. That’s not to say that every track here is top-notch. Stratovarius aren’t often off, but when they are, they’re downright cheesy. A few of the tracks near the end of the compilation sound more like the theme songs from third-rate anime - - or from the opening band at a John Tesh concert. Stratovarius fans agree on the band’s elite status; the only thing they struggle with is the spelling of the band name. Is it Stratovarious? Strativarius? Stradivarius? Startavarius? No matter how you spell it, they continue to be one of the shining lights in the Prog Metal world. Their trajectory is similar to Thrash legends Overkill: neither are household names, but both are known and respected across the Metal world, and both have been around since the early 80s, consistently releasing high-quality albums and releases, year after year, decade after decade. They set the bar high and rarely miss it. “Enigma: Intermission 2” makes me more eager for their next full-length of original material.

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