Stratovarius - s/t 3/5

Reviewed: 9-9-05


1. Maniac dance
2. Fight!!!
3. Just carry on
4. Back to madness
5. Gypsy in me
6. Götterdämmerung (Zenith of power)
7. The land of ice and snow
8. Leave the tribe
9. United

In the 2 years between Stratovarius’ 2 ‘Elements’ CDs and this, self-titled CD, they endured one of the weirder public breakups ever with band leader Timo Tolkki practically having a nervous breakdown, posting pictures of how badly he was beaten up and practically the entire band being fired. Whether it was all for real or just a publicity stunt is hard to know, but the whole band is back together now and moving on, seemingly as if the whole mess never happened. That led to a lot of questions about how the band would be affected and how it would sound after such a tumultuous period. The good news is that Stratovarius sounds much the same as always; the bad news is the songwriting on this CD is the least inspired since the band’s 1998 ‘Destiny’ CD.

The CD starts out in an unexpected manner with “Maniac dance” which is an uptempo but grinding track which lacks the vibrant melodies that Statovarius is known for and is so good at creating. The next 3 tracks get back to more of the standard Stratovarius sound with “Just carry on” being the most melodic. “Back to the madness” is a good track, but the 70 seconds of talking at the end is unnecessary and brings the track down. “Götterdämmerung” has a solid verse but a terrible chorus that goes on and on seemingly forever. The strength of the CD is the last 3 tracks, 2 nice ballads, “The land of ice and dnow” and the finale “United” with a solid midtempo track, “Leave the tribe” between them.

This is a good, solid CD that is totally fitting in the Stratovarius collection and, I have to admit, I am happy to be able to say that with all the goings on with the band over the past few years. It is well written, well performed and well produced. The problem is that it is totally uninspired. The songwriting doesn’t have the creativity that the band found for the ‘Elements’ CDs and neither does it have the sometimes brilliant songwriting that was found on the band’s earlier CDs. What we are left with is a collection of above average tracks that are extremely run of the mill in terms of creativity. While there are enough good tracks here to consider the CD to be solidly above average to good, there is absolutely nothing to get excited about with this CD.




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