metal talk
Search here...
metal talk


  STRATOVARIUS
'Best Of' (2CD, 3CD special edition includes Wacken 2015, download)
'Ear Music)
Out Now


Joe Geesin

joe geesin


stratovarius

One of Europe's premier power metal bands, Finnish band Stratovarius formed in the mid 80s (originally as Blind Water) and have since released 16 studio albums, four DVDs and three live albums along the way, and while there have been a couple of compilations, none were as comprehensive as this three disc set. And there's an exclusive new track to boot, alongside the Wacken 2015 live show, the third disc of the special edition.

The band's early direction was solid and influential power metal that sat alongside Helloween, Gamma Ray and Blind Guardian. They have since moved, more famously and more successfully, in a more symphonic and neo classical direction. There have also been a large number of changes, their line-up at times chaotic.

Currently featuring lead vocalist Timo Kotipelto, keyboard player Jens Johansson (Dio, Yngwie Malmsteen), bassist Lauri Porra (a noted filmscore composer), guitarist Matias Kupianen and drummer Rolf Pilive, there are no original members in the band and haven't been since drummer Tuomo Lassila left in 1996. I'll leave that debate to the pub and a pint or two.

Article continues below...



Formed as Blind Water in 1985, the band featured guitarist Staffan Strahlan, keyboard player Mike Ervaskari, bassist John Viherva and drummer/vocalist Tuomo Lassila. Strahlman was soon replaced by guitarist/vocalist Timo Tolkki and the band became Stratovarius. The 1989 debut, 'Fright Night', consisted of Tolkki, keyboardist Antti Ilonen, drummer Tuomo Lassila and bassist Jyrki Lentonen and while it achieved acclaim as a 80s metal album, it was criticised for lack of fluidity.

With Tolkki handling both guitar and bass (Jari Behm joining too late to record but is oft credited) 'Twilight Time' followed in 1992 and was known as 'Stratovarius II' in some territories. This was a more melodic affair with a retro British feel.

With bassist Jari Kainulainen on board and drums split between Lassila and Sami Kuoppamaki, 'Dreamspace' was released in 1994 and had a sharp European power metal attack while aptly titled 'Fourth Dimension' (1995) added lead vocalist Timo Kotipelto and touches of Judas Priest and Scorpions to the sound.

Keyboard player Jens Johansson and drummer Jorg Michael (Saxon part of a very long CV) came in for 1996s 'Episode', the start of a very stable period for the band. 'Visions' was a Nostradamus oriented concept album that highlighted the band's move in a neoclassical direction before 'Infinite' kicked off the new millennium and a move to Nuclear Blast, with four bonus tracks spread across different territories (collecting Stratovarius is an expensive interest).

stratovarius

The progression (and progressive touches) continued through the 00s, with live work aplenty along the way. 2009s 'Polaris' featured a new line-up, the first without then band leader guitarist Timo Tolkki.

After so many releases, this career retrospective is well deserved, and opens with the new track 'Until The End Of Days', featuring the current line-up.

A thumping rhythm and hints of filmscore, the vocals and keyboards both soar high and low, the blistering guitars nod to classic power metal. 'My Eternal Dream' (from 2015s 'Eternal') is a fast track which mixes shred aplenty with melodic metal. 'Eagleheart' (2003s 'Elements Pt 1') is heavier on the vocal and guitar harmonies, while 'Speed Of Light' (2006) is a more blistering affair. 'Forever Free' (1997) features some wonderful keyboard/guitar interplay worth checking out.

With no tracks from their debut (deliberate or a licencing issue?), the second album is represented (solely) by 'Break The Ice', which shows how far the current band have come. This is raw power metal compared to the symphonic metal band into which they morphed. 'Fourth Dimension''s 'Distant Skies' shows how things are starting to change, chunky and heavy with a rough edge or two and the symphonic threads are starting to creep in. The first five years are definitely glossed over.

From then on, and more of a symphonic direction, from vocal harmonies to melodic shred, there is more coverage. Whether a single (the band released several across Europe, to some success too), a stand-alone album track or part of a concept, there's not one bad track here, across the first two discs that make up the compilation part. Rather light on the early material, but even so a good representation. Many will argue (myself included) that the more melodic power metal and symphonic work is better than the earlier raw power metal period. 29 tracks over two discs is a fair amount of music that will keep you going for a good hour or two.

The third disc (special edition) is a live album recorded at Wacken in 2015. The intro builds well, as does the crowd, before they launch into 'Black Diamond'. The harpsichord sound to the keyboards couples well with the blistering bass and drums, and there's a fine version of 'Eagleheart' to follow. The rhythmic keyboard intro to 'Dragons' quickly gets the crowd clapping along before the band come in; a good live number.

Anyone who regularly follows MetalTalk will know how good and popular the Wacken festival is and Stratovarius fit it well as this set shows.

Wonderful music, and (largely but far from completely) a good career span. The bonus disc of Wacken is definitely well worth searching out, if you were there or are a fan.

Aside the track list quibbles (as there will be with any and every compilation on earth), and the lack of original members (that's another debate) it's an excellent set and good value.


beer beer beerbeerbeer


17.5.16











 

hammerfall EXCLUSIVE WORLD PREMIERE: HAMMERFALL UNLEASH NEW VIDEO FOR 'BUILT TO LAST' TITLE TRACK
Hammerfall are currently on tour throughout Europe and there are plenty of dates left to catch their new epic show...

grim reaper GRIM REAPER'S STEVE GRIMMETT SEVERELY ILL IN ECUADOR
"Unfortunately the operation didn't work and Steve is currently in the operating theatre having limbs removed..."

bill price GUNS N' ROSES AND SEX PISTOLS PRODUCER/ENGINEER BILL PRICE HAS SADLY PASSED AWAY
Price worked with Rod Stewart, INXS, Pete Townshend, Elton John, The Jesus And Mary Chain and Big Audio Dynamite...

fish marillion FISH CELEBRATES 30th ANNIVERSARY OF 'CLUTCHING AT STRAWS' WITH UK TOUR
"These are the only dates this year as because of my shoulder operation next month with the extensive recovery period..."

ross the boss UK EXCLUSIVE: ROSS THE BOSS ANNOUNCES TOUR DATES AHEAD OF SPECIAL GUEST SLOT ON MetalTalk RADIO THIS WEEK
"We are going to devastate every audience, every night, without mercy..."

dokken WAS BREAKING NEWS: CLASSIC DOKKEN LINE-UP CONFIRMED FOR RAMBLIN' MAN
Dokken, Lynch, Pilson and Brown will play together in England for the first time in around a quarter-of-a-century...

grand magus DEF LEPPARD AND POISON ANNOUNCE NORTH AMERICAN DATES
"I could not be more excited. I know all of us will give one thousand percent on stage..."

grand magus VIKINGS TO INVADE YORKSHIRE: GRAND MAGUS TO HEADLINE KEIGHLEY FESTIVAL
"Get your tickets now and prepare to raise your fists and bang your heads for the glory of Metal!"

armored saint ARMORED SAINT UK TOUR DATES AND 'MARCH OF THE SAINT (LIVE)' VIDEO ARE HERE
"We're really looking forward to playing these select UK shows in March..."

screaming eagles SCREAMING EAGLES TO FEATURE IN NEW AMAZON PRIME SERIES STARRING BRYAN CRANSTON
The band will be releasing a live mini-album in spring 2017 and will be touring in the UK, France and Germany throughout the year...

martyrd MARTYRD SET TO OPEN FOR METAL ALLEGIANCE, MARTY FRIEDMAN AND GUS G
"NAMM is a blast, total musical sensory overload from every direction. It’s like getting lost in a hurricane - I can't wait."

john garcia EXCLUSIVE WORLD PREMIERE: JOHN GARCIA UNLEASHES 'GIVE ME 250ml'
"This record is one of the most important of my career, difficult and challenging to do, but worth every minute of sweat!"

avenged sevenfold WAS BREAKING NEWS: AVENGED SEVENFOLD TO OPEN LONDON POP-UP STORE
The shop will be hosting in-store raffles and giveaways of exclusive and signed merchandise...

avenged sevenfold ROCK MEETS CLASSIC 2017 EUROPE LINE-UP IS HERE
Rock meets Classic has a terrific vibe and the legendary cross-over-project combines emotional classic with world-famous rock songs...

paddy goes to holyhead PADDY GOES TO HOLYHEAD ARE BACK FOR THE CRAIC ON ST PATRICK'S NIGHT
The band supposedly played their last ever gig two years ago in celebration of their 30th anniversary...

nightlord EXCLUSIVE THE UNKNOWN BAND WHO INFLUENCED METALLICA AIRS ON MetalTalk RADIO
Also featuring is the very first UK radio airplay of Cellar Darling, the band created by former Eluveitie members...

epica EPICA RELEASE 'BEYOND THE MATRIX' VIDEO - WATCH IT HERE
"The energy that lives within 'Beyond The Matrix' is extremely contagious. It will sweep you off your feet when the melodies enter your mind..."

nightlord JOHN COGHLAN'S QUO BACK ON THE ROAD AGAIN
John Coghlan's Quo have announced UK dates across the Kingdom that will see them busy throughout the year...

jimmy bain JIMMY BAIN'S WIDOW NEEDS OUR HELP
"Jimmy recently passed away without a proper will in place and now his better half is in trouble..."

michael schenker MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST 'LIVE' TOKYO FEATURING BARDEN, BONNET AND McAULEY OUT IN MARCH
Features guest appearances from some of the greatest rock vocalists who have worked with Schenker...

ozzy osbourne OZZY OSBOURNE OVERDOSED WHEN SHARON HAD CANCER
"I watched him scoop his hands into a bowl of pills, swallow a handful of something, and then wash it down with vodka..."

eluveitie ELUVEITIE NEW LINE-UP IS COMPLETE, FIRST GIGS GO DOWN A STORM
"Above all we're super happy and thankful that we're complete again and given the chance to have such gifted musicians on board..."

gene simmons GENE SIMMONS RESTAURANT HONOURS US VETS
"The opening day of every Rock & Brews is dedicated to our vets, the public is not allowed in."

deep purple DEEP PURPLE SUE THEIR LONG-TIME ACCOUNTANT FOR FOUR MILLION
"I'm completely irresponsible. I'm ignorant about money as a commodity — I have never really understood it."

tony iommi UK EXCLUSIVE: VINCE NEIL FIST FIGHT WITH BOY GEORGE STOPPED AS ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER SHUTS UP PRESIDENT TRUMP
"They screwed up. That was a huge miss and someone should have a talking-to."

tony iommi GLENN HUGHES: "I'M THRILLED TO BE TOURING THE UK IN JANUARY"
"Let's get 2017 going with a killer night for ROCK lovers, movers and shakers. I'm in. Let's go!"

tony iommi TONY IOMMI HAS SUCCESSFUL THROAT OPERATION AND IS CANCER-FREE
"We had to have it checked in case it may have been cancerous. But it turns out it wasn't, which I found out Christmas Day..."

ronnie montrose RONNIE MONTROSE REMEMBERED: ALL-STAR MEMORIAL CONCERT TO TAKE PLACE AT NAMM 2017
"Ronnie helped light a fire in me and made me want to approach guitar playing with that kind of zeal and expression..."

motorhead beer PHIL CAMPBELL AND MIKKEY DEE TO APPEAR AT MOTÖRHEAD BEER LAUNCH IN LONDON
This is sure to be one superb night with beer, live music and Motörhead, but not necessarily in that order...

tony iommi BLACK STAR RIDERS PREMIERE 'TESTIFY OR SAY GOODBYE'
Black Star Riders are set to release their forthcoming album 'Heavy Fire' on 3rd February via Nuclear Blast...

tony iommi BREAKING NEWS: TONY IOMMI DROPS HEAVY METAL AND JOINS THE CHOIR
"It's a bit different to Sabbath!" says Tony, in probably the biggest understatement of all time...

tony iommi ROCK MUSIC IN SUPERHERO MOVIES
It's pretty wild to think that this whole ride that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe started off with a little AC/DC...

jimi hendrix JIMI HENDRIX'S WAH-WAH PEDAL AND AMP SURVIVES AUCTION HOUSE BURGLARY
"It was a very positive and uplifting experience to work for Jimi. He was like a shaman, a medicine man, a preacher.."

alestorm ALESTORM ENTER FLORIDA STUDIO BUT A CHALLENGE AWAITS THEM BACK IN BLIGHTY
"It is full of epic songs about pirates, drinking, and pseudoscientific cryptogeography..."

queen QUEEN GUITARIST BRIAN MAY WANTS TO BRING ROCK TO A NEW GENERATION
"It was actually all very planned and deliberate and came totally out of Freddie's fevered imagination..."

phil lynott MASS TRIBUTES PAID TO PHIL LYNOTT ON ANNIVERSARY OF HIS PASSING
"God bless my old friend, thanks for the faith you showed in allowing me to record your music..."

black country communion BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION ENTER STUDIO TO BEGIN WORK ON FOURTH ALBUM
"One thing I want to make clear to everybody across air nation is that Joe Bonamassa and I never fell out..."

hair metal heaven BLAZE BAYLEY BRAND NEW ALBUM AND WORLD TOUR DETAILS ARE HERE
'Endure And Survive' is set for release on 3rd March 2017 and will be accompanied by a world tour totalling some 120 shows...

hair metal heaven HAIR METAL HEAVEN FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES FIRST ACTS FOR INAUGURAL EVENT
The Hair Metal Heaven Festival has a very eighties feel to it, as the team behind it explain here...

motorhead EXCLUSIVE TEST PILOT DROPS TWO GRAND ON NEW MOTÖRHEAD VIDEO SLOT
"A few spins later and I turned up a row of gold Snaggletooths which promptly caught fire and the voice of the man himself commanded: 'Turn it up!'"

deep purple DEEP PURPLE RELEASE NEW 'inFinite' TRAILERS AND EXPECTED ALBUM FORMATS
'Time For Bedlam', the first single which was revealed late last year, is available as instant grat as part of the digital album pre-order...

hollywood AEROSMITH FAREWELL TOUR COULD LAST FIVE YEARS
"We had a talk a few weeks back about going into the studio. When that'll happen, though, I'm not sure. We certainly have plenty of ideas..."

rick parfitt EXCLUSIVE MEGADETH MAINMAN DAVE MUSTAINE REVEALS HE'S AN ARSENAL FC SUPPORTER
Megadeth, formed in Los Angeles in 1983 after Dave left Metallica, are currently enjoying a rich vein of form...

hollywood FORMER PEARL JAM DRUMMER HITS OUT AT THE BAND
"We need music, each other and the spirit of Rock & Roll now, more than ever before..."

hollywood HOLLYWOOD SIGN CHANGED BY PRANKSTERS TO READ 'HOLLYWEED'
"An artist's role throughout history has been to create representations of the culture he exists in..."

metallica METALLICA GUITARIST KIRK HAMMETT'S HOME FOR SALE FOR £16m
Apparently a house like this doubles its asking price every six or seven years...

kiss EXCLUSIVE KISS' GENE SIMMONS DROPS BIGGEST HINT YET THAT ACE FREHLEY REUNION IS ON
Over 7,000 likes later, fans are in big speculation that it really is going to happen...

rick parfitt WAS BREAKING NEWS: BLOODSTOCK UNVEIL SECOND 2017 HEADLINER
"Megadeth had a blast last time and I can't wait to bring the Dystopia World Tour to Bloodstock this Summer."

rick parfitt EXCLUSIVE JOHN COGHLAN REVEALS TWO NEW TRACKS WITH RICK PARFITT ARE NEARLY READY FOR RELEASE
"It was going to be Status Quo PLC [Parfitt, Lancaster, Coghlan] and that was Francis' idea originally."

wizz wizzard WIZZ WIZZARD VOCALIST WIZZ BEAUPREZ HAS PASSED AWAY
Wizz Wizzard were signed to Rock Sector Records and labelmate Chris Appleton of Absolva led the tributes...

ronnie james dio RONNIE JAMES DIO TO TOUR IN 2017
"It was very emotional. I didn't think that I was gonna cry, but I did. I broke down...."

metal talk
© All written site content is copyright MetalTalk.net 2008-2017, unless otherwise stated, and is not to be used without prior permission.
Ads raid data recovery