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   STRATOVARIUS
Elements Pt. 1
2003
Nuclear Blast
http://www.stratovarius.com


rating: 4/5

1. Eagleheart
2. Soul Of A Vagabond
3. Find Your Own Voice
4. Fantasia
5. Learning To Fly
6. Papillon
7. Stratofortress
8. Elements
9. A Drop In The Ocean
I must admit that I had somewhat contradictory expectations towards this release as I've considered Stratovarius going downhill on each release after the grandiose "Visions". So, on the other hand I was in fear of another disappointment and on the other hand expecting them to finally release a real masterpiece. While I dare not call this a real masterpiece, although it comes very close to being one, it certainly isn't a disappointment either. Before the release there was some talk that this would be a different kind of Stratovarius and in a way it is. The album has one of the most massive production I've ever heard. Huge orchestral arrangements and majestic choirs. All in all, this is quite a versatile album.

Sure there are some fast, catchy, uplifting and somewhat foreseeable power metal anthems Stratovarius is known for, like "Eagleheart", "Find Your Own Voice" and "Learning To Fly" where the whole song seems to lean to the memorable chorus. "Soul Of A Vagabond" on the other hand represents probably the heaviest Stratovarius so far: a slow and heavy tune with really pompous arrangements. The title track "Elements" and "Fantasia" are both huge 10-minute epics that show us a verstaile and diverse Stratovarius, where the atmosphere ranges from the known happy to somewhat sad and melancholy and the quite surprising accordion on "Fantasia" gives it a really relaxing aspect. "Stratofortress" is an instrumental where both Tolkki and Johansson get to show the flexibility and fastness of their fingers. A really fast one that isn't actually that "new" as an idea, but sure is fun to listen to. "Papillon" starts with ethereal voice of a little boy singing and continues as a mellow and majestic hymn with a slightly dramatic atmosphere. It actually reminds me a bit of "Mother Gaia" from the preceding album "Infinite". "A Drop In The Ocean" goes to the same league with "Celestial Dream" (from "Infinite") with it's acoustic guitars and a relaxing atmosphere.

Once you've listened to this you do notice that this is indeed a little different from what you might have expected. But on the other hand it is the good old Stratovarius, so...I think this means the band just keeps on evolving and they surely manage to keep their name high in the power metal ranks. As mentioned earlier, productionwise this is probably the heaviest and the most symphonic Strato album so far. What we have here is Stratovarius giving a wonderful mix of the power metal they're known for with some spices and some surprising twists and leaving the listener wanting more.

submitted by Aleksi 01.01.2003

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