Stratovarius - Elements Pt.1
The Finnish predecessors of melodic and symphonic metal took an almost three year- time-out after their previous release Infinite, but have finally returned with Elements pt I, their ninth studioalbum. I'd say that was a very clever move because the outcome is the best the band's produced in quite some time and I also think that it was absolutely essential for the band to succeed since so many other Finnish bands have caught up and some even outdistanced them.
However, we're once again dealing with a high-quality-production that reaches the levels of almost perfection, a superb handling of the drums and drumsticks by Jörg Michael, a plectrum that finds the strings as we want them too in every department in the skillful hand of Timo Tolkki and a list of tracks that is overall better than on both Destiny and Infinite. Besides the usual Stratovarius trademark songs in the up-tempo-department there are of course also heavier and more mid-tempo songs and a Hunting High and Low- follower in Eagleheart.
No matter if you like Stratovarius as a whole or want them playing either fast or more mid-tempo, Elements' got what you desire. This a release with the usual band-trademarks but I still say this what was more than I had expected. Elements consists of more orchestral arrengements and majestic choirs than on any previous Stratovarius-album and the songs are also increased in both length and complexity but not to a degree that it gets overelaborated. As a whole Elements possesses a very epic feeling and the previously mentioned orchestrations give it a solemn but yet powerful atmosphere.
But there are some not so great issues to focus on too. Kotipelto sings a bit too high on some occasitions and it comes very close to sounding false plus that the number of ballads reach the number of two out of a total of only nine songs are very negative and chalice-reducing factors. One wonders a bit how a band known for high-quality metal and excellent productions doesn't fix this vocal-flaw. The ballad-issue is of course a very personal opinion and as usual when it comes to those things opinions vary...
In spite of these remarks though, the great parts of this release by far outnumber the bad ones and fans will love it for sure. For you new-acquintances of the band I'd say that the albums Episode or Visions are better choices and a wiser way to spend hard-earned money. Still, Stratovarius prove that they've got some glowing ambers in the furnace yet, and although the sparks aren't exactly swirling around, Elements still produces enough heat to raise the temperature considerably.
Altogehter, a promising comeback and a bringer of hope for an even better Part II which I'm certain this band's very cabable of accomplishing.