Stratovarius - Elements Part I


Year of Release: 2003
Label: Nuclear Blast
Catalog Number: NB 1037-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 60:34:00

Ladies and gentlemen, if you have a history of heart problems, Elements Part I may be bad for your health. Not because it is dangerously shocking or startling, but because it is chock-full of pure full-fat artery-hardening triple-cream cheese.

But man, as cheese goes, it's pretty good cheese.

Released in early 2003, this offering from Finnish Euro-metal outfit Stratovarius was highly anticipated by fans. Now, when this kind of music comes out, people either love it or hate it. They either find it so catchy that it grabs them right from the start - or find it pretentious, generic and unbearable. With full meaty orchestral scores bigger than Bon Jovi's hair, showy musicianship, dramatic concepts and ostentatious lyrics, Elements is certainly no light listen.

If you don't like songs that stick in your head, you may be advised avoid the opening track, "Eagleheart"; I generally find myself whistling it for about three days after listening to Elements. Listening to much of this album makes me want to go out and write an epic manga cartoon, just so I can use the music as theme tunes. That's what this stuff reminds me of. I have to say I very much enjoy the instrumental "Stratofortress," which sounds rather like someone's Jewish wedding party has collided with a power-metal tour bus. The production throughout is crisp and generally well-balanced, bringing out the larger-than-life emotion and passion in the music.

Elements is also available as a limited edition with a rather nifty 3-D cover and a three-track extra disc. This may be worth seeking out if one is an established Stratovarius fan, but I find it hard to justify the extra expense - quite a bit actually - to get a box that is too big to fit in my CD tower and not all that much extra material. Your mileage may vary.

At times Elements does get embarrassingly pretentious; for example, I tend to skip over the title track (a twelve-minute epic which leaves one feeling rather exhausted by the end), because the lyrics really do become squirmingly uncomfortable after a while. The choral and orchestral intrusion is also sometimes a bit much, and one feels that vocalist Timo Kotipelto occasionally overreaches his ability. Another extremely annoying thing about Elements is that it has a copy-protection feature that prevents it from being loaded on computers. If (like me) you do most of your listening on the PC rather than a CD player, this is something you will need to be aware of before purchasing it.

Elements is a grandiose production which takes its own heroics a bit too seriously; but if you find that sort of thing fun, I'd recommend this to you. If, on the other hand, you prefer to get your epics from reading books and your cheese on pizzas, you might want to steer clear.

Similar to: Kamelot, Symphony X

[This review originally appeared May 2003 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]


Tracklisting:
Eagleheart (3:50) / Soul Of A Vagabond (7:22) / Find Your Own Voice (5:10) / Fantasia (9:56) / Learning To Fly (6:19) / Papillon (7:01) / Stratofortress (3:26) / Elements (12:01) / A Drop In The Ocean (6:49)

Musicians:
Timo Kotipelto - vocals
Timo Tolkki - guitar
Jari Kanulainen - bass
Jens Johansson - keyboards
J?rg Michael - drums

Discography:
Fright Night (1989)
Twilight Time (1992)
Dreamspace (1994)
Fourth Dimension (1995)
Episode (1996)
Visions (1997)
The Past And Now (comp) (1997)
Destiny (1998)
Visions Of Europe (live) (1998)
The Chosen Ones (comp) (1999)
Infinite (2000)
Intermission (2001)
Elements Part I (2003)
Elements Part II (2003)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin FI

Added: January 31st 2005
Reviewer: Karyn Hamilton
Score:
Artist website: www.stratovarius.com
Hits: 832
Language: english

  

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