Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Stratiovarius - Elysium

So, I was thinking of kicking this blog off with a review of an album I bought recently, Stratovarius' "Elysium." It was a spur of the moment purchase - I had never listened to the band before, though I had heard of them, so I had no idea what they sounded like, except comparisons to bands like Kamelot and Blind Guardian.

I have to say, I was quite pleased by my impulse buy. I generally am, for some reason - whenever I buy an album for whatever reason other than having heard a lot of their songs before it usually turns out to be a good decision. Thrice's "The Alchemy Index", Paradise Lost's "Faith Devides Us, Death Unites Us" Periphery's self-titles debut, and a few others were all bought for no real reason beyond "Hmm, that album cover looks cool," or "Hey, there's a band I read about before!", and I found them to be surprisingly good. If anything, the successes of random purchases has led to me being more open minded in regards to music - I'm more likely to listen to a band I have no prior knowledge of now than a few years ago.

Anyway, I bought the Limited Edition version album from HMV because I had a spare £20, and because the cover was shiny. Very shiny. For clarification purposes, here's the standard album cover:

To let you understand just how shiny the Limited Edition is, I didn't know that was the cover image. That's not because the art isn't on my version, it's because it's obscured by shininess! It's difficult to read the song names on the back in anything other than pitch black! It took me about ten minutes for my eyes to adjust and let me see what album I had just purchased! Hell, there were a few minutes when I was worried that I had just bought an exceptionally bright box.

Ignoring the eye-rending colour-choice, then, and onto the actual album. I didn't buy the Limited Edition, incidentally, because I always do that - it was literally all HMV had. I always thought that special versions of albums were something fans of the band would pay an extra fiver for, for meager bonuses, or for gloating purposes - alternatives to the standard version. But no, apparently HMV opted for the more costly one, probably for the potential for profit. Not that I'm that surprised, they tend to have little in the way of anything decent in stock.

Anyway, in terms of extra features, there's quite a decent selection. There's these little cards, one for each band member, on which there are messages from the band which pretty much boil down to "Thanks for buying our music, come see us live!". Somewhat sweet, but not worth forking out extra money over. The real meat, though, is in the form of a second CD, which consists of demo versions of all the songs on the album. While you could look at it as being pointless (after all, you've already got the finished version), I personally like it, some of them are quite decent despite being unpolished.

As for the music itself? Yeah, it's good. For the most part it's standard, catchy power metal played by skilled musicians and a singer who is undeniably talented, but a bit of an acquired taste. I'm not saying he's bad, it's just that it takes a few listens to get used to his voice. There are no poor songs, and the ones that really stand out are those with progressive touches - such as "Infernal Maze" and the colossal, 18-minute long title track - and the softer, slower paced songs - "Fairness Justified" and "Move the Mountains". All in all, it turned out to be a great purchase - an album with songs more brilliant than the box they come in.


  1. i've already listen to this album and i think the oldest are better

  2. Album cover looks trippy, will check out.

  3. Not bad, but I'm with Nemesis here. Definitely preferred the older stuff.