STRATOVARIUS — Nemesis

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STRATOVARIUS - Nemesis cover
4.21 | 17 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 2013

Filed under Power Metal
By STRATOVARIUS

Tracklist


1. Abandon (4:52)
2. Unbreakable (4:37)
3. Stand My Ground (4:14)
4. Halcyon Days (5:30)
5. Fantasy (4:19)
6. Out of the Fog (6:58)
7. Castles in the Air (6:02)
8. Dragons (4:04)
9. One Must Fall (4:28)
10. If the Story Is Over (6:06)
11. Nemesis (6:33)

Total Time 57:43

Line-up/Musicians

- Timo Kotipelto / vocals
- Jens Johannsson / keyboards
- Rolf Pilve / Drums
- Lauri Porra / Bass
- Matias Kupiainen / Guitars

Guest musicians

- Susanna Koski Vocals / (Backing)
- Anna Maria Parkkinen / Vocals (Backing)
- Anna-Maija Jalkanen / Vocals (Backing)
- Alexa Leroux / Vocals (Backing)
- James "Danger" Lascelles / Vocals (Backing)
- "Great" Dane Stefaniuk / Vocals (Backing)
- Koop "The Pope" Arponen III / Vocals (Backing)
- Hepa "Waara" Waara / Vocals (Backing)
- Tipe "One Wheel" Johnson / Vocals (Backing)
- Jani "Liimis" Liimatainen / Guitars (Acoustic) (Track 10), Vocals (Backing)
- Joakim Jokela / Whistling (Track 10)
- Ari Sievälä / Vocals (Backing)

About this release

Release date: February 22nd, 2013
Label: earMUSIC

Recorded August to October 2012 at 5 by 5 Studios, Helsinki.
Keyboards recorded at Wolfsschanze, Sweden.
Mixed at 5 by 5 Studios, Helsinki.
Mastered at Finnvox Studios.

Limited digibook edition contains two bonus tracks:
10. Fireborn (04:45)
11. Hunter (03:27)

Japanese edition (Victor Entertainment) contains two bonus tracks from limited edition and one exclusive bonus track:
9. Kill It with Fire (04:52)
11. Fireborn (04:45)
12. Hunter (03:31)

Limited numbered 2 LP gatefold vinyl edition contains one exclusive bonus track:
12. Old Man and the Sea (04:16)

Old Man and the Sea is also available as digital download single on some digital media stores.

Tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, 9, 11 & bonus track “Hunter” by Kupiainen
Tracks 7, 8 & bonus track “Kill it With Fire” by Johansson
Track 5 & bonus tracks “Fireborn” and “Old Man and the Sea” by Porra
Track 6 by Kotipelto, Liimatainen, Kupiainen
Track 10 by Liimatainen, Kotipelto

Thanks to diogenes for the addition and UMUR, DippoMagoo, diamondblack for the updates

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STRATOVARIUS NEMESIS reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

Warthur
Nemesis at first sounds like a fairly standard iteration of the Stratovarius formula, but pay attention to Jens Johannsson's keyboard playing - he gets somewhat more of a free rein this time to really run amok, throwing a wild card into the Stratovarius sound which brings a bit more progressive metal and neo-prog aspects into the proceedings than they usually display. The running time is well-chosen, providing enough space to let the compositions breathe without dragging on interminably. Set this one next to Iron Maiden's "Dance of the Dead" in the "Albums with horrible CGI cover art but are actually pretty decent" section.
UMUR
"Nemesis" is the 14th full-length studio album by Finnish power metal act Stratovarius. The album was released through earMUSIC in February 2013. Since the release of "Elysium (2011)", longtime member and drummer Jörg Michael has retired from the band (and the music business in general as far as I know) and has been replaced by Rolf Pilve.

Stratovarius was formed as far back as 1981 (under the Black Water monicker, which was changed to Stratovarius in 1983), and is widely considered one of the leading Euro power metal acts. Especially the mid- to late nineties and the early 00s albums and tours established the band´s reputation. Sadly main composer/guitarist Timo Tolkki´s struggles with bipolar disorder and his erratic behaviour because of the disease created a lot of turmoil within the band and in 2008 he left Stratovarius. The rest of the guys opted to continue though and brought in Matias Kupiainen. While Tolkki´s influence, songwriting and playing style were always going to be hard to replace, Kupiainen has seemingly lifted the burden with ease and both "Polaris (2009)" and "Elysium (2011)", have proven that Stratovarius are still a force to be reckoned with. Something that wasn´t as obvious on the last couple of releases where Tolkki participated.

The increase in quality trend continues on "Nemesis", which might even be a little better than it´s two direct predecessors. The songwriting is particularly strong on this one and I found myself humming along to most tracks on the album and even after only one listen, I remembered several tracks. So the memorability factor has been improved greatly on "Nemesis", which is something I´ve often critisized the band´s releases for lacking. Way too many of their albums feature unremarkable tracks and only a handful catchy and memorable songs. The power metal element has also been turned up a notch here and the traditional heavy metal element down. Not that the music on "Nemesis" is all out double pedal Euro power metal (those days are long gone), but there is a bit more bite, speed and neo-classical elements in the music that make this a more power metal sounding release.

The greatest thing about "Nemesis" is the performances though. These guys are on fire here. Timo Kotipelto delivers one of his most varied performances (I didn´t know he could hit anything but really high notes) and the band are incredibly tight. New drummer Rolf Pilve does a great job replacing Jörg Michael (and those shoes are hard to fill), guitarist Matias Kupiainen plays his riffs with bite and performs blazing solos as well as lead neo-classical tinged themes shared with keyboard player Jens Johannsson (who is allowed the occasional more experimental playing approach on this album). Bassist Lauri Porra is the glue (along with drummer Rolf Pilve) that ensures all elements work together.

The sound production is clear, powerful and features bite and provides the tracks with the possibility of sounding a little more aggressive when that is needed. So while the core musical style of Stratovarius hasn´t changed on "Nemesis" (this is still Euro power metal with generally high pitched vocals, epic choir vocals, neo-classical inspired keyboards/guitars and a pounding tight rythm section), it´s the details in the songwriting and the powerful sound production that set the album apart from the less interesting releases in the band´s discography. This is simply through and through a quality release and a 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.
Diogenes
The youth movement of melodic power metal pioneers Stratovarius continued in 2012, as longtime drummer Jorg Michael departed after a lengthy tour supporting the band’s Elysium LP. Enter Rolf Pilve behind the kit. With 3 of the 5 band members being replaced since the last instance of their “traditional” lineup in 2003, the Finns went back to work, promptly recording and releasing their 14th studio album. That album, Nemesis, immediately blew me away; it might just be the best effort of Stratovarius’ long and storied career.

What grabs you about Nemesis right away is how fresh, energetic, and modern it sounds, as the songwriting combination of guitarist Matias Kupianen and bassist Lauri Porra show no intention of revisiting the band’s past clichés. Kupianen’s guitar tone, in particular, has a nice bite to it that compliments Jens Johansson’s crystalline keyboard melodies quite well; the bridge section of lead single “Unbreakable” is a good example of this, reminding me of some of Symphony X’s more recent works without deviating too far from the album’s power metal roots. I’d even go as far as saying that this is their darkest album (at least in quite a while, maybe since Dreamspace), as tracks like “Castles in the Air” and “Out of the Fog” portray an epic mood closer to that of a post-apocalypse than your usual medieval fantasy land. The choirs are used especially well in this sense.

This being power metal, though, the thing you’re looking for is mostly likely still going to be catchy melodies, uplifting themes, and sing-along choruses, all of which Nemesis features in spades. “Abandon,” “Nemesis,” “Stand My Ground,” and bonus track “Fireborn” all carry a sense of freedom and invincibility that is bound to please any power metal fan. After blasting through a series of vocal chord injuries and albums that featured some painfully high singing, Timo Kotipelto’s once-unlimited upper register is all but gone, but he still delivers a strong and emotional performance behind the mic; Nemesis is not an album short on catchy vocal melodies, and the warmer timbre makes them all the more accessible. This culminates in possibly the most infectious song Stratovarius has ever written: everything about “Fantasy” is just sickeningly catchy, from the dancing keyboard melodies to the massive chorus. Stratovarius exploring darker realms on Nemesis while also writing their most uplifting material in a very long time proves that once again, there is no substitute for excellent songwriting.

So many years after releasing some of the most influential power metal material ever, Stratovarius is in the best shape they’ve ever been. Nemesis is an album that both makes a killer first impression and features the songwriting that will keep it playing in your library for quite a long time. Without a doubt, one of the best metal releases of 2013, and a sure treat for any power metal fan.

Members reviews

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Ratings only

  • Sisslith
  • cefr45
  • Krypinion
  • Nick & Simon
  • Anster
  • powermetal2000
  • StargazerSlave
  • DippoMagoo
  • Wilytank
  • 666sharon666
  • SevDawg
  • changowero96
  • ChaosAngel
  • diamondblack

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