STRATOVARIUS

Power Metal • Finland
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Stratovarius is a power metal band from Finland. They became popular in the '90s, and throughout their career have inspired upcoming power metal bands with their baroque arranged keyboard solos & Ritchie Blackmore-like guitar portions.

Stratovarius was founded in Finland in 1981 under the name Black Water. They went through a number of personnel and musical changes before the band found its own voice. The founding members were Tuomo Lassila, Staffan Stråhlman and John Vihervä. In 1983, the name was changed to Stratovarius (a portmanteau of Stratocaster and Stradivarius), an idea of Stråhlman's. By 1984, Timo Tolkki entered the band, replacing Stråhlman in the guitar. He took up the vocal duties as well. Tolkki became the driving force and mastermind of the band assuming almost complete control of the song writing. He brought along not only strong rock influences but also a neo-classical tinge. The band released a demo to
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STRATOVARIUS Discography

STRATOVARIUS albums / top albums

STRATOVARIUS Fright Night album cover 3.10 | 22 ratings
Fright Night
Power Metal 1989
STRATOVARIUS II album cover 2.64 | 22 ratings
II
Power Metal 1992
STRATOVARIUS Dreamspace album cover 3.39 | 18 ratings
Dreamspace
Power Metal 1994
STRATOVARIUS Fourth Dimension album cover 3.28 | 21 ratings
Fourth Dimension
Power Metal 1995
STRATOVARIUS Episode album cover 3.66 | 35 ratings
Episode
Power Metal 1996
STRATOVARIUS Visions album cover 4.11 | 40 ratings
Visions
Power Metal 1997
STRATOVARIUS Destiny album cover 3.77 | 30 ratings
Destiny
Power Metal 1998
STRATOVARIUS Infinite album cover 3.88 | 31 ratings
Infinite
Power Metal 2000
STRATOVARIUS Elements Part 1 album cover 3.63 | 25 ratings
Elements Part 1
Power Metal 2003
STRATOVARIUS Elements Part 2 album cover 3.07 | 23 ratings
Elements Part 2
Power Metal 2003
STRATOVARIUS Stratovarius album cover 2.68 | 17 ratings
Stratovarius
Power Metal 2005
STRATOVARIUS Polaris album cover 2.95 | 19 ratings
Polaris
Power Metal 2009
STRATOVARIUS Elysium album cover 3.67 | 26 ratings
Elysium
Power Metal 2011
STRATOVARIUS Nemesis album cover 4.20 | 18 ratings
Nemesis
Power Metal 2013
STRATOVARIUS Eternal album cover 4.12 | 8 ratings
Eternal
Power Metal 2015

STRATOVARIUS EPs & splits

STRATOVARIUS Darkest Hours album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Darkest Hours
Power Metal 2010
STRATOVARIUS Unbreakable album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Unbreakable
Power Metal 2013

STRATOVARIUS live albums

STRATOVARIUS Visions Of Europe - Live! album cover 3.25 | 4 ratings
Visions Of Europe - Live!
Power Metal 1998
STRATOVARIUS Under Flaming Winter Skies album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Under Flaming Winter Skies
Power Metal 2012

STRATOVARIUS demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

STRATOVARIUS Demo album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Demo
Power Metal 1987
STRATOVARIUS Polaris + Polaris Live album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Polaris + Polaris Live
Power Metal 2010

STRATOVARIUS re-issues & compilations

STRATOVARIUS The Past And Now album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Past And Now
Power Metal 1998
STRATOVARIUS The Chosen Ones album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
The Chosen Ones
Power Metal 1999
STRATOVARIUS 14 Diamonds: Best Of album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
14 Diamonds: Best Of
Power Metal 2000
STRATOVARIUS Intermission album cover 3.46 | 4 ratings
Intermission
Power Metal 2001
STRATOVARIUS Black Diamond: The Anthology album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Black Diamond: The Anthology
Power Metal 2006

STRATOVARIUS singles (16)

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Future Shock
Power Metal 1988
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Black Night
Power Metal 1989
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Break The Ice
Power Metal 1992
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Wings Of Tomorrow
Power Metal 1995
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0.00 | 0 ratings
Father Time
Power Metal 1996
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0.00 | 0 ratings
Will The Sun Rise?
Power Metal 1996
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0.00 | 0 ratings
Black Diamond
Power Metal 1997
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The Kiss Of Judas
Power Metal 1997
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3.50 | 1 ratings
S.O.S.
Power Metal 1998
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3.50 | 1 ratings
Hunting High And Low
Power Metal 2000
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0.00 | 0 ratings
It's A Mystery
Power Metal 2000
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2.50 | 1 ratings
A Million Light Years Away
Power Metal 2000
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0.00 | 0 ratings
Eagleheart
Power Metal 2002
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I Walk To My Own Song
Power Metal 2003
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Maniac Dance
Power Metal 2005
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Deep Unknown
Power Metal 2009

STRATOVARIUS movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

.. Album Cover
2.50 | 1 ratings
Infinite Visions
Power Metal 2000
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4.50 | 1 ratings
Under Flaming Winter Skies - Live in Tampere
Power Metal 2012

STRATOVARIUS Reviews

STRATOVARIUS Destiny

Album · 1998 · Power Metal
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Warthur
Coming off the back of Visions - my personal favourite Stratovarius album, and a strong candidate for the best of their career - Destiny had a lot to live up to, and whilst it doesn't exceed the standards of its predecessor I think it's another extremely solid release from the band. As is often the case with Stratovarius, the power metal cheese factor is through the roof, but with their mild progressive flair here and there they're able to hook me to an extent which evades many of their competitors in the same subgenre. Though much of the album is business as usual, the opening track is a bit more of a departure, an epic with some truly eerie moments that surely earns a place in any "best of" Stratovarius collection worthy of the name.

STRATOVARIUS Intermission

Boxset / Compilation · 2001 · Power Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
Intermission is a mish-mash compilation album by the Finnish Power Metal band Stratovarius from 2001. It was released as a stopgap between their commercially successful Infinite album from 2000 and their ambitious and slightly Prog Metal double album series Elements Parts 1 & 2 from 2003.

Its got linear notes from the band about the release and a very well designed cover art referencing previous albums (kind of like Pink Floyd’s Echos compilation does).

The album opens up with four brand new songs, first of which is the slightly power ballad style ‘Will My Soul Ever Rest In Peace?’ Its nice solid melodic Hard Rock stuff. Next comes ‘Falling Into Fantasy’ which starts off with a shimmering Empire-era Queensryche style vibe. Think ‘Della Brown.’ It sounds like the sort of stuff the band were doing on the popular Destiny album. Speaking of Queensryche the chorus is quite reminiscent of ‘Jet City Woman’ too actually. The song livens up further with a nice energetic guitar solo and a fun drum pattern underneath with a very nice tom fill at the end of the solo. At the start you thought it was just another ballad (Statovarius do a lot of ’em) but really it turned out to be one of the best songs they do in this particular direction, if a little derivative of Degarmo and company (for me that’s a good thing really).

That’s followed up by the traditionally power metal track ‘The Curtains Are Falling,’ a speedy double-kicks-a-flailin’ headbanger with a catchy chorus and memorable neoclassical keyboards. Its got a lot of energy and probably would have been the smarter choice to open the album with, I think. Probably would’ve worked better going from most to least energetic, but hey, its sequenced how its sequenced folks, I don’t make the rules.

Finally there’s a track called ‘Requiem’ which is essentially just a typical instrumental intro or outro. The sort thing most people will skip after the first few listens. A slow, keyboard driven atmospheric build up with no Heavy Metal payoff.

That’s it for the brand new specially written for this songs. The rest are gathered from mixed sources during their classic period. There’s two demos ‘Neon Light Child’ and ‘Freedom’ both of which are OK but forgettable (just the same as the final versions but with less polished production really). Then two live tracks, ‘Hunting High & Low’ (their very fun hit single) and ‘I Surrender’ (which is actually a Rainbow cover, and very fun, if a bit out of place), which are nice but kind of pointless on a compilation as opposed to a proper full-length live album. There’s two studio cover songs; ‘Bloodstone’ originally by Judas Priest (which they nail) and ‘Kill The King’ originally by Rainbow again (which has been done better by other bands, but its decent if you aren’t over-familiar with it).

The majority of the rest is all the bonus tracks from deluxe editions of the last few albums etc. ‘Keep The Flame’ is a very somber and emotional piano ballad. ‘Dream With Me’ is a power ballad that gets very jaunty towards the end when the solo kicks in. Then there’s another power ballad called ‘What Can I Say?’ which is slightly similar to track one, but with a bit more bite to it. OK yes, sensing a theme here? There are a lot of ballads on here. Its not all ballads though…

‘Its A Mystery’ is a very strong more commercial Power Metal tune in the vein of ‘Hunting High & Low’ which sounds like it would’ve fit perfectly on Infinite and probably would’ve made a great single if they’d released it that way. Its one of the best songs on this compilation. ‘Why Are We Here?’ the bonus track from Infinite is similarly just another really strong track from them in their commercial direction, and also baffling that it wasn’t a big single either. ‘Cold Winter Nights’ is typical perfect up-tempo Stratovarius, with that sort of Judas Priest’s Electric Eye vibe only with more keyboards and melody. Its also one of the best songs here and a nice surprise if it wasn’t on your version of Destiny already. ‘When The Night Turns To Day’ is a stomping mid pace track with a whiff of Queensryche’s Empire about it, just like the new track mentioned above. It would also have fit best on Destiny (even though it was initially from as far back as Episode, if you can believe that).

As you can imagine, Intermission is just a jumble of odds and ends with no particular theme or flow or consistency. Its not a must-have release or anything. Hey, if you like ’em doing ballads and covers you’re quids-in. If you want ’em doing more of a Speed Metal thing there’s not so much of that on here though, so maybe don’t start here if you are new, pick up one of the records in their glory run from Episode to Elements Part 2 instead.

If you like the band already though, and just want a cheap, easy and quick way to get the bonus tracks and b-sides in one place then this is great for that purpose, and hey there’s four solid new songs too to flesh it out. Nothing life changing, but worth a look if you’ve ran out of other Stratovarius products to check out from this era.

STRATOVARIUS Episode

Album · 1996 · Power Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
This is where things just start to go right for Finnish Power Metal legends Stratovarius. Some bands just take a while to really get it right. They formed all the way back in 1984 and gradually mutated with experience and line-up changes from being a solid but forgettable underground Heavy Metal band that didn’t even tour to one of the world’s premier Power Metal bands. Their first three albums were respectable efforts with main guitarist Timo Tolkki on vocals and stylistically lacking much of the melodic Euro flavour or symphonic pomp of their more famous material. Their fourth album saw them add a new lead vocalist in the iconic Timo Kotipelto and start gearing up to become the band they always had the potential to be.

In 1996 the band exploded in terms of quality, memorability, confidence and power. They released the Episode album, their fifth studio long-player, and the first to feature the ‘classic line up’ with the aforementioned Kotipelto and Tolkki (and not forgetting bassist Jari Kainulainen) now joined by the new additions of German Jörg Michael (of Rage fame!) on drums and Swedish Jens Johannson (of Yngwie Malmsteen fame!) on keyboards. This line-up just all compliment each other’s styles really well and bring the best out of each other.

The thundering double kicks of Jörg perfectly suit Tolkki’s Priest-meets-Scorpions-meets-early-Queensryche style riffs. The guitar and keyboard trade-off solos between Tolkki and Johannson are some of the best in the genre and take what Blackmore and Lord were doing in the ’70s and both modernize and metalize it. Kotipelto’s soaring vocals are finely accentuated by background keys from Johannson and are given the room to breathe by the long ringing chords that Tolkki drops over that perfectly-synced rhythm section. This is perfect musical harmony exemplified.

The album contains some of the band’s absolute finest work, such as ‘Father Time,’ ‘Tommorow,’ ‘Will The Sun Rise?’ ‘Speed Of Light’ and the furious instrumental ‘Stratosphere.’ How many bands has this stuff influenced over the years?! You can hear it absolutely dripping down through history to bands like Sonata Arctica and Dragonforce and so, so many others. Hell, even the ballad is great. Sometime I get a bit sick of Power Metal bands doing ballads but ‘Forever’ on this album is absolutely beautiful, so simple and sweetly and perfect.

There’s a bit of variety too, on the slow and pounding numbers like the ominous and threatening sounding ‘Uncertainty’ which sounds like if someone took Metallica’s ‘Wherever I May Roam’ and Queensryche’s ‘Roads To Madness’ and mixed them together. There’s the eastern tinged ‘Babylon’ and the almost eight minute long multi-part, multi-tempo, mutli-mood ‘Night Time Eclipse’ which would foreshadow the band’s slow transition into progressive territories. ‘Season Of Change’ sees the band work with a full orchestra and gives them a symphonic feel similar to Italy’s Rhapsody.

Overall this album was a real triumph for the band, it is a diverse and entertaining journey of an album full of depth and character and indeed some absolutely off the chain virtuosic (yet perfectly balanced) musicianship. It was the beginning of a solid run of really great records with the so called classic line-up and a record that no fan of either the band nor the genre should overlook. Visions might be the first Stratovarius album new fans should check out, but Episode should swiftly follow!

STRATOVARIUS II

Album · 1992 · Power Metal
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martindavey87
After a fairly lackluster debut, Stratovarius are back!... with another fairly lackluster album.

Now, I like Stratovarius. I really, really like Stratovarius! They're a great band with some very catchy and memorable songs. But that doesn't really show in these early releases. Two major factors that are missing from these early days are prominent keyboards, which serve on 'Twilight Time' as nothing more than the odd sound effect or embellishment here and there, and powerhouse vocalist Timo Kotipelto. Because before that, we have guitarist, songwriter and band leader Timo Tolkki singing! And while he's alright, his voice does get a little grating after a while.

There are a couple of notable moments however. Opening track 'Break the Ice' is fairly good, and tracks like 'The Hands of Time' and 'The Hills Have Eyes' are tolerable, if you can see past the cheesy power metal melodies that they're built around. The music is fast and furious, with some very tight playing and nice, shred guitar solos, but overall, these songs are mostly forgettable, especially when compared to the bands later material.

'Twilight Time' has a few things going for it that stop it from getting a one-star rating, but it’s really best to leave this to the die-hard fans.

STRATOVARIUS Fright Night

Album · 1989 · Power Metal
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martindavey87
Like so many other early power metal bands from the 80's, it took Stratovarius a few attempts to truly find their sound, leaving this, their debut, as nothing more than a by-the-numbers speed metal album.

Credit where credit's due, band leader Timo Tolkki shows some incredible skill on the guitar with his fast-paced neoclassical runs and galloping riffs, and to handle the lead vocals on top of that is quite impressive. Sadly, the song-writing itself isn't really anything inspiring and the vocals certainly aren't kind to the ears either. A+ for effort though! I can barely play and sing 'Wonderwall' without messing up!

Lacking the keyboard-driven compositions of later releases, 'Fright Night' is really "just there". It's nothing to shout home about, and really doesn't feel like the same Stratovarius that would one day go on to conquer the genre. Still, it's a good effort that shows a band in their early stages who have yet to fully develop their own style.

Highlights include 'Future Shock', 'Witch Hunt' and 'False Messiah', although I wouldn't be upset if these were excluded from future compilations, all are about as memorable as the album itself.

STRATOVARIUS Movies Reviews

STRATOVARIUS Under Flaming Winter Skies - Live in Tampere

Movie · 2012 · Power Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
Under Flaming Winter Skies, Live In Tampere is the first official concert Blu-Ray by the legendary Finnish Power Metal band Stratovarius. It was filmed in Tampere, Finland on the Jörg Michael farewell tour and as such the crowd interaction is in Finnish (with English subtitles) and Jörg gives the crowd a farewell speech. In part, the setlist is built around him, such as the inclusion of `Speed Of Light’ because it was the first song he ever played with the band… although to be fair they’d have probably played that anyway. The main feature lasts around 1hr 52mins and contains 22 tracks, which works out as 17 songs when you discount the intro, guitar solo, bass solo, keyboard solo and speech. There’s a Deep Purple (`Burn’) and The Who (`Behind Blue Eyes’) cover in there, as well as all the fan favourites you’d expect like `Eagleheart’ `Kiss Of Judas’ `Hunting High And Low’ `Paradise’ `Father Time’ `Black Diamond’ etc

The picture is absolutely fantastic, clear and sharp. Its helped a lot by a great but subtle stage show with intelligent use of lighting, and not too much dry ice as well as a tasteful and sensible editing job that is fast and contains enough movement to keep your interest but is slow and still enough so that you can appreciate the actual musicianship (of each member, as none are overlooked.)

The sound is even better with an absolutely crystal clear mix in which you can hear every stoke of every drum, each key get pressed (without the keys being too loud and overpowering the Metal) and every note the bass plays. The vocals are impressive and the crowd noise doesn’t overpower them, even though they sing almost every word and best of all, it all actually seems to be live and not obviously mimed or overdubbed (or indeed out-of-sync). In general, its just one of the best concert audio mixes that I’ve heard so far and very solid visually as well.

The biggest thing in this concert’s favour however is the sheer enthusiasm of the performance; the band are so into it and absolutely deliver on all levels. They are very interactive with the crowd, they interact with each other, Jörg twists and throws his sticks around, the guitars and mic stands are enthusiastically moved around and generally the band just look like they love being there.

In terms of extras; the booklet has a lot of high-quality photos and a little written interview with Jörg. The disc has a bonus 5.1 mix of the track `Elysium’ and there is a 29 minute documentary called `Rewinding From The Past To 2012.’ In terms of Blu-Ray Statistics; the screen format is 1080i/29,97/16:9(1,78:1) and the audio format is DTS HD MA 2.0/5.1 (although the documentary is only available in stereo), the disc format is BD-50 and the region code is: A/B/C.

Overall; this is an excellent, well made and masterfully performed concert Blu-Ray and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who’s into this sort of thing.

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