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3.67 | 28 ratings | 7 reviews
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Album · 2011

Filed under Power Metal


1. Darkest Hours (4:11)
2. Under Flaming Skies (3:52)
3. Infernal Maze (5:33)
4. Fairness Justified (4:21)
5. The Game Never Ends (3:54)
6. Lifetime In A Moment (6:39)
7. Move The Mountain (5:34)
8. Event Horizon (4:24)
9. Elysium (18:07)

Total Time 56:35


- Timo Kotipelto / Vocals
- Matias Kupiainen / Guitars
- Jens Johansson / Keyboards
- Lauri Porra / Bass
- Jörg Michael / Drums

Guest musicians

- Perttu Vänskä / Orchestra Arrangements (Tracks 1, 2, 4 & 9), Orchestra Programming (Tracks 2, 4 & 9)
- Risto Kupiainen / Orchestra arrangements (Track 3), Orchestra programming (Tracks 1 & 3), Choir programming (Tracks 4 & 9), Keyboard Programming
- Arzka Sievälä / Vocals (Choirs)
- Jani Liimatainen / Vocals (Choirs)
- Aleksi Parviainen / Vocals (Choirs)
- Tipe Johnson / Vocals (Choirs)
- Anssi Stenberg / Vocals (Choirs)
- Hepa Waara / Vocals (Choirs)

About this release

Release date: January 12th, 2011
Label: Armoury Records

Elysium was released in Asia on 12th January 2011 and worldwide on the 14th January 2011.

The Japanese version includes one bonus track:
10. Castaway (04:40)

The Limited Edition has a bonus CD with demo versions of all the songs of the album.

The Collector’s Edition is signed by the band and contains the demos of the bonus CD of the limited edition as mp3 files. It also contains a bonus 7" with exclusive songs:
Side A: Last Shore
Side B: Hallowed

Tracks 5 & 7 by Johansson
Tracks 6 & 10 by Porra
Track 2 music by Kotipelto/Kupiainen, lyrics by Kotipelto
Tracks 3, 4 & 8 music by Kupiainen, lyrics by Kotipelto
Tracks 1 & 9 music by by Kupiainen, lyrics by Kotipleto/Kupiainen

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


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

You could probably construct some sort of psychological test based around people's reaction to Stratovarius albumns: they have a very particular sound which they are quite competent at reiterating from album to album, but somehow some albums really capture my imagination whilst others leave me feeling rather lukewarm, and sometimes the distinction relies on really quite minor things. For instance, whilst I really dug Elysium's followup Nemesis, Elysium itself I just couldn't get into - for want of a more specific criticism, it feels just a little bit too "clean" to me, a bit too tidy and orderly, and a bit too reliant on the usual Stratovarius formula. It's clearly competent stuff, but it doesn't push into the upper tier of their material for me.
Although Elysium is the thirteenth album to carry the name of long-running Finnish power metal act Stratovarius in reality what we have here is a major case of Trigger’s Broom, with lead vocalist Timo Kotipelto being the longest running band member, having joined in 1994 in time for the group’s fourth album, 1995’s Fourth Dimension. Whether you’re for or against such things is irrelevant, as Stratovarius serves up a solid dose of melodic power metal on Elysium.

Being my proper introduction to the band, I have to say that Elysium sets a really fine first impression. I have to admit that I was a little apprehensive about the album though. Although I’d never really properly checked them out before now I was well aware of the existence of Stratovarius for many years. More specifically I knew that their main writer was guitarist Timo Tolkki and that he parted ways with the band a couple of albums back, and losing your main writer is never a good thing. Secondly I’d seen that the couple of albums prior to Elysium, one with Tolkki and one without, hadn’t exactly been received with open arms, although the first post-Tolkki album, 2009’s Polaris, was admitted better received than Tolkki’s final work with them, the 2005 self-titled effort. Given these two things I was kind of expecting Elysium to be the work of a band well past their prime struggling to relive their glory days. That isn’t the case in the slightest. I don’t need to hear those not so well received last couple of albums to say with confidence that Stratovarius is most definitely back and they mean business.

While the crowning achievement here is the title track, an eighteen minute piece with three sections that takes the album into progressive metal territory, there is plenty of power metal goodness on offer. An early highlight is Under Flaming Skies, which I feel is the moment where Elysium really picks up because to be honest I’m not overly fond of the album’s opener Darkest Hours. I think it’s a patchy song. Fortunately from Under Flaming Skies onwards things maintain a higher level of quality, although Lifetime in a Moment doesn’t make best use of its 6:39 duration and is only saved in its early stages by Kotipelto’s stunning vocal delivery, allowing it time to pick up into quite an interesting piece. Aside from these couple of hiccups we’re dealing with some top notch power metal that has all the elements required to be great, and it is great, but I can’t help feeling that without those small issues we’d be instead listening to something exceptional. Other highlights of the album would be Event Horizon, a very neoclassical infused track, along with Move the Mountain.

I’m overall feeling very positive about Elysium and would easily recommend it to any power metal fan or to a metal fan in general for that matter. Based on this I’m looking forward to checking out the band’s back catalogue because by the sound of things I’ve been missing out. Having checked out the album Visions from 1997 before finalising this review, I can also safely say that Elysium, while not as good, sits with pride beside it.

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven, scored at 8.2/10)
"Elysium" is the 13th full-length studio album by Finnish power metal act Stratovarius. The album was released in January 2011 through Armoury Records. Stratovarius is one of the few top drawer Euro power metal acts out there that most people know. At least by name.

If you are familiar with the previous work by Stratovarius you won´t be in for many surprises on "Elysium". The 9 tracks on the 56:35 minutes long album, are driven by outstanding musicianship. Lead vocalist Timo Kotipelto has a very high pitched and distinct vocal style that is one of the trademarks of Stratovarius sound. He is an extremely skilled vocalist but also a bit of an aquired taste. The fast and neo-classical inspired solo work is shared by guitarist Matias Kupiainen and keyboard player Jens Johansson. The rythm section is hard hittin´ and precise. The album is well balanced between fast double pedalling Euro power metal tracks, heavier mid-paced tracks, a power ballad ("Move the Mountain") and to close the album Stratovarius have chosen to include the 18:07 minutes long epic title track.

So "Elysium" is basically Stratovarius by the numbers. The band sound more or less like they´ve always done. For better or worse. One thing I´ve always had a hard time appreciating about Stratovarius is how formulaic vers/chorus structured most of their tracks are and the fact that their heavy mid-paced tracks have a tendency to come off repetitive and slightly boring isn´t exactly a plus in my book either. When Stratovarius are great they are really great though and they are best when they just pound away IMO, which they thankfully do to a satisfactory level on "Elysium". I´d say a 3 - 3.5 star rating is warranted.
Comeback albums are a funny thing. Everyone gets hyped, hyped, hyped up about band X either releasing their first album in Y years or ceasing to suck for whatever reason. The album gets released, people fawn over it for a couple of weeks, and then, in most cases, they realize that it isn’t as good as they expected it to be. DARN! This is why you stay away from Blabbermouth, people!

Anyway, Stratovarius’ so-called comeback album Polaris followed more or less the same course. I was a victim, too. Hearing a band famous for playing melodic power metal, um…actually playing melodic power metal again after losing their main songwriter/guitarist was satisfying enough, but the energetic manner in which they did it was remarkable. Unfortunately, Polaris kind of lost its luster for me after a while, as half of the album was completely forgettable, with the other half being good but not a true return to glory. The band was written off as “nothing without Timo Tolkki”. This is why I was so surprised to hear Elysium, and just how damn good it is. Stratovarius have finally rediscovered themselves, and the result is what I consider to be the power metal album of the year so far.

First of all, let it be known that this is not “Episode II” or “Visions II” or whatever you may have been hoping for. It has become abundantly clear that Tolkki was the mastermind behind most of the 90s Stratovarius catalog, and if you want to hear him continue to recycle riffs and play the same solos over and over again, go listen to Symfonia. Make no mistake, the band name is still Stratovarius, Timo Kotipelto is still on vocals, and they are still playing power metal, but Elysium is an entirely different beast.

Opener Darkest Hours should grab your attention immediately. Stratovarius album openers are usually catchy, inspiring, and really memorable. Check, check, and check-a-rooni. Kotipelto belts out the chorus with so much feeling that I can’t help but smile:

“When all my hope is gone, I’m waiting for the dawn, I raise my head and find my own way out of the dark. I’ve left my past behind, I’m reaching for the light, I’m not afraid to live my life-I’ll take what is mine. I’ll make my way through the darkest hours of my days!”

Cliché? You betcha. But it works, because the song is so simple and yet well-written. And let me tell you, that’s going to be a recurring theme throughout Elysium.

Let’s talk more about the songwriting, since that’s what makes Elysium what it is. With Tolkki out and the current lineup using Polaris as something to build on, Stratovarius wrote this album as a band. Yep, with more than one songwriter. How about that? And look, the material is varied and interesting! Wow! You have Move the Mountain, an emotional ballad that also happens to be the first Stratovarius ballad in a while that doesn’t completely suck. Fariness Justified is a slower song that builds up in the verse to an epic chorus. And fear not, because there is plenty of faster power metal goodness here to go around. Event Horizon is the one that most closely resembles the band’s older material, with the impeccable Jorg Michael (fresh off a bout with cancer) laying down the double bass like it’s 1996 and Jens Johannson sprinkling his patented keyboard magic overhead. The Game Never Ends, Under Flaming Skies, and Infernal Maze round up the faster songs, with more keyboard-guitar duels and catchy choruses. If a problem on Polaris was that there weren’t enough fast songs, it’s been fixed on Elysium; there’s plenty of shredding that will please fans of the band.

Still, as solid as the first 8 songs are, the best part of Elysium is, without a doubt, the title track. An 18-minute epic, it’s divided into three suites, and proves that new guitarist Matias Kupiainen has more than earned his soup as Tolkki’s replacement. He wrote it, and man, can he play it. Simply put, there is no way that Tolkki can write a song like this. None. It is an emotional roller coaster, with Kotipelto putting forth his best effort in a long time. And the best part is, none of the 18 minutes are wasted. It isn’t some gigantic guitar solo or 7 minutes of music with 11 minutes of ambience. Nope. It’s the best song Stratovarius has written this side of the new millennium, bar none, and it might be worth a star and a half on its own. It’s that good!

I really can’t stress enough how magical Elysium is. Is it the best power metal album EVER? No, of course not. But it shows the rebirth of a once-great name, from a one-man project to a fully-fledged BAND. Even in their heyday, Stratovarius were never this cohesive. Elysium not only gives us an excellent album to listen to now, but something to look forward to in the future; Stratovarius is alive and well, perhaps more so than it’s ever been.

"Elysium" shows the world that Stratovarius' life after Timo Tolkki still goes on and honestly, I'm quite surprised to see an improving quality from the last album where right now, they seem to have found a firm stepping stone to go back in form to revive their glorious era. Evidently, the band is still applying the same variation formula as in "Polaris" which colored the album with many different nuances, from their power metal signature to heavy ballads, from melodic metal to lengthy progressive-wrapped epic. Hats off to the upward momentum of the newly joined member, Matias Kupiainen, young in age but the capability of filling the songwriting shoe of Tolkki is started to bloom. Together with Kotipelto, both of them basically wrote the great parts of "Elysium".

"Darkest Hours" started the race with a bloodpumping heavy metal rhythm that eventually soared high with a splendid chorus. A great track to begin as the emotion is stirred smoothly before they blasted with a real power metal treat in "Under Flaming Skies". The darkened riffs in a typical Euro power metal stance brought back the classic style and sounded very fresh at the same time. "The Game Never Ends" isn't different, the incinerating riffage slipped with a tense interlude is just stunning. "Infernal Maze" is their second single, good attempt but shame that it's out of the league compared to the other great tracks. Unfortunately, the great moments were ruined by several fillers such as "Fairness Justified", "Move The Mountain", and the worst track, "LIfetime In A Moment". Come to think of it, the bad part of this album is the slower tempo songs. If only they put those aside and bravely charged forward with uptempo power metal in the veins of "Dreamspace" or "Episode" era, this album could have been way bigger than this. Check out the deadly duel of Kupiainen / Johansson at "Event Horizon", like a thunderbolt, it struck down from the sky and wreck everything in sight, a magnificent combo.

I should say, let's just consider "Polaris" a teaser to the real rebirth of Finland's power metal giant, Stratovarius, in "Elysium". The number thirteen apparently isn't a bad omen for them, instead this 13th release is a convincing effort to push the train back to the rail. However, I still see quite a large room to improve in the songwriting section. Based on the weak tracks I've seen, it might be good for Johansson and Porra to fall back and let Kotipelto and Kupiainen focuses on arranging songs. To sum up, this is better than the previous, but still climbing slowly to reach the peak again.
Stratovarius is iconic within the power metal scene. Having released their first album, Fright Night, 22 years ago, they have been a near-constant presence releasing 13 studio albums, a live album and no less than five (5) compliations in that time. Founding guitarist Timo Tolkki left in 2008 after a good amount of dramatic press. He was replaced by Matias Kupiainen (also, longtime bassist Jari Kainulainen was replaced by Lauri Porra) and the band has now released its second album with the revamped lineup―with vocalist Timo Kotipelto, keyboardist Jens Johansson and drummer Jorg Michael still filling rest of the spots―called Elysium.

While not sounding exactly like they did on Episode or Destiny, Stratovarius sticks to the tried and true power metal formula they’ve been championing for all these many years. While Kupiainen has a different feel and delivery than that of Tolkki, the music retains the melodic, epic nature the band is known for. If anything, they’ve foregone some of the more fast-paced moments in favor of a little more groove and more mid-paced, headbanging tempos. Johansson’s keyboards carry a good portion of the melodic weight and Kotipelto further cements his reputation as one of the premier vocalists in the scene ― despite the fact that the higher he climbs, the more grating he tends to be come…but that’s just a taste thing. Regardless of the talent on board, its the songs that matter and, ultimately, Elysium delivers.

Opening track “Darkest Hours” is a driving, energetic number with a strong chorus and nice keyboard layering. The lyrics get a little predictable (“I’ve left the past behind, I’m reaching for the light”) but they work in the context of what they’re doing. “Fairness Justified” starts off somber and airy before adding the obligatory “heavy power ballad” layers, complete with an epic chorus. Classic Stratovarius comes roaring back to life on “Event Horizon” which is chock full of neo-classical speed and shredding. This one has tons of double-kick drumming and a soaring chorus. Johansson and Kupiainen also have some cool interplay. “The Game Never Ends” is another strong, driving number with more incredibly nimble playing from Kupiainen. Of course, any self-respecting power metal band has to deliver the 18-minute epic at some point of their careers, and here, Stratovarius does so with the closing title track. Deftly blending many differing elements of the Strato-sound, it’s grandiose and diverse, loaded down with more good melodies and impressive playing but it gets a little exhausting toward the end.

This was the first Stratovarius I had heard front to back since 1998′s Destiny and while I am still not totally sold on Kotipelto’s voice, I was reminded of what a formidable unit this band is. I don’t see any reasons why any Strato-fan wouldn’t eat it up.
Highly addictive modern power metal album with progressive flavour

Elysium is the newest 13th studio album by Finnish power metal band Stratovarius. And that's the first nice surprise of the year for me! The album contains really positive mood that inspires. And this positive mood is combined with precise musicianship and classic power metal sound. All the songs are in typical anthem-like sound. The songwriting is profound and full of fresh and meaningful ideas.

Elysium is quite close to progressive metal genre, instead of pure power metal. The flirtation between the genres is charming and well-accomplished. There aren't weak songs and the overall quality is much constant. The musicianship is great and the vocals by Timo Kotipelto are highly impressive and lovable. The next strong section of the album are the lyrics (especially in the homonymous song Elysium).

The album is very listenable and highly addictive to all who love the genre. I can listen to it over and over again without getting tired. The order of the songs is appropriate. The last three-suite composition is the biggest highlight within the album. It absolutely carries the tradition of progressive rock tendencies in terms of composition structure. There are constantly repeating motifs and themes all over the composition, which reveal musical mature of the band members. Magnificent... The album begins and concludes before one realizes it!

I can't give more because of the lack of phenomenal moments (except in homonymous composition Elysium), but solid 4 stars are well deserved! Highly recommended!

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