Label: SPV/Steamhammer 2011
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom
First things first, this is a great limitied edition high-class digipak packaging with an additional CD with demo versions of all album tracks, exclusive 5 photocards set with holographic effect and everything. Very flashy!!! Secondly, what's YOUR honest and overall opinion about a band without a single original member??? Yeah, that's what I thought... it's just as insane as going ahead with a "Thin Lizzy" reunion w/o Lynott (where were they when Phil needed them?). Stratovarius is obviously the band, brand, hard work and determination of guitarist and ringleader Timo Tolkki. All those years spent working in obscurity since the early/mid eighties. So what if he f**ked up and decided to get rid of the old gang and replace them with a virtually unknown female vocalist? His band, choice(s), and mistake(s)!!!
...And just for the record, Tolkki isn't an old friend and I'm neither a huge fan of the band. "Visions" -their classic album and magnum opus, they'll probably wont do another masterpiece ever again. To be frank (nope, I'm still 'Urban'), these guys should never have continued making music under the 'Stratovarius' monicker (especially since we all know it's all about the $$$). Thirdly, nevermind the b.s. what about the actual music??? Good point there, I almost forgot about the music during my rant, huh? Low and behold, it you look past the misplaced monicker, "Elysium" is more than worthy of your attention as well as multiply listens. It's a huge step in the right direction and it's definitely the most appealing album that Stratovarius has released in many years. Fair enough, it's really not that difficult to proceed from previous lame attempts such as the self-titled 2005 album and "Polaris" in 2009. Nontheless, it's a nice and cozy little CD with plenty of fine moments. Just a little bit too soft to be proper "power metal", huh?
The fact that the band have toured with Helloween becomes immediately understandable as several tracks bears more than a little resemblance to those German kings of power metal. It's overall a rather mid-paced album and you can simply forget about finding many or any speedy double-bass drumming (galloping) tracks. It's a solid display of 'poppy', neo-classical, power metal and the work of keyboardist Jens Johansson is top notch as usual. He's even managed to compose a couple of not too shabby numbers in "The Games Never Ends" and "Move The Mountain". The track, "Infernal Maze", exactly like Yngwie Malmsteen in the very early nineties (think era "Eclipse" and "Fire & Ice") and the same goes with "Fairness Justified". Strangely enough, the work of ex-Malmsteen keyboardist Johansson (The Games Never Ends) sounds more like Helloween??? Final verdict: a very solid work by the former members of stratovarius?? It's all very mid-paced though... but still good.