Label: EAR Music
Review by Kimmo Toivonen
Stratovarius. Well they have been around since the dark ages, haven’t they? The band has gone through several line-up changes, weird publicity stunts but most importantly, they’ve released a lot of good albums and played thousands of gigs. This 3-CD box contains their most popular songs throughout the years. One of the CD’s is a live one, ”Live At Wacken 2015”.
My personal relationship with Stratovarius hasn’t been a particularly stable. When I first heard their material back in the eighties, I thought they sounded like a poor man’s Helloween. I liked their late nineties’ albums such as ”Visions” and ”Infinite” a lot, but wasn’t too fond of the albums that followed. The self-titled 2005 album was definitely the band’s low point.
When main songwriter Timo Tolkki broke up the band and eventually handed out the rights to the name to the rest of the guys, the band went through a re-birth of sorts. ”Polaris”, the first album from the ”new” Stratovarius was a bit of departure from the original sound, but with the later albums the band has fine-tuned their style towards the melodic and catchy sound they’re known for.
The album contains one brand new song (and rather excellent) ”Until The End Of Days” and 26 more or less classic Strato-tracks. The latter-day tracks sit nicely along the older hits. The oldest songs such as ”Break The Ice” show why it took a few years for the band to breakthrough, they’re basically rather ”meat’n potatoes metal”. As for the rest, the band's Melodic Metal gems like "Eagleheart" "Black Diamond" or "Hunting High And Low" still sound very good.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable compilation, and at least for me it has somewhat renewed my interest in the band. I think I’ll check out the band’s latest few albums again - they haven’t gotten the required attention from me.