Finnish Power Metal legends Stratovarius have released their fourteenth studio album, and arguably their heaviest album to date, Nemesis. Statovarius can be easily categorized on the “A-List” of Power Metal bands, having been around since the late 1980s and releasing such classic songs as “Black Diamond”, “Hunting High and Low”, and more recently “Under Flaming Skies.” These guys are true Metal geniuses, successfully blending precision harmonies with warm melodies to create a bold and infectious sound.
Guitarist Matias Kupiainen is once again the leader of this album, as he was with their 2011 release Elysium. Kupiainen is not only the main songwriter, but also the album's producer. Since joining the band in 2009, replacing long time guitarist Timo Tolkki, Kupiainen’s influence has been overwhelming and led Stratovarius from becoming an average Power Metal band, to a great one.
Although the signature sound of Startovarius is still very well intact, there is no question that Nemesis is clearly much heavier than Elysium. The opening track “Abandon” is a forceful introduction, showing off the maturity and growth of the band. Another aggressive track, “Stand My Ground”, even goes so far as to feature some uncharacteristic Thrash-like guitar riffs from Kupiainen.
Rest assured, the core Stratovarius fan base will have no problem recognizing the signature polished melodies, which are in abundance on Nemesis. The album’s first single “Unbreakable”, is a very melodic traditional Stratovarius hit with a soft piano intro and memorable chorus line. Another track that fall into this formula is “Castles In The Air” that includes a driving guitar riff and hearty keyboards. Then there is the ABBA-esque “Fantasy,” which is reminiscent of a catchy Pop song.
The only ballad on the album is the six-minute epic and emotional tale “If The Story Is Over.” Timo Kotipelto proves to be one of the premier vocalists in the business not only for this song, but for the entire album as well. Kotipelto reportedly sequestered himself for three weeks in a cottage on the Finnish countryside to record the vocals for Nemesis. There is no question he put an elaborate amount of heart, energy, and soul into the vocals. Kotipelto was quoted saying this regarding the recording of Nemesis, “Making the album this time was easier because we gave it as much time as it needed. We have worked our asses off to make this and we hope the fans will like it."
As stated in a previous review of the band; what sets Stratovarius apart from their contemporaries is their ability to compose and perform some of the best melodies in the business. They can put any song together and make it seemingly flawless. This criteria is always evident in the products that Stratovarius produces. A clean, polished, and well-mixed production is a certain outcome. Nemesis is another glorious masterpiece in Stratovarius’ illustrious career as they get better and better with age.
Official Stratovarius Website
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