The Finnish masters of Power Metal are back with a beautiful album made to be eternal.
It is unfair to say that Stratovarius are back because, actually, they are that kind of band that don’t let their fans waiting for too long. But, yeah, on September 11, date which many bands picked to release new albums too, Eternal came to light and for the fans of Power Metal, Speed Metal, Symphonic Metal and Finnish bands, this is definitely one of the best releases of the year.
So, here are some interesting facts about Eternal: the whole process, from the writing to the release, took the band one year; the producer of the album was, once again, the guitarist Matias Kupiainen, who has been involved with the production process of Stratovarius’ releases since joining the band in 2008; all the lyrics were written by Timo Kotipelto and Jani Liimatainen (Cain’s Offering, ex-Sonata Arctica), except Man in the Mirror and Fire in your Eyes, written by keyboardist Jens Johansson; Liimatainen also co-composed along with Kotipelto three tracks for this album: Shine in the Dark, In My Line of Work and Few Are Those; the cover artwork, designed by the Hungarian artist Gyula Havancsák, who previously worked with the band in the albums Polaris (2009), Elysium (2011) and Nemesis (2013), was ready more than a year ago and brings together elements and references from the previous artworks; after several suggestions and ideas, the title of the album, Eternal, was chosen by the band in a Facebook chat session. You can check these and other cool facts and highlights of the band on this album on this short documentary from inside the studio, released by earMusic.
In my opinion and in the opinion of several reviews I’ve read recently, Stratovarius are sounding better than ever in Eternal, bringing again all that old school vibe of the Power/Speed Metal they helped to develop in the early 90’s. The best example of this is the first track, My Eternal Dream (check the beautiful official video clip below) that has a lot of energy thanks to the intense keyboards, the heavy guitars and fast drums and bass, not to mention Kotipelto is also singing beautifully. It also has an amazing guitar solo by Kupiainen like the old ones we used to hear on the early years of the band. Shine in the Dark is another great song, sounding slightly heavier, and it was the first presented to the fans with a lyric video and, believe me, the lyrics will stick to your mind for days (“I am what you made of me / Your blood is my blood / And your heart is my heart / We are what we leave behind / An eternal stream / You flow through me / I fear no more though you’re gone / I know we’ll meet again / I know you’re there still somewhere / You are waiting”). Rise Above It brings again the Speed Metal style and definitely sounds like something you have heard before, it is intense like “Forever Free”, and one could easily think it has been released on their 1997 album Visions.
The first tunes of Lost Without a Trace may trick you and make you think there is a ballad coming, but take another listen at it and you will find a more modern and progressive touch. Rolf Pilve’s performance on drums in this song is great, very paced. This is the second album recorded by Pilve on drums and it seems like he has been in the band forever. Feeding the Fire has a great start with keyboards, like many of Stratovarius’ classics, and its vibe grows stronger along the music. I imagine this song played live as one of the highest points of the concert – I hope they add it to their upcoming tour setlists. In My Line of Work is a great example on how the band is working great together; it brings the perfect balance of vocals and all the instruments and sounds more modern than the previous songs of the album, just like the following one, Man in the Mirror, showing that Power Metal can sound classic and yet bring new elements.
Few Are Those has several levels of intensity: it starts with a nice keyboard intro, then gets rhythm with the addition of bass and drums and reaches its peak with powerful guitar riffs. Once again, Kotipelto’s performance is great and full of feeling. The ballad Fire in Your Eyes brings a moment of calm after so many stormy songs. It starts (and ends) in a beautiful way with Kotipelto’s voice and a piano, and gains force later with an outstanding work by Pilve and Kupiainen.
Eternal comes to its end with a nearly-12-minute epic song, The Lost Saga. This is, undoubtedly, the highlight of the album, sounding intense and progressive like many other of the band’s hits, like “Infinity”, for example. It has choirs, orchestrations, great extended solos, amazing beats, unexpected (and yet perfect) change of rhythms, in summary, a song that has everything to thrill even the most coldhearted fan.
In very few words, after 10 songs and 54 minutes Eternal makes you ask for more. Stratovarius definitely have a very consistent line-up, still developing great ideas and bringing to the 2000’s the same kind of songs that made them huge more than 20 years ago. Soon their world tour starts, so keep an eye on their Facebook page for more updates. May all Stratovarius’ songs be eternal!
Best moments of the album: ALL OF THEM!!!
Worst moments of the album: Duuuh! None, of course!
Released in 2015 earMusic
1. My Eternal Dream 6:04
2. Shine in the Dark 5:05
3. Rise Above It 4:26
4. Lost Without a Trace 5:28
5. Feeding the Fire 4:12
6. In My Line of Work 4:18
7. Man in the Mirror 4:43
8. Few Are Those 4:11
9. Fire in Your Eyes 4:15
10. The Lost Saga 11:39
Timo Kotipelto – vocals
Matias Kupiainen – guitars
Lauri Porra – bass
Jens Johansson – keyboards
Rolf Pilve – drums