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Release Date: September 18, 2015
Stratovarius are renowned for their contribution to the power metal genre. These are musicians of legendary status and I, as an admittedly casual fan of the band, feel as if I’m not really qualified to review Eternal, the band’s 16th studio album. Yes, that’s not a typo. That’s 16 albums, not counting live albums and the plethora of side projects that various members have been a part of throughout the years. These guys (and there have been many talented individuals count themselves as band members over the years) are prolific and extraordinarily talented. Since their debut album Fright Night in 1989 they have released some of the most iconic work the genre has ever known such as Visions (1997), Infinite (2000), and Elysium (2011), all of which received both critical acclaim and popular approval. So, how does a band stay fresh and relevant after so many years and so many successes? How do you improve upon gold? You dip that sucker in platinum and diamond stud that puppy, that’s how.
That is essentially what you’re getting with Eternal: everything you’ve ever loved about Stratovarius polished to a blinding sheen. Eternal is a testament to the band’s longest standing members Timo Kotipelto who’s unmistakable vocals are instantly recognizable, and Jens Johansson who’s legendary keyboard skills have been displayed throughout the years with many different collaborators, such as Yngwie Malmsteen, Dio, Sonata Arctica, and Kamelot among a myriad of others. This guy’s resume is staggering, as is his proficiency with his instrument of choice. The accomplishments of these two of course do nothing to lessen the contribution of Matias Kupiainen (guitar), Rolf Pilve (drums), and Lauri Porra (bass) who’s work on the album is also exemplary. Speaking of the aforementioned luster of the album, much of that has to do with the production skills of Mr. Kupiainen which is flawless.
If you are not at all familiar with Stratovarius, envision a majestic sonic landscape of galloping rhythms, soaring vocals, and classically inspired keyboards all fused together with high energy and a significant attention to melody and songwriting. This album is an extraordinary piece of power metal pomp and grandeur sure to please fans of the genre.
Now, I cannot say that Eternal will go down as Stratovarius’ greatest album, but I will confidently predict it will be listed as one of their finest by many fans.
Reviewed by: Farron 1340