Stratovarius – Elysium


By Jason Wellwood

Elysium seems to pick up right where Polaris left off: with awesome sped up power metal. The guitar playing by Matias Kupiainen is inspired and the new life he brought to the band is obvious on the rousing sing-along of ‘Darkest Hours’. Follow up ‘Flaming Skies’ is another fist pounding, foot stomper and THAT is followed up by ‘Infernal Maze’ which starts off a little slower but not only speeds up, but has some amazing keyboard/guitar interplay as well. Then…well, then it bogs down a little. I’m not normally one to pick too much but Timo Kotipelto picks a register that’s just a little too low for him at the beginning of ‘Fairness Justified’ that on first listen elicited an outburst of laughter. I apologize for laughing Timo, but the note was too low and combined with your accent, ‘my heart’ comes out sounding like ‘muh haaaurt’. The song does improve but is definitely a bit of a plodder. It seems bogged down and there are even a couple of Zakk Wylde-esque squeals in the background that lead me to wonder if this wasn’t supposed to be their ‘Black Label’ song. It doesn’t feel like a Stratovarius song at all. Then, they pick things back up again with ‘The Game Never Ends’ which is another fast paced track with some terrific keyboard work from Jens Johansson. Not a great track but it’s a step up from the previous one.

Essentially, that’s how the album continues, some great pieces in the songs, but nothing that stands out as a great track overall. Title track ‘Elysium’ is like an 18 minute car ride with your elderly parent: too damn slow part of the time, too fast at the wrong moments, a couple of minutes of getting it just right. Unfortunately Elysium (the album) fails to meet the expectations that Polaris set out. I really wanted to love this album and gave it more listens than normal but I came out loving parts and feeling very ambiguous about others. The band has managed to create an awesome half record, while the rest is ‘okay’. That said it’s a damn sight better than the Elements albums!

(Armoury Records)

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.