By Professor Jocko

Is there any music out there that goes beyond a mere collection of sounds…something which evokes thoughts and visions in listeners' minds? Yes there is; Finland’s power-metal band Stratovarius, whose fourteenth studio album "Nemesis" is the unanimous answer to the above question.  Although they may border on the progressive metal side , they are very capable of delivering some extraordinary tunes. At first glance, we definitely have to compliment whoever is in charge of the album cover art, which dons a red-headed angel with a very hot ass! With that being said, Stratovarius aren’t newcomers to the music scene... they have perfected their sound with great precision & accuracy through perseverance and very hard work. One might say that they are the Finnish version of Dream Theater , with their neo-classical style which is very vocal-oriented with an abundance of time changes trying to go beyond an amazing creation of wonderful melodies, big orchestrations, and complex rhythm patterns.

The first thing that goes through my mind when hearing the first track, "Abandon"   is “How did they get so damn tight?” This song is flawless musically and is simply amazing when you consider the level of perfection between each member coming together as a finely-tuned machine. The guitars on this one really grab your attention and hold it throughout the entire song. At this point in the album, I’m already hooked…let’s hear some more! Another rockin’ tune is "Halcyon Days" which is where you really become aware of the vocal talent of Timo Kotipelto. The harmonies are a solid foundation for the backbone of the song and the leads in the chorus’ are incredible. Sure, they are a metal band, but not your typical metal band because the music is taken to an atmospheric level that goes through more of an evolution where the melodies carry the weight of the tune, but the heaviness of the vocals and guitars are there to supplement it effectively.

However, there are parts of this album in which I’m on the fence with. Many songs seem to border on Goth-metal in some ways with a few over-the top productions where the chorus’ and backing vocals are concerned, which seem a little too watered-down and monotonous... similar to what I like to call “mainstream metal”, comparable to what you might hear on an alternative radio station. Tracks such as “Fantasy” and “Out of the Fog” are examples of this, and although I particularly like the heavier sound to the vocals & melodic guitar riffs which progresses into something more meaningful and majestic, I still feel as though it could be reinforced with a little more raw-edge crunch. When considering and comparing Stratovarius to legendary acts such as Queensryche, Fates Warning and perhaps King Crimson, you can get a general idea of how much of a fine-tuned machine these guys actually are. "Nemesis" is another solid addition to their discography.