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Life in Stratovarius turned into a real "soap metal" (as opposed to soap opera) over a year ago. Timo Kotipelto got out of the band. I think that's why his sophomore album is titled 'Coldness'.
And this is colder than the debut, in many ways. While the music is straight Euro-metal with tinkling synths and catchy choruses, it's not very inviting. Most of the song themes are certainly nothing happy, but also performance feels generally cold, thanks to the album's vibes. And probably because this was a project for the musicians. Musicwise, Kotipelto continues with indentifiable power/heavy metal, only this time it's more melancholic and partly heaviest stuff. With straight songs I mean song structures built of a few usual parts (a couple of verses, bridges and choruses, with guitar and synth soloing). The single-cut 'Reasons' is as-catchy-as-it-gets stuff, simply a fantastic and what's the main point, a working song. 'Journey back' has old Iron Maiden feel to its chorus (maybe the evergreen 'The Prisoner'). 'Here We Are' is one heavy piece with truly 80's vibe in it and another great song. Most of the songs have fantastic riff or parts in them, but something is missing. No slow songs this time and I can't complain about that! I believe this is a grower, but now when it's bleak outside and no snow (weird!!!), this just doesn't work too well.
Production is basic. Mr. Kotipelto's voice soars its own highs, but thankfully he comes down a bit at times. Again, he does better in his album than on his ex-band's stuff, methinks. Man's English pronunciation sucks, that's the truth. It grabs too much attention. The lyrics are clearly written by a Finn, but are okay. Various human emotions and feelings of a Finnish man are the themes. Mike Romeo of Symphony X is one highlight of the album and Juhani Malmberg (Tunnelvision) does his part as well. Janne Wirman's (Children Of Bodom, Warmen) keyboards is, of course, well performed, but I'm starting to get truly tired of this tinkling stuff generally. Mirka Rantanen (Thunderstone, Warmen) and Jari Kainulainen (Stratovarius) provide pounding low end. The bonus stuff is okay. 'Reasons' video clip looks as Finnish as possible, but it was enough to watch "making of" once.
More melancholic than many might have expected from Kotipelto, this doesn't work for me like the debut 'Waiting for the Dawn' (2002) did. Maybe this is just too Finnish this time around and Egypt wasn't a bad theme after all. Hopefully 'Coldness' worked therapeutic way for Mr. Kotipelto and next time we will blown away by fantastic and more powerful heavy metal.
(originally written for ArchaicMetallurgy.com in 2005)