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I always thought that the pointless and fluffy "Polaris" filled with boring ballads and ordinary high speed power metal fillers was the worst offering of this interesting but quite inconsistent band but the "Elements" albums were one of the rare albums that I didn't yet know at that time. I really expected a lot from this promising album title and concept and expected some epic and original songs with a gripping atmosphere. If you guys are looking for that, skip this album and go straight forward to "Elements Part II" which is not a milestone but by far greater than this offering. A friend of mine said about this first part that the album wasn't even a shit sandwich because it would not be ordinary enough to describe this pointless album that he finally compared to a worn out ham sandwich. I want to add that many metal fans have some prejudices towards the power metal genre and say that it's music for happy hippies and sounds gay. I would never agree with this, but if they say this after listening to this album, I can completely understand their point.
Let's start with the positive things first. The bonus track "Run away" has some nice progressive elements and should have made it on the album. The Japanese bonus track "Into deep blue" is simply the greatest track of the entire recording session. It is atmospheric and even eerie, it is slow and soft, mysterious and yet powerful. On the regular album, the epic "Soul of a vagabond" is quite decent even if it sounds somewhat like "Infinity". Some parts of "Fantasia" are interesting and presents us bombastic symphonic metal but it is far too long and has a few boring kitsch passages but it is at least quite progressive.
The rest of the album is an album full of clichés. It is not just highly commercial, but absolutely boring. "Eagleheart", "Find your own voice" and "Learning to fly" are the prototypes of an ordinary power metal song for the masses without any emotions. We have already heard something like that in way better versions from the same band before. The songs could also be entitled "Hunting high and low Part II", "Glory of the world II" and "Phoenix II". "Papillon" is probably the worst vocal performance I have ever heard by Timo Koltipelto. He sings way to artificially emotional like if he was an exaggerated actor of a bad theatre play and even misses a few notes. Maybe Tolkki would have been able to add the special something to the song but as he doesn't sing it, the song is just annoying. The children's voice in the beginning and ending of the song is also hugely annoying. "Stratofortress" is not even a castle made of sand and tries to honour the band's previous instrumentals but turns out to be their worst one and a song with boring power metal riff shredding. On this song, I realize that it wasn't only Kotipelto with his ordinary and annoying voice on this record that made this album fail, but especially the musicians and here I must mention Timo Tolkki. This guy created consistent and atmospheric masterpieces like "Twilight time", "Dreamspace", "Fourth dimension" or "Visions" and I ask myself what happened to this maniac here. Was it the pressure to release an album similar to the successful "Infinite"? Was it the tensions within the band members? I don't know what it was, but this album marked the beginning of a very dark era for Stratovarius and the only got out of this dilemma with the recent record "Elysium".
The band copies itself in the epic songs that sound like rip offs from "Mother Gaia", "Infinity" or "Phoenix" from the previous record. The lack of ideas and originality is horrible, especially in the so anticipated title track "Elements". Maybe the guys misunderstood their own approach and took several "elements" from their previous albums to put them randomly together. The topic of the four elements could have been something really interesting to develop on but the band missed their chances completely. The album finishes with a fart in the ocean that could have been entitled "Celestial Dream II" but never gets close to the class of the original and is just embarrassing kitsch.
Maybe it's because of the ordinary quality of these songs that the band finally split and needed to do something completely different, inconsistent and crazy with the self titled "Stratovarius" but this record was at least surprising while the first part of "Elements" is just boring. There is not one single outstanding song on this record, everything rushes past you and everything sounds too familiar. The aspiration of a musician should always be to progress and that's why I even put some experiments gone wrong above this album like "Polaris" for example. There are some hints here and there, a few seconds with brilliant and smooth melodies in the few songs I have mentioned in the beginning but it isn't enough to keep the album away from being a failure. As I won't count the bonus tracks for my review as they are just additional gimmicks, the rating goes quite heavily down on here even if I try to be objective.