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Everyone has to have a beginning-one of the biggest names in power metal made theirs with this humble little debut. Despite the general simplicity of "Fright night," it's a solid album, though it would probably only be enjoyed by Stratovarius fans ad those interested in early power metal.
At this time, Stratovarius only consisted of three and a half members (the half was the sometimes-used keyboardist, Antti Ikoenen). Tuomo Lassila (drums), Jykri Lentonen (bass) and Timo Tolkki (vocals and guitar) made up the rather thing, though still rockin' sound. I have a feeling that the somewhat muted sound was due to production as opposed to the performance, as all the guys definitely weren't without merit. Tolkki's awesome riffs and solos still reigned, while his vocals, for the most part, were surprisingly strong (despite an occasionally strained sound and a couple of cracks here and there). There are a lot of cleverly written drum lines, though percussion wasn't so prominent at that time. Keyboards existed merely in the background, as at this time Stratovarius wasn't so progressive.
Lyrically, "Fright Night" is uncomplicated, in some places not entirely making sense-though thankfully, it's easy to understand what was trying to be communicated. The ideas are good, some of which recur throughout the band's ensuing albums. However, there are references to witches for instance, and other things which do not appear in other work. The dark feeling is not only musically, but lyrically-there are countless references to darkness and night, which is the thing that unites all the songs.
The music is, as I said, darker and more power. There are many time and melody changes, as well as more musical interludes and longer introductions. Anyone who complains about Strato-anthems should pick up this album: there aren't any.
Starting off the album is "Future Shock," a great song discussing the vision of a nuclear holocaust. Stratovarius still plays around themes of this sort, though it's been expanded. Track two, "False Messiah," is one of my favorites. Like the previous song, the topic is still carried through in later works. With a 1:25-long intro, "False Messiah" contains some nice time changes and a unique chorus... there's something oddly delicate about it. "Black Night" is fast and heavy with some notable guitar work from Tolkki, and again, a great chorus. "Night Screamer" and the title track also contribute to making the album worth owning. "Fright Night" contains two totally opposite instrumentals-the heavy "Fire Dance" and "Goodbye." The latter showcases Tolkki's talent, proving he's capable of more than just heavy riffing.
"Fright Night," though a bit understated, is a solid and very diverse album. I don't feel enough attention is paid to Stratovarius' early work, so here I am, spreading the word.