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I don't understand why most of the fans, magazines and webzines give enthusiastic reviews to this album at all. Did they listen to more profound and darker stuff like "Twilight time" or the classic European power metal rebirth with "Infinite"? The band sounded so diversified and fresh once and even the last studio album was somehow dark and heavy and had the famous certain something.
This album leads me to the conclusion that Timo Tolkki really was the heart and soul of the band. And with his departure, the style of Stratovarius changed. The new sound is so faceless and cheesy and the main problem is the guitar play in here, well - which guitar play? The guitars are completely overruled by the annoying keyboards which dominate each song. There is no single emotional guitar solo on the whole album with one single exception.
Ordinary and fast happy metal average songs like "Higher we go" or the darker and spacier "Deep unknown" figure out to be still two of the better songs, but those wouldn't even have made it to a b-side of "Twilight time" or "Infinite". No, the most terrible songs are those where the bands tries to be epic and intellectual. The songs are all very slow paced, overambitious, soft, undynamical and overloaded with cheesy keyboard sounds like the overlong "Emancipation suite". Songs like "King nothing" or "Somehow precious" are so lousy and weak that I had to skip them even at my first and very open-minded try to find an approach to this album.
There is one single good song which saves this album and this is "Winter skies" which makes you dream and fly away through a frosty winter world with its cold and still very positive and dreamy keyboard sounds, Kotipeltos amazingly emotional voice and the only intense but very short guitar solo on the whole album. This song has a certain magic and is really powerful. A part of the nice cover and booklet, this is the only positive point of the album and explains my thirty percent rating. The band is still able to write an excellent song but there is only one on the entire album and this is not enough. They should have released this little masterpiece called "Winter skies" as a single, but as they didn't do it, you are forced to listen to two or three average songs and a full load of boring crap - what a pity.
More than one year after I’ve listened to this album for the first time, I must say that this is the weakest album that this band has ever done and the worst metal record of the year 2009 which I have listened to.