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First of all, let me start off by saying that I hate the term “Flower Metal.” I never use it, and if any band could be considered “Flower Metal,” Stratovarius would definitely NOT be it. This CD is simply a better-than-average European Power Metal release.
‘Visions’ was my first Stratovarius release It is a decent album, but it does lack in several ways. Let me start of by listing some of the good qualities of this album, and there are plenty.
Production is a big plus here. Songs like ‘Black Diamond’ wouldn’t sound anywhere near as good with a shitty production. There is a nice sound to the guitar, and the vocals are also perfectly mixed in, so no complaints from me. Drums never tend to drown out the voice, and keyboards (sometimes gentler, sometimes faster) are also always mixed in very well.
Timo Tolkki’s voice on this album is also a great bonus. As for most power metal bands, the vocals are a great focus. And Tolkki CAN sing, very well. Maybe he doesn’t compare with legends like Dickinson, but Tolkki’s voice is definitely also great, and especially fits in nicely with Stratovarius’s style of music.
My major complaint on this album is the huge shifts in song style. There is nothing wrong with adding style variety to an album; in fact, I support it highly. But there is something about it here that really bothers me. The changes here are too fast. One moment the music is very fast, with definite speed metal roots, and then suddenly, a second later, it jumps into a ballad? Perhaps it’s just me, but the tracklist could’ve been rearranged a bit for a better listening experience.
A lot of the songs are also mediocre. True, while there is no one BAD song on here, many of them are nothing special and you’ll find yourself skipping them when they come on. Tracks like ‘The Kiss Of Judas’ and ‘Black Diamond’ are power metal works of art. But that’s about it. The remaining 8 tracks are a little ehh.
The album slowly grew on me after a time, but never to the point of being amazing. It’s a decent CD worth getting eventually, but if you’re looking for some great power metal to try out, I’d recommend getting something like ‘Hellfire Club’ from Edguy first, or perhaps some Blind Guardian (‘A Night At The Opera or Nightfall In Middle-Earth’ recommended.) Then there’s also Helloween: you can never go wrong with any of the ‘Keepers.’ Save Stratovarius for later.