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The art of perfection! - 100%

Graftam, July 4th, 2004

That's right, I'm giving this album a perfect 100% score. Not because it PWNS anything, not because it ROCKZORZ and not because it's the best album EVAH. To be honest, I hate that kind of expressions. Who came up with them anyway? Never mind that right now. I'm actually supposed to write a review here. Well, I'm giving this album a 100% score because I simply can't find one single negative thing to say about it. OK, we may not have the best musicians in the world, and the lyrics are a bit simple at times, but why should that be negative? What matters is how the music sounds, and in my ears, it sounds wonderful from first to last microsecond.

Yes, the album is great from beginning to end. There are no bad songs here, no medicore songs and even not good songs. All songs are great, awesome or... no, I can't find a good enough word to describe Destruction Preventer. We'll come back to this song later. Anyway, the music itself is fast, melodic power metal in the sound of Stratovarius, but this album is superior to anything Stratovarius have released since their debut in 1989. We have som ballads here as well, and they can only be described with the word "beautiful". Other reviwers have given this album, 53, 50 and even as low as 22%, but don't listen to them if you like this kind of music. I find it hard to believe that fans of this genre don't like the album, but of course, anyone's got the right to have their own personal opinion.

As for the bandmembers, I think they all do a good job. I don't know anything about instruments, and I can't tell if a guitar, bass, drum or keyboard player is techincally good or not, but I can at least say that I think they all do a great job. Tony sings like an angel, that's for sure. He's one of the best vocalists I've ever heard, with an extremely beautiful voice, and as mentioned in other reviews, he can sing incredibly high. Just listen to Destruction Preventer, from 5:57 to 6:05, and you'll know what I mean. Tony also play the keyboard, and I think he's great. All keyboard solos on this album are great, and fits very well into the songs. Then we have the guitar. I think Jani does a great job with his guitar, and I know it demands some skills to play as fast as he does. Some solos are just incredible. I usually don't pay much attention to the drums or bass, so I can't say much about them, but I think they're doing a good job as well. As long as they don't suck, it's fine, and since they don't, there's no reason to complain.

Now for the songs. Blank File is a perfect album opener, starting with a short and catchy drum solo. Then, the other instruments joins in and the songs bursts out in a standard fast SA-sound. We'll have som verses and chorus before a great instrumental part with kickass guitar and keyboard solos. The best part is the guitar solo starting at 2:30. The song is concluded with a little different choruses. This is truly one of the best songs on the album, and like I said, a perfect album opener. Next comes My Land, which is great as well, but just a bit weaker than Bland File. What I like most about this song is the intro. It starts out with a soft keyboard intro that soon gets company from the bass and the drums. Then the guitar joins and Tony starts singing the exact melody. Very beatufil. The verses and chorus are great, and the same melody follows throught the song. What makes this song a little weaker than Blank File is the instrumental part. Not that interesting solos, but still good.

There are a group of four weakest songs on the album. These are 8th Commandment, Kingdom For A Heart, UnOpened and Picturing The Past. I said weakest, but I think I'll change that to least great. These are short and catchy songs, all less than 4 minutes, but we need songs like this as well. 8th Commandment has a cool intro riff, an extremely good chorus and some catchy solos. Kingdom For A Heart has a great chorus as well, and a very good guitar solo. The keyboard solo is somewhat strange but interresting. UnOpened was the first single SA ever released, and the songs is a typical single hit. Short and catchy. The chorus is great as usual, and it kind of reminds me of 8th Commandment. The instrumental part is not all that, but it get's more interresting after a while. I think Picturing The Past is the best of these songs. It starts out with an amazing guitar solo that gets company from the keyboards after a while. This intro is the predecessor to Wolf & Raven. There's no instrumental section in this song, but all the amazing playing now and then makes up for it. Like I said, the four least great songs on the album, but catchy as hell and they all have a great chorus. SA never fails on the melodic part. No, these songs are not in a row, but spread over the whole album as number 3, 5, 8 and 9.

We have two ballads on the album. Replica and Letter To Dana. They are quite different from each other, but both are unique and very beautiful. Replica is plain awesome from beginning to end, and it even has a speedy part with a simple but amazing keyboard solo. All singing is perfect and both the verses and chorus are among the best ever. Also pay attention to the short guitar solo after the first chorus. A fantastic and unique ballad, simply put. There are no other SA ballads in the style of this one. Plain unique. Letter To Dana is the slow and soft ballad on the album, and it starts out with a beautiful flute intro. Then we'll have a verse before the song gets heavy in a short but great instrumental part. Then comes another verse, and God does Tony sing beautiful here. After the chorus we'll have some beautiful
guitar solos and the best part starts at the 3:08 mark. Then Tony comes back to sing the best vocal part. This is not a song for crybabies, as some people have claimed. Although the lyrics aren't all that good, the song is plain beautiful from beginning to end. Like I said, SA never fails on the melodic part, and they prove that after 3:08 in this song. If you don't like ballads, that's fine with me. The songs are number 4 and 7 on the album.

FullMoon is the 6th song on the album, and probably the most well known song by SA, and believe me, there's a good reason. This song is among the best power metal songs ever. It's got everything. A beautiful piano intro, a soft vocal part before it bursts out in a standard fast SA sound, great and powerful verses and one of the best choruses ever. Yes, here are a lot of ever's in this review, but not in a fanboyish way. God no, I hate fanboys. The instrumental part is outstanding as well, with a great guitar solo that builds up before one of the best keyboard solos on the album. Then the song is concluded with more choruses, which some are sung a little different, but that just makes them better. Tony knows exactly how to make a song better towards the end. One of the best power metal songs. Ever. Period.

Speaking of the end, there's one song left to mention. A golden rule for metal albums is having the best and longest song as the album closer. Along with Hallowed Be Thy Name, Fear Of The Dark and The Odyessey, this is a defintion of this rule. Not including The Power Of One, which is, of course, the best song ever put out by mortal men of mother earth. Destruction Preventer is the best song for concluding this album. It's an epic masterpiece of artwork, starting with some atmosphere to softly build up the song, but what happens at 0:53? The song explodes. The verses are powerful as hell and the chorus even better. After the first chorus, we gets knocked in the face with the best instrumental part on the album, with the highlight at 2:52, where Tony does the coolest thing that's ever been done with a keyboard. The song has some slower parts as well, and the best one starts at 5:19. Tony comes back for some singing, and you may remember that I mentioned a certain part of this song earlier in the review. What Tony does from 5:57 to 6:05 is inhuman. I can't believe he actually sings that high. The song is concluded with another chorus and the same keyboard solo that made the song explode in the beginning. They couldn't possibly finish this album in a better way.

The album is over, and I can finally catch my breath again, but if you want an even better album, buy the Japanese edition. This one contains a bonus song called Mary Lou, which is about as good as My Land. The main riffs kicks ass, and the verses and chorus are typical SA material. Very good, in other words. The main riff continues all though the song, and the instrumental part is great and better than the one in My Land. A great song in all means, and it's a shame it's only available on the Japanese edition. All in all, this album is totally outstanding, and I forgot to tell you it's a debut album, right? Many kickass bands have somewhat louse debut albums, but not SA. Hell no, they released the best debut album ever and you gotta respect them for that. If you don't have this album, then go get it, unless you don't like the genre. I don't think any fans of this kind of melodic speed/power metal would regret bying this album. Just buy it. Because I say so.

That concludes my very first review.