Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

The Fire In Their Eyes - 96%

Larry6990, September 13th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, earMUSIC

Much like Cattle Decapitation proved with their recent albums: some bands age like a fine wine - maturing and refining their sound with every subsequent release. Finland's finest power metal export, Stratovarius, have exemplified this refinement over the past half-decade with a flurry of solid, consistent outputs. Since ditching Timo Tolkki (who, let's face it, should probably retire), the band has gone from strength to strength with such masterpieces as "Elysium" and the flawless "Nemesis". It all appears to have culminated with the launch of "Eternal" - yet another faultless segment of the ever-blossoming Stratovarius fruit.

Firstly, the album presents itself in stylish fashion with possibly the greatest album art in the band's catalogue. The detailed references to previous albums has not gone unnoticed, and the colour scheme is well reflected in the overall mood of the music. Considering most power metal is stereotyped as being joyful and jubilant, "Eternal" is refreshingly dark. Not just through the lyrics (which are undoubtedly more forlorn than in previous Strato albums), but each melody line brings with it a sorrow which, when combined with the power of the accompaniment, results in some truly dramatic moments.

Kicking off this modern power metal monument is one of the greatest tracks the band has written, period. "My Eternal Dream" absolutely rockets out of the starting gates with an up-tempo gallop and huge blaring synths from Jens Johansson's keyboards. The production quality is instantly noted as being perfect. There is a considerable crunch in the guitars and bass, showing that this time round, the boys mean business! Jens has also expanded his variety of sounds in the keyboard arsenal - now there are enormous orchestral overtones and huge mass choirs adding tons of interesting layers to this album.

After "My Eternal Dream" knocks you on your ass - all you have to look forward to is more of the same! That is the one fault I can find with this record: there may be a little too much of the same pace. Only 3 tracks vary from the mid-tempo, power metal stomp. Thankfully, the songwriting, production quality and execution is damn near perfect - so to hell with my bitesized complaints!

Let's move on to a topic that's sure to be at the top of the cynics' criticism list: Kotipelto's voice. Let's face it, the man's not young - so it's incredibly unfair to expect him to be hitting notes like those on "Learning to Fly". However, just as with "Nemesis" and "Elysium" before it, the band simply wrote songs to accommodate his range - which is still impressive. As a result, his voice simply soars! He sounds utterly magical, even now! His lack of upper range is completely eclipsed by the emotional punch he packs behind the lyrics, and his admirable lower range. Just listen to him lamenting after the chorus of "Shine in the Dark" - "I fear no more, though you're gone. I know we'll meet again." Beautiful.

The whole album never once dips in quality - but there are a few stand-out moments which create enough of an impact to make any listener, no matter how casual, to turn their head and perk their eyebrows. The previously-mentioned "Shine in the Dark" changes key before the last chorus, but unexpectedly lowers rather than ascends. "Man in the Mirror" begins with lots of exciting false-starts that keep the listener on-edge. "Fire in your Eyes" is the obligatory ballad, containing plenty of great piano work from Johansson and a captivating performance from Kotipelto. However, the jewel in "Eternal"'s crown lies at its finale...

"Polaris" had the Emancipation suite and "Elysium" had its immense title-track. Unfortunately, "Nemesis" was missing what made so many past Stratovarius albums great: that lengthy 10-minute-plus epic. Well, Timo and co. have nailed it with the 12-minute "The Lost Saga". It's one monster of a composition; a complex structure, a colossal chorus, a blazing solo section, and a truly heavy riff that the band couldn't hope to write when Tolkki was still dragging them down. This track is worth the price of the album alone.

Who'd have thought, 30 years into their career, that a Finnish melodic power metal band would be creating their definitive masterpieces? I've seen word around the dank bile-pits of the Youtube comments section that this should be Stratovarius' final album. With all the force I can muster, I say NAY! When a band sounds as energetic as this, as vibrant as this, as hungry as this - let it loose to feed! The rejuvenated Finns have created something truly special with "Eternal". Powerful, dramatic, theatrical and epic - yet ANOTHER contender for 'album of the year!'

"I am what you made of me,
Your blood is my blood and your heart is my heart.
We are what we leave behind,
An eternal stream.
You flow through me."