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The big misunderstanding - 54%

kluseba, February 9th, 2011

It doesn't happen quite often that I agree with the popular opinion about an album on this side but as it is for "Stratovarius", I must agree with most of the critics in here. When I first heard the album, my impression was: What the hell was that? I was just stunned, but not in a positive or speechless way. If a band titles an album like this, I might imagine that represents the different stylistic ranges and styles of the band but though this album is quite diversified, this isn't the case at all here. Many thing are new, but not typical and this album has no congruity at all. The band gets completely off the trail and this doesn't even have anything of a possible compilation album. Every song is different, but everything is poorly developed, sounds quite random and has no true soul or uniqueness. The reason why I give a better rating to this album than the weak follow up "Polaris" is that this eponymous album is weak and silly but still surprising while the follow up is not even surprising and completely ordinary.

"Maniac dance" is one of the better songs. It sounds quite modern, poppy and cheesy but is at least aggressive and catchy. The final band anthem "United" seems a little bit forced but it has its moments.

The rest can be divided in two different classes. There are boring or weird songs on the record. A really boring one is the absolutely lame "Fight!!!". The might put as many exclamation points as they want, the song is still a dumb disappointment. "Just carry on" in fact carries on with this uninspired boredom. "Gypsy in me" is ordinary power metal and simply rushes past me as well as "Leave the tribe".

Now, there are the weird tracks. "Back to madness" is a song that seems to be composed of three or four different songs that have been cut off and randomly put together. Dramatic opera parts, boring power metal parts, dark and pseudo atmospheric narration parts and finally strange spoken word passages by a baby can be found on this track and nothing fits together but maybe that was the goal of a song talking about madness. At least, it is the most progressive and interesting song on this record and merits to be listened attentively several times. Though, it is still not a very good song but at least somewhat impressive. "Götterdämmerung" seems interesting because of its samples and historical approach and starts promising with an atmospheric introduction but the song gets lost in its horrible and repeating chorus and you don't even hear the samples that are buried by the "Zenith of power" passages. Even Iron Maiden's "The angel and the gambler" is less boring and more original. This ambitious track is an epic failure. "The land of ice and snow" wants to be an epic ballad interlude in the key of a "Celestial dream" but it is filled with strange pathos and quite boring.

The album is different and has somewhat original attempts but there is not a single really well done song on the whole album. The fresh and modern opener "Maniac dance", the epic anthem "United" and the bizarre potpourri of "Back to madness" are worth listening to for very open minded fans but the rest is an epic fail or simply boring scum. What were those guys thinking by recording this stuff? I am not surprised that this piece of inconsistent weirdo broke this band definitely apart.

Now, what kind of rating should one give to such an album? At least, I am able to listen to it from the beginning to the end without being entirely bored and some tracks gained further attention because of their bizarre structures or some catchy passages and that's a positive point. The good can't finally save the negative here as there are many random passages without any emotions or atmosphere. This album isn't good and is finally a huge misunderstanding but still more interesting than ordinary traditional power metal in the key of "Burning Point", "Freedom Call" or overloaded annoying stuff like "Rhapsody of Fire" or "Blind Guardian".