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Extremely Overrated - 55%

SentineLEX, February 24th, 2013

I would think that an album as critically acclaimed by the band's fans would turn out to be quite something. Unfortunately, this album didn't even come close to that. In fact was one of the most banal albums of the Tolkki era.

There's definitely good moments. "The Kiss of Judas" is a splendid opener for this album, and ideally would be the centerpiece of this album - dark riffs, powerful drumming, and quasi-religious lyrics. "Legions" is another energetic song, and although more fanservice than anything, it's got a great buildup with nice balances between the guitar and keyboard, and leads to the beautiful chorus of this song.

"Paradise" isn't very interesting musically, but definitely is thematically and lyrically. It's a look into the future if anything, apt for this album in particular. The lyrics and the theme of nature dying sounds like this song could be on the future Infinite instead of Visions, although the lack of the symphonic and lighthearted (almost) element of Infinite makes this song more focused on the negative aspects of it all. The ending has a lot in common with the general sound of what would be Sonata Arctica's first two albums as well.

A lot of the songs start out good, but get progressively more vapid and lose their aim over the course of time. The best example of this would be Visions (Southern Cross), with a captivating intro and memorable, driving guitar melodies throughout. It starts losing its luster about three minutes in, however, as this song stops driving itself and starts dragging on. Three more minutes later it tries to regain some glory, but then again starts falling into the pits of disinterest. Of the many 9-minute-plus songs that Stratovarius has written, this is the only one to date that I have had to force myself to listen through in the end.

And then there's the low points. "Before the Winter" is probably the worst ballad Stratovarius has done. It's overly long, emotionless (not for lack of trying) and out of place with the songs before and after it. "Holy Light" is mediocre from the get-go, and only gets worse after two minutes when the only semi-driving section of the song ends.

Maybe it was just this aura of awesomeness built around it, but most of Visions was a disappointment and by far the worst album of the Episode-Destiny era.