Originally written by Gregory Bradley.
From my experience with power metal, I have found that there are two types of fans of power metal: the fans of Kai Hansen-era Helloween, and fans of Michael Kiske-era Helloween. Hansen fans are geared towards the harder, faster, and more aggressive power metal like Iced Earth, current Helloween, Gamma Ray (duh, Hansen is in the band), Iron Savior, etc. Kiske fans are geared towards the lighter, more keyboard heavy power metal, like Rhapsody, Jacob’s Dream, older Helloween, Falconer, etc. Stratovarius falls under the latter category, there are tons of keyboards and solos and clean falsettos that you’ll be begging for mercy if you aren’t a fan. I’ve never been much of a fan of Stratovarius for two reasons. The first is the over-dependence on keyboards. While keyboards are fun, there is a point when it just becomes too much for me to handle, the point when it no longer even seems like metal anymore. Stratovarius constantly straddles that line, with constant choirs, keyboards, organs, etc. I am currently undecided as to whether or not I like the band because of this. Being the huge power metal fan that I am, I’m leaning towards yes right now as I’m listening to Elements Pt. 1 because there are some fantastic guitar parts, but then again there is the overabundance of keyboards which gets on my nerves. The second thing I don’t like about the band is the mediocre singer. He is just too bland for my taste, there just isn’t enough spirit. He hits every note and he is decent, but there is just the matter of the intangibles that for some reason fail him. He just doesn’t have that edge that catches your attention, and this album is nothing new. Of course the production and musicianship are astounding, as with all power metal. The songs are long as hell, which can be very good in many cases, but in this case they just kind of drag on for too long. Either that or they go into gay little soft points that are mind-bogglingly cheesy. If you haven’t heard much power metal but you like the genre, then maybe you’ll like this because it’ll be new to you. But for the seasoned power metal veteran like yours truly, this is nothing new whatsoever. There is much better out there, but then again there is much, much worse. Like I said before, this band and this album straddle the line between annoying and decent. Should you buy this album? Tough call. If you like the band, then you’ll like this album. Or if you’re a die hard Kiske-type power metal fan, then you should get it as well. But if you’re a Hansen-type fan, maybe you should try and find some cooler stuff by badass bands like Grave Digger, Sinergy, Edguy, Blind Guardian, Demons & Wizards, and many more that simply outshine Stratovarius in every way. The choice is yours, my metal brethren.