Thursday, September 24, 2009

Review: Tracedawn - Ego Anthem

"What the hell is going on? Skijumpers making music that sells gold.", asked Timo Tolkki with Stratovarius back in 1994 on their Dreamspace album. The song of course was Reign Of Terror and it was about Matti Nykänen, world's best skijumper who started singing and instantly became a success. Matti Nykänen couldn't sing back then and he still can't yet he is very popular in Finland...go figure. There has been more and more very young bands popping up to Finland's metalscene over the past years. Not that it's a bad thing of's just that I have seen couple of youngsters from these bands in a civil-situation and they have acted like worldowners. With only couple of years in the industry under their belt there should be lot more humbleness. It will be a long drop from that cloud where they think they are.

How about Tracedawn then? They are just putting out their sophmore album titled "Ego Anthem". Their debut album "Path Of Reality" was released on 2008. But with Tracedawn I am glad to say things are different. They have a very high working moral and it shows...and above all...sounds. Members of Tracedawn are very young at age, oldest of them only being 22-years old. But god damn they are talented! You can hear from everything that they didn't just decide to put up a band few years ago. There has been huge amount of training for their instruments which they master very well. So all in all...playing is about songs then? Most songs on "Ego Anthem" are in fact very good. I know how people love to compare bands with each other and if you would have to compare Tracedawn with something I'd say they've listened their share of Children Of Bodom and Norther but without being clones to those bands. Songs have twists and turns, lots of melodies and attitude. Now the trend part these days is that you have both clean and growling vocals presented and that goes with Tracedawn also. It's not a bad thing cause the mixture of those vocals works with the songs. It's not like "Dude we have to have this clean vocals cause it's so cool!" but more likely cause it fits the songs very well.

Although the album doesn't contain any flops I would still raise the following songs slightly above: "Part Of The Wounded", "In Your Name", "Repeating Mistakes", "The Forsaken". With those songs you hear this incredible potential Tracedawn has. Make no'll hear about them more in the future.

And one other thing worth mentioning which says something about their potential is that they played on this years Wacken Open Air-Festival which just happens to be the festival of all metal festivals!

Review: 8.5/10

Ego Anthem tracklist:
  1. Make Amends
  2. Part Of The Wounded
  3. Scum
  4. In Your Name
  5. Your Way Is Not For Me
  6. Dirt Track Speedball
  7. Repeating Mistakes
  8. Brain Attack
  9. The Forsaken
Tracedawn is:
Pekko Heikkilä / Bass
Perttu Kurttila / Drums
Antti Lappalainen / Vocals
Vili Itäpelto / Keyboards
Tuomas Yli-Jaskari / Guitars
Roni Seppänen / Guitars


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Rammstein new video Pussy...simply genius!

They have done it again! You simply have to love these guys. At times they have managed to do lots of things to get the attention but I think this time they did hit the goldmine. The first release from their forthcoming album "Liebe Ist Für Alle Da" is a song called "Pussy". Now if the name itself doesn't drag attention...well then surely the video will. If you haven't seen the video, you can watch it at (WARNING: The video contains nudity and sex scenes and is not suitable for minors.)

All in all I have always liked Rammstein and nothing is going to change that. But I also can expect anything from them and as I went to the website to see the video I knew that they have something "shocking"...and after seeing the mainpage where you need to click whether you are full age or not, I was convinced that this is something worth seeing. Hmm...well...the video is good right? Nothing is's like a pornmovie. It felt kinda weird to recognize the music as Rammstein but visually seeing a pornmovie. And when I say they show everything I mean everything.

But why on earth would Rammstein do such a video? Well it's simple. First of all the song is horrible. But it's ok cause I am sure they knew it themselves too. And it's quite certain that they won't get much MTV-airtime with that video either :) So why bother? For the exact reason you have witnessed all over the internet today...Rammstein is the name on everyone's lipps again. It was all about getting the attention cause afterall, their album is still on the way so what is a better way to start promoting eh? You cannot buy this kind of media attention and Rammstein is taking advantage everything internet has to offer. I just wish I could see the statistics how many times that website has been visited during the day!

Downside of releasing a poor song as a single before the album is that people might start thinking if the entire album is as crappy as the single? But since they went SO overboard with this, I believe fans will realize what's going on here. Probably "Liebe Ist Für Alle Da" is going to be a very good album. Man I love when bands do things like this. It doesn't matter what you think about the song or the probably watched it anyway...and if nothing remember the name Rammstein now.

Rammstein I salute you!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Review: Insomnium - Across The Dark

My dearest readers...picture this: Heart of winter. Late night. -25 degrees celcius outside. The only light in the outside comes from the full moon that reflects from the virgin white snow. In the middle of nowhere there is a cottage and you can only see dim light coming from one window. Through the window you can see a figure inside...standing on a chair...with a noose around his neck. I think I just described what in my opinion is Insomnium. How can something be at the same time so melodic and touching yet so god damn depressive?! me Insomnium is just that.


Over the last decade Insomnium has slowly but surely made themselves a household name among melodic death metal bands. Formed in 1997 in a somnolent town of Joensuu, in eastern Finland, these stern men have since redefined the boundaries of the genre. Two highly acclaimed demos set the standard and in 2001 the band signed to UK label Candlelight Records.

The thing I respect about Insomnium is their ability to test boundaries (if they have any) and make music that at the same is melodic and brutal. In just few seconds you can be totally breathless from beautiful melodies that all of a sudden change onto brutal death metal. "Across The Dark" brings new elements when they took Jules Näveri from Profane Omen to sing clean vocals on few songs. This was the first time Insomnium had clean vocals on their albums although they already planned some on their predecessor "Above The Weeping World". On livesituation those clean vocals will be sung by Ville Friman who handles guitars at the same time.

As an album "Across The Dark" is much more complex than any they've done before. The average length of songs are around 5-6 minutes. But although there are new things presented, this is so pure as it can be. Insomnium used to be "Finland's best kept secret" but it's not anymore. And about time for them to get some recognition dammit.

Review: 9/10

Across The Dark tracklist:
  1. Equivalence
  2. Down With The Sun
  3. Where The Last Wave Broke
  4. The Harrowing Years
  5. Against The Stream
  6. Lay Of Autumn
  7. Into The Woods
  8. Weighed Down with Sorrow
Insomnium is:
Niilo Sevänen / Vocals, Bass
Ville Friman / Guitars
Ville Vänni / Guitars
Markus Hirvonen / Drums


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Review: Cain's Offering - Gather The Faithful

PERKELE! What the hell just happen? What is this album? New band of Ex-Sonata Arctica Jani Liimatainen? Wasn't he "kindly" asked to leave SA 2007 and the reasons were...and I quote... "his messing around with his compulsory military/civil/prison duty, or rather, complete failure to take care of it". Well Sonata Arctica had a new guitar player Elias Viljanen and they continued their path. Sonata Arctica are about to release their "Days Of Grays" album but in all honesty they really need to deliver a killer album to even remotely overtake Jani's "Gather The Faithful"-album. Who knows...maybe they will. I do have my confidence on Sonata Arctica cause they have always been a good band. Enough about SA though...I will review their new album at some point anyway.

With Cain's Offering Jani Liimatainen has hooked on with very talented musicians. Vocalist Timo Kotipelto (Stratovarius, Kotipelto), keyboardist Mikko Harkin (Solution.45, Mehida, ex-Sonata Arctica, ex-Wingdom, ex-Kenziner), bassist Jukka Koskinen (Norther, Wintersun) and drummer Jani "Hurtsi" Hurula (Paul Di'Anno). The roster seems to be in order...what about the album then? Would you believe me if I'd say it doesn't have a single bad song on it? Well like in all reviews...these are always just opinions of one person but mine is that every song on "Gather The Faithful" is excellent. And I am so hyped up about it since this rarely EVER happens! There is another side to all this of course...when you hear an album which sounds just about perfect from the first time on there is always the chance that you get bored as quickly. And that was what I felt also..."Man this album is so good that it simply can't last". Well I have listened the album now for about 20 times and although there are some songs that start wearing out a bit, it's still a god damn good album. If I would have made this review a week ago I would have given it 10/10.

I am not going to review each song this time. But what I am going to do is talk about it in general. The first thing that came to my mind when listening to "Gather The Faithful" was that it reminded me of old Sonata Arctica. Ecliplica and Silence times. And the second thing that caught my attention was Kotipelto. Man it has been years since he sounded this good. I think we have to go all the way to Destiny and Infinite era of Stratovarius. His voice sounds so natural and clear. Whatever they did in the studio to make the man sing like that...don't change anything in the future. I was also very impressed about Mikko Härkin. Well overall the chemistry in the band sounds very tight.

From "Gather The Faithful" I would lift the following songs as absolute pearls: "My Queen Of Winter", "More Than Friends", "Gather The Faithful", "Thorn In My Side", "Dawn Of Solace" and "Oceans Of Regret". I could easily recommend this cd to anyone. Only if you totally hate high and clear vocals you might want to reconsider. But even should give it a chance.

Review: 9.5/10

Gather The Faithful tracklist:
  1. My Queen Of Winter
  2. More Than Friends
  3. Ocean Of Regret
  4. Gather The Faithful
  5. Into The Blue
  6. Dawn Of Solace
  7. Thorn In My Side
  8. Morpheus In A Masquerade
  9. Stolen Waters
  10. Elegantly Broken
Cain's Offering is:
Timo Kotipelto / Vocals
Jani Liimatainen / Guitars
Mikko Harkin / Keyboards
Jukka Koskinen / Bass
Jani "Hurtsi" Hurula / Drums


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Review: Thunderstone - Dirt Metal

Thunderstone has always been an easy band for me to listen and comprehend. Does it mean I am easy to please or are they simply just so god damn good? Well pleasing me isn't easy so I fall for the latter that Thunderstone simply is a very good band. Thunderstone's previous albums, perhaps excluding their debut album which I didn't like all that much were all killer albums and through each album they have evolved with huge steps. Still in my own opinion their previous album Evolution 4.0 was the best so far. But that was before Dirt Metal right?

It came as a big surprise to many when Thunderstone decided to participate on Finnish Eurovision Finals finally coming on 2nd place. The victory on that year went to platinum selling Finnish Idols winner Hanna Pakarinen who ended up presenting Finland on Eurovision Song Contest. How did it turn out? Well not as well as with Lordi couple of years earlier so maybe Thunderstone would've been a better bet. But long gone are the days when participating on such contest ment losing your face if you were a metalband in Finland. Remember that Nightwish tried that years ago, Lordi did it and won the whole thing, Thunderstone tried, Teräsbetoni went all the way to the Eurovision Song Contest. So there is no credibility to lose by participating on those things. In fact it was all thumbs up from me to Thunderstone! their new album Dirt Metal...what a bizarre name isn't it? Does it mean that Thunderstone has created a new genre? I had a friend who described his bands music as Glove Metal but it was just a joke of course. But after listening to Dirt Metal I quickly realized that they haven't named the album by creating a new genre. There has been 2 major changes in Thunderstone for Dirt Metal. First of them being the change from Nuclear Blast to Sony BMG. A change that necessarily doesn't mean anything to a band like Thunderstone musically. But the second change is bigger. Vocalist Pasi Rantanen and keyboardist Kari Tornack left Thunderstone in august 2007. Just after the release of their Evolution 4.0 album and before their coming co-headlining tour with Nocturnal Rites. Time was too short then to find permanent replacements so they did the tour with guest musicians. Jens Johansson from Stratovarius was planned first but he declined for personal reasons so they got Jukka Karinen from Status Minor in keyboards and Tommi "Tuple" Salmela from Tarot in vocals. But after the tour it was time to find new permanent members. Jukka Karinen was recruited as a permanent member so they just needed to find a vocalist. Not an easy task considering the what kind of vocalist Pasi Rantanen was...and of course still is.

Was it that they couldn't find a replacement in Finland cause Thunderstone ended up recruiting a swede by the name of Rick Altzi. Rick sang prior to Thunderstone in At Vance and Sandalinas. But after you hear his voice anyone can say that Thunderstone wanted a singer that sounds like Pasi Rantanen. No one can blame them for that.

Dirt Metal song by song


I Almighty
Singletrack. A very good song with basic doublebass drumming but just when you think if that's all it gives, comes slower melodic parts that keeps the song interesting. Perhaps the most easylistening song on the album.

Dirt Metal
Excellent song! Very groovy, mid-tempo yet extremely heavy. In fact these kind of songs are the ones that caught my attention the best. Rick's voice works very well on this one. And although the song is not doublebass-drumming song, Mirka's playing sounds very powerful. This song is an absolute killer live!

Blood That I Bleed
This song is like teflon really...I tried to listen to it over and over again but nothing gets stuck. But that isn't a bad thing cause I'd rather take songs that take long to open than those listen-once-done songs which they don't have on this album.

In my opinion the heaviest song on the album. I loved the guitar riff in the beginning of the song. Perhaps the chorus is a bit cheezy but it's forgiven cause the song has balls. Again a very nice guitar vs. keyboard solo in the middle of the song.

Ghosts Of Youth
This is an awesome track. Alhtough the song itself is mid-tempo it's still very heavy. And what Thunderstone has always known how to do are I love it! I am trying to find flattering words but nothing flattering enough comes in mind. Just buy the album and listen.

Counting Hours
Very melodic song with an awesome chorus. In the beginning of the song Rick sounds a lot like Pasi but as the song evolves, Rick's voice really stands out nicely. This song also has a very nice keyboardsolo that really lifts the atmosphere.

Dodge The Bullet
Another song that didn't impress me really. Song itself is rather fast and Nino plays a very fast guitarsolo but all in all the song is kinda flat.

Another mid-tempo song with a very catchy chorus. I think this one would have made a very good single and it might have caught a lot of radioplay cause the song length is optimal, 3:38.

At The Feet Of Fools
One of the few songs on Dirt Metal that didn't impress me. By no means it was a bad song but it lacked the punchline. Something that made me thing "wow", "cool". Song had a nice keyboard vs. guitarsolo however so points for that.

Suffering Song
Closing the album with style. Over 8 minutes long with a lot of feeling. I am tempted to call it a ballad but it really isn't. Vocalist really shines on this song. But what I liked the most about Suffering Song was the changes inside the song. Those changes keep it interesting and there is nothing too much on those 8 minutes.

Overall: Dirt Metal was a very pleasant surprise. Although I perhaps criticized few songs, the truth is that this album doesn't contain a single bad song. And what caught my attention was that you really need to listen to this album many times before it starts opening. And my friends, that is a good thing! I think I listened Dirt Metal around 10 times before writing this review and even then I wasn't able to go deep enough. And Rick Altzi proved himself to be a man in place.

Review: 9/10

Dirt Metal tracklist:
  1. Rebirth
  2. I Almighty
  3. Dirt Metal
  4. Blood That I Bleed
  5. Star
  6. Ghosts Of Youth
  7. Counting Hours
  8. Dodge The Bullet
  9. Deadlights
  10. At The Feet Of Fools
  11. Suffering Song
Thunderstone is:
Nino Laurenne / Guitar, Backing Vocals
Titus Hjelm / Bass, Backing Vocals
Rick Altzi / Vocals
Jukka Karinen / Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Mirka Rantanen / Drums


Thursday, July 16, 2009

How were things with my favourite band 10 years ago?

It has been said that nothing gets lost on internet. "Be careful if you upload your pictures", "Once it's there, you cannot get it out" etc. Well usually people don't pay any attention until it hits you in the face. You find a picture on internet you remember posting 5 years ago but you are certain you removed it also. "How in the hell can it still be there?" you ask. Man some even say that putting something online is like having a tattoo...forever. Sure you can try to get it removed with expensive laser treatments but it usually always leave a trace. Just like it goes on internet. Search engines like Google crawl websites and index them so people are able to find information they are looking for. Google indexes images also and every now and then you stumble on a picture that can be found in Google but when you try to follow the link, the image is no longer there. What happens is that although you have removed the picture from it's original source, there are still snapshots for instance in searchengines.

That sounded like a no means it was ment to be one :) That's just the way it goes. But having searchengines is very important. I think majority of us use those searchengines every day cause let's face it, internet is the nro 1 source for information these days. When you need to find something, you sit on the computer and start punching. The fact that you find something is cause those searchengines have crawled websites and stored the information. But every now and then we stumble on a website or service that really helps us. Cause of my work in Metal From Finland I need to find information about finnish metalbands very often and not all of it is accessible anymore. Bands renew their websites, some information gets lost along the way. Some even want to remove some information cause "Well it was part of our past and we don't stand for those things anymore". But I still want to read about it dammit! Well now there's a chance that you can.

Introducing you WayBackMachine ( This is how the website describes itself: "The Internet Archive, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Like a paper library, we provide free access to researchers, historians, scholars, and the general public."

Browse through over 150 billion web pages archived from 1996 to a few months ago. To start surfing the Wayback, type in the web address of a site or page where you would like to start, and press enter. Then select from the archived dates available. The resulting pages point to other archived pages at as close a date as possible.

Below are some links I checked:

Metal From Finland*/
Only year 2007 was indexed but you can see how MFF started :) Oh the nostalgy!

Starting point*/

Nightwish member-profiles back in 1999

Starting point*/

(Ville Valo biographjy back in 2001)

Children Of Bodom
Starting point*/

The 69 Eyes
Starting point*/

Well by now I think you've got the general idea what it does. I use it mainly for checking band-stuff but remember that it's all about websites...not just bands so you can check just about anything there! Have fun people!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

LARS ULRICH of Metallica the best metaldrummer in the world?

Drum! Magazine held their annual Drummies (Drummer Of The Year) and on their Metal drummer category the victory went to Lars Ulrich of Metallica. Ehm...what? Now I have to admit that I am not very familiar with Drum! Magazine so I don't know if those drummies are based on votes by readers or do they have a jury that decides who has the honour of winning each category. Somehow I would understand this if the victory is based on given votes from fans cause let's face it...Metallica is a monster so based on their fanbase the victory was kinda obvious. It's a bit same (although in smaller proportions) what happens in Metal From Finland Awards each year. It's Nightwish vs. Tarja Turunen vs. HIM. Well that is about to change for our 2009 Awards next February.

But if the winners are chosen by a really puzzles me. Now don't get me wrong here...I do like Metallica...a lot. Well at least their older albums but St. Anger and Death Magnetic weren't all that bad. In fact I might even call Death Magnetic a good album. Not a second coming of Master Of Puppets like Lars Ulrich stated in an interview once but still a good album.

Now let's talk a bit why Lars Ulrich of Metallica is the best drummer in the world shall we? First of all, he is after Metallica. In fact he is the founder of Metallica with James Hetfield! He is a Businessman with a capital B! He collects fine art. He is from Scandinavia. He downloaded their latest album Death Magnetic from P2P-network cause he of all people should have the right to do so. He is the first Danish person to be honoured in Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame along with other Metallica-members. And he is a drummer. Now you have to admit, those are all very good reasons. And his drumsolos...I! Don't believe me? Look for yourself :)

Ok let's get serious for a while. Of course it's an honour for Lars Ulrich to be the best metaldrummer in the world and as with every award, there are winners and there are losers. Here are some losers who lost to Lars this year:

Also the list goes on with these candidates

Well some of them are insanely fast, some are very technical, some are simply badass. But they are all awesome drummers. And that was just a very rough scratch...the list could go on forever. But since I have no idea what was behind the nominations, let's just accept the fact that Lars Ulrich is the best metaldrummer in the world...well at least this year.

And if there is anyone out there who is now pissed off beyond words...don't be. Metallica still is a some kind of monster! Besides...if you think what I wrote was bad...check out what is said about Lars in Uncyclopedia

Monday, July 13, 2009

TWILIGHTNING: Plague House closed - 1998 - 2009 -

Twilightning posted this piece of news on their website July 8th 2009:

"Twilightning decides to call it quits. We discovered the fact that the drive has vanished and there's no point of going on without the full force and motivation. Then we just not only would cheat ourselves but also our fans. Everyone continues to pursue their musical careers on their own projects and bands.

Twilightning thanks all of it's fans and everyone that has somehow helped or been there. The past eleven years has changed our lives.

Thank you and see ya!!"

Twilightning always had a deep meaning to me. Ever since I heard their Delirium Veil-album. I don't think they have brought anything new to Finnish musicscene other than awesome music. The first thing about Twilightning that caught my attention was the sound of Heikki Pöyhiä. When I saw his picture and I thought to myself "Is this babyface really behind that awesome sound?" I couldn't believe it really. But in all honesty the man has a voice that you rarely hear. My only tragedy is that I never got the chance to see them live...and it seems it's too late now. Well in my defense I can say that in the last years they didn't tour all that much anymore.

There is one question concerning Twilightning that I have repeatedly asked myself for years already...why weren't they more popular? Well Twilightning isn't the only band I have hoped to gain more success than they did but since this is about them, I'll stick with them. They had a good label in Finland (Spinefarm). Don't know about their distribution channels outside of Finland but at least everything should have been ok in Finland. I don't even know if any of their albums reached albumcharts in Finland? They were popular in Japan though. Well at least more popular then they were anywhere else. It's naive to believe that having good music is enough for success it seems. But I would have granted the success for Twilightning.

Some people say it was time for them to quit cause they got worse and worse by the album. I do agree on that. Their debut album Delirium Veil was so incredible that it would have taken miracles to make a better one. But Plague-House Puppet Show wasn't a bad album...not at all. I think what makes people puzzled and confused about Twilightning is that they changed in every album. Where Delirium Veil was pure melodic power metal, Plague-House Puppet Show was more close to 80's hairmetal or glam. As for their last and latest album Swinelords...well I really don't know how to categorize that. It was a good album in general but not as a Twilightning album. I think you could already sense the changes on their Bedlam-ep released prior to Swinelords. I remember buying that ep and listening to it...what a weird experience. I was disappointed and happy at the same time. Happy to hear new Twilightning material but disappointed cause it wasn't as good as their previous albums.

But all in saddens me that the Plague-House is closed.

Twilightning Tribute:


Delirium Veil (Spinefarm Records 2003 SPI152CD)

01. Gone To The Wall
02. At The Forge
03. Jester Realm
04. Delirium Veil
05. Return To Innocence
06. Under Somber Skies
07. Seventh Dawn
08. Enslaved To The Mind
09. Masked Ball Dalliance
10. The Escapist (Japanese bonus track)
11. Affection Seeker (Japanese bonus track)

Into Treason EP (Spinefarm Records 2004 SPI203CD)

01. Into Treason
02. Wind-up Toy
03. Affection Seeker

Plague-House Puppet Show (Spinefarm Records 2004 SPI204CD)

01. Plague-House Puppet Show
02. Into Treason
03. The Fiend
04. Victim of Deceit
05. Painting The Blue Eyes
06. In The Fervor's Frontier
07. Fever Pitch
08. Diamonds Of Mankind
09. Riot Race
10. Lubricious Thoughts
11. Goddess Of Fortune (Japanese bonus track)
12. Wind-up Toy (Japanese bonus track)

Recorded at Astia Studio A by Anssi Kippo
Mixed at Finnvox Studio by Mikko Karmila
Produced by Anssi Kippo
Mastered at Finnvox Studio by Mika Jussila

Buy from Recordshop X

Bedlam EP (Spinefarm Records 2006 SPI250CD)

01. Space of Disgrace
02. Rolling Heads
03. Sex Jail
04. Plague Overload
05. Train to Bedlam

Recorded at Astia Studio by Anssi Kippo
Mixed at Finnvox Studio by Mikko Karmila
Produced by Anssi Kippo
Mastered at Finnvox Studio by Mika Jussila

Buy from Recordshop X

Swinelords (Spinefarm Records 2007 SPI257CD)

01. Isolation Shell
02. Swinelord
03. Reflection Of The Cuckoo
04. Vice Jesus
05. Pimps, Witches, Thieves & Bitches
06. The Gun
07. Not A Word
08. Consume Gap
09. With The Flow
10. Wounded & Withdrawn
11. Maggots (Japanese bonus track)

Recorded at Music-Bros Studios by Miitri Aaltonen
Drums recorded at Astia Studio by Anssi Kippo
Mixed at Music-Bros Studios by Miitri Aaltonen
Produced by Miitri Aaltonen & Twilightning
Mastered at Finnvox Studios by Mika Jussila

Buy from Recordshop X

Heikki Pöyhiä - Vocals
Tommi Sartanen - Guitars
Ville Wallenius - Guitars
Jussi Kainulainen - Bass
Juha Leskinen - Drums

Twilightning on internet:

Monday, July 6, 2009

Review: Stratovarius - Polaris

There is little denying what Stratovarius has ment to power metal scene over the years. For sure Stratovarius has been one of the great ones always when it comes to that genre. Unfortunately for Stratovarius they have been known for more than just their music also and their numerous publicity stunts and public fights have kept them on the lipps of metal community for years already. Latest of them being when Timo Tolkki decided to leave Stratovarius and pursue his solocareer. Tons of hateful statements between Tolkki and Stratovarius followed and people once again had the "fun" to witness this madness. Where we are now with all this...well no one really knows.

For many longtime Stratovarius fans it was a very bitter pill to swallow when Tolkki left cause although he wasn't the founding member, he was considered the soul of Stratovarius. But we must not forget that although he wrote 95% of Stratovarius material, it was the five-piece that made the songs what they are. I am certain that every member brought their own little thing to each and every song although the songs were composed by Tolkki. As much as people seem to "hate" and love to bash Timo Tolkki there is no denying that as a composer he was and still is one of the best there is. For a while it seemed even to Johansson, Kotipelto, Michael and Porra that Stratovarius is no more. At least according to them. No one really knows how they felt after Tolkki left the band. It surely didn't make things easier that's for sure. But then after couple of left-turns, few back, three forward and one right, they confirmed that Stratovarius has a new guitarist Matias Kupiainen and a new album coming. And on May 2009 it happened and Polaris hit the recordstores. This is supposed to be a review right? So how is the album then?

I wish it would be all that easy...just to pick up the cd, listen to it and review it. The pressure behind Polaris was huge...not to mention the expectations. First album without the mastermind, a new guitarist, everyone now participating on songwriting. So many possibilities to make Polaris fail. I don't think they failed. I think considering the circumstances Stratovarius delivered a good album. Should we first chew Kupiainen before moving on songs? Gladly.

Junior is very good. But honestly...did anyone expect them to choose a crappy guitarist? We are talking about worldclass musicians here c'mon. But Matias is a very good guitarist. He also has his own project called Fist in Fetus that has released one EP. For Polaris Matias has contributed on 3 songs (Deep Unknown, Higher We Go, Somehow Precious). Perhaps in the future if he composes songs alone we can really tell more about his composing skills. But as a guitarist he is very good.

There are many recognizable elements in Polaris. Perhaps biggest of them being the keyboards of course. Jens Johansson simply has the sound to recognize and of course skills to match. There are many "duels" between Johansson and Kupiainen and those are always fun to listen. Jörg Michael and Lauri Porra makes a perfect rhytmsection. A bit surprisingly the negative feedback this time goes to vocalist Timo Kotipelto. Singing itself is very good as always but somehow it seems that he was missing the "pusher" in studio...that being Timo Tolkki. For instance there are few parts in the album where his pronunciation is quite bad and those would have never gone through with Tolkki. And also few stretched words are missing the last letter. Well the ones that usually criticized Timo's pronunciation were Finns and I guess this time isn't exception either :)

Sounds on Polaris are top notch. always. Then let's talk about the songs a bit. Here I just have to pick up one interview where Kotipelto said that Polaris is that good old Stratovarius again...excuse me? Maybe he was referring to something else besides songs cause this surely isn't the good old Stratovarius. You can put Episode, Visions, Destiny, Infinite or even Dreamspace on the same line with Polaris and it would be like putting Ferrari and Lada on comparison. But I think it's useless to talk about good old Stratovarius cause those days aren't coming back. Metallica said that Death Magnetic was like Master Of Puppets...right. Well it wasn't the Master Of Puppets I have heard.

Album opener Deep Unknown which was also the single release and the song for video. Well it's a good one really. Perhaps the chorus is a bit tacky but all in all it's a very good album opener. Falling Star is a mid-tempo song with a catchy chorus. King Of Nothing is my personal favourite on this album. Jens Johansson plays some amazing tunes on this song. And although you can recognize it as Stratovarius, it also has something new. I just can't put my finger to what it is...should I try my fist? Then comes Blind, what a horrible "let's-just-fill-something"-type of song! This song is a textbook-example that no matter how well you play it simply isn't enough if the song has absolutely nothing. And the fact that it comes after King Of Nothing makes it even close to blasphemy. A total ear-bleeder. Winter Skies is the next one. Along with Deep Unknown and Higher We Go, Winter Skies has managed to break on their setlist too...but I wonder why though? It's an ok ballad but on the long tradition of ballads in Stratovarius, this really doesn't move in any way. I would prefer Winter from Fourth Dimension over this in any day. Forever Is Today is probably closest to the good old Stratovarius. I think this song would have fit any Stratovarius album easily. All the elements are simply there. Doublebass, melodies, keyboards, the package. And the lyrics do offer a good lesson..."Forever is today so don't delay". Kupiainen also plays a very good solo on this song. And it was nice to see that this song was composed solely by Lauri Porra. Higher We Go is an ok song but again I wonder why this particular song is on their setlist? But definately a song worth having on this album, a bit clichee but then's Stratovarius :) Somehow Precious is a very good ballad. Kupiainen plays very beautiful melodies on this song. And the chorus is very good. The comes the Emancipation Suite in 2 parts: Dusk and Dawn. Again solely composed by Lauri Porra. At first I didn't like these 2 songs but it required few listenings and they started opening up. Not the best on Polaris but definately worth having. And I have to admit that part 1 has one of the best guitarsolos I have ever heard. Very good indeed. Closing the album with When Mountains Fall. Only vocals, acoustic guitar and strings. Touching lyrics. Somewhere said it's the Forever of this millenium...bullshit but however a very beautiful song. And again...solely composed by Lauri Porra...Lauri you are an animal! The only minus in a beautiful ballad is that it sounds like Kotipelto sings "Now I am shitting by your grave and I sing this song for you"...not very romantic.

All in all Polaris didn't bring much new to the scene but it delivered. As a closure I have to criticize their setlists a bit...on the first part of their tour Stratovarius only played 3 songs from the new album. And in my opinion they chose entirely wrong songs from Polaris...with Deep Uknown there should have definately been King Of Nothing and Forever Is Today. I saw them (well heard them mostly cause I was enjoying beverages with my gf in the drinking area) in Sauna Open Air in Tampere and it is understandable that people freaked out for all the classics but it was equally sad to hear people being confused about the new songs. We are far from the days when Stratovarius played their entire Infinite album from beginning to an end and only after that came other classics. But as one concert review from Sauna Open Air said...Stratovarius is an excellent tributeband.

Review: 8 / 10

Tracklist of Polaris:
  1. Deep Unknown
  2. Falling Star
  3. King Of Nothing
  4. Blind
  5. Winter Skies
  6. Forever Is Today
  7. Higher We Go
  8. Somehow Precious
  9. Emancipation Suite Part I: Dusk
  10. Emancipation Suite Part II: Dawn
  11. When Mountains Fall
Stratovarius is:

Timo Kotipelto - Vocals
Jens Johansson - Keyboards
Matias Kupiainen - Guitars
Lauri Porra - Bass
Jörg Michael - Drums

Stratovarius on internet:

Friday, July 3, 2009

When idolizing someone goes too far

What has been the nro 1 topic in every media during the past week or so? Michael Jackson and is unfortunate passing of course. The amount of news in different medias have been something beyond understanding. On the day of his death many websites crashed cause people all over the world tried to find information, Twitter crashed, Google thought they were under attack from the amount of queries their search-engines received all of a sudden. From the impact point-of-view one might think that the world simply went mad cause of this.

When services like Twitter crash or Google consider they are under attack, we can only make one conclusion: Michael Jackson was a very significant person to this world. I mean these things doesn't happen just cause few thousand people all of a sudden decide to start finding information about the same has to be hundreds of thousands...probably even millions of people. About his passing there is simply nothing I could tell that hasn't been told already. And new things pop up each day...latest being how he wanted to adopt the 8 children from Nadya Suleman, better known as Octomum. At first Debbie Rowe didn't want to have anything to do with her 2 children, then she all of a sudden wanted the custody and now rumors say that she isn't even the biological mother of Prince Michael and Paris. I mean what the hell? Well this is the time when all the rumors take place and media grabs them all.

It kinda reminds me that poor Bolivian tv-station who got hold of pictures from Air France flight AF447 that crashed on Atlantic and they aired showing those pictures where the back of the plane was ripped off and one passenger was torn from the plane...unfortunately for them, those pictures were taken from the tv-series Lost! You could even see Evangeline Lilly on the pictures and she surely wasn't on AF447 flight. But it just shows that when something is "hot", things are published by any means possible. And it's really sad.

The passing of Michael Jackson was and still is sad and tragic. But what really saddens me are those 12 Michael Jackson fans who decided to commit suicide. Well at least the count is 12 while writing this. And hopefully it will stay that way and we won't have any more people ending their lives. Don't you think it's stupid to end your life cause your idol died? Do you think Mr. Jackson would have wanted his fans starting to take their lives cause of him? I mean c'mon!

When you lose a familymember, your companion, your child...those are the moments when a person might go through thoughts about his or her will to carry on without the person he or she lost. And somehow that is understandable. But how important can an idol really be to a fan? This is simply something that doesn't get in my head...maybe I am not idolizing anyone strong enough? Outside my family and friends there are very few people who's passing would make a strong impact on me. I think Ozzy Osbourne is one of those people. When Dimebag was killed it saddened me cause everyone said how wonderful person he was. And it wasn't his time yet. And I truly admired him as a musician and a guitarplayer. But I would never choose to end my life because of them.

Wishing a nice weekend to everyone!