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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Stratovarius

Destiny

Review by Gary Hill

A sub-segment of prog metal seems to seek to merge classical and metal styles into one format. Among the bands that work in that genre, Stratovarius and Royal Hunt seem to be the best. This album really shows why Stratovarius deserves to be at that level. Featuring very potent arrangements, dynamic changes and proficient musicianship, this is a fine prog metal work.

The lineup on the album is Jens Johansson, Jorg Michael, Jari Kainulainen, Timo Kotipelto and Timo Tolkki.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Destiny
A beautiful, classically tinged accapella female vocal line begins this one. Eventually, the instruments jump in in a dramatic display of metallic prowess. The cut then drops back to a more sedate form for a time. Those vocals continue through this segment. The composition then screams into fairly straightforward and high energy metal, a bit reminiscent of Helloween. It continues in this format, with the exception of a pleasantly classically tinged progish instrumental break. That break takes the piece to it`s next portion, a movement that seems to feel a bit like Eleanor Rigby and a bit Ukish, all in a pretty ballad format. From there the metal edge comes back, but in slower mode. "I control my life, I am the one, You control your life, But don`t forget your destiny". This is a powerful and dramatic piece.
S.O.S.
Quite emotional and strong, this one begins with a considerably progish intro. After a short time, it begins to pick up metallic modes. These modes then begin to dominate the piece. Much of this cut is essentially a prog metal ballad, with a fast paced rhythm section running counter balance. "I`ve been thinking, I`ve been trying, But I`ve always been denying, Wasted days are still inside of me, It`s time to set them free". This one also features a strongly neoclassical instrumental break, and the ending is very progish.

No Turning Back
Blazing high energy metal in the vein of early Queensryche, the chorus to this cut is rather Helloweenish. "No turning back, Coz I wanna know who I am and I want to live my life, No turning back, tomorrow`s awaiting, I`m on my way".
4000 Rainy Nights
Quite emotional and balladic, this one reminds the listener a lot of Queensryche`s "Another Rainy Night".

Rebel
Neoclassically tinged shred guitar starts this cut, a solid and fast paced metal composition. "You must learn to live, There` so much to give, Set fire to your soul, again and be....The Rebel, Hold your head up proud."
Years Go By
A sedate and pretty piano and vocal intro begins this emotional ballad. This one, although a ballad, does contain some metallic power.
Playing With Fire
Another strong metal cut, this one feels quite a bit like early Ryche.
Venus in the Morning
"Forget the future don`t live the past, Live for today because life goes too fast, Go find the key to your Divine Mind, Open the Door so many answers you`ll find". A pretty and evocative acoustic intro is augmented as the song progresses by classically oriented strings and strong vocals. This is a very beautiful piece.
Anthem of the World
Classically tinged strings herald a neoclassical prog metal number. Later portions of the tune take on more traditionally metallic modes in the Iron Maiden/Helloween styles.
Cold Winter Nights
This fast metal cut features a neoclassical guitar section and is quite dynamic and rather quirky.
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