Stratovarius – Nemesis (Armoury Records)Tuesday, 23rd April 2013
Quite a laugh to hear old ‘mate Timo Tolkki speak of Nemesis’ production and songwriting values…the dude said not too long ago that Strato wouldn’t last another five years. Could he be trying to get back into their good graces? Hopefully not, for Stratovarius Mach No Tolkki is faring about as well as they did in the late 90’s, but at least this isn’t a rehash of those speedy, happy-happy joyride days. Tolkki is right: Nemesis is about as modern as Stratovarius is going to get.
Subtract the far too bouncy “Halcyon Days,” and Nemesis finds its groove in the Euro-friendly confines of song-oriented power metal. Jens Johansson is out front (as he should be), leading the charge on “Fantasy” (someone kill these cheesy lyrics) and “Out of the Fog,” two of the album’s finer moments. The twinkle of “Unbreakable” might be too saccharine for some, but it’s sure to appease those digging for pop amongst the pop metal ruins, while the hooting-and-hollering courtesy of Timo Koltipelto on “Abandon” and “Stand my Ground” sum up this whole “modern approach” thing we (and the band) are harping on.
Cutting another Polaris or Elysium would have satiated a small fraction of folks, so the approach and quasi-gall of Nemesis was a smart move. The thing is, one still knows what they’re going get with Strato, but sidesteps like this should if anything, give the band another platform in which to stand on, their hallowed gallops of Visions and Destiny can only benefit from it.