It seems strange that the first review on this blog is of an album made before I was born! Yet I said I would review the next album I received in the post and this was it! Thats right I did say, in the post.. not downloaded! After all who could resist a proper album when they are for sale for under £4. Given its a in a box lets quickly skim over that.
The cover for this album is actually quite nice, one of Stratovarius' less garish albums covers! The text is very retro though but it all adds to the feel. It has a very cheep feel though once you take a look around the box, the lyrics are printed in Times New Roman on a white back ground.. and the only band picture is a postage stamp size and very pixilated. Although the plastic thing that the CD clips into was reenforced on my copy which is very good, I've had band experiences with other albums breaking there. For their second album on not much money, I should cut them some slack!
Now this is very important, as with any early Stratovarius: Listen to the album, Listen to it again.. go to bed wake up listen to it... let the songs sink into your head then play it very loud that evening! It sounds a bit odd but on the first listening of this album I hated it! Same with Dream Space, Fourth Dimension and Episode! Its mostly likely the nature of the genera that does this to you.
'Breaking the Ice' opens the albums with nice heavy punch, which is not Timo's strong point but it works.. just. The rifts as you would expect from stratovarius, very good, and the solos are too.
Besides 'Breaking the Ice', 'Metal Frenzy' is pretty heavy (by my standards!)
Anyone who has listened to Stratovarius will know they tend to include a 7minute + song, this is the song that keeps you coming back and I think for this album I would be 'Madness Strikes at Midnight' when combined with 'Twilight Time' these tracks have a catchy enough chorus to bring you back in to enjoy this album that you would otherwise probably forget!
Theres no overal feel to the album but the tracks are slotted well together, it is an album not a collection of songs.
Besides what I've mentioned earlier 'The Hills have Eyes' is an eerie feel, its a fantastic song. Its nice to hear some unusual sounds and despite the crititism that Timo Tolkki gets his voice does range and certainly does not spoil the album, the song has a great beat too it as well.
'Lead us into the light' does not do it for me though, its the classic Stratovarious finisher that could be compared to 'Wings of Tomorrow' or 'We hold the Key' but it just lacks the quality that could have really helped this album.
If you stick it out this album does reward you, it begin in my iTunes liberary with one star.. then the next day two and now I've raised it to four stars! Thats around what I'm giving this album, 3.75 stars. It lacks the real quality tracks or theme and has some weak links calling a five out of question but it really grew on me. Its a bit forgettable but when you do come back to it, it will be a pleasure. I'd give it four but its bettered by later stratovarius albums.
3.75/5 - Don't judge it too soon, its a must have for Stratovarius fans, but not amazing.
Buy it Here
I'm a big Stratovarius fan so if anyone cares to disagree, please comment away :-)