STRATOVARIUS - "A Concept Album Without A Concept!"
By Martin Popoff

Yes, that's right hobbits; you can relax. Elements Pt. 1, the fusspot title of the new record from fussy Finns Stratovarius carries no great significance, other than the fact that there's a whopping 12 minute prog monster of the same name on the record. "And of course, the big problem will be the next album," says jovial keyboardist Jens Johansson, ex of the classic Yngwie recordings, "because the next album doesn't even have a song called Elements, yet it still will be called Elements Pt. 2." Jens is referring to the fact that a whole second album of material was recorded at the same sessions for this "post-break" new record, save for vocals and a few other niggling details.

But for now we have a new Stratovarius album to ponder. Is it business as usual for the two Timos and crew? Jens says not. "I would say this one's heavier, slower, more symphonic; not so much focused on those traditional, frantic power metal double bass drum beats. There are a couple of songs like that, but it's more heavy, bombastic, slow. I would say that the average tempo goes down by 10 BPM or something like that, just to get technical."

But even though there's a definite and defiant impatience with power metal precepts, resulting in a record with staggeringly fresh progressive bits, the world is still set in motion by guitarist and overwhelming band leader Timo Tolkki. "Yes, the writing still came from Timo. I wrote a few songs that I think will end up on singles and things like that. Although on the second album, I think I'll have one song on that, which comes out in maybe a year or something. I think if we were all to write, like by some stupid democratic rule where you all write 25%, then it would be very, very scattered. And I totally understand that viewpoint. For me, as long as he comes up with good stuff, I'm not complaining about it. If he wrote two good songs and then eight really terrible, strange, disco songs, I probably would say, hey, come on, try something else. I really try to think of the big picture; it really doesn't matter who writes the songs. These are good, so it's not my place to say, well, I want to write. Some of the guys in the band, they don't even care to write. The bass player and the drummer just say, oh, we play and that's it. Definitely for me, the means justified the ends."

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