Album Review: STRATOVARIUS Survive

Album Review: STRATOVARIUS Survive

Just over seven years later Eternalthe legendary finnish power metal band Stratovarius are back with Survive. The current lineup has been together for a decade. No original members remain, with vocalist Timo Kotipelto (1994) and keyboardist Jens Johansson (1995) the oldest members.

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Survive is a fitting title for a band that has been around for nearly 40 years. The opening title track is about survival, and Johannsson says that everything seemed to fall into place. “That fits with the band’s history as well, because we’ve managed to survive for so long,” he says. “This band has had some weird days!”

After the long gap between discs, there is no rust like Stratovarius aims to regain its position as one of power metal’s elite acts. One thing that has been the case for his entire career and remains evident in Survive is that the band knows how to write catchy songs. The album is filled with giant hooks and sing-along choruses.

This includes the aforementioned opener. “Survive” is a burst of adrenaline to get the album rolling on the right note. It’s melodic, atmospheric and ridiculously catchy, keeping the weight where it needs to be. “Demand” is another radio-ready single that is streamlined and memorable, just like “Firefly”.

There are several tracks with a more epic, cinematic vibe like “Frozen In Time,” whose backing choruses and symphonic flavor never overshadow the accessible melodies. “Glory Days” (not a Bruce Springsteen cover) is also bombastic and urgent with backing choruses that deftly combine heavy guitars and atmospheric orchestral sections.

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Power metal is not a subtle genre. There is always the danger of going over the top in the land of tacky and self-parody. Stratovarius don’t even come close to that line, sounding very authentic and hitting all your marks. Many different emotions are utilized, from struggle to triumph, and the musicianship is impeccable.

initial field is one of the best vocalists in the business, and he’s been in good shape throughout the album. He sings with power and emotion and still has a lot of range after nearly 30 years in charge. While certainly well known, especially among power metal fans, initial field for me he is still an underrated singer, especially outside Europe. One of his best performances is on “Breakaway”, a dynamic song that allows him to show his expressive side during the smooth start before things get started and he is able to sing it.

While there’s no denying the catchy appeal of this album, the production is so polished that it somehow sanitizes the proceedings and removes any edge. The final track “Voice Of Thunder” takes too long, not bringing much new to the table in its more than 11 minutes. But in the larger scheme of things, these are minor issues. Survive is still a very enjoyable power metal album and a welcome return to Stratovarius.

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