STRATOVARIUS - Enigma: Intermission 2
October 8, 2018, 7 days ago
Full disclosure, I’m a longtime fan of this band, have been reviewing their music since 2003. With that, it doesn’t mean I can’t write and honest unbiased opinion about the music. Shoot, I would not want to write any other way. With that, last album Eternal from 2015 I found rather phoned in and a paint by numbers. Still, no love lost for their importance, legends. Enigma: Intermission 2 is 12 left over (three are new) songs that didn’t make an album, bonus’ for different territories, plus four orchestral arrangements. Maintaining a consistent lineup since 2009 (minus a drummer change), and four albums, it’s now singer Timo Kotipelto (1994–) and Jens Johansson (keyboards 1995–) the lone members from the classic lineup, joined by Lauri Porra on bass (2005–) and guitarist Matias Kupiainen replacing Tolkki since 2008.
First track, new one “Enigma”, I already enjoy better than what Eternal offered. The guitars still have a gritty tone, and the power and punch from the drums and bass are still present, but this is a strong mid paced power rocker. Not a typical speedy double bass power metal rager. Great duel between the guitar and keys during aggressive “Hunter” and still Timo’s vocal soars above the charging tempo. Bass begins “Hallowed” for something slower, more moody and darker with Porra’s unique bass tone coming through. The arrangement takes a couple twists, atypical. Well done. Next new track, “Burn Me Down” has some of a Michael Romeo/Symphony X feel to the riff, the chorus spirited in fine fashion.
Elsewhere, “Kill It With Fire”, “Second Sight”, and “Castaway” are Strato fast power metal if you want the same old same old, they have done it before, and much better. Cascading keyboards gives “Fireborn” some pizazz for a spacey vibe, while the fancy finger picking acoustic guitars and vocal on “Old Man And The Sea” it’s still bland. Of the orchestral songs, “Winter Skies” was so beautiful and epic before such a treatment and this new Disney approach just takes out the punch. Still, it’s a nice reworking.
While I’d say 75% successful, this album is more artistic like the albums Dreamspace and Fourth Dimension and hopefully Enigma: Intermission 2 will influence how the new album turns out.