Genre: Symphonic Metal
Release Date: 23rd September 2022
Label: earMUSIC / Edel
The long wait is over for fans of STRATOVARIUS. It took the band seven years to release a new album after a long tour with their previous release, the band took a break to spent tie with their families and the global pandemic hit. The result of such a long time between two releases is an outstanding album that shows that the band matured and keeps leaving their 80s Power Metal sound behind. STRATOVARIUS are perfectionists, so no worries about the song’s quality, collectors want to inspect the artwork and then compare it to the treasures on the record-shelf. The artwork gives the listener a hint about what ‘Survive’ deals with and perfectly represents the lyrics content.
The album opens with the title track that also was released as a single. While the instrumentation gathers intensity strike by strike on Matias Kupiainen’s guitar who pushes the song forward. The vocals come with a steady rhythm to lead over into a chorus that is a powerful and catchy one. The wonderful thing about the band’s songs is that you can listen to them over and over again and you will always find new details in them and STRATOVARIUS didn’t change this. If you listen close, you’ll be surprised how many details are hidden in the background. A trademark STRATOVARIUS song is ‘Demand’, a wonderful and versatile song with Power Metal elements that are far from the band’s original sound. The vocals are very energetic and the harmonies are outstanding, reminding me a bit of what I had witnessed during a QUEEN & ADAM LAMBERT show, recently.
A stomping rhythm is the trademark of ‘Broken’, that comes with many Symphonic elements that the master of synths Jens Johansson turned into a wonderful atmospheric sphere that perfectly carries the songs chorus. It’s always a pleasure to attend the band’s live show, especially if Jens Johansson has a solo part; his keyboard solo for ‘Broken’ is outstanding and will be a highlight during a live show. ‘Firefly’ is a song for those who prefer the band’s more positive and optimistic songs, nothing special, but a song that almost screams “STRATOVARIUS”. ‘We Are Not Alone’ has a prominent bass line and comes with a pattern the band used countless times already. Same goes for ‘World On Fire’. The album’s lyrics all deal with the will to survive and overcome bad things happening around you. If you want to escape these thoughts, focus on the music.
If you like the band’s more atmospheric songs, you will fall in love with ‘Frozen In Time’ that is quite short for its epic instrumentation but a masterpiece. Now that we are halfway through the album, a word on the vocals might be appropriate. So far, the album lacks the extreme high parts Timo Kotipelto delivers without effort. You might think that his voice doesn’t have the capacity anymore, but be assured he still hits those high notes like nobody else in the Metal scene. I saw various STRATOVARIUS gigs and some of Timo’s solo shows during the last years and he always delivered the vocals perfectly. So why did the band leave out the extreme high notes? I think it’s due to the bands more refined mature sound.
‘Glory Days’ is a high-speed song that breathes ‘Infinite’ combined with the band’s extreme pace on ‘Episode’. ‘Breakaway’ is almost the contrary, a ballade that starts with acoustic elements, just to lead over into symphonic elements and with a kind of explosion the band’s trademark Power Metal takes over. You think the album can’t get any better? Wait for ‘Before The Fall’! The song starts with an epic intro, not indicating that the lead vocals will be delivered at maximum speed and with a kind of aggression, that is new in the STRATOVARIUS universe. The chorus balances the song out and if you listen close, you will find that it is a variation on the songs intro.
To be honest, ‘Voice Of Thunder’ is what I’ve been waiting for, all these years. I’m a big fan of STRATOVARIUS very long tracks, as they offer the band’s high-class musicians to unfold their talents without pushing one of the other band members in the background. This song allows Timo Kotipelto to show all aspects of his voices and the melodic approach to every vocal part is simply amazing. The song starts slowly with a dark atmosphere that might make you think that this is another ballade. Matias Kupiainen will change your mind with his heavy riffing and the keyboards that come with a virtuosity only Jens Johansson can deliver make sure that you will soon rate the song as Power Metal.
I’m glad that STRATOVARIUS survived such a long time without a new release. Whenever I attended the band’s live shows, I saw a band that absolutely enjoys playing together live on stage and for their fans. ‘Survive’ had a clear concept coming to the lyrics, while the music is versatile, picking up elements of the bands past and presenting the fans a new more matured style. There’s something for fans of every decade and release of the band’s existence and a clear will of not slowing down.
05. We Are Not Alone
06. Frozen In Time
07. World On Fire
08. Glory Days
10. Before The Fall
11. Voice Of Thunder
Timo Kotipelto – vocals
Matias Kupiainen – guitar
Lauri Porra – bass
Jens Johansson – keyboards
Rolf Pilve – drums
Music: 9.5 / 10
Sound: 9.5 / 10
Total: 9.5 / 10