Stratovarius – Destiny – Review


Destiny (Noise)
by Scott Hefflon

Noise (formerly F.A.D., formerly Noise, now run/managed/funded/whatever by the sharp fucks at Century Media) comes out swinging with Stratovarius. A heavy band of such breadth, it’s almost frightening, Stratovarius is a band you can listen to on repeat and not get sick of for hours. With speedy riff-o-ramas, driving thuds of pure foot-stomping pleasure, and power ballads for the babes, Stratovarius perform deftly and wisely so many colors of pure metal it’ll make you proud to crank the shit out of this and sneer at the old lady’s disapproving looks. While snaggletoothed codgers like myself scramble for references “the kids” will relate to (Helloween? No? How about Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s Rising Force? Hey, stop laughing!), isn’t it enough to say this is melodic powermetal with expertly utilized keyboards, fabulous guitarwork, and multi-octave, powerful singing backed by lush harmonies, symphonic arrangements, and well-crafted tunesmithing the likes of which we haven’t seen in quite some time? No, didn’t think so…

Honestly, the Yngwie reference is quite valid. Keyboardist Jens Johansson used to play with the Yngster (pronounced “Ing-ster,” for no particular reason). Try not to hold it against him. And while that may not sound like a point in favor of a band, Jens’ keys matching Yngwie’s classical arpeggios was a very singular moment in metal history. While swooping and soaring melodies are reminiscent of Helloween (stay with me, kids), there are elements that can only be attributed to Jens’ keyboardism. Near the close of the disc, “Anthem of the New World” opens with a classical/metal intro that woulda meshed nicely with Therion’s Theli, launches into a glorious double-bass thundering, guitars a-dueling tune any powermetal band would love to take credit for, which also provides both harpsichordy-sounding keyboard solo and guitar solo, then winds down with a lighter-in-the-air sway that could kick Kiss’ “God Gave Rock and Roll To You” as the song to bring all humanity together at the end of Bill and Ted’s Bogus Adventure. (Give me a moment to gather any shred of credibility I have left.) And all this from a record that starts out with some rather trite lyrics, keyboard and guitar interplay straight from the ’80s vinyl archives you wish you’d sold when you had the chance, all of which slowly wins you over by slipping the Top Gun slipstream melodies we all secretly love amidst ripping solos, passionate vocals, dense harmonies, and foot-to-the floor paces that make great heavy metal the adrenaline rush it is. Powermetal has the potential to be so much better this time around because of all the art metal, speed metal, melodic thrash, and symphonic black metal that has come out since the ’80s. And Stratovarius uses the best of the lot in this truly inspiring hour of all that is great and timeless about heavy metal.
(12358 Ventura Blvd. #386 Studio City, CA 91504)