Stratovarius: Elysium

Finnish power-metal stalwarts’ thirteenth album.

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Long before the portmanteau was in popular use as shorthand for A-list power-couples such as Brangelina and the now sadly defunct Bennifer, there was Stratovarius.

This fusing of Stratocaster and Stradivarius captured perfectly the virtuoso-rock sensibility and neo-classical pomposity of this most high-minded of heavy metal bands.

Stratovarius have sold 2.5 million albums in a 27-year career. Elysium, their second album since the departure of guitarist and leader Timo Tolkki, is another masterclass in overblown, ultramelodic, widdle-heavy and quintessentially European power metal. Darkest Hours and Infernal Maze are high-tempo anthems with shades of 80s-vintage Helloween and Queensryche.

Fairness Justified is a power ballad, power metal-style. And the title track is like an album within an album, a labyrinthine 18-minute prog marathon reminiscent of Dream Theater’s early pomp.

Stratovarius might just be the silliest band name of all time, but for connoisseurs of histrionic heavy metal, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Paul Elliott

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2005, Paul Elliott has worked for leading music titles since 1985, including Sounds, Kerrang!, MOJO and Q. He is the author of several books including the first biography of Guns N’ Roses and the autobiography of bodyguard-to-the-stars Danny Francis. He has written liner notes for classic album reissues by artists such as Def Leppard, Thin Lizzy and Kiss, and currently works as content editor for Total Guitar. He lives in Bath - of which David Coverdale recently said: “How very Roman of you!”