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Stratovarius: Elysium

Finnish power-metal stalwarts’ thirteenth album.

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.