Like many melodic hard rock bands, Finnish quintet Stratovarius are popular and have a solid foundation of followers on the Continent, but are basically unknown in the UK.
In fact, Stratovarius have made a few more-than-decent albums and most of their output is top-notch material. Given a chance, they make the kind of rock that could actually cross over into the mainstream market.
This, their 11th album, is intriguing with its largely progressive edge, aided by some experimental mixes. It starts off well with the metal of Maniac Dance, which has a pounding riff but a typically melodic chorus. Fight!!! and Just Carry On follow with equally high stamina.
Inevitably, there are some dodgy tracks later on. Despite the experimental goings-on in Back To madness, at almost eight minutes long, things get a little boring. Similary, Gotterdammerung (Zenith Of Power) plods along far too much despite containing some bold segments. Also, The Land Of Ice And Snow is a bit too twee.
Thankfully, however, the album closes with Leave The Tribe, where the doomy, monolithic riff is of Tony Iommi standards, and United, whose melody is faithful to its Dio-era Black Sabbath inspirations.
With just nine tracks, this might album would seem a bit short but a couple of the songs are fairly lengthy. Overall, it fares well for a short piece of entertainment and a spot of good listening – it’s just a shame that there will probably be only one copy in your local record store.