Stratovarius – Nemesis (2013)

Stratovarius_Nemesis4.5 out of 5 Stars!

I’ve been following Finnish band Stratovarius since the mid-’90s, and unlike some fans who believe the group fluctuated wildly in quality just after the turn of the century, with certain albums being rated unjustifiably and unfairly low at several music-related websites, I’ve felt the band has remained almost eerily consistent since 1995’s Fourth Dimension, more so than numerous other groups in the same genre, never veering too far off course. Certainly, some Stratovarius albums lean more toward Progressive Metal than Power Metal, and other albums vice versa, but despite the occasional change in the band’s lineup, nothing in the Stratovarius sound changes so drastically as for anyone to have a mental freak out if an album isn’t an exact carbon copy of the previous one. (Sorry—just a pet peeve I needed to get off my chest.)

Regardless, Nemesis, the band’s fourteenth studio album, is yet another melodic, well-written, varied and dynamic collection of Prog-Metal/Power Metal tracks, with each band member having enough shining moments to push this album toward the head of my “Favorite Stratovarius Album” list.

Tracks such as the blazing and barreling opener “Abandon,” along with “Dragons,” “Halcyon Days,” “Out of the Fog,” “Stand My Ground,” sit comfortably alongside highly pompish mid-tempo rockers “Castle in the Air” and “One Must Fall,” while the ballad “If the Story is Over,” contributes additional variety to the fine mix of styles. Even the two bonus tracks, “Fireborn” and “Hunter,” are exceptional slices of Prog-tinged Power Metal, crammed with sizzling synths and six-string madness.

Tomi Kotipelto’s vocals remain powerful and melodic, and the overall high quality and energy displayed here, plus the typical classy arrangements, instrumentation, and spectacular solos from keyboardist Jens Johansson and guitarist Matias Kupianinen, clearly show a band still at the top of its game even after three decades of being in existence.

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