As if Infinite ‘s cover didn’t clue you in enough, Stratovarius steps into the ring for the eighth (ninth, if you count their live album) time, still weighing in at circa 1984. “Retro” beyond retro, Euro-metal to the fullest, Stratovarius — spectral keyboard spirals and all — galvanizes their power-laden chops with a considerably brighter steel, which makes all the more sense considering the band’s lyrics speak of glory, pride, infinity, light years, and other things sonically Teutonic; oh, and judging by the time-warped (as in backwards) cover, presumably dolphins, too. For as cement-shoed as they may be, Stratovarius are a truly enjoyable and (gulp) uplifting bunch, somewhere between a semi-flaccid Helloween and Europe o.d.’ing on steriods: guaranteed, one of the most anthemic bands of the current power-metal crop. Still, outside of the genre, Stratovarius will have trouble packing ’em in – unless you’re counting Germany, where even the blankest of non-metalheads seemingly flock to such fare without so much as a blink.
Nuclear Blast America, P.O. Box 43618, Philadelphia, PA 19106; http://www.nuclearblast-usa.com