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Stratovarius Albums

Fright Night (1989) **½

9 tracks, playing time 40.34

Fright Night has the feeling and the sound of the first record. The overall sound could be much better, but the music itself if mostly good, though a bit different from the Stratovarius of today. Timo Tolkki's singing is pretty rough, not at all that good. Not too special record, except for a couple of classics like Future Shock and Fright Night. It's not all that terrible that Timo Tolkki keeps saying, but bad sounds and singing drop the rating a little.

Twilight Time (1992) ***½

8 tracks, playing time 42.03

A definite improvement over Fright Night. Much clearer sound, and way better singing from Tolkki. Stratovarius had found their own style. Though not as good musically as later works, some of the songs are definitely great. The Hands Of Time is still regularly in the live set, at least in Japan.

Dreamspace (1994) ****

14 tracks, playing time 63.57

These guys can only improve. Dreamspace moves Stratovarius to the CD-era by delivering over an hour of great music. The music and arrangements are more diverse and complex than before, perhaps even a little experimental. And Tolkki sings better again. The title track Dreamspace is still the favourite song of many Stratovarius fans. Some of the other unforgettable moments include fast Chasing Shadows, catchy Hold On To Your Dream and Wings Of Tomorrow with positive attitude.

Fourth Dimension (1995) ****½

11 tracks, playing time 59.26

Timo Kotipelto has taken over the lead vocals and Tolkki can concentrate on his guitar (with audible results). The whole album is full of Stratovarius quality, from fast paced Against The Wind to calm and quiet Nightfall. Some moments remind me of Queensrÿche of the mid-80's, and some moments are like Helloween or Yngwie Malmsteen around the same time, but it still sounds fresh. The album has also perhaps my all-time favourite Stratovarius song, 8-minute epic We Hold The Key.

Episode (1996) *****

12 tracks, playing time 63.01

I couldn't believe my ears when I first heard material from this record. It is perhaps the most expensive record ever made in Finland, and you can hear it in the sounds. Episode takes Stratovarius to the new level again. Fast tunes (especially Father Time and Will The Sun Rise?) are some of the best ever made. Choir and string orchestra add a lot of atmosphere to the long epics (like Eternity and Season Of Change). Timo Kotipelto sings higher and better than ever before, and Jens Johansson's furious keyboard solos make a whole new element to the music. Definitely the best Stratovarius album so far.

Visions (1997) *****

10 tracks, playing time 61.04

After excellent Episode expectations were quite high for the new one, though outdoing Episode isn't too easy. But Visions manages to fulfill at least my expectations very well. Visions is made with the budget big enough, and sounds and the overall production is no second to Episode, though there are no choirs or string orchestras this time. Stratovarius has yet again made great fast tunes, like Black Diamond, Forever Free, and of course Legions, whose lyrics are aimed directly to the fans. 10-minute epic title track Visions (Southern Cross) ends the album magnificently. Keyboards have bigger role this time, and together with even better drumming indicate that Jens and Jörg are well adapted to the band.

Check also my track-by-track review of the album!