29 January, 2011

Back in Black Ice

The title is of course a portmanteau of two ACDC albums Back in Black and Black Ice. It is inspiring if you want to look at comebacks. They released Back in Black after the vocalist died and they wanted to call it quits, luckily for us they stuck around a bit longer and the immediate result was one of the most appreciated and the best selling record of any band, ever. Black Ice is their latest (already some years old now) but it stuck with me because of a very simple reason: they did an awesome comeback. I mean, I was listening to this album and here they were sounding like 20 years before and that was just mindblowing that they managed to pull it off. Especially as we know others who finally managed to reach number one in the charts with their comeback (St Anger) and it sucked. The only thing that came close to leaving the impression of a great comeback on me was Slayer's World Painted Blood, but the title wouldn't have been as good. I take that back, Reign in World Painted Blood is pretty good for some aggressive metal, but I'm about to talk about something else...

I started with this talk of comebacks because the first album of the year of interest to me is supposed to show that my old favorites Stratovarius still have it in them to make some epic music.

And I'm happy to say they succeed quite well. After the not so great Polaris, here they are reverting to their old style. I've included the covers of albums so that you can see where they are going, putting an animal on the cover has to be a good sign. Actually they went even further back to their roots (when Kotipelto joined), the sound being closer to Episode or Visions. Although, I would have preferred it to have something in the vein of Destiny and the long closing track, Elysium, which is the same as the album name, was hinting just at that. Even if all in all I don't feel it is as well crafted or have the same melodious yet energetic feel like their early releases it is still a solid delivery with lots to offer for some nostalgic people who remember Stratovarius.

I'm not going to do a track by track analysis, you can find that in some reviews. However, I will comment on the fact that I feel Tolkki's writing was better, both in lyrics and guitarwork. Hell, even the keyboards seem to have been better inspired and to blend into the song better, although Johansson still has some aces up his sleeves. Too bad he just hints at them throughout this record. Overall I am satisfied and it fills me with optimism regarding this year, the albums to be released and my favorites not letting me down.

Speaking of which, the following bands will release albums I'm looking forward to (in order of descending importance):

  • Devin Townsend (Ghost, Deconstruction and Z2)
  • Blackfield (Welcome to my DNA)
  • Pain Of Salvation (Road Salt Two)
  • Symphony X
  • Opeth
  • Demons and Wizards
  • Rhapsody of Fire
  • Pagan's Mind
  • Wintersun
  • Ark
I will also probably want to check out the new Within Temptation and Nightwish albums, the Grave Digger EP (it would be high time for a good release), a new weird idea (?) from Dredg yet another run of the mill (but hopefully I will be surprised) power metal output from Hammerfall and, of course, the Avantasia DVD.

There are also a number of new albums which I think are just rumors for now but which would fill me with excitement or curiosity. So what are these guys doing: Dream Theater (they promised something without Mike Portnoy, hopefully they can deliver), Cynic (they are really building up speed between releases),  Amorphis (after their best album they'd better keep it up), Dragonforce and Riverside? Oh yeah, old timers Uriah Heep and Deep Purple are preparing something too.

Edit: Speaking of old timers, 16 years after releasing their magnum opus, Magnum return with a surprise delivery, which might well become their best record yet. Here you can give their single from the new album, The Visitation, a shot. The record starts slow but is brilliant in its second half (yes that would mean the single is not as good as it gets, so find it and try it).

No comments:

Post a Comment