Stratovarius - Nemesis
Edel
Epic Power Metal
11 songs (57'46)
Release year: 2013
Stratovarius, Edel
Reviewed by Chris
Album of the Year V2

I've been a big fan of the band since Episode. I then checked their back catalog as well as more or less religiously followed their new releases, up until a certain point in the last decade where I started to lose interest little by little. Let's put aside the Tolkki drama and even The Elements albums didn't hold my attention much. The last album from the band I truly was into is Infinite. With Nemesis the band again has all my attention. Let's make one thing clear now, Nemesis is the band's strongest album since Visions, and, depending on taste, could be considered the band's best, period. I'm not yet decided on that last statement, nor do I believe I need to be, I'm perfectly fine being completely blown away by Nemesis and just enjoy it over and over again as I've been doing for the last week or so.

While I loved what Tolkki had done in the beginning of the band's career, I must admit that I thought the band was repeating themselves when he was still at the helm, not really bringing anything fresh. With Matias Kupiainen now writing most songs, things are different, Nemesis is more epic than any albums that came before it. It sounds fresh and modern as well and it truly feels like Stratovarius reinvented themselves with this last opus. Listening to it for the first time was a total surprise, I expected an okay follow-up to Elysium, which was a good album but one that I very quickly stopped listening, never revisiting it. Nemesis is another kind of beast altogether. The songs in this album are epic, majestic and simply put : beautiful. The use of very electronic keyboards gives the band that modern sound, but at the same time sets them apart. Of course Stratovarius always was strong with keyboards, but in this album they are the best they could be IMHO. Now let's talk about the other Timo (or the one that count should I say). Kotipelto is in top shape, his vocal deliveries are near perfection, as always he conveys emotions beautifully throughout his vocal mastery, and uses a much wider range than on old school Stratovarius songs. Guitars riffs are simply awesome, from simple ones to very complex (Dragons) and modern riffs, the guitars in this album will show everyone that Stratovarius can stand tall without Tolkki (who ?), and actually, now that I gave Nemesis more than thorough play-through, I wouldn't have it any other way. Matias is not only a worthy successor; he is a guitar master and great songwriter himself.

Nemesis is one of the best power metal albums I've listened in such a long time ! It's as good if not better than last Dragonland album (in terms of quality since these bands have a different style), and what I love the most about it is the positive energy this album unleashed upon the listener. Be it by the virtuosity of both keyboards and guitars, the majestic vocals, or the magical vocal melodies, everything is near perfection and I cannot stress enough how very epic it all sounds. With a strong emphasis on choirs and oh-oh's moments, showing bands who forgot how to be epic and grandiose how it's done. (Hammerfall, Rhapsody of Fire anyone ?)

This album is a pure demonstration of how Power Metal should sound, melodic to the bones while not forgetting to stay heavy, this album makes me sing along and head bang like few albums do today. It would be pointless to try and enter in a song by song review. It would definitely make this review a lot longer (it's long enough), and I somehow urge you to discover Nemesis for yourself. I will however talk about a few of my favorite songs. My absolute favorite is Fantasy, I think it is my favorite of not only Nemesis but maybe of the band's discography. It starts with a very joyful, happy simple melodies (a bit like an old school Edguy song), the verse is very simple but come the chorus and both vocal melody and Timo's vocals will transport you into a magical universe, a parallel dimension where the songs tries to empower your imagination and pushes you to make your dreams come true. This song is so powerful, so positively charged, that I can loop it twenty times in a row and never get bored of it. The last song I could do this with is Rusty Nail from X-Japan and that was about 20 years ago. But Fantasy isn't so much better than any other song, I actually suspect that this song is simply in tune with how I feel about life at the moment and is probably why it touches me so much and why I singled it out.

But the album is filled with much more powerful and complex songs, some almost sound progressive at times (in a good way). Out of the Fog Is such a song, it mixes strong heavy riffs with a progressive feel throughout the song, a great bridge and an impossibly grandiose chorus ! This song is a pure tour de force. But then so are most of them on Nemesis. I really dreaded my first listen when I saw the artwork. My first thought was "here goes an epic and grandiose artwork that will misrepresents the content of the album, no way the album is as epic as its art cover". I obviously couldn't have been more wrong ! It's on par and then some ! The thing is every song is killer and while I have some favorites now, like Unbreakable, Castles in the Air, Halcyon Days, Dragons and Nemesis, these could change over time as this is a near perfect album ! Not a single moment of boredom, and even the ballad is powerful. The weakest track if I should choose one would be One Must Fall, but even so in another band it would probably considered as a killer song, its just a tad subpar with the rest of the album that's all.

All in all Nemesis is pure epic ! It is grandiose, majestic, melodic yet heavy when it needs to be. It's an unexpected return to form for Stratovarius. It's what Power Metal should sound like, period ! It is without the shadow of a doubt Stratovarius' best album in ages, probably since Visions (even though I also love Destiny and Infinite as follow-ups to Visions, Episode is also a great album). Is it better than Vision ? I don't want to start holy wars in forums so I will let you decide, let's just say I found it more original and less repetitive than what the old Stratovarius was. I must have listened to Nemesis a good 35 times now and I'm still moved, amazed and in awe with how powerful it is. The best Power Metal album of the year ? It is still early but it could be. Album of the year award ? You betcha ! If you are a fan of this band, you can't afford to miss this incredible album, it's a classic in the making & buy-or-die type deal. You've been warned !

Killing Songs :
Absolutely every second of it !
Chris quoted 97 / 100
Other albums by Stratovarius that we have reviewed:
Stratovarius - Elysium reviewed by Kyle and quoted 86 / 100
Stratovarius - Polaris reviewed by Marty and quoted 85 / 100
Stratovarius - Stratovarius reviewed by Jeff and quoted 75 / 100
Stratovarius - Fright Night reviewed by Brent and quoted 80 / 100
Stratovarius - Visions reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 94 / 100
To see all 13 reviews click here
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