2009 marks a period of transition for prog metallists Stratovarius, as longtime guitarist Timo Tolkki has bid the band sweet adieu, while two new members — guitarist Matias Kupianen and bassist Lauri Porra — have signed on. But with vocalist Timo Kotipelto at the helm (are Stratovarius the only rock band in the universe to ever have two chaps named “Timo” in the same band?), the signature Stratovarius sound and approach are very much still intact, as evidenced by their 12th studio album overall, Polaris. In other words, there are oodles of tricky musical bits, Geoff Tate-meets-Bruce Dickinson-like vocals, bombastic production, and all the elements that longtime Stratovarius connoisseurs demand in a new album by their Finnish heroes. This approach is exemplified on such tracks as the album opening “Deep Unknown,” while tracks such as “King of Nothing” combine the aforementioned musical approach with some pretty darn fierce metal (especially the song’s opening). – Greg Pratomore »
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