Talk to any Stratovarius fan long enough, and they’ll be sure to mention Dreamspace, the final of three albums in the “Tolkki vocal era” of the band. Stylistically, there is much of a carryover from Twilight Time. However, the NWOBHM elements have matured nicely into a very, very unique brand of progressive power metal. While it is quite frequent for bands to downtune on records, the effect created on Dreamspace is a particularly awesome brand of dark. For the creativity of Timo Tolkki’s guitar playing, this is widely considered a peak, by some better than even Episode or Visions. As far as his vocal performance, it is clearly his best.
This is widely regarded as the lost gem of the discography, because it is so unique, and in all my listening, I’ve never found anything even remotely similar. The tragedy here is that the band’s ambition knew that this style wasn’t going to get them famous, and the saving grace is that the direction they went in afterwards gave us many albums just as good. To get a few things out of the way, as far as any rumors I’ve heard, Timo does digitally enhance his voice a good deal higher on some parts of the album. To the best of my knowledge, no live versions of these songs exist with Timo Tolkki on vocals.
Songs like “Hold On To Your Dream” and “We Are The Future” are the first musical signs of power metal in the band, while “Magic Carpet Ride” and “Dreamspace” represent a much more dark and mystical side that had been in the early stages of development on Twilight Time. Jari Kainluainen joins the band on this record on bass, and while bass contributions are usually laughable on a Stratovarius record, his presence is definitely felt in the early days.
What has always stood out to me about this record was the production. Timo Tolkki has always been well respected for his attention to detail, but the clarity on this record is really remarkable, especially for what I would imagine would be relatively low funding for an unknown band. Bearing a much more progressive metal tilt than any other albums, the riffs, especially on “Reign of Terror” and “Shattered” are Tolkki’s best.
I’m a big believer in the written review, but this is an album that words can’t really fully grasp. It’s an album you have to experience for yourself, so do it today, do it now.
Dagg’s Rating: 4.75 out of 5
Twilight Time (1992)
Fourth Dimension (1995)