Stratovarius – Elements Pt. II
Elements Pt. II
For as awful as Elements Pt. I was (Perhaps the low point of the band’s career), what happens on Elements Pt. II is downright startling. Not because it’s particularly amazing, (though it is significantly better), but because it represents the first truly erratic shift in Tolkki’s composition style. I’m not sure if it was composed in tandem with Pt. I, but it sounds significantly different, and with more thought and development, could have fit in nicely as a companion to Episode. Sure it’s more derivative than original at times, but I think at this time period I’d rather hear rehashes of past glory than whatever awful ideas about the future of the band that Tolkki was having. Where I was getting incredibly frustrated with the band’s waste of time with “Eagleheart”, Elements Pt. II features a lead single that is everything I ever asked for: catchy, short, to the point, and with enough edginess to keep me interested. They even manage to balance all the instruments pretty effectively, returning Jorg Michael’s excellent drumming to prominence (Even if its not the double bass drum onslaught I wanted).
Taking a step back, I should also examine the opening track. After hearing the closer of Pt. I, and realizing that the two songs connected, any rational person would be perfectly justified in hitting the skip button. “Alpha And Omega” is by no means among the high points of Stratovarius’ career, but it is significantly good enough to really turn some heads, all things considered. There are additionally a few pretty straightforward onslaughts in the form of “I’m Still Alive” “Know the Difference” and “Awaken the Giant”. These are all excellent songs and should not be ignored.
Still, there is an equal share of junk on this. “Luminous” and “Liberty” both could have been done without, but “Season Of Faith’s Perfection” is the best ballad to the band’s credit in quite a few albums (Not that that says much). “Dreamweaver” is sufficiently catchy, and represents perhaps what an average song from this era should have sounded like. What works to this album’s advantage is that while the excellent songs are not as obvious as on its predecessors, the boring tracks are also far less noticeable. The longest song on the record is the opener at 6:38, and most of the ballads hover in the 5 minute range. Fairly inoffensive, and maybe an underdeveloped return to the Episode style, it’s better than Pt. I, but maybe not enough.
What I’d like to comment on now is what could have been. There is easily enough material for a single great album here, and if you’re crafty enough to just burn the best 4-6 songs from both CDs onto a single disc, you’ll have something completely worth listening to. My advice would be to pick a few of the following: from Pt. I: “Eagleheart”, “Soul Of A Vagabond”, “Find Your Own Voice”, “Learning To Fly”, and “Elements”; and from Pt. II: “I Walk To My Own Song”, “I’m Still Alive”, “Awaken The Giant”, “Know The Difference”, and “Dreamweaver”.
Dagg’s Rating: 3.0 out of 5