Stratovarius recently issued two new re-releases to spark interest in the band. The first, Infinite, was the last great CD by the band with ex-guitarist and founder, Timo Tolki. I found it interesting that the band would be re-issuing this CD now that Tolki is out of the band. There is no doubt that this was their last great record, starting off with a bang in the anthem Hunting High and Low, and continuing to pummel with solid tracks like A Million Light Years Away and Infinity. I could go on, but I wanted to get into the portion of this CD that might prompt a fan to buy this again; this deluxe edition includes the original CD as well as another one full of bonus tracks, demos, and a couple of live cuts.
Getting into the meat of this thing, there are 7 bonus tracks [on this extra CD] that I was most interested in because you sometimes find songs that are stronger than some of the actual original tracks. The first bonus track, Why are We Here, is a mid tempo rocker full of melody and killer riffage. It's classic Stratovaius, and sounds like it could have been written during the Destiny sessions. A killer tune which could have fit well on the original album easily. The next two tracks are okay, but you can see why they didn't make the original cut. Not bad, but nothing to knock your socks off either. Overall, the demos are pretty cool to hear, but nothing that special . The live tracks sound great, however, and once you hear these tracks, you hear how much Tolki is missed.
Stratovarius has also just re-released their 2009 Polaris CD, with an additional live CD as well. This is the first CD without orignal guitarist Timo Tolki, instead featuring his replacement, Matias Kupiainen. As per the original review, this CD is good but not great. There are some killer tracks like Winter Skies and a few others, but other than that the CD comes off sort of flat. The reason for the re-release is to give the fans a taste of what the band sounds like live with their new member. I have to say, Stratovarius is one of those bands that actually deliver on a live offering. If you haven't heard Visions Live, you need to go out and buy it today. A stellar release.
I have to say that I was pretty excited to hear the live CD, since this band always delivers live. The CD is good and has a nice sound. I really like the set list for the live CD, because you get a lot of older tunes mixed with a few of the newer ones. The CD comes off nicely, showing that the band can still do it live with out Tolki. Actually the tunes off Polaris like Winter Skies and Deep Unknown come off sounding fresher live. I really like the live CD, because it is a good representation of what the band can do. As much as I like the live recording, I have to say I miss Tolki's passionate playing. Matias is a solid guitarist, but does not play with the feeling that Tolki does. All in all a solid package.
Bottom Line: Stratovarius re-releasing two eras of the band: the old and the new. If you do not have either release, the band has just made them both a little more enticing.
- Ragman wants his classic Stratovarius back.