There's going to be a little time off for Stratovarius before they release their next album after "Infinite". So they figured to throw together a couple of Japanese bonus tracks, live cuts and tribute album contributions on a CD, call it "Intermission" and release that so the fans could survive the longer period without fresh Stratovarious material.

A true Stratovarius fan might survive, but it's a good thing for semi-Stratovarious Appreciators (such as me) that there's other CDs from other artists to feed the ears. "Intermission", you see, isn't really cutting it.

"Intermission" has more than its fair share of ballads. Six of the fifteen tracks are either ballads or power ballads ("Will My Soul ever Rest in Peace?", "Falling into Fantasy", "Keep the Flame", "What Can I Say?", "Dream with Me" and "When the Night Meets the Day"). I much more like the up-tempo Stratovarius songs, of which we get only a few ("The Curtains are Falling" and "Cold Winter Nights", not counting the live version of "Hunting High and Low" and the two tracks that were on the bonus CD version of "Infinity", "Why are we Here?" and "It's a Mystery"). The thing with the ballads in particular is that vocalist Timo Kotipelto sometimes accesses parts of his voice that he shouldn't - the really high ones. Cringing time. My notes for the first song, as a result, said "zaadnummer" (Dutch for 'semen song', I guess).

The covers are pretty interesting. "Bloodstone" (Judas Priest) is well done, "Kill the King" (from the "Holy Dio" tribute album) is good. There's also a live version of "I Surrender", which is superior to the way Rainbow did it (those of you who know what I think of Graham Bonnett will know that it is not difficult to beat that vocal performance).

"Intermission" is rather too much balanced to the ballad side of things. The packaging looks nice and the artwork is OK (Derek Riggs, famous for his classic Iron Maiden covers, seem to have discovered computers), But the music as such is not satisfying enough.



Written June 2001


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