Late this past September, veteran power metal band Stratovarius returned with what is now its 16th album in the form of Survive. Released Sept. 23 through earMusic, the record more than seven years after the release of the band’s then latest album, Eternal (2015). The new album’s release has given audiences reason to be excited as is. The recent announcement of a scheduled performance April 23 at Metal Fest alongside the likes of Kreator, Testament, and Accept in support of Survive has given audiences even more reason to be excited for the band. Survive is a welcome addition to this year’s field of new hard rock and metal albums and proves it was well worth the wait. This is proven in part through the record’s features musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly. The lyrical themes that accompany the record’s musical arrangements are just as important in the album’s appeal as its musical arrangements and will be examined a little later. The record’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album. All things considered they make Survive another powerful offering from Stratovarius that is also among the best of this year’s new hard rock and metal albums.
Survive, the latest album from Stratovarius, is an impressive new offering from the veteran power metal band that will appeal to a wide range of hard rock and metal audiences, including the band’s established audience base. Its appeal comes in part through its featured musical arrangements. The arrangements are once again a variety of fully engaging and entertaining power metal compositions for the most part. The only time when the band pulls back at all comes late in the record’s 57-minute run as the band makes its way through the contemplative opus, ‘Breakaway.’ Even in that moment, the contemplative approach is limited to the song’s verses. The choruses meanwhile are just as energetic and fiery as the rest of the album’s content. As with so much of Stratovarius’ existing work, the arrangements featured here immediately lend themselves to comparison to works from the likes of Sabaton, Visions of Atlantis, and Dragonforce in the best way possible. Stylistically, the arrangements are similar but in terms of the general sound, each song still boasts its own identity separate from those of the other noted bands and even from other songs that Satratovarius has crafted throughout its extensive catalog. To that end, the arrangements featured in this record are unquestionably important to this album.
The musical arrangements featured in Survive are just part of what makes the album appealing. The lyrical themes that accompany that content add even more to that appeal. That is because of their diversity and accessibility. Right from the record’s outset, the band delivers an uplifting, encouraging message of determination and perseverance in the album’s title track. The band noted in an interview about the song that it was inspired by everything that the band has been through over the course of its life and that it is by connection, a song about survival. Longtime front man Timo Kotipelto sings on the theme in the song’s lead verse and chorus, “I have seen the truth/I’ve seen it in my dream/I have found my voice/But don’t know what to say/Oh, I have lost my way/And no one’s here to find me/I loathe my loneliness/I hate the emptiness/I’m hanging on a wire/Ablaze and set on fire/Waiting for the crack to come/I snap and let it go/I fall through the darkness/About to lose it all/I fall against the odds/I played and lost it all/Saw the future/Now it’s gone/Only the strong will survive/I will try to find the strength inside/Only the strong will survive/I will not give up/As long as I’m alive/Only the strong will survive.” The self doubt and eventual determination exhibited here in the first verse and chorus is continued in the song’s second verse, furthering the encouragement to push on as Kotipelto sings, “An eternal road where demons go to die/Runs through this barren land/Where my madness lies/Have I now lost my mind/Am I mute, deaf and blind/I scream without a sound/I just can’t let it out.” From there, he returns to the chorus, which presents the noted determination of the song’s subject, reminding audiences once again that they can overcome those personal doubts. When this clearly delivered message of inspiration is paired with the song’s equally powerful musical arrangement, the message is delivered even more strongly, making for quite the impact.
The uplifting message delivered through the album’s opener/title track is just one example of the importance of the album’s lyrical themes. The seeming theme featured in the album’s midpoint, ‘We Are Not Alone’ continues to exhibit that importance. In the case of this song, the overall picture comes across as a theme of unity over divisiveness. It does this by reminding listeners how insignificant we as a race are in the universe. This is most clearly inferred in the song’s chorus as Kotipelto sings, “In the end/We’re the same/On a universal scale/The world moves on/We just have to go along/In the end/All we are/Is a speck of dust/Among the stars/And we all hope/That we’re not here all alone/We are not alone.” So again, what audiences get is a deep, welcome theme promoting unity against an interesting bigger discussion on whether there is intelligent life out there. It is a unique way of delivering such a familiar theme that makes the theme all the more engaging and entertaining here. The message is furthered in the verses as the song’s subject waxes existential about his place in the world, which we all do. This makes the theme even more accessible to audiences and further shows the importance of the album’s lyrical themes even more.
‘World On Fire,’ which comes even later in the album’s run, is yet one more example of the diversity in the album’s lyrical themes and its overall importance. In the case of this song, the band noted in an interview that it is a commentary about the impact that humans are having on the fate of the planet’s environmental status. The topic is illustrated throughout the song, beginning with its lead verse and chorus, which state, “Our world is on fire/Don’t you dare to close your eyes/It’s time to realize/We lost the game/And are to blame/Mankind will expire/Better start to think/’Cause the ship’s about to sink/The storm is here/The end is near/Our world is on fire/Every day we saw the signs/Every day we closed our eyes/Now we pay for every choice that we’ve made/This is the moment that defines/Is all we’ll ever leave behind/A world we betrayed/Our world is on fire/Destruction/Now burning/Our world is on fire/Warning/Now the heat is rising/There’s no returning/Our world is on fire.” That mention at the end of the chorus about the heat rising sounds like it could be a reference to the world’s overall temperature rising, a direct reference to human’s role in the natural process that is climate change. The mention of burning happening could be a reference to the wildfires that have charred so many thousands of acres of forests the world over in the century-plus. The direct finger pointed at the human race, saying humans closed our eyes in a damning but true indictment of human’s role in what has happened to the planet. That mention of this moment being that which defines what we leave for the next generations is a warning to humans that if we do nothing, there will be nothing to leave behind. It is a familiar overall theme that is clearly presented without being preachy. The second verse continues in similar style as the fist and the chorus. To that end, there is no real need to examine its content. Simply put, the overall theme here is its own, separate from the rest of the lyrical content presented in Survive and also hits hard through its accessibility. It even further shows the importance of the album’s lyrical themes as part of the record’s whole. When it and the other themes examined here are considered along with the rest of the album’s lyrical content, the whole pairs with the album’s overall musical content to make the record’s overall content more than reason enough to hear this presentation.
While the content featured in Survive is unquestionably important to the album’s presentation, it is just part of what collectively makes the album so appealing. The production that went into the record’s production rounds out its most important elements. That is because it creates such a positive general effect. The production that went into the album ensured the vocals and instrumentations in each song were expertly balanced. The result is that there is zero problem understanding the lyrics being sung, and what’s more there is no problem actually hearing the vocals. At the same time, there is also no problem hearing the best of each band member’s performance. Each musician gets his own attention in each song to the end that every line comes together for a whole that is fully engaging and entertaining if only through its general effect. Of course as noted, the general effect is not all that this record has going for its presentation. That content examined works with the production thereof to make the album in whole a successful offering and new addition to this year’s field of new hard rock and metal albums.
Survive, the 16th new album from Stratovarius, is a strong new offering from the veteran power metal band. The record’s success comes in part through the record’s featured musical arrangements. The arrangements are another collection of powerhouse power metal compositions that are easily comparable to works from the likes of Sabaton, Visions of Atlantis, and Dragonforce. The lyrical themes that accompany the album’s musical arrangements are important to the album in its own way in their diversity and accessibility. The production that went into the album creates a positive general effect thanks to the attention and time spent balancing the vocals and instruments in each song. The positive general effect that results from that attention works with the album’s overall content to give audiences so much to enjoy here from start to end. The end result is that Survive becomes a record that will appeal equally to Stratovarius’ established audiences and hard rock and metal fans alike. They make Survive a record that will easily survive for the foreseeable future.
Survive is available now through earMusic. More information on the album is available along with all of Stratovarius’ latest news at: