BY Natalie Zina WalschotsPublished Feb 27, 2013

As Finnish power metal veterans Stratovarius enter their 29th year as one of the most influential groups in the genre, they're also releasing Nemesis, their 14th studio album. While there's been a musical shift on the part of some power metal groups to darker, more sophisticated places, Stratovarius stalwartly cling to a more classic, high-energy, European formula, all galloping rhythms, dragons-and-unicorns, epic symphonic passages, pounding keyboards and naked-angels-weilding-flaming-swords-above-apocalyptic-landscapes album covers. For all the over-the-top, bombastic, high-fantasy imagery they employ, Stratovarius's music is even more excessive. "Castles in the Sand" features an incredible sparring match between guitar and keyboard, both battling for supremacy. "Unbreakable" and "Stand My Ground" are stalwart, stirring, battle-ready tracks. While it's easy to pretend that heavy metal, as a genre, is generally more sophisticated than groups like Stratovarius, and that far gloomier and sludgier albums than Nemesis are preferred, the power of this record is undeniable. This is the perfect album to listen to when you're finally prepared to abandon all coolness, break out your old LARPing gear and run around the woods screaming, "lightning bolt!"
(Armoury/Eagle Rock)

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