Release DetailsLABEL Century Media
RELEASED ON 5/18/2004
posted on 11/2004 By:
I remember one of my favorite albums of the mid-nineties was the ever popular The Downward Spiral by the leader of the alternative industrial scene at that time, Nine Inch Nails. As of late, said title comes to mind again regarding the drama that has manifested within the Stratovarius family circle. Perhaps it could serve as a befitting catch phrase/subtitle for a tele-biography, if there ever was one, sewing the similar thread of VH1: Behind The Music, only Stratovarius: The Downward Spiral. My, what a tangled web has been woven within the band's ranks over the past year or so. For those of you who are not in the know, here's a brief recap of the action:
Now it's no mystery that Stratovarius have been on some sort of creative decline for quite awhile. Many of their most recent efforts have failed to deliver the magic that the earlier works possessed. Moreover, there is an extensive list of events that could very well spell the bands demise; 1) Violent feuding between vocalist Timo Kotipelto and drummer Jörg Michael led to Kotipelto's removal from the band, 2) An attempt on guitarist Timo Tolkki's life (with a box cutter of all things) was presumed to be the doing of the former singer, and 3) A lawsuit was issued against the band by their label, Nuclear Blast, for refusing to return a substantial amount of currency that was granted to them for the production of an upcoming release that was to feature their lineup at the time of the transaction. To fill the position of missing vocalist, the remaining members of Stratovarius opted to exercise the Arch Enemy angle and bring in a female voice to lead the way. How will this metal (soap) opera unfold in the months to come? Stay tuned...
Anyway, amid all of this madness was the writing, recording, and finally the launch of Kotipelto's second solo effort, Coldness. Being a great admirer of his first outing Waiting For The Dawn, this was a highly anticipated addition for my collection. With the same lineup backing him up as the previous disc, including Mike Romeo (Symphony X) and Juhani Malmberg (Tunnelvision) in the shredding department, Janne Warmen (Children Of Bodom) on keys, Mirka Rantanen (Thunderstone) beating the skins, and Jari Kainulainen (Stratovarius) handling the low end duties, Coldness was bound to be one hell of a sophomore release. Lord, was I ever so wrong.
I don't have even the slightest comprehension of how so much can go awry from one album to the next. One can only attribute this sub-par disappointment to Kotipelto's problems with his former bandmates; but this reasoning only accounts for his own flawed performance. What's the excuse of his band for not even nearing the brilliance of Waiting For The Dawn? In defense of these exceptional musicians I will project a possible theory: Perchance, due to their frontman's stress level he was difficult to collaborate with, and therefore they rushed the album to get out of dodge. Unfortunately, this makes sense.
Waiting For The Dawn was masterful and skillful in every aspect, so much that it brought back vivid memories of classic Stratovarius albums like Episode and Visions. This new disc is stale, unfocussed, and utterly uninspiring, paralleling latter day Strato records to a tee. Coldness doesn't really harbor any mind-blowing or memorable riffs or drumming, however, the lead interplay between Romeo and Warmen is spine-tingling as usual. This factor alone helped the album retain a somewhat high musicianship score, where it would have otherwise found its way into the garbage. With Century Media providing the studio budget, you're almost always guaranteed a decent production, and the same can be said here. Other than that, there is really nothing notable to mention regarding this flop.
Wow, and now you're expecting me to point out a few highlights from Coldness, huh? 'Twas quite a taxing chore, but I am confident enough in recommending two tracks that resemble anything desirable to anyone. "Seeds Of Sorrow" kicks this disaster off sort of strong, leading us to believe that this might actually be a good record, but it only worsens until the final cut "Here We Are", which finishes up in uniform fashion. At this point you are relieved that the disc is over. Short of ripping Kotipelto to shreds, I honestly don't know what else can be said, so I will end my review on this note - If you're a fan of the newer Stratovarius material, then Coldness may suit your fancy, but it's doubtful. Fans of quality power metal, like Waiting For The Dawn and Episode should steer clear. Only seriously confused Kotipelto admirers need apply.
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