Stratovarius-Elements Pt. 2
    © 2003 Nuclear Blast Records
Charon-The Dying Daylights
        © 2003 Spinefarm Records
Just as this album was being released there was trouble brewing in the Stratovarius camp. As of the date of this review the band has parted ways with Timo Kotipelto and Jorg Michael. This album I guess would mark the end of one era and the beginning of another. The new album is quite good, but quite a bit lighter then what we had been hearing from the band some years back. There are a few barn burners such as 'I'm Still Alive' and 'Know The Difference' with the band's more frantic tempo, but overall the album to me sounds more subdued. There seems to be a bit more atmosphere this go around, but it's hard to say where the fan response would be. I personally dig the bands stuff like 'Black Diamond' and the like so this wouldn't be classified as one of my favorite albums. As mentioned though, for what this album offers it is good. There are a few crunchy rockers and a couple melodic masterpieces. The only thing that remains to be seen at this point is if the album gets lost in all of the negativity surrounding the departures of band members and the hiring of new people. One thing is for sure though, this could be the last of the Tolkki and Kotipelto collaboration on a record, so definitely don't miss it.

I would definitely classify this album as a good album. The album closes a chapter of the bands history and is almost fitting in its more atmospheric subdued feel. It will be interesting to see how the band evolves after this release after an already pretty successful run. Stay tuned for more on these guys, but at the same time, don't forget to check this one out!
Spinefarm Records keeps churning out the good stuff. In my last batch of releases was the latest from Charon. While I had never heard them I had definitely heard mention of them and how good they were. I was definitely curious to say the least. Well, they didn't let me down. The band reminds me a bit of the Aussie band Vanishing Point in the structure of their songwriting. The music is more flowing than flashy and holds some great atmosphere.  One of the elements I really like is the vocals and choruses. The choruses are memorable and catchy. Good examples of this include 'Failed', 'Religious', and 'Drive'. I really dig the groove of 'Every Failure'. Definitely one of my favorite tracks on the disc. The album provides a pretty uniform listen throughout with the quality really never dipping. I believe this to be the bands fourth release and their third for Spinefarm. Judging by the sound of the band I believe they would definitely fit into a veteran category and the music really shines. Not sure about domestic distribution, but with some of Spinefarms catalog hitting our soil I believe this would be one of them. Great Gothic hard driving stuff!

A fun listen from start to finish. The band have released a great consistent album that continues to push this band ahead of the pack. Finland really has one of the best metal scenes in the world and this band is just one reason why. If atmospheric Gothic style music is for you, this ones a keeper!