The Finnish Power Metal legends Stratovarius released their seventh full-length album, Destiny, on Noise Records in 1998. It was produced by the band’s own mastermind guitarist Timo Tolkki. The album feels a little overlooked within the band’s discography, wedged as it is comfortably between the much more famous Visions and Infinite albums from ’97 and 2000.
This album, stylistically is more or less exactly what you’d expect for an album wedged between those albums. You have things on here that bring to mind your ‘Black Diamond’s and things that bring to mind your ‘Hunting High And Low’s. If you can imagine a halfway point between those two albums this one is a pretty close resemblance to that halfway point. There is also quite a notable Queensryche influence on this one (on a few tracks), which isn’t there so much on other Stratovarius records, making Destiny stand out a bit.
If I was to describe the album, the immediate words that come to mind are ‘Toe-Tapping’ which might not exactly sound like what you want from a Heavy Metal album but I mean it in the most complimentary way possible (maybe the toe tapping is just air-drumming the kick pedals?) as the songs are so pleasant, catchy and enjoyable. They are the definition of smooth, easily digestible Melodic European Power Metal, delightfully topped with Jens Johansson’s distinctive keyboard skills. There are some progressive moments and inventive structures on there sure, but a large majority of the record is just that simple, clean, melodic and driving style of the best Stratovarius singles. It’s a remarkably consistent and high quality affair where no song is too obnoxious, there are no moments that feel too cheesy and nothing that feels like a ‘skip-button-magnet.’ (On other Stratovarius records, some rare things give me very itchy fingers, like the intro to ‘Pappillion’ for example).
Highlights here include the ten-minute Title Track, the catchy single ‘S.O.S’ and the very catchy bonus track ‘Dream With Me’ if you have it on your edition. If you want to have an idea of the album’s overall sound try those on for size before buying. Another very noteworthy track is the more sombre ‘4,000 Rainy Nights’ in which Timo Kotipelto does his best Empire-era Geoff Tate impression.
Overall; Stratovarius have more famous albums, they have albums with bigger highlights and from which more of the concert setlists are generated, but Destiny is one of their most solid, consistent and tasteful albums. It’s a great example of the band’s style and its full to the brim with catchy choruses, entertaining and flashy musicianship. If you like the band, don’t miss out on this excellent record.