Visions is the sixth full-length studio album by the Finish Power Metal band Stratovarius. It was released in 1997 on Noise Records and self-produced by the band’s guitarist/mastermind Timo Tolkki.
The style on music found here is speedy, soaring, upbeat Melodic Power Metal with constant double kicks, plentiful guitar solos, and a prominent keyboardist who doesn’t just take on a background role (Jens Johansson of Yngwie Malmsteen fame).
The album opens with the excellent, concert-favourite tracks “Black Diamond” and “The Kiss Of Judas.” If you wonder whether or not to try out the album, or even the band, then these are songs that you may want to preview first.
Similarly excellent, is the brilliant “Legions” which sounds at first almost identical to Queensr’che’s “Queen Of The Reich” before veering off on a tangent into that quintessentially European “Glorious/Victorious” feeling, and becomes more of its own song. Singer Timo Kotipelto’s vocals on this track are incredible.
There’s also a fair bit of variety on the album; for example “Paradise” is fun and bouncy, “Holy Light” is a virtuosic instrumental track and there’s also the strong, tasteful power ballad “Coming Home.” The album’s other Power Ballad, “Before The Winter” shows large tendencies towards 1970s Progressive Rock and points towards the direction that the band would take on their Elements Part 1 and Part 2 albums.
The album ends with the 10-minute title track, which is a multifaceted gem with acoustic parts, choral parts, speedy stereotypically Power Metal sections and slower moody sections. It pretty much mixes everything from the album thus far into one single song.
The standard of musicianship, songwriting and production are all top notch on this record, everything is very tight and there is no filler. This is a very strong album for Stratovarius and a good choice to start your collection with.