In the olden days, when a band released a song from their new album and then supplemented it with a few other tracks, it was called a ‘single’. These days it seems, the trend is to refer to these releases as ‘EP’s’. I’m sorry, but with one track off the highly anticipated new album, “Nemesis” and four others culled from various previous albums, this is not what I’d call an EP. Even ye olde singles offered fans something a little different via a ‘B’ side or a dodgy remix or two. The chances are therefore that if you’re an existing Stratovarius fan, you’ll already have the vast majority of these tracks nestled in your collection.
Just for completeness however, these ‘extra’ “Unbreakable” tracks come in the form of ‘Falling Star’, ‘The Game Never Ends’, ‘Freedom’ and ‘Why Are We Here?’ from 2009’s “Polaris”, 2011’s “Elysium” and “Infinite” from the turn of the millennium respectively. Only the final track in that list has any rarity to it, being a bonus track found on certain limited editions of the album. Even then, it was featured on the 2001 compilation entitled “Intermission”. Therefore in terms of value for money, this rates very poorly indeed.
Nevertheless, there is one important factor that saves this release from finding its way into the ignominious hall of shame, and that’s the title track itself. For ‘Unbreakable’ is a cracking power metal track and ably demonstrates that there’s life in the band post-Timo Tolkki. In fact, without being too disingenuous to Stratovarius’ former mastermind and guitar maestro, this track hints at a Stratovarius that’s quite simply better than ever. If the remainder of “Nemesis” is as good as ‘Unbreakable’ suggests it might be, we could have a very special power metal album on our hands.
Opening with a tinkling piano melody, it isn’t long before the song bursts into life with a vibrant guitar riff. The synths take a prominent position throughout the verses but the soaring vocals of Timo Kotipelto and those powerful guitars courtesy of Matias Kupiainen dominate an energetic catchy and feel-good chorus. Add to all this the clever inclusion of choirs and some cracking drumming as the track develops, ‘Unbreakable’ builds nicely to its conclusion which is suitably rousing and majestic.
Whilst I question the value of a release like this, it has certainly done one thing and that’s to pique my interest in the full album to a whole new level.