((( MENSAGE DE MACK: Una vez mas los saludo, amantes
del rock y les doy la bienvenida a esta biografía de un grupo finlandés
que ha sabido combinar la música medieval con el Heavy Metal y me reafiero,
sin duda alguna a Stratovarius, uno de los grandes favoritos de todos los
Stratovarius was founded in 1984 by three guys from Helsinki, Finland; drummer
and vocalist Tuomo Lassila, bass player John Vihervä and guitarist Staffan
Stråhlman. Before Stratovarius the same line up performed under name
Black Water. The music of early Stratovarius was very different from what
it is today. Back then it was heavily influenced by Black Sabbath and Ozzy
Osbourne. Guitar player Staffan brought in some classical elements. Bass player
John left the band by the end of 1984 and was replaced by Jyrki Lentonen,
who previously played with Timo Tolkki in a band called Road Block.
1985 Staffan did not want to play in Stratovarius anymore and he left one
week before the band was supposed to play one gig in Aalborg, Denmark. Tuomo
Lassila phoned to Timo Tolkki and asked him to join the band. Timo learned
all the songs from cassette tape and after a few rehearsals the band travelled
to Denmark. At that time Tuomo was still singing and playing the drums at
the same time. It soon became evident that the band needed a singer because
Tuomo's vocal range. However, good singers are few and far between and so
Timo Tolkki took over the vocal duties. At this point the music was starting
to sound more like it is today: very melodic and classically influenced. Timo
Tolkki brought along his influences; Blackmore, Rainbow and Baroque music.
The band rehearsed and gigged extensively in Helsinki and made its first demo
tape under this line up in 1987. It contained songs "Future Shock",
"Fright Night" and "Night Screamer".
The demos were sent to various record companies in Finland and CBS Finland
wanted to sign the band after seeing a show at Tavastia Club, Helsinki. At
this point the band had a new keyboard player Antti Ikonen. The band recorded
its first single "Future Shock/Witch Hunt" in 1988. This was followed
by another single "Black Night/Night Screamer" in the beginning
of 1989 and finally the debut album "Fright Night" saw daylight
in May 1989.
The band gigged extensively during the summer and autumn 1989 and played
a huge outdoor gig Giants Of Rock in Hämeenlinna with Anthrax and many
other metal acts. After all this bass player Jyrki Lentonen left the band.
New material was written and demoed early 1990 but CBS lost interest of releasing
more Stratovarius material. The band did not give up but rehearsed a lot and
made new songs and finally went to record the follow-up to "Fright Night".
All this time the band did not have a record contract and it had to finance
the recordings by itself. Timo played all the bass parts and even though there
is a photo of a new bassist Jari Behm in "Twilight Time" actually
play on the album. Soon Jari was asked to leave the band because his style
of playing did not fit to the band's music at all.
The second album called "Stratovarius II" was released in Finland
early 1992. At this point it was pretty clear that the market for Stratovarius
was outside Finland. Many tapes were sent all over the world and Shark Records
wanted to sign the band after hearing the song "Hands of Time".
Finally "Stratovarius II" was released with a new cover and a new
name "Twilight Time" in October 1992 all over the Europe. Soon import
copies started to spread to the Japanese market and "Twilight Time"
was five months in Top 10 of import disks in Japan. Evetually it became the
best selling import album in Japan in 1993. The band also got a big record
contract with JVC Victor Entertainment inJapan which released "Twilight
Time" in July 1993. Timo Tolkki flew to Japan for the first time in the
same month to do promotion and saw that the bands popularity was skyrocketing
with enthusiastic fans. The spare time between searching for the record deal
was spent on writing new material and the band recorded new songs during the
whole year 1993. Also a new bass player Jari Kainulainen joined the band as
70% of the new material was already recorded. At this time Tuomo Lassila had
a severe stress injury in his both hands and was not able to play drums for
8 weeks. The record had to be completed with Kingston Wall drummer Sami Kuoppamäki,
who played on 4 tracks.
Finally the third album "Dreamspace" was released worldwide in
February and March 1994. It was highly praised among the critics and took
the bands popularity to a different level. It contained such all time Stratovarius
classics as "Dreamspace", "4th Reich" and "Chasing
Shadows" to name a few. In June the band headed to Japan for the first
tour and played concerts in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya seeing Japanese fans face
to face for the 1st time. In Finland they played just one gig before heading
for Japan in the now defunct, legendary Shadow Club in Helsinki. This was
also JK's very first live appearance with Stratovarius.
New material was written from the spring to summer 1994 and band hit the
studio once again with very good vibes from Japan Tour. Timo Tolkki fulfilled
his long time dream by recording the solo album "Classical Variations
and Themes". It contained songs like "Fire Dance Suite", which
was originally written for "Stratovarius" back in 1986, "Lord
Of The Rings" and many other classically influenced tracks. The album
was released in October 1994. Stratovarius spent the whole summer of 1994
in studio finishing its fourth album.
At this stage Timo Tolkki decided that his singing days were over and that
the band should find a proper singer to take the band's sound even further.
As advertisements were put to local music papers, somebody remembered a guy
from Lappajärvi, Finland, who had approached the band one and half years
earlier. So Timo Kotipelto got a phone call from Timo Tolkki and an audition
was arranged. The band jammed some songs and as the new guy opened his mouth
for the first time, everybody knew that he was the new singer.
Timo's sound can be heard all over the bands fourth release "Fourth
Dimension". The title of the album says it all and the sound and the
songs on this album were something totally different than before but still
the musical style remained as true Stratovarius metal. "Fourth Dimension"
was released worldwide in March 1995 and it doubled the sales of "Dreamspace"
The band toured heavily playing shows in all over Germany, Switzerland,
The Netherlands, Finland, Greece and Japan. After all these tours Tuomo Lassila
and Antti Ikonen, the long time members were asked to leave the band. There
were many reasons for this line up change, the most important were personal
chemistry and musical differences. The guys just could not play the material
that was developing in Timo Tolkki's mind.
After the success of "Fourth Dimension" Timo Tolkki and Timo Kotipelto
wanted to take the bands music even further. New drummer Jörg Michael
and new keyboard player Jens Johansson entered the band.
The mixing of bands fifth album "Episode" took place at Finnvox
Studios in Helsinki. This album was once again a huge step forward for the
band. With the fresh attitude and sound of Johansson and Michael the result
was dramatic, melodic and symphonic metal album. Also for the first time a
choir of 40 singers and a string orchestra of 20 players were used. The album
contains some Stratovarius classics as "Father Time", "Eternity"
and "Will the Sun Rise?".
Stratovarius' next album "Visions" was released in the April of
1997 and it hit the Finnish charts position #5 in an instant. It spent a total
of 24 weeks on the Finnish Top 40. "Visions" also launched an extensive
tour, during which Stratovarius entertained not only Finns but also their
fans in Japan, Europe and South America. "Visions" exceeded the
gold disc plateau of 20.000 sold copies in Finland and the gold disc was celebrated
at Tavastia Club in Helsinki June 10th 1998 with a little party and a special
gig with a couple of unusual song choices.
During Visions tour Stratovarius recorded their first live album, double
CD "Visions of Europe", which was released late March 1998. It contains
over 100 minutes of material. Also this album has been a huge success both
critically and commercially.
April 1998 Stratovarius started rehearsing their new studio material for
the forthcoming album, their seventh full length studio release "Destiny"
The album was recorded at Finnvox studios during the spring and summer of
1998 and the release date was October 5th 1998. The first single from the
album is entitled SOS was released August 17th and it hit the chart position
#3 on Finnish single charts faster than the speed of light. Strangely enough,
Destiny debuted the Finnish charts on position #1 the Thursday BEFORE it was
officially released. The future will show us if we will see another Stratovarius
gold disc party within one year.
The coming of the year 1999 saw Stratovarius again surpassing the gold disc
plateau with "Destiny" and this was but sign of more fine things
to come. This year has already seen Stratovarius clinch the merits as the
best Finnish metal band in the annual readers' poll of the Finnish metal Magazine"SFP".
Also the video for SOS was voted the best domestic metal video in Finland
in 1998 in the same poll. Soundi magazine's readers' poll confirmed that Stratovarius
is now in the big league in Finland, Timo Tolkki took a landslide victory
in the "best musician" category for the second time in a row, Stratovarius
was elected th 2nd best band, Timo Kotipelto was voted the 3rd in the "best
singer" category, Destiny was elected the 2nd best album and SOS the
2nd best song. Also both Timos vere voted in the "Wondeful Person"
category and Jens was voted in foreign musicians category. Stratovarius also
got laurels from Finnish record industry, they got an "Emma" trophy
for being an outstanding export band.
The closing half of 1999 sees Stratovarius building up their new studio
album, which will be released by Nuclear Blast Records February 28th 2000.