Sound — 9
In this excellent sequal to it's predecessor, Elements Pt. 1, Stratovarius stray away from their normally symphonic and orchestral sound in search of a more traditional sounding heavy metal edge. The first song Alpha and Omega begins with the sound of waves crashing into shores which is how A Drop In The Ocean finished Elements Pt. 1. Then it blasts into a slow and really heavy verse riff which blows your head off. You just got owned by Stratovarius... how embarassing. The rest of the album follows as one might suspect a CD from this band would; there is plenty of ebb and flow so the listener is never overwhelmed by anything in the record. I really miss the old symphonic sound of the band though.
Lyrics — 10
Timo Tolkki wrote all of the lyrics on this album and this is the first time he has done so in the history of the band. I think Timo Kotipelto has a better lyrical imagination than Tolkki because it changes more with each song but that wasn't as much of a concern here as I thought it would be. Kotipelto is still the best vocalist in the history of power metal (sorry Mikael Kiske) and delivers a top-notch performance here for what he is given to work with. His best performances are on I Walk To My Own Song (IWTMOS) and I'm Still Alive.
Overall Impression — 8
After the amazingness of Elements Pt. 1 I really was hoping for something huge out of the band the second time around. I was a bit disappointed in this effort though due to it's lack of symphonicality and orchestration. I still think the two Timos are machines at what they do in this record yet the rest of the members didn't really get as much of a chance to shine. The closest they came was the keyboard intro on IWTMOS. Along with that, I'm Stll Alive, and Liberty are the best songs. Remember folks, buy Visions first. While this album was solid, it wasn't as well polished as it could have been.