Sound — 10
The first song, Kiss of Judas, starts off with a very nice pick scratch with drums in the bcakground which is not something I would expect to start an album. I was surprised so I started to get into the music. I heard the instruments break in and what really popped out at me was the choral sound coming from the keyboards. It was quite mystifying and, forgive me, but it was so epic! This kind of music I could definately get into. The guitars were nice and heavy without sticking out way too much, which is a common problem with today's music. What really surprised me though was when the keyboards played a harpsicord sound at the beginning of Black Diamond. Now that was awesome!
Lyrics — 10
I will do this on a song by song basis. 01. Kiss Of Judas - this song is a pretty good tune to start off an album with: no too fast and not too slow. 02. Black Diamond - no question the bands biggest hit. The harpsicording really came around in this song and got me into the music more. 03. Forever Free - this song has good lyrics and an epic chorus. In the last chorus, there is a cool-sounding key-change. 04. Before The Winter - this tune offers a nice change in pace after all of the fast heavy stuff that had been playing. 05. Legions - this is a good heavy and fast song that I like to hear often. I like the end of the choruses. Very epic! 06. The Abyss Of Your Eyes - another ballad! Lets just say that variety is a good thing. 07. Holy Light - all musicians' abilities shown off here. This is one of the best instrumentals I've heard in a long time. 08. Paradise - this is another good epic tune with a fast pace and an energetic and alive chorus. 09. Coming Home - not much to say here. It seems like a filler to go into Visions. 10. Visions (Southern Cross) - the grand finale. This song is a good way to end an album with an exclamation point.
Overall Impression — 10
There isn't anything in the world as epic as Stratovarius. Except maybe Gamma Ray or Axenstar. But besides that, I now realized why this is the band's top album. The reason can't really be explained by anything other than the amazing creativity in the elaboration of the written material. This should be the number one album on your list right now. It is worth every penny of your money spent on it. The best songs are Black Diamond, Forever Free, Legions, and Paradise.