By Jason Wellwood
I may be one of the few power metal fans that never weighed in with an opinion of Infinite. Stratovarius as a band seriously divide fans of the genre due mostly to the fact that the Finns are very serious about what it is they do. Although much of the band’s early work was hailed as genius the later albums became too serious for their own good, to the point of pompousness, and both the songs and music suffered for it. Infinite is a weird record in that it almost seems like the band is trying to have fun again, trying to be a little sly but they can’t seem to get past their own pretentiousness. ‘A Million Light Years Away’ and ‘Millennium’ are pure power metal: all hooks, riffs and huge memorable choruses while ‘Hunting High and Low’ is a monster song that will get stuck in your head for weeks. ‘Mother Gaia’, however, breaks into this silly polka time signature with some lounge singing that left me scratching my head. All in all, Infinite is a good album with just a couple of bumps along the way. For my money, it’s a hell of a lot better than the next 3 albums where the fun went away again.
To entice folks to pick up Infinite and give it a second chance, Armoury have added a second disc of b-sides and outtakes that were previously released on various singles and box sets. There are still a few bonus tracks missing but this is a pretty good collection of what was released for Infinite. Standouts on the disc include ‘Why Are We Here’ which could easily have been included on Infinite and may actually have been a better pick than say, ‘Mother Gaia’. The two demo versions included here: ‘Hunting High And Low’ and ‘Millenium’ are much rawer, (obviously) than the album versions but they’re both still quite good and probably would have made a lesser band’s final cut. The two live tracks are fine but I found Timo Kotipelto’s voice to be a little strained and the keyboard solo on ‘Infinity’ to be pretty uninspiring. All in all, if you don’t own Infinite and are a power metal fan, I recommend you pick it up. If you already own it but don’t have the bonus material, it’s not essential but it is cool to hear at least once.