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  • Nemesis, the 14th studio album from venerable Finnish power metal outfit Stratovarius, covers a lot of familiar ground. Flush with bold, sweeping choruses backed by keyboard choirs, strings, and arpeggiated synths (the latter ride higher in the mix than usual), flashy yet nimble guitar leads, fierce, melodic breakdowns, and spirited lyrics that rally the listener to overcome non-specific adversities, the first outing to feature new drummer Rolf Pilve (J?rg Michael left the group amicably for personal reasons soon after the release of 2011's Elysium), doesn't disappoint. Nemesis, as is the case with all Stratovarius albums, was crafted in a world where subtlety has not yet come into existence, allowing for cover art that depicts a nude, buxom angel with a broadsword descending from a fiery sky filled with mushroom clouds (and a single, sad spaceship that must have wandered in from some abandoned Somewhere in Time-era Iron Maiden jacket) upon a metropolis in ruins. Luckily (for those with a taste for symphonic power metal excess in the vein of Rhapsody of Fire, Blind Guardian, and Helloween), Nemesis delivers musically what it does visually, offering up 11 well-honed slabs of propulsive, stadium-ready, non-specific adversity anthems that skillfully toe the line between radio-ready -- in a sort of Muse-meets-Dragonforce way ("Abandon," "Unbreakable," "Halcyon Days") -- and too epic for prime time ("Out of the Fog," "If the Story Is Over," "Nemesis"), resulting in another riveting, ludicrous, ornate, hammy, and explosive set from one of the genre's finest practitioners. ~ James Christopher Monger
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