I hate power metal. Actually, that’s a bit of an understatement. My hatred for the genre burns with the fire of a thousand suns going nova. Ah, that’s more like it. Anyway, it’s been years since I subjected myself to the genre due to extreme disdain, but then along came this beyond fucking hysterical review of Stratovarius’ latest flaming unicorn ride and I just couldn’t help myself. The review was so engaging that it was one of those things where I knew the album would make me cringe, but at the same time, I just had to know…
And so it was that I downloaded the promo of Stratovarius’ Nemesis, loaded it onto my iTunes and pressed play. Before I knew it, I had entered a world of pain. A world of sugar and spice and everything nice. It was still metal, but it was metal from Bizarro-world, metal that embodied the polar opposite of all the blood, guts, death and destruction that I loved about it. I imagine my listening session looked something like this to any innocent bystanders…
I mean the whole thing was just so goddamn… silly! Are there people who actually listen to this shit and take it seriously? Does the band take this shit seriously? Will prolonged exposure to this cause me to skip around my living room while shotgun-crapping Skittles? Sure, some of the riffing was actually pretty badass, but those keyboards! They reminded me of the fruit-bot presets on the pink Casio I had when I was a little kid that I used to drive my mom crazy with until the fateful day when my grandpa accidentally spilled KFC gravy all over it and it never worked again (I have a theory that this was no accident, and that the family conspired to destroy my keyboard, so as to not be driven to insanity, but this cannot be proven and is a story for another time).
And those lyrics! “Climb a hill / Learn a skill?!!” What in the actual fuck? Oh hell, forget the lyrics, the keyboards in this song “Fantasy” sound like they’re from motherfucking Willow! Where’s Mad Martigan?! Where’s Warwick Davis?!! Where’s that wannabe Skeletor dude that played the main villain?!!
Hey, remember that part at the end of Willow when the two old wizard ladies fight and make all those funny noises? That shit was hilarious.
Hard to believe Stratovarius hails from the same country that gave us Impaled Nazarene and Beherit. It’s also hard to believe that I actually managed to sit through the entire album. There’s no doubt in my mind that these frilly-sounding Finns are incredibly good at what they do, even if I can’t understand why they do it or why anyone wants to listen to it.
I guess it all comes down to what you want from heavy metal. When I listen to metal, I typically want to be crushed and/or dragged into darkness, not whisked away to a Gary Gygax-ruled Valhalla by a cosplay valkyrie riding atop the aforementioned colorful baked good excreting steed. But apparently some people really want that. Hey, I don’t have a problem with my fellow metalheads wanting to enjoy something uplifting and whimsical, which Nemesis undoubtedly is; it just ain’t my bag, though I can’t deny the fact that I’m now hearing that “climb a hill / learn a skill” shit in my sleep.
The moral of the story is, I naturally gravitate towards black and death metal, but it’s always good to have your security blanket ripped away from time to time, and listening to Nemesis certainly did that for me. I’m also glad that there are still reviews out there compelling enough to make me check out something I would never normally expose myself to, even if the actual music doesn’t ultimately win me over. I guess sometimes whether you like it or not, you just need to hop on top of that motherfucking unicorn and ride like the wind.