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Polaris by Stratovarius
Released: May 2009
Power-prog metal veterans Stratovarius have been incorporating classical music themes into blurry guitar epics since 1983. Polaris, the Finnish band's twelfth studio album, doesn't boast the almost comical intricacy of their early material, due in part to the replacement of guitar virtuoso Timo Tolkki, but there is still plenty of blow-dried vocals and acceptably jaw-dropping shred to keep our inner nerds air-tapping in the mirror. Centerpiece song "King of Nothing" and the high-speed opener "Deep Unknown" should placate to some degree the folks who miss Tolkki.
Mike McGuirk

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