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In the past years, the name Stratovarius was strained by internal quarrelling topped off by the exit of main songwriter, band leader and guitarist Timo Tolkki. Nevertheless, the four remaining band members including front man Timo Kotipelto decided to go on and hired axe man Mathias Kupiainen. Then, they locked themselves up somewhere in the Finnish tundra, just to return to the "normal" world with pomp and circumstance. "Polaris" is an intense and versatile Power Metal album including the familiar virtuoso melodies, but also some fresh and laid-back songs which could easily be compared to the old anthems. Especially fast "Blind", and the epic "Falling star" are real highlights, as is "Emancipation: I dusk" and "Emancipation: II dawn" ( one song split in two parts), pleasing you with its mystic flair and a penchant for progressive staginess. Once again, Kotipelto sings like a nightingale, supported by the virtusoso keyboard parts delivered by Jens Johansson.