Stratovarius is a somewhat controversial band. For years power metal fans counted this outfit from Finland as one of the solid pillars of 1990s power metal along with bands like Blind Guardian, Edguy and (later in the decade) Rhapsody [now called Rhapsody of Fire]. However, it’s been my experience that even many hard-core power metal fans have soured on the band. The #1 most-repeated phrase in the heavy metal world–“I only like their early stuff”–is often said of Strato.

Still, they put out some amazingly good tunes in the day, and this is one of them. “The Kiss of Judas” is from the Visions album, released in 1997, and comes from the most stable period of a band that’s suffered epic lineup changes over its 30-year history. Both Timos (Tolkki and Koltipelto) were on board for Visions, the same album that gave us “Black Diamond,” another staple of Strato’s repertoire. This is a good solid power metal song with some great guitar work and is among the finest of Koltipelto’s impressive vocal performances.

Having seen Stratovarius live several times, I’m not quite sure what to think of them these days. I haven’t kept up with their latest albums–I know they had one in 2013–but I admit I still listen to the old records from time to time. I guess you could say “I only like their early stuff.” *rimshot*

Anyway, enjoy, have a great Friday, and Shabbat Shalom.