Stratovarius was founded in 1984 in Finland under the name Black Water. They went through a
number of personnel, style and name changes before the band found its own voice. The founding members were Tuomo Lassila, Staffan Stråhlman, and John Vihervä. By 1985, the name had changed to Stratovarius (a combination of Stratocaster and Stradivarius), and guitarist/vocalist Timo Tolkki entered the band, replacing Stråhlman.
Two new non-Finnish members were recruited: Swedish keyboardist Jens Johansson, of Yngwie Malmsteen fame; and German drummer Jörg Michael. With the fifth release Episode, Stratovarius had finally found its sound and had a strong, diverse line-up. Episode was a grand project, featuring a large choir and a string orchestra. It spawned some of the all-time greatest Stratovarius hits, such as Father Time and Will The Sun Rise. This line-up released three hugely successful albums over the years: Visions in 1997, Destiny in 1999, and Infinite in 2000. With every album, their fame and fan-base expanded, and they started gaining a stronger following outside Scandinavia, particularly in Japan. In 2003, the band released its most epic project yet, the two album suite named Elements. With these albums, they reached a peak in their progressive and symphonic style of power-metal. The first album, Elements pt. 1, was released in early 2003, followed by a world tour. Elements pt. 1 was followed by Elements pt. 2, also released on Nuclear Blast records the same year.
But unfortunately, dark clouds were shadowing the band’s path once again. In 2005, Sanctuary was starting to have severe financial problems and the whole label collapsed just as the record was released. Much of Sanctuary’s staff was made redundant, the stock price plunged, and banks and other creditors circled the company like vultures. The band played over 100 shows without any support from their record company, appearing at numerous festivals, and a long period of extensive touring all over Europe, Japan and South America began. One highlight was the two month Monster Metal Madness tour together with Shakra and HammerFall. It was a package of true power metal at its best, conquering Europe like an avalanche.
In April 2008 he left Stratovarius and its debts and troubles behind, and gave the remaining members his blessing to do whatever they want with the band and the legal case, and formed a new band, Revolution Renaissance. The rest of Stratovarius’ members found themselves in legal limbo and with a heavy legal debt, but they were without preconceptions also all working on new music.
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