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Stratovarius, one of the most famous symphonic metal bands in the world was founded in 1984 in Finland. Before becoming an influence for metal bands all over the world and having created a sound which can be nearly defined as a genre within metal, Stratovarius worked hard to be the established name they are today. The name is a contraction of Stratocaster and Stradivarius, Timo Tolkki was the leader of the band on guitar, as well as contributing vocals and assuming most of the songwriting fusing rock influences and neo-classical style. In 1994 Tolkki decided to stop singing, and hiring a full-time singer, Timo Kotipelto. The release of ‘Fourth Dimension’ in 1995 was a huge success entering the charts in Finland and many other countries around the world.
In 1996 two new non-Finnish members were recruited: Swedish keyboardist Jens Johansson (Yngwie Malmsteen) and German drummer Jörg Michael. With the fifth release ‘Episode’ in 1996, Stratovarius had finally found its sound and had a strong, diverse line-up. The new album ‘Episode’ featured a large choir and a string orchestra. It was another commercial success. Their next studio album, ‘Visions’, was released in 1997 without changes in the line-up. The classic album ‘Destiny’ was released in 1998, and ‘Infinite’ in 2000. With these albums, their fame and fan-base expanded, and they started gaining a stronger following outside Scandinavia. 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. The same year, it was followed by ‘Elements, Pt. 2’. In January 2005, after a temporary split, it was announced that Stratovarius had reunited with the former line-up. In 2005 Stratovarius released the self-titled album ‘Stratovarius’. This time, Stratovarius took off for a world tour, starting in Argentina also bringing them into the United States and Canada for the fi rst time in the band‘s history. After a long period of silence, on March 4, 2008, Timo Tolkki officially stated the break-up of Stratovarius on his site. The remaining members of Stratovarius, however, posted a statement online announcing the band would continue without the involvement of Tolkki. On August 22nd, Stratovarius announced that the new guitarist would be Matias Kupiainen, with the blessing of Tolkki himself.
In February 2009, Stratovarius announced the upcoming release of ‘Polaris’, which is set for May 15, 2009.