By Mark Gromen
Seems appropriate that our Finnish friends would appear on a chilly January evening, not only the coldest thus far in the winter of 2012-2013, but the lowest temperatures in more than two years! Quite a "warm" welcome for singer Timo Kotipelto and NYC-based keyboardist Jens Johansson. The dynamic duo was in the Idle Hands Bar, at the lower end of the island, for a meet n' greet, autograph/drinking session that doubled as an opportunity for the public to hear their forthcoming Nemesis album. A small basement bar in the lettered avenue section of Manhattan, that's some serious drinking territory. Not exactly the perfect chance to listen to a new record (industry listening sessions usually reserve a specific time for a quiet run-through).
A little past 7pm, the musicians, publicists and label folks walked through the door, Timo greeting me with a laugh, saying "I brought my own sofa," an inside joke from ProgPower USA 2004, when we "borrowed" the pull-out sofa from his suite. Ever since whenever we meet, we teased each other about being the "Sofa King." Between all the glad-handing, photos and bar orders, the Eagle Rock label rep made a short announcement and Nemesis started pumping through the speakers. 'Abandon', which kicks things off, is easily their best opening track in more than a decade. Despite Kotipelto's assertion that this is a darker, more modern sound, it's still readily identifiable as STRATOVARIUS. When the two musicos didn't have a Sharpie in-hand, signing posters of the Nemesis artwork, they willing posed for pictures, downed a couple of beers and enjoyed meeting some American fans, up close. As an added bonus, there were free copies of the Unbreakable EP, four days before its street date!
BraveWords exclusively premiered a new track from Nemesis last week. Check out 'Halcyon Days' on the player below:
Eagle Rock's Armoury Records will release Nemesis as standard 11-track edition as well as 13-track special edition (digital only) on February 26th in North America.
Check out complete details here