Stratovarius is a Finnish power metal band that formed in 1984. Since their formation (originally as Black Water), they have released 15 studio albums, 3 DVD and 3 live albums. Along with German bands Helloween, Blind Guardian, and Gamma Ray, Stratovarius is considered one of the leading and most influential groups of the power metal genre. In its history, the band has known many chaotic lineup changes; there is no founding members in the band since 1995, and currently, the longest standing member is singer Timo Kotipelto, who joined in 1994.
Stratovarius was founded as Black Water in August 1984 by singer and drummer Tuomo Lassila, guitarist Staffan Stråhlman, and bassist John Vihervä. Line-up changes soon started to occur, including Timo Tolkki replacing Stråhlman two months later and taking over singing duties as well, and the band expanding to a quintet with the arrival of keyboarist Antti Ikonen the following year. Under this line-up, the band released its first album Fright Night in 1989, with Tolkki acting as sole composer. While various changes of bassist occurred, the band released the albums Twilight Time (1992) and Dreamspace (1994). In 1994, Tolkki decided to stop acting as lead vocalist, with Timo Kotipelto joining the band. After the release of Fourth Dimension in 1995, last remaining founding member Lassila, as well as Ikonen, left the band and were respectively replaced by Jörg Michael and Jens Johansson respectively.