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Tuska 20130630 - Stratovarius - 46.jpg
Stratovarius live at Tuska 2013. From left to right: Matias Kupiainen, Timo Kotipelto, Lauri Porra, Rolf Pilve and Jens Johansson
Background information
Also known asBlack Water (1984–1986)
Origin Helsinki, Uusimaa, Finland
Years active1984–present

Stratovarius is a Finnish power metal band that formed in 1984. Since their formation, they have released fifteen studio albums, four DVDs and five live albums. In its history, the band has gone through many chaotic lineup changes and since 1995 there are no founding members of the band that remain. Currently, the longest standing member is singer Timo Kotipelto, who joined in 1994.

Power metal is a subgenre of heavy metal combining characteristics of traditional heavy metal with speed metal, often within symphonic context. Generally, power metal is characterized by a faster, lighter, and more uplifting sound, in contrast with the heaviness and dissonance prevalent for example in extreme metal. Power metal bands usually have anthem-like songs with fantasy-based subject matter and strong choruses, thus creating a theatrical, dramatic and emotionally "powerful" sound. The term was first used in the middle of the 1980s and refers to two different but related styles: the first pioneered and largely practiced in North America with a harder sound similar to speed metal, and a later more widespread and popular style based in Europe, South America and East Asia with a lighter, more melodic sound and frequent use of keyboards.

Timo Kotipelto Finnish musician

Timo Antero Kotipelto is the vocalist of the Finnish power metal band Stratovarius and is the creator and vocalist of the power metal band Kotipelto. Kotipelto is currently the longest standing member of Stratovarius, after the departure of Timo Tolkki.


Stratovarius was founded under the name 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 quartet with the arrival of keyboardist Antti Ikonen the following year. Under this line-up, the band released its first album Fright Night in 1989, with Tolkki as the only songwriter. While the band went through many bassists, the band released the albums Twilight Time in 1992 and Dreamspace in 1994. In 1994, Tolkki decided to stop acting as lead vocalist, with Kotipelto joining the band. After the release of Fourth Dimension in 1995, Ikonen and the last founding member, Lassila, left the band and were replaced by Jens Johansson and Jörg Michael respectively.

Tuomo Lassila is a Finnish musician best known as the former drummer, founder member and co-songwriter of the power metal band Stratovarius and currently the drummer and percussionist for the Finnish metal band Conquest.

Timo Tolkki Finnish musician

Timo Tapio Tolkki is a Finnish musician best known as the former guitarist, songwriter and producer of the power metal band Stratovarius. With his tenure lasting for more than twenty years, he was the longest standing member of the band before his departure in 2008. After leaving Stratovarius he formed two supergroups named Revolution Renaissance and Symfonia, both of which have since disbanded. In a 2011 article by Guitar World magazine, Tolkki was included in the all-time top 50 list of the world's fastest guitarists.

In music, a quartet or quartette is an ensemble of four singers or instrumental performers; or a musical composition for four voices or instruments.

This line-up consisting of Kotipelto, Tolkki, bassist Jari Kainulainen, Johansson and Michael, now recognized as the "classic line-up" of Stratovarius, became the longest line-up in its history (1995-2005). With this line-up, the band released eight albums including most of their popular works (releasing an album with the same line-up than its predecessor for the first time) until the release of a self-titled album in 2005, after which Kainulainen departed and was replaced by Lauri Porra. In 2008 guitarist, sole composer and main lyricist Timo Tolkki, being highly critical of their last album and tired of the tensions between the members, decided to disband Stratovarius. However, at the demand of the rest of the band, he agreed to let them continue as Stratovarius while leaving the band. He subsequently regretted his decision, stating that the current band had nothing to do with Stratovarius which he considered as mainly his own work.

Jari Kainulainen Finnish musician

Jari Kainulainen is a Finnish bass guitarist. He is in particular known for having been the bass player of the power metal band Stratovarius from 1993 until 2005. Kainulainen is currently the bassist of Masterplan, having joined 2012.

<i>Stratovarius</i> (album) 2005 studio album by Stratovarius

Stratovarius is the self-titled eleventh studio album by power metal band Stratovarius, released on 5 September 2005 through Sanctuary Records. The album reached No. 4 on the Finnish albums chart as well as the top 100 in six other countries. "Maniac Dance" was released as a single, reaching No. 4 on the Finnish singles chart and the top 100 in three other countries.

Lauri Porra Finnish musician

Lauri Porra is a Finnish bassist and composer, also known for his work in Stratovarius. Lauri Porra is a fourth generation musician, and the great-grandson of famous Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. He started to study music at age 6 when he started to play cello in a local music school. In 1993 he switched to bass guitar and continued his studies in the Helsinki Pop Jazz Conservatory (1994–2004). Additionally he has taken lessons on piano, double bass, trumpet and male vocals. During 1997-1999 he sang with the renowned YL male choir performing for instance with the London Symphony Orchestra. He has released four instrumental solo albums with the latest, ‘Entropia’, released in January 2018 on BIS-records. He has also composed music to movies, tv and media. In 2016 Lauri received Nordisk Popularauktors NPU-award and was nominated for HARPA Nordic film composer music award. Lauri´s own band Lauri Porra Flyover Ensemble has performed Lauri´s music on tours and various festivals. Lauri´s orchestral music has been performed by Finnish Radio Orchestra, Trondheim Symphony Orchestra, Lahti Symphony Orchestra and many others. Lauri is artistic partner of Vantaa Pops orchestra and artistic advisor of the Helsinki Festival.

Despite the controversy of Tolkki's departure, the band's following albums Polaris (2009) and Elysium (2011) received positive reception, with various critics and fans considering them their best albums in the last decade. These were the first albums with Porra and new guitarist Matias Kupiainen, and all members except Michael were part of the songwriting process. After a small "Farewell Jörg" tour in Finland, Jörg Michael departed for personal reasons in 2012. With new drummer Rolf Pilve, the band released Nemesis in 2013 and Eternal in 2015.

<i>Polaris</i> (Stratovarius album) 2009 studio album by Stratovarius

Polaris is the twelfth studio album by power metal band Stratovarius, released on 15 May 2009. It is the first Stratovarius album to feature bassist Lauri Porra and guitarist Matias Kupiainen, following former bassist Jari Kainulainen's departure from the band in 2005 and former guitarist Timo Tolkki's departure in 2008.

<i>Elysium</i> (Stratovarius album) 2011 studio album by Stratovarius

Elysium is the thirteenth studio album by power metal band Stratovarius, released on 12 January 2011 through Victor Entertainment (Japan) and on 14 January through Edel AG (worldwide). It is the last Stratovarius album to feature longtime drummer Jörg Michael, who left the band in 2012. Elysium reached No. 1 on the Finnish albums chart, as well as reaching the top 80 in five other countries. "Darkest Hours" was released as a single, reaching No. 4 on the Finnish singles chart.

Matias Kupiainen Finnish musician

Matias Kupiainen is a Finnish guitarist, songwriter and record producer. He is the current guitarist in Stratovarius.


Early years and Fright Night (1984–1990)

Stratovarius was founded in August 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. [1] By 1985, the name had changed to Stratovarius (a portmanteau of Stratocaster and Stradivarius, which is also the name of an early Kraftwerk song), and guitarist/vocalist Timo Tolkki entered the band in December of that year, replacing Stråhlman. In 1988 they released their first two singles, "Future Shock" and "Black Night". In 1989 their debut album Fright Night was released, which would be accompanied by a small tour of Europe. [2]

A portmanteau or portmanteau word is a linguistic blend of words, in which parts of multiple words or their phones (sounds) are combined into a new word, as in smog, coined by blending smoke and fog,, motel, from motor and hotel, or Pegahorn, from Pegasus and Unicorn. In linguistics, a portmanteau is defined as a single morph that represents two or more morphemes.

Fender Stratocaster electric guitar

The Fender Stratocaster is a model of electric guitar designed from 1952 into 1954 by Leo Fender, Bill Carson, George Fullerton, and completed by Freddie Tavares. The Fender Musical Instruments Corporation has continuously manufactured the Stratocaster from 1954 to the present. It is a double-cutaway guitar, with an extended top "horn" shape for balance like the Precision Bass guitar. Along with the Gibson Les Paul and Fender Telecaster, it is one of the most-often emulated electric guitar shapes. "Stratocaster" and "Strat" are trademark terms belonging to Fender. Guitars that duplicate the Stratocaster by other manufacturers are usually called S-Type or ST-type guitars.

Stradivarius String instruments built by the Italian family Stradivari, particularly Antonio Stradivari

A Stradivarius is one of the violins, violas, cellos and other string instruments built by members of the Italian family Stradivari, particularly Antonio Stradivari, during the 17th and 18th centuries. According to their reputation, the quality of their sound has defied attempts to explain or equal it, though this belief is disputed. The fame of Stradivarius instruments is widespread, appearing in numerous works of fiction.

Twilight Time, Dreamspace and Fourth Dimension (1991–1995)

In 1991 the group released their second album, which was initially released under the name Stratovarius II but was later re-released in 1992 with the name Twilight Time . On this album, Tolkki played bass as well as guitar on all tracks, despite Jari Behm receiving credit on the album. After Twilight Time was released, Behm was fired and replaced with Jari Kainulainen. In 1994 Dreamspace , their third album, was released. This album was the last album that followed the style of the initial releases because when Tolkki abandoned his position as lead singer the group adopted the more neo-classical/symphonic style which they became famous for.

<i>Twilight Time</i> (album) 1992 studio album by Stratovarius

Twilight Time is the second studio album by the power metal band Stratovarius. The album was originally recorded and released in the band's native Finland as Stratovarius II in early 1992 by Bluelight Records, followed by a reissue in Europe with different cover art in October of that year by Shark Records. A third edition was issued in Japan in July 1993 by Victor Entertainment, renaming the album Twilight Time with yet another cover design; this is the most common version in circulation today. On the back cover, bass guitarist Jari Behm appears in a band photo and is credited with playing, but all bass parts on the album were actually performed by the guitarist and then-bandleader Timo Tolkki.

<i>Dreamspace</i> 1994 studio album by Stratovarius

Dreamspace is the third studio album by power metal band Stratovarius, released on 9 February 1994 through Noise Records. It is the last Stratovarius album to feature guitarist Timo Tolkki on vocals, as well as the first to feature bassist Jari Kainulainen.

After releasing the album Dreamspace, Timo Tolkki decided to step down from the lead singer position of the band to concentrate on guitar and songwriting as well as to move Stratovarius in a new direction. The band started auditions for a new singer, eventually choosing Timo Kotipelto. In 1995, the band released their first album with Kotipelto on vocals Fourth Dimension , which was accompanied by a music video for the song "Against the Wind". This was the last album with a singing performance by Timo Tolkki, being featured as a backing vocalist on this album. This was the first album that showed signs of the new direction the band was heading, with tracks such as "Twilight Symphony" using an orchestra for the first time in their recordings.

Departures of Tuomo Lassila and Antti Ikonen, Episode, Visions and Destiny (1996–1999)

It was in this period that the last founding member left the band. Unhappy with the new direction the band was heading, Tuomo Lassila decided to leave the band along with Antti Ikonen, leaving Stratovarius searching for a new drummer and keyboardist to fill their places. Jörg Michael from Rage was hired as their drummer and soon after, Jens Johansson of Yngwie Malmsteen-fame was hired as keyboardist, a position he has held to this date. This new line-up released Episode , an album that showcased their new symphonic direction with a full orchestra and choir utilized on tracks such as "Season of Change" and "Forever". The line-up on this album proved to be their most stable, remaining the same until the release of Polaris in 2009.

In 1997 the band released their sixth studio album titled Visions . This album was released to a very positive reception and featured notable songs "The Kiss of Judas", "Black Diamond" and the title track "Visions (Southern Cross)", a 10-minute epic that was their longest song at the time. "Black Diamond" has since become one of their most recognized songs, and has been included in almost all live setlists since its release. In the same year, the band recorded the album Destiny , which reached No. 1 on the Finnish charts.[ citation needed ] Destiny contained "S.O.S." and "Rebel", as well as the 10-minute title track "Destiny".

Infinite, Intermission and Elements, Pts. 1 & 2 (2000–2003)

In 2000, the album Infinite was released. Just like its predecessor, Infinite reached No.1 in the Finnish chart, the last time one of their albums would do so until the release of Elysium in 2011. Continuing the trend of featuring lengthy symphonic pieces, the titular track "Infinity" is over 9 minutes long. Featured songs are "Hunting High And Low" and "A Million Light Years Away". The following year saw the release of Intermission a compilation album of B-Sides, bonus tracks from previous albums and unreleased material. During this time, the band decided to take a break from working on new material for Stratovarius. It was in this time that Timo Tolkki released his second solo album Hymn to Life and guest appeared on the Avantasia album The Metal Opera (Tolkki would later play guest guitar on the sequel album The Metal Opera Part II ). Timo Kotipelto also began his side project Kotipelto, with the first album Waiting for the Dawn getting released in 2002.

In 2002 the band started work on their next project titled Elements. Initially conceived as a double album, the project was eventually split into two different releases, with Elements Pt. 1 and Elements Pt. 2 both being released the same year in 2003. This would contain some of the group's most ambitious work yet, with the title track "Elements" on Elements Pt. 1 clocking in at 12 minutes, the longest song the band would write until the release of Elysium in 2011. Elements was also the first, and so far only attempt at recording a double-album, and showed the band experimenting with their musical style.

Hiatus, Stratovarius and Tolkki's departure (2004–2008)

During this period, tensions were increasing in the band, and in 2004 Stratovarius temporarily disbanded after Timo Tolkki suffered a nervous breakdown. A couple of months after the breakdown, Tolkki was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and went into rehabilitation for a period. During this time, Timo Kotipelto released his second album with his side project Kotipelto titled Coldness . It was also during this time that Stratovarius orchestrated a series of publicity stunts, including Kotipelto being fired and replaced by a female singer named "Katrina K", as well as Tolkki being stabbed at a concert. Eventually, the stunts were revealed to be a hoax, and Tolkki reunited the band to begin work on their next album. In 2005, the self-titled album Stratovarius was released to hostile reception by fans. Stratovarius featured a very different change in style compared to previous efforts, containing almost no symphonic or neo-classical elements in the music or soloing of Tolkki and Johansson that fans were used to, and did not feature any lengthy epics. Tolkki was highly critical of the album, and Stratovarius showed evidence of the band relationship at an all-time low. Seemingly against Tolkki's wishes, Jari Kainulainen was fired in 2005 following the release of the album for reasons Tolkki said were "so absurd that I am not even [going to] try and explain them here". Kainulainen was quickly replaced with Lauri Porra, and in 2006 the band began work on a new album that was tentatively titled R...R..., however, as internal issues increased, the project stalled. Eventually, the band reached a divide, with Johansson and Porra supporting Tolkki on one side, and Kotipelto and Michael on the other. Finally, on March 4, 2008, Tolkki officially declared that he was disbanding Stratovarius:

"It is time to stop the silence and announce what some of you have already been speculating. Stratovarius is no more..." [3] As Tolkki held the rights to the name Stratovarius and all its royalties, it was his initial intention to completely disband Stratovarius. However, on May 20, 2008 he agreed to sign over the rights to the name Stratovarius and all its royalties to Timo Kotipelto, Jens Johansson and Jörg Michael (though Michael was initially against using the name Stratovarius [4] ), allowing Stratovarius to continue on without him. Tolkki later took the songs he wrote for the R..R.. sessions and formed the band Revolution Renaissance, using the R...R... to form the name of the band, instead of the album. Stratovarius eventually found a replacement guitarist with Matias Kupiainen, and soon after began work on their next album.

First years without Tolkki: Polaris and Elysium (2009–2012)

Matias Kupiainen joined the band in 2008. Matias Kupiainen - Ilosaarirock 2009.jpg
Matias Kupiainen joined the band in 2008.

In 2009 came the release of Polaris , which reached No. 2 in Finland. It was the first album after the departure of Timo Tolkki and Jari Kainulainen, and featured in their place new guitarist Matias Kupiainen and bassist Lauri Porra. The album yielded the two singles "Deep Unknown" and "Higher We Go". In 2010 the album was re-released along with different live material recorded during the Polaris Tour.

In September 2010, Stratovarius announced the start of recording of their second album with Matias Kupiainen on guitar. Before officially launching the album, the Darkest Hours EP was released with the new songs "Darkest Hours" and "Infernal Maze", plus two live recordings of older songs. To promote the new album, Stratovarius toured as guests on Helloween's Seven Sinners Tour. As Stratovarius's drummer Jörg Michael was diagnosed with cancer, he was temporarily replaced by Alex Landenburg in the band.

In 2011, the band released their new album titled Elysium that quickly reached No. 1 in Finland, the first of their albums to reach No.1 since Infinite . Notable songs on the album include the singles "Darkest Hours", "Under Flaming Skies", and the 18-minute epic "Elysium", the longest song that Stratovarius has ever recorded.

Jörg Michael has announced his plans to leave the band for personal reasons. Jörg played all the remaining tour dates until January 31 in Guatemala City, and celebrated with a special Finnish "Farewell Jörg" tour from November 18 to November 26. [5]

In March 2012, the band announced a drummer search on their Facebook page. [6] On June 20, 2012, the band announced that Rolf Pilve is their new drummer. [7]

On June 29, 2012, live album and DVD Under Flaming Winter Skies - Live In Tampere has been released. It was filmed in Tampere, Finland on 19 November 2011 and that is the last release with the drummer Jörg Michael. [8]

Nemesis, Eternal and Enigma: Intermission 2 (2013–present)

Their new album, Nemesis , has been released on February 22, 2013. The first single, "Unbreakable", was released on January 25, 2013. [9]

They also released a DVD called Nemesis Days with some Nemesis World Tour recordings in this same year. [10]

In August 2014 the band announced they would play a few shows dedicated to their 1997 hit album Visions . During these shows, the whole album was played. The premiere of these concept shows was September 12, 2014: their headliner performance at Progpower USA in Atlanta. [11]

On December 5, 2014 Elements Pt. 1 and Elements Pt. 2 were reissued as a box set which included the high quality 3CD+DVD digi-pak, a cassette including previously unreleased demo songs which are only available on this format and are not made available anywhere else, an “Elements” tour T-shirt as well as a reproduction of the original tour program. [12]

On April 24, 2015, Stratovarius announced that their sixteenth studio album, Eternal , would be released on September 11, 2015. [13] On June 23, 2015, Stratovarius unveiled Eternal's cover, as well as the official track list of the album. [14] On July 30, 2015, the band announced that the lead single from Eternal will be Shine in the Dark. An official lyric video featuring vocalist Timo Kotipelto was uploaded onto YouTube.

In October 2015, Stratovarius embarked on a world tour to promote the new album. They began this with a European Tour of 16 countries including France, Germany, and the Netherlands. Gloryhammer and Divine Ascension were the support acts for the European leg of the tour.

On May 20, 2016, the band released their Best Of compilation, which included one previously unreleased track called "Until the End of Days". [15]

On January 13, 2018, Kotipelto discussed recent anniversary shows and also commented that the band had hoped to record a new album during spring 2018. [16]

On August 10, 2018, Stratovarius released the new song "Oblivion" from the upcoming compilation album Enigma: Intermission 2 , which came out September 28, 2018. It is the follow-up to 2001's Intermission . The band supported the new album with a European tour with Tarja Turunen on the A Nordic Symphony '18 tour. [17]

Musical style

Stratovarius is described as primarily a power metal band and one the most influential groups of the genre, [18] [19] [20] [21] and also encompassed other genres, such as neoclassical metal, [18] progressive metal, [18] [21] symphonic metal [4] [18] [21] [22] and hard rock. [18]

Band members




Studio albums

Related Research Articles

<i>Episode</i> (Stratovarius album) 1996 studio album by Stratovarius

Episode is the fifth studio album by power metal band Stratovarius, released on 22 April 1996 through Noise Records. It is the first Stratovarius album to feature keyboardist Jens Johansson and drummer Jörg Michael, both of whom would form part of the band's most stable line-up for nine years. The album reached No. 21 on the Finnish albums chart and remained on that chart for six weeks.

<i>Live! Visions of Europe</i> 1998 live album by Stratovarius

Live! Visions of Europe is a live album by power metal band Stratovarius, released on 7 July 1998 through Noise Records. The album was recorded on two dates in Italy and Greece during the band's tour for their 1997 smash hit album Visions.

<i>Destiny</i> (Stratovarius album) 1998 studio album by Stratovarius

Destiny is the seventh studio album by power metal band Stratovarius, released on 5 October 1998 through Noise Records. It reached No. 1 on the Finnish albums chart and remained on that chart for 17 weeks. "SOS" was released as a single, reaching No. 2 on the Finnish singles chart and remaining on that chart for eleven weeks.

<i>Infinite</i> (Stratovarius album) 2000 studio album by Stratovarius

Infinite is the eighth studio album by power metal band Stratovarius, released on 28 February 2000 through Nuclear Blast (Europe) and Victor Entertainment (Japan). The album reached No. 1 on the Finnish albums chart and remained on that chart for nine weeks, as well as reaching the top 100 in six other countries. "Hunting High and Low" and "A Million Light Years Away" were released as singles, reaching No. 4 and 14 respectively on the Finnish singles chart. Infinite was certified Platinum in June 2013, with 21,907 copies sold.

<i>Elements Pt. 1</i> 2003 studio album by Stratovarius

Elements Pt. 1 is the ninth studio album by power metal band Stratovarius, released on 22 January 2003 through Nuclear Blast. The album reached No. 2 on the Finnish albums chart, as well as reaching the top 100 in four other countries. "Eagleheart" was released as a single, also reaching No. 2 on the Finnish singles chart.

<i>Elements Pt. 2</i> 2003 studio album by Stratovarius

Elements Pt. 2 is the tenth studio album by power metal band Stratovarius, released on 4 November 2003 through Nuclear Blast. The album reached No. 4 on the Finnish albums chart and its single, "I Walk to My Own Song", reached No. 9 on the Finnish singles chart.

<i>Fourth Dimension</i> (Stratovarius album) 1995 studio album by Stratovarius

Fourth Dimension is the fourth studio album by power metal band Stratovarius, released on 11 April 1995 through Noise Records. The album is the band's first to feature vocalist Timo Kotipelto as well as the last with keyboardist Antti Ikonen and drummer Tuomo Lassila, thus being the last Stratovarius album to date featuring an all-Finnish line-up. Founding member and guitarist Timo Tolkki, who had served as the band's vocalist for their first three albums, still provided background vocals on Fourth Dimension before handing over lead singing duties to Kotipelto for all subsequent albums.

<i>Nemesis</i> (Stratovarius album) 2013 studio album by Stratovarius

Nemesis is the fourteenth studio album by power metal band Stratovarius, released on 22 February 2013 through Edel AG. It is the first Stratovarius album to feature new drummer Rolf Pilve, who replaced Jörg Michael in 2012. The album was first announced on the band's official website on 24 November 2012, with the track listing being revealed on 5 December 2012. A preview of "Unbreakable", the album's first single, was made available on YouTube and was released on 25 January 2013.

<i>Eternal</i> (Stratovarius album) 2015 studio album by Stratovarius

Eternal is the fifteenth album by power metal band Stratovarius, released on 11 September 2015 (Europe) and 18 September. Singer Timo Kotipelto composed three tracks and wrote most lyrics together with his Cain's Offering partner and former Sonata Arctica member Jani Liimatainen.

<i>Enigma: Intermission 2</i> 2018 compilation album by Stratovarius

Enigma: Intermission 2 is a compilation album by power metal band Stratovarius, released on 28 September 2018 worldwide. The album has a collection of rare Stratovarius tracks from their four most recent studio albums: Polaris, Elysium, Nemesis and Eternal. It also includes three new tracks: Enigma, Burn Me Down and Oblivion, along with four orchestral versions of previous Stratovarius songs. The album is a follow-up to 2001's Intermission.

<i>Best Of</i> (Stratovarius album) 2016 compilation album by Stratovarius

Best Of is a compilation album by power metal band Stratovarius, released on 6 May 2016. It has 28 different Stratovarius songs spanning the band's entire career, hand-picked and remastered by the band. It also includes one new track, Until the End of Days. The album is split into two CDs, the limited edition also containing a third CD with songs from the Wacken 2015 live performance.


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