16.5.13

Timo Tolkki's Avalon - The Land of New Hope (2013)

Indeed it bring new hope when such an impressive array of power metal musicians gathered in one band. Timo Tolkki has regroup himself and create yet another power metal project. Challenged by a guy from his label company, he admit to want to do another "...fully orchestrated and sound big project". Surely but this is larger than any of his previous attempts, such as Revolution Renaissance and Symfonia, ever since he left Stratovarius. FYI, Timo Tolkki last news was in 2012, where he put a Classical Variations 2:Credo project in Pledge Music. Soon he cancelled this project but promised "...  there is no reason to be disappointed, you will hear and see very soon (probably in the first quarter of 2013) the outcome of what is happening behind the curtain." (source)

In the band member, this is almost the answer to Tobias Sammet's Avantasia. The band's name in fact just almost hit the same letter, Timo Tolkki's Avalon but please, there are 17 bands project with Avalon as the word! We quickly amazed in keyboards sections, we got three big names here, yet they share different style of music. Derek is progressive metal of course, Jens is old school power metal shred and Mikko is Luca Turilli's Rhapsody keyboard player that must be having the best idea in symphonic metal type of orchestration. Then the drummer is Alex of Rhapsody of Fire. Timo handle solely the guitar and bass, sorry no invited guest guitar player. In vocal department, Michael Kiske is busy man as he is the only person doubling at Avantasia and Avalon. I am glad Rob Rock is there. Tony of Sonata must be busy with the band but came along, as well Symphony's Russel Allen. The corset singers are Elize of Amaranthe and Sharon of Within Temptation. So that quite qualified them self as a supergroup enough to do a Metal Opera.

So, let's go to the songs.
Avalance Anthem, this is quite like a character introduction. Epic intro begin this song. In a minutes it seems Timo had successfully hybrid Stratovarius melodism with Rhapsody of Fire elements. Rob Rock, Russell Allen sing this together with Elize Ryd. The trio continue again in A World Without Us, which is begin with a rather Ritchie Blackmore-ian Rainbow riff. The orchestra layered still thick, Elize Ryd begin to introduce us to signature Timo Tolkki's song writing, where he like to sustain a full notes per each syllable. Enshrined in My Memory is also released with Youtube video. This is rather modern symphonic / gothic metal song, which when Elize Ryd sing just like home as her Amaranthe band likeliness. The song resembling Revolution Renaissance (RR) feel. In the Name of Rose come early for a ballad. Everyone should aware Timo tendency to put too soft ballad in metal project, so this is half the case (..there will be another ballad later). As half of the song later, we not hear only piano and flute anymore but a full band accompaniment, ushering Russell Allen in. At this point we should stress the guitar works is complimented all the songs in best manner. The solos and chops are very personal to each songs. Next is We Will Find A Way, those who familiar with RR works should quickly went back to the song Glorious And Divine as they shared similar riff and feel. We then met the only song sung by Tony Kakko of Sonata Arctica, duet with Rob Rock. The chorus is typical Stratovarius and one of memorable point in this album. The chorus finished with a closing sentence just like another RR song, Last Night on Earth.

Shine, is like a new section on the album. Introducing Sharon den Adel to the board, this yet another power gothic to bear. Elize is join. For trivia, this album perhaps the second official Timo Tolkki full scale works with female singers, just before it he done it in Saana project. Two songs, The Magic of the Night and To The Edge of the Earth sung by Rob Rock resembling close each other. A Revolutions Renaissance's trace in both songs, but Rob Rock powerful voices also deviated the songs to others feel. The later song is heaviest in the album with vengeance drumming all the way, same thing to the keyboards solos there. Then we stop again for another last ballad, I'll Sing You Home, the sweetest and softest with both girls singing.
The Land of New Hope will remind you of Helloween's Keeper of Seven Keys with Kiske singing in full new hope by himself. In fact he is the Keeper to the Land of New Hope! Looks like Timo's long sustained notes is best in the throat of Kiske. The eight minutes long song close this part 1 of Avalon trilogy.

Based on the line up himself this should be rated at least nine stars, and yet it duly are. Avalon TLoNH is not same as Timo previous works in Revolution Renaissance and Symfonia. This is surprisingly a rather modern sounds of symphonic power metal works yet come completed with all elements of Stratovarius, Rhapsody of Fire, even Helloween and Within Temptation shared a bit of each. A Metal Opera itself, is not too heavy in term of strict opera concept album. The song writing in TLoNH has hit Timo's best works for some times now. Musicianship are all fantastic, dedicated enough effort to support Timo's idea. Vocal section, no doubt, Elize's character is the most 'aired' and she was good at that. So this distance Avalon to Tobias Sammet's Avantasia as well. With all mean, this is recommended album to all power metal fans.

Metal Harem class: ********* nine stars out of ten

Timo Tolkki's Avalon - A Metal Opera - The Land of New Hope (2013)
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1. "Avalanche Anthem" Russell Allen, Rob Rock, Elize Ryd - 4:52
2. "A World Without Us" Elize Ryd, Russell Allen, Rob Rock - 5:42
3. "Enshrined in My Memory" Elize Ryd - 4:05
4. "In the Name of the Rose" Elize Ryd, Russell Allen - 4:26
5. "We Will Find a Way" Rob Rock, Tony Kakko - 4:24
6. "Shine" Elize Ryd, Sharon den Adel - 3:36
7. "The Magic of the Night" Rob Rock - 4:42
8. "To the Edge of the Earth" Rob Rock - 5:01
9. "I’ll Sing You Home" Elize Ryd, Sharon den Adel - 5:01
10. "The Land of New Hope" Michael Kiske - 8:53

Personnel
Timo Tolkki - Guitar, Bass Guitar & Producer
Alex Holzwarth (Rhapsody Of Fire) - Drums
Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater) - Keyboards
Jens Johansson (Stratovarius) - Keyboards
Mikko Härkin (Luca Turilli's Rhapsody) - Keyboards

Guests Singers
Elize Ryd (Amaranthe)
Michael Kiske (Unisonic, ex-Helloween)
Russell Allen (Symphony X, Allen-Lande, Adrenaline Mob)
Rob Rock (Impellitteri, ex-Axel Rudi Pell)
Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation)
Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica)

Additional cast
Orchestrations: Sami Boman
Opera vocals: Magdalena Lee



Timo Tolkki's Avalon, power metal supergroup The Land of New Hope review

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