Timo Tolkki's Avalon - The Land Of New Hope review
|Band:||Timo Tolkki's Avalon|
|Album:||The Land Of New Hope|
|Release date:||May 2013|
01. Avalanche Anthem
02. A World Without Us
03. Enshrined In My Memory
04. In The Name Of The Rose
05. We Will Find A Way
07. The Magic Of The Night
08. To The Edge Of The Earth
09. I'll Sing You Home
10. The Land Of New Hope
Since his departure from Stratovarius back in 2008, Timo Tolkki became a restless soul, and tried to vent the venom against his ex-fellows working frantically, but his 2008-2011 projects, Revolution Renaissance and Symfonia, mainly attracted detractors: the once brilliant composer seemed lost, his arrows blunt, his creativity sacrificed on the altar of some Stratovarius hollow imitations.
His true renaissance, paradoxically, starts now with a lack of originality: many metal operas were born following the success of Avantasia or Ayreon, but the idea behind Avalon is simply too similar to Tobias Sammet's child not to get faulted even before composing a note. The only way that remained Timo not to be completely bashed by Avantasians was to make of this album a masterpiece. This didn't happen, but The Land Of New Hope shows encouraging signs of recovery in Tolkki's music quality.
This is an unequivocally archetypal power metal album, being characterized by huge amounts of orchestrations, properly simple song textures, the anticipated accessibility and unfailing cheesiness: features able to catch the attention of every devotee of the genre. But this release has chiefly an indefensible flaw, noticeable already at the first listen: Timo seems no longer able to write his distinctive double bass anthems - a la "Eagleheart", just for instance. The faster tunes, here, simply don't have that quid that turns a chain of notes into a sing-along hymn, and fall short, again, as Stratovarius b-sides.
But 'the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him: "Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now"' (John 2:9-10). And this is exactly what happens here, being the last track, entitled as the album, a gem that uplifts the morale of every detractor, not thanks to the song itself, but to the one who brings it to life: the ageless Michael Kiske, that offers once again his crystalline voice to enrich this album of a remarkable and majestic ending.
This brings to a topic that should be treated separately: the one of the guests. After putting the musicianship on safe ground - Alex Holzwarth on drums and three masters as Derek Sherinian, Jens Johansson and Mikko Härkin (were they really needed?) on keyboards - Timo seems to have focused more on the singers' reputation than on their being apt to the album's sound. In fact, despite being all well-known names, in contrast with the aforementioned Kiske, an appreciable Rob Rock and the charming performance of Amaranthe rising queen Elize Ryd there are an intangible Tony Kakko, a Russel Allen that, though being a master on his own field, clearly doesn't fit this kind of music and a Sharon den Adel that gets outclassed by her Swedish colleague.
The concept under The Land Of New Hope can be easily read as Timo's recent biography: the escaping from a ruined heaven (Stratovarius), to reach, after many struggling (Symfonia, Revolution Renaissance) a renewed place for living (Avalon). Let's just hope this is true, and definitive.
Written on 18.08.2013 by
Hopefully you won't agree with me, diversity of opinions is what makes metal so beautiful and varied.
So... critics and advices absolutely welcome.
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