Album review: TIMO TOLKKI’S AVALON – The Land of New Hope

Frontiers www.frontiers.it

Ex-Stratovarius mainman Timo Tolkki returns again with a new project after relative failures with both Revolution Renaissance and Symfonia. Stratovarius was Tolkki’s band from 1986 through to 2008 when after 4 years of turmoil Tolkki called it a day. Stratovarius returned with a new guitarist and new success whilst Tolkki struggled on…

“The Land of New Hope” is, as the wonderful cover artwork states, “a Metal Opera”. This immediately brings to mind Avantasia and that comparison is actually not far off the mark. Tolkki has written a concept piece concerning a group of survivors of worldwide destruction searching for a mythical “Eden” and has assembled a wonderful cast of performers including the amazing Elize Ryd (Amaranthe), “Sir” Russell Allen (Symphony X) Michael Kiske and Rob Rock on vocals, Jens Johansson and Derek Sherinan on keyboards and Alex Holzwarth (Rhapsody) on drums with Tolkki himself handling bass and guitar duties.

At its best, such as on the wonderful “Enshrined in My Memory” with the delightful Elize on vocals and “In the Name of the Rose”, this is up there with the best but there are just too many songs that just don’t quite hit the same high standard…but that’s not to say they aren’t good. “We Will Find a Way” sounds like a Stratovarius-Avantasia mash-up and the Rob Rock solo numbers “The Magic of the Night” and “To the Edge of the Earth” sound like pure (but classic) Stratovarius. “Shine” featuring Elize and Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation) is missing a truly memorable melody which is a shame. Ballad “I’ll Sing You Home” is superb though and the closing Michael Kiske lead epic title track reminds me of his tenure with Helloween around the “Keeper” era…but again just misses that special something to these ears.

Could have been superb and up there with Avantasia but just misses out – still a return to form for Timo Tolkki and hopes are high for his next “Metal Opera”…

****

Phil Berisford


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