Frontiers [Release date 16.05.14]
It doesn’t seem five minutes since Timo Tolkki released “The Land Of New Hope” and now he’s back with the next instalment under his Avalon moniker.
Timo has come up with a bonkers storyline where “The Elements” send 4 angels to watch mankind and its destructive actions over the last 150 years or so. The angels themselves are named after the elements – Fire, Wind, Earth and Water. Mankind gets its final warning before judgement day…
Only Timo Tollki himself and Elize Ryd remain from the first album. This time Floor Jansen (Nightwish, ReVamp, After Forever) handles the main female role assisted by Epica’s Simone Simons and new girl Caterina Nix (from Chile of all places).
For the male vocals step forward Fabio Lione (Rhapsody of Fire), Zak Stevens (Savatage, Circle II Circle) and David DeFeis (Virgin Steel). Former Stratovarius colleagues Antti Ikonen and Tuomo Lassila re-united with Tollki to play keyboards and drums respectively.
The hymn like vocal only Song For Eden leads into Jerusalem with its orchestration, choral backing vocals and Stratovarius-like song structure make it one of the more melodic numbers here.
First single Design the Century features Floor Jansen but she seems wasted on such an ordinary song. Rise of the 4th Reich is just plain awful and just how David DeFeis vocals made it onto the final product remains a mystery. The chorus is the best part and that only says “it’s the rise of the 4th Reich” a couple of times!
Stargate Atlantis, The Paradise Lost and Neon Sirens are both instantly forgettable with very little in the way of melody. You’ll Bleed Forever and High Above of Me are the big ballads with female vocals. The former takes a while to get going and the latter has only piano and vocals for almost 4 minutes before the band decide to join in. Both are pleasant enough but nothing special.
The epic Angels of the Apocalypse just is not that epic – a full 9 minutes and by the end you cannot remember anything about it!
What went wrong this time round? Are these songs the rejects from the previous album? Timo Tollki needs to take a good listen to the masters of this genre and the brains behind Avantasia and Ayreon – Messrs Tobias Sammet and Arjen Anthony Lucassen – before embarking on the next Avalon album.
Disappointing as I had high hopes for this one thinking there would be an improvement from “The Land of New Hope”… but, no, everything has actually got worse…nice artwork again though. **½
Review by Phil Berisford
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