Frontiers Records [Release date 20.10.14]
Russell Allen and Jorn Lande return under the Allen-Lande moniker after a four year absence with “The Great Divide”. This time around however, song writing and guitars are courtesy of one Timo Tolkki…hmm…this bit worries me after his recent Avalon project failed to live up to my expectations.
Jorn Lande has been fairly prolific over the last few years with a string of excellent albums released under his own name whereas Russell Allen’s band Symphony X have been fairly quiet with only the heavy “Iconoclast” to show.
Things kick off in typical Tolkki fashion with Come Dream With Me but the vocals on display raise it to a higher level. Down From The Mountain and In The Hands Of Time follow in similar fashion.
Lady Of Winter is one of the best songs on display here reminding me of a Dio-era Rainbow ballad. Dream About Tomorrow has a very neo-classical feel to it and could also be a “metal” hymn for want of a better analogy…
Hymn To The Fallen is an absolute classic with highly emotive performances all around…even at a good five minutes plus the end comes too soon.
Title track The Great Divide in an epic in all senses of the word and Bitter Sweet wraps things up nicely from its vocal only opening through the bombast of the chorus and back again.
After a sluggish start “The Great Divide” turns into an excellent album and my doubts about Tolkki’s involvement were slowly pushed under the carpet after repeated listens. The quality of the songs improves as the album goes on and the shared vocals of Sir Russell Allen and Jorn cannot be faulted at all.
Better than I dared to hope… ****
Review by Phil Berisford
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