Wednesday, May 22, 2013

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

When it comes to metal, one thing I absolutely love is a super group. Super groups combine so much great talent for one single effort. Earlier this year, Avantasia released the stellar “The Mystery of Time” and raised the bar for what super groups can achieve. At the time, I thought it would be impossible for a similar band to give Avantasia a run for their money. Then Timo Tolkki comes out of the shadows three years after Symfonia, and delivers an album that should have Avantasia shaking in their shoes. Timo Tolkki is without argument one of the premier guitarists and songwriters in all of power metal. His work with Stratovarius is what got me into the genre to begin with. I still hold “Visions” as one of the most essential albums ever. After he parted ways with Stratovarius, it was quite a shock at first, but I knew he would continue to amaze fans no matter what he did. Revolution Renaissance had three great albums, even if they weren’t the most original sounding band. With the release of Symfonia’s “In Paradisum,” I felt like Tolkki was getting back to the fire he had while he was in Stratovarius. The awesome riffs combined with André Matos’ vocals made a hell of an epic album. With Avalon, Timo Tolkki surpasses everything he’s done since Stratovarius. This album has everything and then some. The guest musicians are the best I’ve ever heard on one album. An album with Alex Holzwarth, Derek Sherinian, Jens Johansson, Mikko Härkin, Elize Ryd, Michael Kiske, Russell Allen, Rob Rock, Sharon den Adel and Tony Kakko cannot be fucked with.

The more I think about this album, the more my love grows. I’m going to break my routine of breaking each track down and just say that every song here is good. “Avalanche Anthem”, “A World Without Us” and “To The Edge Of The World” are incredible tracks. The album as a whole sounds like if Avantasia and Stratovarius had a love child. From the solos all the way to the drums, this album is killer. As far as the vocals go, it’s a dream come true to hear all of this talent. The majority of the songs are sung by Elize Ryd of Amaranthe, whom I’m also a fan of. Her voice actually sounds better with Avalon. Her performance on “I’ll Sing You Home” is the best in her career thus far. It’s simply irresistible and mesmerizing. Michael Kiske and Tony Kakko sound incredible, as always. Everyone involved in this project gives it their all. Timo Tolkki’s guitar hasn’t sounded this amazing since” Infinite”. His solos sound tighter than ever.

I can’t praise this album enough. I’ve been giving albums very good scores lately and I feel like I’m too lenient. But the truth is this year (so far) has the best metal albums I’ve heard in a VERY long time. Every album I gave a high score to deserves every point. Avalon is no different. With “The Land of New Hope,” Tolkki has reinvented himself and created a masterpiece so epic and so full of quality, I’d say it’s up there with the best work of his career. It’s his most complete and focused effort yet. As far as guest musicians go, it doesn’t get better than this. Tolkki is a visionary and this album should not be overlooked. Go get it now and listen to one of the best metal operas ever written.


- Brian DuBois

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