Reviews

TIMO TOLKKI’S AVALON – The Land Of New Hope

Label: Frontiers Records
Release Date: May 21, 2013

I suppose if there were anything on this planet I could actually say was made better by the existence of ABBA, it would be that they helped inspire Timo Tolkki. Tolkki is a heavy metal legend best known for his work as a guitarist and songwriter in power metal giant, Stratovarius. Of course after ABBA, Tolkki later discovered guitarists such as Yngwie Malmsteen and Randy Rhoads, and ultimately developed into the virtuoso most power metal fans know him as today.

In 2008, Tolkki left Stratovarius after over 20 years with the band, and a lot of power metal fans craved for more of his music. He formed two projects, Revolution Renaissance and Symfonia, both have since disbanded. His latest project, Timo Tolkki’s Avalon is another supergroup in the mirror of his previously mentioned acts and others such as the who’s who of symphonic metal, Avantasia. Featuring high-profile names such as Russell Allen (Symphony X), Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica), Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation) and Michael Kiske (Unisonic, ex-Helloween) this is a promising future indeed for our beloved Timo.

The debut is a concept album that Tolkki hails as a Metal Opera. It is set in the year 2055, after the Earth is nearly destroyed by natural disasters, a group of people band together in search of The Land of New Hope, which you guessed it, is the title of the album. It starts off with an ever-epic track “Avalanche Anthem” with perfect orchestration, nicely paced drum work, and great vocal presence. Unfortunately, at times the chorus work gets repetitive and boring, and in true power metal fashion it is layered to high heaven. That being said, the music itself is quite memorable. “Enshrined in My Memory” should spark an interest for any Symfonia die-hards out there, as it is a straight copy of the melody from “Rhapsody in Black”. This track, sung entirely by Elize Ryd (Amaranthe), sounds like a true classic power metal song in every way, complete with a soaring guitar solo, and the drums are very traditional in the cymbal heavy rock n’ roll style.

The album features a full run of classic power metal sounds, to more modern tracks like “We Will Find a Way” featuring Rob Rock (Impellitteri) and Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica) who play off of each other perfectly. Unfortunately, the music seems like it’s just all been done before. Probably put out by Stratovarius themselves or even Cain’s Offering. Considering keyboards are provided on the album by Jens Johansson (Stratovarius) and Mikko Härkin (Cain’s Offering) all that seems to be missing is Timo Kotipelto.

“Magic of the Night” is a blend of something along the lines of techno and power metal, but features more gritty vocals from Rob Rock. Even the guitar solo seems more in your face and dirty than any other on the album. Anthem-like tracks such as “To the Edge of the Earth” and “A World Without Us” stand out on the album, especially thanks to the vocal presence of Russell Allen on the latter. Russell meets Rob is a recipe for perfection, nearly as good as Russell meets Jorn.

Timo Tolkki is a fabulous musician and deserves all of the credit in the world that he receives for his work. A great example of this is the album’s epic, “The Land of New Hope”, bringing our journey to its close. Michael Kiske’s piercing voice soars over distorted guitars ever so perfectly, and although the song runs long, the arrangement is just incredible. I couldn’t think of any other better way to end such an epic release. While it’s not a release to go down into the book of heavy metal for generations to come, it is still a powerful release of beautiful symphonic metal music. Tolkki gets to add another great project into his already impressive and beefy resume, and power metal fans everywhere get to hear musicians they love singing and playing all new tracks (for the most part anyway) orchestrated by the wonderful Sami Boman, who has been at this music thing since 1995. Rest assured, The Land of New Hope is definitely worth checking out.

Mattie Jensen

Guest Musicians:

Vocals: Russell Allen, Elize Ryd, Rob Rock, Tony Kakko, Sharon Den Adel, Michael Kiske and opera vocals by Magdalena Lee

Keyboards: Jens Johansson, Derek Sherinian, Mikko Härkin

Drums: Alex Holzwarth

Orchestration: Sami Boman

1.Avalanche Anthem    04:52      
2.A World Without Us    05:42      
3.Enshrined in My Memory    04:05    
4.In the Name of the Rose    04:26      
5.We Will Find a Way    04:24      
6.Shine    03:36      Show lyrics
7.The Magic of the Night    04:42      
8.To the Edge of the World    05:01      
9.I'll Sing You Home    05:01      
10.The Land of New Hope    08:53


   

MONUMENT - Renegades

MGR Music 2014

My first encounter with London based, five-piece Monument came back in 2013 at Les-Fest. Main support for Saturday headliners Furyon, I had no previous knowledge of the band other than the fact they were from ‘down south’ and they played heavy metal.

Their Les-Fest set has now become one of those moments for me when axis seemed to shift. Within ten minutes of being onstage they had blitzed through two songs that were high-octane, hook driven and technically brilliant. What they proved in their 40 minute slot was that there was indeed a future for British heavy metal.

Back in November, I reviewed the first single to be taken from the debut album, at the time I said of Runaway: ‘the song is brilliant and if it is, indeed, indicative of what’s to come from the bands forthcoming album Renegades then Monument are set to have a year they’ll never forget.’ Well, almost five months later and Monument’s debut album is imminent. Released on May 16th, through MGR Music, Renegades is a rare thing these days. Sharp, clean and with no filler, the album is quite simply brilliant.
The title track gets things off to a flyer with its mental, guitar driven riff and that pace is carried through on Fatal Attack. That first single is offered up in the first half of the album but by the time it’s through you begin to see that the decision to choose it as lead single could very easily have gone to any of the other songs so far. Midnight Queen has old-school Black Sabbath all over its verses and for me is the early stand-out track. By the time its blistering guitar solo has settled and marked the half-way point for the album, you want to go back and re-live the entire first half before venturing on.

The second half offers up instrumental Red Dragon, as usual the pace is ferocious and the intricate guitar work, not to mention solid beat, ensure you understand the talent on offer here. But it’s Rock the Night that’s the true star of the latter proceedings. Lead singer Peter Ellis’ opening vocals set in motion a mix of energy and attack, coupled with a hook that is sure to have every listener raising their hands to the air.
The album ends on Omega, an epic finale with a brilliant chorus and a song which once again highlights Monument’s ability to create memorable guitar riffs and combine them with the talent within all five members.
This really is a brilliant album and I haven’t even mentioned the production or artwork – both of which are astounding. If Hellfire did marks out of ten, it’s safe to assume that the upper echelons of that marking system would be reached here. Renegades is definitely worth the wait.

Monument’s music may be grounded in old school heavy metal but their new wave branding of it is bringing new life into the heavy metal scene and ensuring that not only does it have a good future but Monument do too.

Kirsty Fraser

1.Renegades    04:57    
2.Fatal Attack    04:17      
3.Crusaders    04:46    
4.Runaway    03:51      
5.Midnight Queen    05:51      
6.Red Dragon    03:11      instrumental
7.Carry On    04:37      
8.Rock the Night    03:20      
9.Save Me        
10.Omega


   

Jonne Järvelä - "Jonne"

Jonne Järvelä is well-known for his work as the front man of Finnish folk metal band, Korpiklaani, but on his brand new, solo debut, Jonne, he demonstrates a significantly different approach to his music.

Staying true to his roots, Jonne is teeming with Finnish folk music. The approach; however, is more of an organic, indigenous folk route; one wherein you won't find any of the distorted guitars or rollicking, alcohol-fueled songs typically found on a Korpiklaani record. What you will discover is an entire album of, dare I say it, easy listening, traditional Pagan folk music. Music that is a fantastic journey from start to finish. The diverse yet complex instrumentation and brilliant melodies stick with you long after the record is over and it didn't matter that I couldn't understand a lick of what Järvelä was saying (except for the last song, "The Boxer"), I still found myself engrossed in the music, humming along while relaxing to the amazingly tranquil forest vibes he's herein created.

A surprising, yet very well done cover version of Paul Simon's "The Boxer," sung entirely in English, rounds out the record bringing the journey to, what I feel is, a fitting end. I really enjoyed the record and I think fans of Korpiklaani will really dig getting to see a softer, gentler side of Järvelä.

Bruce Moore

Track Listing:

01. Viuluni lauluni soutaa
02. Ken söi lapsen lattialta
03. Ämmänkuolema
04. Kuku käki
05. Metsään on iäksi mieli
06. Tule hiidestä hevonen
07. Leppäyöhön löyly
08. Joki
09. The Boxer

Run Time: 40:59


   

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Πρόσφατα Reviews

  • TIMO TOLKKI’S AVALON – The Land Of New Hope Label: Frontiers Records Release Date: May 21, 2013 I suppose if there were anything on this planet I could actually say was made better by the existence...
  • MONUMENT - Renegades MGR Music 2014 My first encounter with London based, five-piece Monument came back in 2013 at Les-Fest. Main support for Saturday headliners Furyon,...
  • Jonne Järvelä - "Jonne" Jonne Järvelä is well-known for his work as the front man of Finnish folk metal band, Korpiklaani, but on his brand new, solo debut, Jonne, he demonstrates...
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