OK, here's the scoop according to the record company; "Saana - Warrior Of Light' is the first rock opera composed by ex-Stratovarius mastermind Timo Tolkki. It took over a year to make the working hours totalling close to 3000. Mixing conventional rock instruments with choirs, classical percussionists and a string ensemble blended seamlessly with cinematic influences, Saana is a breathtaking experience of emotions and dynamics. Timo Tolkki calls it "A Classical Rock Opera". Saana features US singer Jennifer Sowle for the title role as Saana, Aino Laos from England as Freya and Heikki Pöyhiä from Finland as Damian. Saana challenges its listener with a spectacular story of a woman who is about to end her life but is suddenly stopped by what seems to be a caring stranger ,who takes her on a journey that will change her life forever. Not only will she discover her destiny and find out her purpose, but she will also discover the biggest secret mankind has ever known. The final battle between good and evil has started.
Saana varies from quiet emotional moments of beauty to unseen heights of despair and hopelessness and in itself carries a message that burns like the brightest flame. That message you must discover yourself."
Now, those that know me will testify to a couple of things, namely that I'm a huge fan of Timo Tolkki and even liked Revolution Renaissance which apparently nobody else did and secondly, that like Nigel Tufnell, I'm easily confused. I'm confused because if we strip away the hyperbole from the Press Release, parts of Saana Warrior of Light Pt. 1 are indeed quite beautiful and the vocalists are astounding, however, I can barely comprehend who the possible audience for this product may be.
Clearly the whole album is meant to be taken as one piece and the artificial divides between sections on the review download are deeply irritating but it's very difficult to see who this could be marketed at. It's in no way metal enough for Tolkki's core fans and it's arguably not singalong enough to grab the show tune people. Whether or not it is operatic enough is also open to debate.
What isn't open to debate though is the quality of Saana Warrior of Light Pt. 1 as it's a very worthwhile piece but be aware that there's no guitars whatsoever on show.
1. "Saana Mountain" - 1:22
2. "Saana's Theme" - 0:40
3. "The End" - 2:56
4. "Sadness Of The World" - 3:33
5. "3 At 7" - 4:27
6. "Silence Of The Night" - 3:03
7. "Sunrise At Saana Mountain" - 1:49
8. "Journey To The Crystal Island" - 1:57
9. "Crystal Island" - 2:38
10. "Freya's Theme" - 1:38
11. "You've Come a Long Way" - 2:22
12. "The Letter" - 4:28
13. "Who Am I?" - 1:30
14. "Freya's Teachings" - 3:21
15. "Warrior Of Light" - 3:28
16. "Journey To The Azores" - 4:47