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Timo Tolkki's Avalon: The Land Of New Hope

You spend ages waiting for one quality Symphonic Power Metal concept-project-album to come along and guess what? Two arrive almost simultaneously. So hot on the heels of the new (and excellent) Avantasia album comes Timo Tolkki's Avalon project with their The Land Of New Hope debut effort. The cast list, as ever for these projects, is stellar with vocals coming from Michael Kiske (Unisonic/ex-Helloween), Elize Ryd (Amaranthe), Rob Rock (Impellitteri), Russell Allen (Symphony X/Adrenalin Mob), Sharon Den Adel (Within Temptation) and Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica). Keyboards are provided by Jens Johansson (Stratovarius), Derek Sherinian (Black Country Communion/Dream Theater) and Mikko Härkin (Sonata Arctica), while the drums are thumped by Alex Holzwarth (Rhapsody Of Fire). That leaves the guitar and bass duties to be handled solely by Tolkki himself, with the one-time Stratovarius leader proving once again that he has overcome, in some style, the health issues that led to his departure from his old band.

Conceptually The Land Of New Hope is the first part of a trilogy telling the story of the search for (as the title suggests) a land of new hope, in a post apocalyptic 2055. Not too complex, the story actually moves along at brisk pace with multiple parts and characters explored in what could be described as a futuristic symphonic metal fairytale. Crucially however the music is the real driving force, positively pulsating with power and bravado, while being offered a more tender aspect by the excellent lead vocals of current metal flavour of the month Elize Ryd from Amaranthe. This is a young lady capable of adding real emotion to her surroundings, although she also possesses more than enough cutting edge to match and indeed create some of the album's most surging moments. It is much to her credit that even pitched against the likes of Kiske, Den Adel, Rock and Allen, she comes out as one of the true focal points of what Tolkki has cooked up here.

Stratovarius are obvious reference points, but then so are Avantastia, Rhapsody Of Fire or even Unisonic, with the mix of Symphony and Power touching bases strongly with all of these bands and many more, while never exactly following their blueprint. Although to suggest TT's Avalon are offering up something new and innovative would be stretching it quite some way. Tolkki himself, while allowing his star guests all the room required to shine brightly, isn't shy at taking centre stage, with his blistering, pyrotechnic guitar work cutting through impressively. In fact I'd go as far to suggest that some of the soloing produced here is nothing short of superb.

For some, aspects of The Land Of New Hope may sit just a touch too closely to its influences to truly convince. However purely on the strength of some great songs - especially the galloping "To The Edge Of The Earth" and the suitably OTT slow building title track - and scintillating performances, The Land Of New Hope will be a place that Symphonic Metallers will willingly join the quest to discover. Parts II and III should be very interesting indeed!

Track Listing
1. Avalanche Anthem
2. A World Without Us
3. Enshrined in My Memory
4. In the Name of the Rose
5. We Will Find a Way
6. Shine
7. The Magic of the Night
8. To the Edge of the Earth
9. I'll Sing You Home
10. The Land of New Hope

Added: April 24th 2013
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Frontiers Records
Hits: 6226
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Timo Tolkki's Avalon: The Land Of New Hope
Posted by Scott Jessup, SoT Staff Writer on 2013-04-24 06:15:01
My Score:

After so many years with Stratovarius having joined the band in its very early stages Timo Tolkki departed and went on to record the solo album Saana – Warrior Of The Light Pt.1. Tolkki then formed the group Revolution Renaissance who showed quite some promise over three albums before calling it a day. Then we had Symfonia a power metal group with Tolkki and other prominent members that had so much potential but then only released just one album, so who knows where that group could have gone.

So that leads us to the latest Tolkki related release Timo Tolkki's Avalon - The Land of New Hope. And as you are probably thinking from the title yes this is another one of those concept releases of the symphonic metal kind, and with the usual addition of multiple popular vocalists and those guest musicians plus impressive artwork. Tolkki's venture is a good one and while I don't think it rivals Tobias Sammet's Avantasia The Land of New Hope presents us with a new and very worthy addition. It is great to see vocalists like Rob Rock, Elize Ryd (Amaranthe) and Sharon Den Ade l(Within Temptation) getting a shot in such a recording along with the likes of Michael Kiske and Russell Allen who have notably contributed previously to other similar albums.

You could say Timo Tolkki's Avalon - The Land of New Hope is a very friendly album with enough variety and appeal that hits you instantly. Two of my favourite songs are the epic title track and also a spirited song called "The Edge Of The World" where the keyboardists are put to great use when it's solo time. Tolkki has given us many fine songs over the years and he has put his creative talents to work once more and returned with another enjoyable release.

» Reader Comments:

Timo Tolkki's Avalon: The Land Of New Hope
Posted by Mikko Karilahti on 2013-05-18 13:02:58
My Score:

Actually this is the last part of the avalon trilogy. Tolkki said it himself in one finnish talkshow! :D

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