After a turbulent year for fans, and particularly for Timo Kotipelto, the ex(?) Stratovarius singer has released his second solo album. If you thought “meh” or “whatever” after hearing his previous solo album, you might do a double take after hearing this album. I’ve been a big fan of Stratovarius for some years, so when the news of Kotipelto being kicked out of the band was released, I was quite disappointed. With the release of COLDNESS, the loss of Stratovarius is somewhat numbed as something positive emerged from a sad situation. This almost makes me forget about the craziness from the Strato-camp in the past few months. Most recently, Stratovarius singer Timo Tolkki has said there will not be a Stratovarius without Kotipelto on vocals, but with the way things have went, his opinion could change at any time. But in any case, lets get on to what this review is about – the music of Kotipelto.
Timo Kotipelto is credited with writing all the material on COLDNESS. Two of the songs on here were originally written by him to use in Stratovarius but were unfortunately turned down. Timo’s songwriting is not from an overly technical perspective and songs are usually to the point and not overly long or epic like some of the Stratovarius material. Having great musicians joining him on this CD adds some spice. The most recognized names would be Janne Wirman on keyboards (Children Of Bodom / Warmen), Stratovarius bassist Jari Kainulainen, and Symphony X guitar god Mike Romeo. The other members should be known by many as they also come from bands that I’m sure many know. For instance: Mirka Rantanen on drums (Thunderstone / Tunnelvision / Warmen), guitarist Juhani Malmberg (Tunnelvision), guest lead guitarist Antti Wirman (Warmen / Craydawn).
Along with the 10 songs on COLDNESS, the CD contains two “bonus” features. There is Kotipelto’s first video clip for “Reasons” and a “making of COLDNESS” video. If I had to sum up the overall feel of this album I would say it presents a darker, more mid-paced metal approach than we’ve come to know Stratovarius for. Of course there will be similarities, but this is not what you’d expect the new Stratovarius CD to sound like. The CD opens with the song “Seeds of Sorrow” which was perhaps chosen as the opener because it is in the Stratovarius vein. It has the pummeling double kicks, fast paced riffing, keyboard/guitar solo style perfected by Stratovarius. The song seems to fade out sooner then it should have, but besides that it’s a great opener. The second song, and first single release, is “Reasons” is a mid paced melodic metal song with a darker more brooding feel. This doesn’t sound like Stratovarius. The guitar sound is thick and the chorus is one of best on the album. “Around” is mid-paced as well with great vocal melodies and a very cool guitar solo with interesting phrasing. “Can You Hear The Sound” is more up-tempo in the Stratovarius vein. But is followed by “Snowbound” which again is a slower mid-paced metal track. “Journey Back” is one of the heavier tracks with its main riff giving the heavier feel. Too bad the verse riff is just a series of sustained chords and not the cool riffing pattern. The keyboard and lead guitar solo trade off was very cool but should have been twice as long! “Coldness of My Mind” has a cool intro with the drums followed by a build up to the main verse riff. The album closes with “Here We Are”, the only long song on the album clocking in at a little over six minutes. The song begins with a doomy sounding riff, at least doomy for Kotipelto, not for Sabbath.
COLDNESS is the type of album that really began to grow on me after 5+ listens. On the first few times through I liked it but hadn’t yet decided how much. After spinning the CD every other day for the past 2-3 weeks I’ve come to really enjoy the material and especially the great vocals of one of my favorite melodic singers, Timo Kotipelto. I freely, without any guilt, admit to being a Stratovarius freak. So if you love Stratovarius, chances are you will also love the direction that COLDNESS takes. Whether or not the band Stratovarius gets back together is yet to be seen. For now, I’m content with COLDNESS and the hope that the Kotipelto band stays together regardless of the outcome with Stratovarius.
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