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Timo Tolkki's Avalon
Angels of the Apocalypse
Released: 2014, Frontiers Records
Almost a year to the day after Timo Tolkki unleashed Part 1 of his ambitious metal opera project (THE LAND OF NEW HOPE), he and his huge cast of singers are back to the second part of the trilogy. Despite the fact that Part 1 was, confusingly, the third part of the trilogy, I LOVED it. To me it sounded like Tolkki had finally reclaimed his song writing mojo after years of dull offerings (minus the excellent Symfonia album). Therefore it’s needless to say that I was eagerly awaiting this next installment.
One of Tolkki’s selling points for this album is that he’s brought back ex-Stratovarius members Tuomo Lassila (drums) and Antti Ikonen (keyboards) to play with him. Honestly, this is nothing to get excited about. Lassila and Ikonen do a great job playing the music but there’s no noticeable difference from the first album. More intriguingly, Tolkki has, with the exception of the returning Elize Ryd, completely revamped his guest vocalists for this album. That has a huge effect, as unlike the first album, some of the vocalists fall short this time. I’ll come back to this in a bit.
Musically, this is simply more of the neo-classical power metal that we’ve come to expect from Tolkki. His fans will be perfectly at home with songs like “Jerusalem is Falling” and “Stargate Atlantis”, as well as ballads like “You’ll Bleed Forever” and “High Above Me”, which features some of the best vocal trade-offs on the album between Simone Simons, Elize Ryd, and Caterina Nix. To Tolkki’s credit, he does attempt some new song writing tricks, particularly with the start/stop structure of “Rise of the 4th Reich”, which was a song that drove me nuts (in a bad way) initially, but grew on me over time. The only song the truly falls short is the plodding chording of “Neon Sirens” which also has an uninspired vocal performance from Zachary Stevens. Basically though, if you are a fan of Tolkki’s music, you will find much to enjoy here, even if it’s not quite up to the level of THE LAND OF NEW HOPE.
That brings me to the vocalists. Fabio Leone and Floor Jansen are the most featured singers this time out and in this, Tolkki chose well. They both turn in typically great performances. Others, like the aforementioned Stevens do not fare as well. In particular, David DeFeis sounds tired and a shadow of himself.
All told, Tolkki has delivered again and given me hope that he can close off this trilogy properly with Part 3 next year.
1. Song for Eden
2. Jerusalem is Falling
3. Design the Century
4. Rise of the 4th Reich
5. Stargate Atlantis
6. You’ll Bleed Forever
7. The Paradise Lost
8. Neon Sirens
9. High Above Me
10. Angels of the Apocalypse
11. Garden of Eden
Timo Tolkki: Guitar, Bass, Keyboards
Tuomo Lassila: Drums
Antti Ikonen: Keyboards
Fabio Leone (tracks 1, 2, and 5)
David DeFeis (track 4)
Zachary Stevens (track 8)
Floor Jansen (tracks 3, 6, 7, and 10)
Simone Simons (tracks 9 and 10)
Elize Ryd (tracks 9 and 10)
Caterina Nix (track 9)
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