Timo Tolkki's Avalon - Land of New Hope
Frontiers Records
Power Metal Opera
10 songs ()
Release year: 2013
Frontiers Records
Reviewed by Chris
Surprise of the month

I certainly didn't expect to hear anything from Timo Tolkki lately, and more importantly I didn't expect anything good. Whether it's the drama that surrounded his "departure" from Stratovarius, the weird comments and flame wars, and the fact that his compositions for the band back then were starting to feel repetitive and uninspired. Neverthless he is back with Avalon, and basically it's Timo's take on Avantasia. A Metal Opera with a selected list of talented singers. Does it holds a candle to the last monumental Stratovarius album as well as the very good latest Avantasia release ?

In a word : yes ! Timo managed to reunite a list of impressive singers for his Opera album, singers like Rob Rock, Elize Ryd (Amaranthe) & Russel Allen are the perfect trio one could hope to get into such project. Off the bat I'll say that the vocal level on this album is very high, as high as it is on Avantasia albums (minus Tobias :) ), and I really like the lineup choice of vocalists here. I've always been fond of all three singers. They fit the music like a glove and Timo managed to propose a CD filled with songs that are not too repetitive and actually not bare much resemblance to past Stratovarius material. In this alone I must congratulate him. I was really under the impression that he couldn't do anything original anymore in the lately. But Avalon is different entirely. It alternates between Power Metal and Heavy Metal with some slower songs. The latter is the reason why I don't find Avalon's debut to be a masterpiece, there's 2 ballads and a third slower song that in my opinion brings the overall tone of the album to be on the soft side (a fault also present in Avantasia lately). I would rather he concentrated on stronger songs like : Avanlanche's Anthem, A World Without Us , We Will Find A Way (that one gives me a strong Avantasia's debut album vibe), The Magic of Night & To The Edge of the Earth and less on slower moments. Now don't get me wrong, the slower moments are fine, the performances are great and the so is the overall mood on pretty much every song, I just feel that Timo could have made his album a fast-and-furious fest and impose his Avalon has a worthy replacement of Avantasia of old. Instead it's more like a today's Avantasia, with (quite) different compositions and cast. Not a bad thing really, I just think an opportunity may have been missed, but hey, maybe it's just me :). Musically the overall feel is Power Metal with symphonic elements, some more Heavy Metal moments too and the ballads are more on the Hard Rock side. Gguitars are good though riffs and solos can seem simple for a guitarist of the caliber of Timo Tolkki, but I'll take simple yet enjoyable and catchy any day over technical, mathematical and boring. So that's that. Production is great and Frontiers, as is their habit, have again bet on a winner by signing off on this project.

One thing is sure, Timo is at his best writing music, and maybe that's what he should do from now on, just write good, epic and memorable songs rather than focus on past fudes, drama and controversy of any kind. I'm sure on board with Avalon myself, and find the album to be solid, even if a little on a safe (and sometimes soft) side composition and technical side (guitars), but overall this slab is a very good return to form for former Stratovarius mastermind. Thumbs up !

Killing Songs :
Avanlanche's Anthem, A World Without Us , We Will Find A Way, The Magic of Night, To The Edge of the Earth & The Land of New Hope.
Chris quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Timo Tolkki's Avalon that we have reviewed:
Timo Tolkki's Avalon - Angels Of The Apocalypse reviewed by Joel and quoted 83 / 100
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