Timo Tolkki’s Avalon - The Land of New Hope

Timo Tolkki’s Avalon
The Land of New Hope
Frontiers Records
I remember, while reviewing the latest Stratovarius album, that I was wondering where Timo might be and how we missed him. It was not long after that I heard the news about Timo Tolkki’s new project called Avalon which is more of a rock/metal opera with various guests on the vocals & the keys.
So what do we get from Avalon? Well, nothing that you haven’t heard before or you can’t think of. Sometimes Timo does what he does best… he plays power metal with wonderful melodies, a few other ones we get a bit of pop metal with female vocals, while the symphonic/opera elements are fewer here. As for the guest appearances we have the sweet Elize Ryd (Amaranthe) all over the album. Who’s gonna get that girl?! Elize is not only hot in the looks but her voice also is captivating. I’m sure she never knew that she could be that famous so fast in the metal scene when she made her first steps with Avalanche back in the day. Apart from Elize that has the lion’s share on the album we have: Sharon Den Adel (Within Temptation), Michael Kiske (Unisonic, Place Vendome, ex-Helloween), Rob Rock (Impellitteri, Driver, ex-Axel Rudi Pell etc.), Russell Allen (Symphony X, Adrenaline Mob), Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica) & the soprano Magdalena Lee (Mystic Opera, Tears of Magdalena). On keys there are: Jens Johansson (Stratovarius, Dio, ex-Malmsteen, ex-Silver Mountain etc.), Derek Sherinian (BCC, ex-Dream Theater) & Mikko Härkin (Sonata Arctica). Alex Holzwarth (Rhapsody of Fire) has played all the drums while Timo has taken care of the guitars and the bass. The song orchestrations have been done beautifully by the “maestro” Sami Boman (Silentium, Funeral). The production is full, tight & rather clear.
The concept story behind “The Land of New Hope” is taking place in the year 2055 in a post-apocalyptic world that has suffered various destructions by tsunamis and earthquakes. There a small group of survivors is taking a long journey to find a sacred place called “The Land of New Hope”. Then, we follow the group on their adventures in order to find that place along with a seer that guides them. It’s a good story but I believe the music is what matters the most in such cases.
“Avalanche Anthem” opens with an ala “Prowler” melodic lead and it’s the most symphonic metal tune of the album. Russell Allen, Rob Rock, Elize Ryd & Magdalena  Lee (if I’m not mistaken) are participating in the song.
“A World Without Us” is melodic metal tune with a power metal chorus where Russell & Elize are doing a rather fine job.
“Enshrined in My Memory” may be an easy-listening song but it has a Eurovision orientation… honestly, it could have been No1 if they had sent it on the specific Song Competition. Elize is wonderful in the video.
“In the Name of the Rose” is the album’s power ballad. Very good, but nothing too fancy on the whole. Elize, Russell & Rob are sharing the vocals.
“We Will Find a Way” should have been in a Strato album. It’s the absolute melodic power metal hit of the album. Rob Rock & Tony Kakko have combined forces perfectly.
“Shine” is a two ladies, Elize & Sharon, thing. A catchy & quite melodic pop metal track.
On “The Magic of the Night” we hear Rob Rock alone. Classic Strato power metal tune. Good but nothing more.
Again Rob Rock is singing solo on “To the Edge of the Earth”. Power metal with the characteristic Timo Tolkki recipe. Big chorus and generally, a very strong song.
“I’ll Sing You Home”… ohh sweet Lord, how much Strato does it sound! Why? Why isn’t this emotive ballad part of the Strato legacy? Why have you done such a thing to all your loyal fans Mr. Timo? Imposing by all means. It has a “Before the Winter” break at the half. Elize is going solo on this one.
“The Land of New Hope” is the last and the longest track of the album. It’s time for Michael Kiske to give his performance. The songs on its own is satisfactory but, I’d be a liar, if it didn’t say that Kiske takes it a step further with his unique & astonishing voice. This guy has matured and his voice sounds even more amazing these days. Listening to Kiske is a pure bliss …
This album smells Stratovarius from miles away. A few of the songs could have been on any Strato album and in truth to be told, they are smoking almost any Strato tune of the post-Tolkki era. Of course, Strato is doing fine but without Timo nothing will ever be the same. Let’s cross figures that Timo will reconsider and take back what is rightfully his. As for “The Land of New Hope”, it is a rather pleasant album with some big tunes and a few OK ones. Those who missed Timo will get a kick out of it much more than others, that’s the damn truth…