There has been much written about Timo Tolkki and Stratovarius, not all of it constructive. After finally walking away, he got a call from Frontiers Records President, Serafino Perugino. Following that, he started his new project from an original concept discussed years ago between him and Perugino. This was to be a symphonic metal and rock opera with a variety of guest vocalists. More importantly to Timo, he was to regain full control of his own music and performances.
Timo Tolkki not only wrote the songs, but also plays guitars and bass. The drummer was Alex Holzwarth (Rhapsody Of Fire), with keyboards by Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater), Jens Johansson (Stratovarius) and Mikko Harkin (Sonata Arctica). The main guest vocalists are Elize Ryd (Amaranthe), Rob Rock (Impellitteri) and Russell Allen (Symphony X). Further guest spots are provided by Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica), Sharon Den Adel (Within Temptation) and Michael Kiske (Helloween, Unisonic).
The band name is taken from the film “The Mists of Avalon”, which tells the story of King Arthur. The film describes Avalon as a place likened to heaven that normal mortals cannot see and is divided by mist.
‘The Land Of New Hope’ (2013) is a power metal concept album of a post apocalyptic world. The year is A.D. 2055 and planet Earth has almost been destroyed by a series of earthquakes, tsunamis and natural catastrophes. A small group of survivors leave on a quest to find a sacred place called The New Land Of Hope.
It opens with full force in ‘Avalanche Anthem’ with its up-tempo riffage. Here it introduces Rob Rock, Elize Ryd and Russell Allen alongside the sweeping keyboard and shredding guitar solo. But it’s the next track ‘A World Without Us’ that catches my attention with its British Steel era (Judas Priest) intro guitar before it moves into a melodic section and onto blazing guitar. “A world without us we’re not learning / A world without us not returning / To the new horizons we will roam / We will find at any cost / The beauty that was lost / So into the brave new world we go”.
Then its time for Elize Ryd to present her full glory in ‘Enshrined In My Memory’ with “You and I must rewrite this song / We chose some words that did not belong / Everything that we used to have is enshrined in my memory / I won’t give in, won’t give up the fight / I sail way from the darkest night / Into the future with what we had enshrined in my memory”. Following this is the piano-led ‘In the Name of the Rose’ before it moves into a heavy rock ballad. In ‘We Will Find a Way’ there are vocal battles between Rob Rock and Tony Kakko.
‘Shine’ is one of the shorter songs and sees Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation) soaring vocals “Shine, just see how we are shining / The everlasting light / Will guide us through a brand new day”. There is another gentle ballad in ‘I’ll Sing You Home’ which is handled beautifully by Elize Ryd. Finally, there is the epic ‘The Land Of New Hope’ with Michael Kiske showing off his full range.
Whilst this album doesn’t break any boundaries, it is the first part of a trilogy. The next release is ‘Angels Of The Apocalypse’ and features Elize Ryd and a superb range of guest vocalists. It also reunites the legendary Stratovarius “Dreamspace” line-up of Antti Ikonen and Tuomo Lassila.
Reviewed by Peter John Willoughby
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
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
Timo Tolkki Guitars, Bass, Lyrics
Elize Ryd Vocals (tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9) Amaranthe
Derek Sherinian Keyboards
Mikko Härkin Keyboards
Magdalena Lee Vocals (soprano)
Sami Boman Orchestrations
Alex Holzwarth Drums
Tony Kakko Vocals (track 5)
Sharon den Adel Vocals (track 6) Within Temptation
Rob Rock Vocals (tracks 1, 2, 4, 7, 8)
Russell Allen Vocals (tracks 1, 2, 4)
Michael Kiske Vocals (track 10)
Jens Johansson Keyboards
Record Label: Frontiers Records, May 2013
Video below “The Land Of New Hope” EPK
Video below ‘Enshrined In My Memory’