Main songwriter of euro power metal stalwarts puts together a “metal opera” and gives it a grand name, adds guest vocalists such as Michael Kiske, but ego demands his name is placed in front of it…Tobias Sammet’s Avantasia of course. A wonderful musical outing that has produced some fine albums and stunning live shows. So isn’t it about time someone did a second rate copy of that formula? You bet your pentatonic scale guitar solo it is. Enter Timo Tolkki and his imaginatively titled Timo Tolkki’s Avalon.
So…is it any good? Well, if you’d never heard Avantasia nor had you heard Timo‘s previous work with power metal stalwarts Stratovarius and even his Revolution Renaissance project, you would be forgiven for thinking this is decent.
Galloping riffs, bombastic drumming, frenetic solos, catchy choruses, overblown lyrical concepts, string sections here and there – all present and correct. Yet it is totally devoid of any soul. It sounds like it was crafted in a lab by scientists who have all the right ingredients but no real clue about music having some kind of feel or resonance to it.
The orchestration feels like it has been tacked on after the songs were recorded whereas Avantasia albums are clearly crafted with the entire sound in mind and the choirs and orchestras are an integral part of the melody, not just following the riff or hook.
That’s where this falls down. It’s a big standard power metal album with some violins and occasional female vocals to bolster the grandness of the sound. Timo is capable of much higher quality in the songwriting department and this album feels like it was recorded in a hurry.
That said, if you don’t wish to compare this with Stratovarius and you’ve never listened to Avantasia but like grandiose tuneful metal then give this a whirl. It’s by no means bad, but summing up a review with that phrase is never a great compliment when someone has put a magnum opus together.
The title track closes the affair well with a typically stunning performance from the aforementioned Kiske, but it is one gem amongst a collection of mediocrity.
If this project is to continue let’s hope the next outing is longer in the gestation and recording than “The Land Of New Hope”.