Following Timo Tolkki’s exit from Stratovarius, 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.
The band name was 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 first album in the power metal concept album trilogy was ‘The Land Of New Hope’ (2013).
The second 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. The amazing vocal cast includes the Floor Jansen (Nightwish), Simone Simons (Epica), Fabio Lione (Rhapsody Of Fire), David DeFeis (Virgin Steele), Zachary Stevens (Savatage, Circle II Circle), Elize Ryd (Amaranthe) and the new Chilean singer Caterina Nix (her debut album is also produced by Tolkki).
The concept for this album takes place in 2020 A.D. The Elements send four Angels to observe mankind and its actions in the last century. There are four Angels, but still they are One. Fire, Wind, Earth and Water are their names. With the Elements they observe in unimaginable sadness and anger the primitive events that take place in the last 150 years as they have the ability to go back and forth in time. As they give their final warning, Mankind sees unimaginable destruction that shakes its core foundations. Pandora’s Box is opened and the forces of Nature are unleashed. Is this the prelude for Judgement Day ?
After the intro track, there is ‘Jerusalem Is Falling’ where Tolkki's signature guitar style is put to good effect as Fabio Lione wails about natural disasters. Next is singer Floor Jansen on the album’s first single ‘Design The Century’. After the hefty guitar driven intro, the song pulls back into soft keyboards to showcase Floor’s vocals. The song rises to declare “Design the century / Looking back to history / No way to make this work anymore” and there is another scorching guitar solo.
‘Rise of the 4th Reich’ comes in for the most criticism as David DeFeis vocals seem to have lost their former power. And after the guitar solo there is a sound bite by American President Bush.
But the pace quickens for ‘Stargate Atlantis’ with Fabio Lione and backing vocals by Caterina Nix. “Stargate Atlantis / Step aside the great big world / Leave behind the old world ruined”. This is followed by the steaming performance of Floor Jansen in ‘The Paradise Lost’. After this the pace slackens with the first tender ballad ‘You’ll Bleed Forever’ which seems to drag on too long and outstays its welcome.
Thankfully the metallic edged guitar returns on ‘Neon Sirens’ along with the muscular vocals of Zak Stevens. Here the style becomes hard rock as it leaves the keyboards behind and riffing guitar stomps throughout. This track really stands out, especially as it is sandwiched between two gentle ballads, the second one being ‘High Above Of Me’.
Next is the nine minute epic ‘Angels of the Apocalypse’ as the end of the world seems nigh as all four female vocalists get a chance for outpouring their emotions. “Earthquakes to shake this petty ground / Flowing rivers into blood / Wonder why, you never saw the signs / To pull you through / This all ends tonight / Somewhere in the distance / You can see the burning sky / Getting closer and no escape / It's too late to cry”. Finally there is an instrumental outro.
Personally I think that the first album ‘New Hope’ stands as a stronger overall release, whereas ‘Angels’ needs more selective listening.