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The Land Of New Hope
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 21 May 2013
Timo Tolkki returns with a new metal opera project. The Land Of New Hope is an interesting album with some excellent performances, but the overall result falls a little short.

The ex-Stratovarius mastermind handles the songwriting and plays both the guitars as well as the bass on his latest undertaking. The drumming is handled by the talented Alex Holzwarth (Rhapsody Of Fire), while the keyboards are performed by the virtuosos Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater), Jens Johansson (Stratovarius) and Mikko Harkin (Sonata Arctica). The majority of the vocal duties are assigned to Elize Ryd (Amaranthe) and Rob Rock (Impellitteri). Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween, Unisonic) sings the epic title track and Russell Allen (Symphony X), Sharon Den Adel (Within Temptation) and Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica) share vocals on some songs.

The music on offer ranges from double bass driven power metal to melodic hard rock and softer ballads. Some of the songs contain orchestrations and choirs which enable them to sound very big and bombastic. The album sounds homogenous and contains plenty of variety, but only a handful of individual songs manage to shine.

The opener "Avalanche Anthem" starts the album in a very successful manner and is a definite highlight. The intro is fully orchestrated and captivates the listener before exploding into fast and bombastic power metal delight. The rest of the song continues in a mid-tempo melodic metal manner with captivating vocal transitions between Elize Ryd, Russell Allen and Rob Rock. Tolkki provides an impressive guitar solo, while the chorus contains big choirs and is very memorable.

"In the Name of the Rose" is another stand out song with a captivating chorus. It starts in a balladry fashion with some softer singing by Ryd and after the first chorus it switches to a slower tempo rock song carried by Allen.

"We Will Find a Way" sees Rob Rock dueling with Tony Kakko in a successful up-beat melodic metal tune. A heavier keyboard presence, a good chorus and an uplifting Stratovarius vibe round off this effort.

"I'll Sing You Home" is the album's second ballad and it is pretty great. Vocal duties go to the female singer Elize Ryd who crowns this song with one of the most emotional performances on offer.

"The Land Of New Hope" is the longest and probably most epic song on the album. Michael Kiske handles the vocals and he truly makes this song an absolute highlight. This is another orchestral offering with several tempo changes and the most memorable chorus on offer. Michael Kiske delivers one of the most impressive vocal performances of his entire career, displaying plenty of emotion and showcasing his powerful range throughout. A very fitting guitar solo and a wink to the Helloween classic Keeper Of The Seven Keys make this song truly unforgettable.

The rest of the tracks fall a little short, due to some unimpressive performances, dull choruses or strong resemblances to Tolkki's past efforts. This is truly unfortunate because there was definitely a lot of potential here that could have resulted in a monumental album.

The Land Of New Hope remains a good but not great metal opera offering. This is the first release of a trilogy of albums that will be recorded by Timo Tolkki's Avalon project, so there is still hope for a future masterpiece.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
So is it going to be third time lucky for ex-Stratovarius mainman Timo Tolkki. When he packed it in back in 2008, who would have placed a bet on Stratovarius going on from strength to strenght while Tolkki struck out twice with Revolution Renaissance and Symfonia. Well, he's back for another go, and this time he's aiming for Avantasia territory with a guest strewn metal opera. The story goes thus; It's A.D. 2055 and most big cities of planet earth are either flooded with tsunamis or destroyed by earthquakes and fire. The whole infrastructure and communication system has broken down. The destruction is total. A small group of survivors leaves for a quest to find a sacred place known as "The Land Of New Hope". It is an old fairytale that has been told since decades but very few has actually ever believed of its existence. They travel far on a journey that is full of dangers and come across a seer who guides them further. She explains to them that "The Land Of New Hope" does exist but it is guarded by a Keeper and only those who are pure in heart can pass him. They wander further towards their ultimate destiny....

It's a consciously commercial decision, and one that they're perfectly upfront about with Frontiers Records President Serafino Perugino asking Tolkki to write a new album from scratch following an original concept discussed years ago between the artist and Perugino, and one which was to be a magniloquent metal / rock opera with some cinematic orchestrations to bring back the Stratovarius original sound in a more symphonic and grandiose fashion. And it's certainly come close to achieving its aim.

Helping him out on vocals are Michael Kiske (Helloween), Elize Ryd (Amaranthe), Rob Rock (ImpellitteriI), Russell Allen (Symphony X), Sharon Den Adel (Within Temptation), Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica). On keyboards you'll find Jens Johansson (Stratovarious), Derek Sherinian (Black Country Communion) and Mikko Härkin (Sonata Arctica) and on drums it's Alex Holzwarth (Rhapsody Of Fire). So that's a full blown power and prog metal cast, and when it fires on all cylinders it's really good.

So that takes care of 'Enshrined In My Memory' and 'We Will Find a Way'. The Rob Rock tracks are excellent as well, and the big ballad, 'I'll Sing You Home' is a gem, but some of the songs do fall short. It really is an Avantasia album by any other name, but if you're going to rip someone off, rip off the best. This is planned to be the first part of a trilogy, and it is interesting enough to make me want to hear more. There is also a deluxe edition of the album available with a 30 minute making of the album documentary and 2 promotional videoclips.
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on 29 January 2015
In recent time Timo Tolkki has had a bit of the mythical 'Fifth Beatle' about him - you know the one who left before they became famous and all that. Stratovarius went onto massive things after he departed and his other projects since have fallen short. This however brings him up there, he's finally nailed it.

Inevitably this entire concept will suffer from largely unfavourable comparisons with Avantasia because of the metal opera tag. They're totally different in that respect, as Tobias Sammet has said that Avantasia is not an opera, whereas this clearly states that's what it is.

As for thoughts on the tracks here are a few.

'Avalanche Anthem' is a wonderful piece of storytelling, setting the scene as it should. The music behind it is fitting too and captivates, just as an opening 'show-tune' should.

'A World Without Us' suffers somewhat due to the drums in the bridge and chorus. As a rock and metal fan I appreciate that the drums are played as an instrument in their own right, with a distinctive sound, but there are major issues. It seems almost that the drummer (or drum machine) has gone into business for themselves and has forgotten that the drums are also the rhythm section - they provide accompaniment and set the pace. Here they're out of time and pace with the vocal and guitars, and drown the vocals out at the odd point.

'Enshrined In My Memory' - Oh boy. Goosebumps. There's something about a female soprano singing to a booming rock track that just makes the hairs on my arm stand on end. I'm no talking Evanescence type wailing here, but full on power-vocal stuff. Check out the Youtube video.

'In the Name of The Rose' is another female vocal showcase, backed up with a solid male vocal too. Lyrically it's right up there with the opening track. Powerful images that just seem to fit, this one definitely has that 'X factor' in the traditional sense of the term.

'The Land Of New Hope' Much like the opener, the title track is blow your socks off stuff. It's operatic, stage production stuff, coming across as the Overture to the whole piece, rounding up the images we've encountered so far and looking to the new future, the new land itself. It's a proper curtain -fall piece, bringing it all to a close but at the same time leaving enough of a cliffhanger feeling to leave you yearning for the sequel, the next act or next scene.

I haven't had the chance to listen to Angels of the Apocalypse yet, but hope that time and the reality of it doesn't judge my review too harshly. This really is a superb album and delivers right from the word go. If ever an album was to cross to the theatre, this could well be it.
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on 2 March 2014
I like this album because it is very diverse musically and vocally. I've heard of two of the male valists before but was very pleasantly surprised by the females I shall be looking out for them. Timo plays some good guitar and the whole album for me is very accomplished. As one reviewer points out, there are a couple of standout tracks but I also think that the rest will grow on the listener. This is timo's best so far and I wish him all the best for future releases.
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on 16 March 2015
good guitar work but some of the vocals are a bit dodgy
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on 1 March 2015
10/10 present
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 May 2013
Although I thought this CD could of been longer the vocal's of everyone are exceptional. One of the best metal operas I have heard in a long time. Well done Timo Tolkki and excellent guitar work as usual. can't wait for his next project. Kevin from Norwich
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 May 2013
This album consists of both male and female vocalists mostly male. It is an album that has a good hard hitting tracks on it. If you like male & female lead vocalist's on one album and consist's of excellent tracks you like this album.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 31 October 2014
Great album!!!
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2 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 21 September 2013
I thought this had some potential given the pre release hype but that's all it was hype unfortunately. Since "Elements Part 1" (The beginning of the end for Stratovarius)Timo has largely been involved in very disappointing releases with the exception of the 1st Revolution Renaissance and his Symfonia project both of which were very much in the style of classic Stratovarius - buy those instead if you don't already have them.

With AVALON what we have is another of those bizarre attempts at a Metal Opera but as usual it has fallen totally flat as these misguided Metal Operas inevitably do (the exceptions being Avantasia Parts 1 and 2).

This album is completely ruined by some of the worst female vocals I have ever heard and all the male vocals are as bad as you're likely to hear for a very long time too.
The album doesn't have a single redeeming feature or even one genuinely good track.
Avoid this album at all costs if your taste is melodic metal, Symphonic metal or even power metal.

Brief synopsis :

Track 1: Ruined by the female vocals
Track 2: One of the 'better' songs but destroyed by the male and female vocals.
Track 3: Pop garbage with awful female vocals
Track 4: A boring turn off quick ballad with torturous female vocals and shocking male vocals too.
Track 5: A better song in the vein of the old Stratovarius but again ruined by the vocals and the drums (sound digital rather than real)
Track 6: Pure garbage with horrendous female vocals
Track 7: Nice Timo guitar but shocking female vocals and an even worse drum sound (digital ?)
Track 8: Catchy melody spoilt by the vocals and a rehash of an old Stratovarius song
Track 9: Worst on the album and possibly the worst track I have heard this decade or even century
Track 10: Too long, too boring and 100% pointless
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