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on 28 May 2013
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.