An album produced and played by Timo Tolkki with the collaboration of Micheal Kiske, Rob Rock, Alex Holzwarth and Jens Johansson? I simply couldn’t ignore it, who knows, Timo has possibly seen the light again from the bottom of the pit where he was been the last two decades? Surely he already tried with his more than forgettable “Revolution Renaissance” then with “Symphonia” and now with this “Timo Tolkki’s Avalon”, a project very similar to Tobias Sammet’s Avantasia.
There’s nothing bad in this, but was the mission accomplished? In my opinion, not.
The problem is that where Sammet embellished “only” his (remarkable) songwriting with the contribute of high international level artists and did something that objectively no one had did before, Tolkki bets on artists names only and limits himself to write custom-made songs sacrificing the overall vision that, let me to say, is based on a narration quite banal and not very involving.
What a shame, single artists performances aren’t bad at all and often balance a songwriting not particularly inspired and a too much commercial sound. There are debatable stylistic choices that force artists out of their comfort area and I’m not talking just about vocals but instruments mostly, first of all guitars that should be perfect on an album played by Timo Tolkki. The production level is good, the rhythmic lines work well, arrangements are absolutely professional, but the album don’t dare where he could dare and all seem just a homework: the soul is missing here and that is not acceptable considering of the high level of the involved artists.
Songs like “Avalanche Anthem“, “We Will Find a Way“ and “To the Edge of the World“ seem to be on the right way, at least considering a discreet product even if not over the average, but all the rest is definitely too much rock/pop and that’s bad cause a lot of melodies could be fantastic if sounded a little more metal. Special mention for the title track “The Land of New Hope”: in a Metal Opera the closing song has a crucial importance, Timo remembered it and solved the problem by throwing everything on Kiske’s shoulders who gives to the song a charge of epic such that leave you open-mouthed for its entire duration.
At the end TLONH is a sufficient work, but excessively commercial and out of maximum time. It grabs your attention as “Frontiers Records” was probably expecting and if we were in the early 2000s listening to the debut album of an emerging band I would see the potential and would wait with curiosity for the next one, but today from a metal legend like Tolkki, with a roster and a production like this I consider reasonable to expect something more.
It’s sadly to say due of the great respect I have of Timo, but if it was not for good performances of all artists involved and for the good production, this album would barely reach the sufficiency.