After guitar slinger Timo Tolkki parted ways with Finnish power metal giants Stratovarius in 2008 it seemed his future was uncertain. He was involved in a few projects between then and 2011, but after that came silence. Fast forward to 2013, and he’s back with a giant, bubbling cauldron of epic power metal.
Bringing in musical giants such as former Dream Theater keyboard player Derek Sherinian and Mikko Harkin of Sonata Arctica, the pool of musical talent is already though the roof, even before you realise that the vocals on this record are provided by such singers as Sharon Den Adel of Within Temptation, Elize Ryd of Amaranthe and Russell Allen of Symphony X – among others. The bar has been set high, right from the off.
Set in a post cataclysmic earth in the year 2055, this metal opera sees the journey of the remaining people to ‘The Land Of New Hope.’ The existence of this place is an old folkloric tale and few people believe in it’s existence, but in this album it does exist, and it is guarded by a keeper who will only let those of pure of heart to pass through. Kicking the album off in style is Avalanche Anthem, a track that sounds so grandiose and powerful that it encapsulates everything this record sets out to achieve. In doing so, you really are well set up for what’s ahead. A great story needs an excellent foundation, right?
The World Without Us changes the tempo, utilizing piano movements and pure vocal power from not just Rob Rock and Elize Ryd, but from Russell Allen too. When paired with blisteringly awesome guitar lines and double bass drum hammering, this really is the orchestrated end of the music world. This is a perfect choice to be the second single from the record. In The Name Of The Rose is another stand out song. It’s slow and haunting, and the vocals entwine well with delicate piano parts. It’s in We Will Find A Way where we find ourselves with a ray of hope, the burning determination of the group heading into the unknown to find a new home is relentless. This is matched in the music, which signifies the point where the adventure really begins with its marching style rhythm.
Shine is where we get both Elize Ryd and Sharon Del Adel singing together, which is something I’ve waited for a very long time to hear. A mid-tempo track, lead by a simple drum rhythm, it has echos of the last Within Temptation record in it, broken down by a killer guitar solo that does seem somewhat out of place in its position within the song. This track brings back the positivity of the previous track. It’s a bright new day.
The last two tracks on this release are the two that happen to be my favourites, I’ll Sing You Home is a track soaked in strings and beautiful vocal lines, this is a ballad in the true sense of the word. Think side-to-side arm waving, and lighters in the air. Vocals are handled by a solo Elize Ryd and the song benefits from this, and has a similar feel to the Nightwish classic Sleeping Sun. It’s slow, but it’s heavy and truly beautiful. It’s moody, and it could fit perfectly into a film’s soundtrack. Finishing up the record is the title track, this is the only track on the record to feature Michael Kiske, and it brings a perfect ending to a brilliant album. It’s a closing credits piece with all the intricacies and soaring vocals you should expect, but it is still heavy and fast. It produces the joyful feeling of success and a sense of completion to the conceptual journey, providing excellent closure to the album.
This is a metal opera without a doubt, the journey takes you through the ups and downs of struggle, joy and loss. But ultimately, you feel generally enriched for having listened to this record.
It’s a perfect combination of vocalists and musicians who have come together to create something beautiful, something magical. This album is beyond a doubt worth a listen.
For Fans Of: Avantasia, Nightwish, Within Temptation, Sonata Arctica, Stratovarius.