Album Reviews
Band: Timo Tolkki's Avalon

Title: Angels of the Apocalypse

Label: Frontiers Records

  

Angels of the Apocalypse is the much anticipated follow up the debut 'The Land of New Hope' from Timo Tolkki’s’ Metal Opera project Avalon.

And once again the former Stratovarious guitarist has set to expand the boundaries of the Rock Opera genre with this new opus and like the debut, he has the cream of the rock finest vocalists joining him, Floor Jansen, Simone Simons, Fabio Lione, David DeFeis, Zachary Stevens, Elize Ryd and Caterina Nix, to carry his vision forward. 

THE STORY
It is 2020 A.D - The Elements send 4 Angels to observe mankind and its actions in the last century. There are 4 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… 

So with a cast of vocal might the things get underway with the a cappello intro ‘Song for Eden’ sung by Fabio Lione, that leads into the album opener proper ‘Jerusalem is Falling’, again with Lione at the helm.  This is the perfect opener and sets out the stall for the rest of the album.  There have been critics stating the guitar sound is lost in the production of this album and keyboards have a more dominant presence, but I disagree.  This album is all about the vocal might, like the more traditional opera, it’s the vocalist that takes centre stage and with such a wealth of talent on this album, why not highlight that fact.

The album continues its impressive path with ‘Design the Century’ the first track to feature Floor Jansen on vocals.  This one has the mix of guitars and keyboards just right for me.  This is how I wanted the album to sound.  If you don’t get what Tolkki has done with this album, then take another listen.  Put on some decent headphones, turn down the lights, grab a glass of your favourite wine and just lose yourself in the melodic glory of this one.  Then fill you glass once more and enjoy the rest of the album.

Which continues with one of my favourite pieces from the album, the powerful ‘Rise Of The 4th Reich’, as David DeFeis takes things to a whole new level of splendour with this darker, heavier masterpiece.

After the metal fury of 'Rise of the 4th Reich’, it's heads down symphonic metal all the way with the wondrous ‘Stargate Atlantis’, again Leone delivers the perfect vocal foil for this one, before we get a little electro infused metal with the scorching riff laden ‘The Paradise Lost’.  This time with Jansen bringing her superb tones to the mix once more.

She shows her mellower side on the ballad ‘You’ll Bleed Forever’, a wonderful orchestration is the background for this one, before the tempo is picked up big time with the massively heavy tones of 'Neon Sirens'.  With the angsty riff behind this one you need a vocalist of equal measure and in Zachary Steven’s, Tolkki has found the perfect match.

With ‘High Above Of Me’ Tolkki has put together Nix, Ryd and Simons for some pure vocal delight, with a wonderful string orchestration and piano acting as the platform for the vocalists to deliver pure harmony.

Now then, with the title track ‘Angels of the Apocalypse’ he takes Jansen, Nix, Ryd and Simons, the angels themselves along with a heavier, almost Film Score Metal undertone, for the four vocalists to deliver dare I say, their angelic tones in all their glory.

The album closes with the instrumental ‘Garden Of Eden’.  A great musical epilogue to end the album.  I know the Stratovarius die-hards would be expecting the towering speed riffs Tolkki made his own, but this is not Stratovarius, this is Avalon, a Rock Opera.  If he wanted a riff laden album then we’d have another Revolution Renaissance or Symfonia album.

Review by: Barry McMinn

 

 

Tracklisting:

1.  Song For Eden
2.  Jerusalem Is Falling
3.  Design The Century
4.  Stargate Atlantis
5.  You'll Bleed Forever
6.  The Paradise Lose
7.  Neon Sirens 
8.  High Above Of Me
9.  Angels Of The Apocalypse
10. Garden Of Eden 

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