[Review] Timo Tolkki’s Avalon – The Enigma Birth

Timo Tolkki in the period in which he played in Stratovarius wrote some of the most beautiful pages of Power Metal genre, then leaving the band to devote himself to other projects. Avalon is one of these, born in 2012, it has 4 albums to its credit, which however have not always met the favor of the public and critics. On June 18, 2021 he released the album “The Enigma Birth” via Frontiers Music Srl and containing 12 medium length tracks. The band consists of 4 elements plus two additional guitarists and a long list of distinguished guests on vocals. Each of these singers contributes to the sound by impressing their own vocal style, making each track different and giving different facets to the entire album. The proposed sound showcases the great technical skills of the artists involved, both as regards the instrumental parts and the vocals that are always very personal and that enhance the different extensions of the guests. Within this album we find very tight songs such as the opener and title-track “The Enigma Birth,” enriched by tempo changes and by the singing that touches very high notes by PelleK. The mixes of keyboard and guitar are well made, virtuous and melodic, with symphonic features that blend best with the Power Metal proposed by the band. We also find more Gothic atmospheres in the tracks where the harmonious voice of the Brazilian Caterina Nix is ​​present, who lends herself bane in the softer “I Just Collapse.” Caterina also contributes to the following “Memories” in collaboration with Brittney Slayes, for a darker and harder piece with a more elaborate structure. Timo’s class on guitar is indisputable, and is manifested at every intervention, like in this passage. In “Master Of Hell” the melodies and the rhythmic session are tighter and return to more classic grounds of Power Metal, with interesting orchestral backgrounds and the impressive voice of Raphael Mendes. Even the chorus brings to mind the golden age of the genre, a complete track, which contains the essence of the best this genre has to offer, even in the solo parts. “Beautiful Lie” with guest James LaBrie presents modern melodies infused with electronic sounds, always linked to Power, with a structure that alternates more intricate moments with melodic openings. The solo parts are also pleasant, with a good guitar solo. Jack E offers his voice for the track “Truth” a not particularly incisive melodic Power Metal, where one of the best sections are Timo’s guitar inserts in the middle. “Another Day” with Marina La Torraca on vocals is an emotional passage, rich in intensity, softer and pleasantly softening the tones. Maggiormante focused on a form of ‘song’ of absolute value, which greatly enhances the vocal skills of the singer, warm and emotional. Raphael Mendes returns on “Beauty And War” and with him we return to more powerful atmospheres, with a refrain of those that you remember, alternating with darker passages. Here too there is a return to the more classic Power, interpreted with a personal style with good phrasing and dough between guitar and keyboards and a massive rhythmic session. “Dreaming” with Fabio Lione is symphonic and pompous, with orchestrations in the initial part that immediately give an imprint to the track. With a rapid acceleration, a fast Metal comes to life as in the days of Stratovarius, full of tempo changes and a vocal that adapts well to the various situations of the song, one of the most articulated of the album. Two vocal guests Jake E and Brittney Slayes duet on “The Fire And The Sinner,” for the album’s shorter, soft and enveloping track. Intense and emotional, it is a pleasant passage that softens the atmosphere in the midst of the Metal outbursts of the other songs. It starts with a tight rhythmic session “Time” sung by Marina La Torraca, for a song that mixes harder moments and more symphonic openings. The refrain is in classic Power style, a genre in which Timo is at ease, proposing well composed and executed phrases here too. The mixes between guitar and keyboard are interesting, with killer bass-lines and high-level tempo changes. Closes the album “Without Fear” with the voice of Fabio Lione, for a concentrate of power, tight rhythms and biting riffs. The intertwining between guitar and keyboard is an added value and the song closes the album with power. When we talk about Timo Tolkki inevitably the expectations are always very high, especially for his work done with Stratovarius. This album only partially respects them, with more intense moments and others less, resulting in a good job overall. Compared to previous works such as Avalon, this album seems to be more elaborate and articulated, offering some ideas of fine workmanship. Added value are the guests to the voice that give a different tone to each song, the path is the right one and we hope that the growth path will continue also in the following works.

Tracklist

01. The Enigma Birth (feat. PelleK)
02. I Just Collapse (feat. Caterina Nix and Chaos Magic)
03. Memories (feat. Caterina Nix, Brittney Slayes)
04. Master Of Hell (feat. Raphael Mendes)
05. Beautiful Lie (feat. James LaBrie)
06. Truth (feat. Jake E)
07. Another Day (feat. Marina La Torraca)
08. Beauty And War (feat. Raphael Mendes)
09. Dreaming (feat. Fabio Lione)
10. The Fire And The Sinner (feat. Jake E, Brittney Slayes)
11. Time (feat. Marina La Torraca)
12. Without Fear (feat. Fabio Lione)

Lineup

Timo Tolkki / Guitars
Andrea Arcangeli / Bass
Marco Lazzarini / Drums
Antonio Agate / Keyboards & Orchestra
Additional guitars by Federico Maraucci and Aldo Lonobile

Singers :
The Enigma Birth / Pellek
I Just Collapse / Caterina Nix
Memories / Caterina Nix, Brittney Slayes
Master Of Hell / Raphael Mendes
Beautiful Lie / James LaBrie
Truth / Jake E
Another Day / Marina La Torraca
Beauty And War / Raphael Mendes
Dreaming / Fabio Lione
The Fire And The Sinner / Jake E and Brittney Slayes
Time / Marina La Torraca
Without Fear / Fabio Lione

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Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

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