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Timo Kotipelto is well-known heavy metal voice from Stratovarius and Filthy Asses (somewhere in time before that other, a bit more famous band). As Stratovarius are on the docks, Kotipelto does what guitarist Timo Tolkki did a few months ago: Releases a solo album. Tolkki did it for the second time, but this is Kotipelto's first solo effort.
And not a bad one at all! If this album has something new to offer, I'm afraid, but I can't find it too easily. Kotipelto has based his musical visions on pure heavy metal what we all love so much, now don't we?! Of course, this sounds modern, even though some songs cause a feel of déja vu from somewhere down a loooong heavy metal timeline. If I name bands such as Rainbow, Iron Maiden, Dio, I think they say something about Kotipelto's musical idols. In vocals department, Mr. Kotipelto uses quite high register, and this creates some barriers. For example, the acoustic 'Beauty Has Come' is a slow, balladish song, but the vocals are still high and loud. I think he sings better on his solo project, but his English pronunciation is very Finnish. The lyrics do not shake my foundations, because Egypt has been a popular theme in metal world for a couple of decades already. By the way: 'Waiting for the Dawn' is not filled with Mid-Eastern melodies.
While all the songs came from Kotipelto's pen, he has hired some bright stars: Mike Romeo from Symphony X (guitars), Roland Grapow (ex-Helloween, also on guitar), Gas from HIM (drums), Jari Kainulainen from Stratovarius (bass) and Janne Wirman from Chilren Of Bodom (keyboards) to name a few. Plus, this Finnish version with one bonus track, on which Anthony Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon, Star One, ex-Vengeance etc.) plays guitar with his individual style. The song itself ('Book of the Dead') isn't this album's true highlight, but Mr. Lucassen's playing makes it a small gem.
Soundwise this is good for this kind of metal: clean but kicking. Derek Riggs from Iron Maiden fame has created cover art, but with computer and it doesn't really please my eyes. 'Powerslave' can not be topped!!!
Some gems are 'Battle of the Gods', single track 'Beginning' and the title track. If these won't appeal for you, maybe this isn't for you. I personally do not listen to Stratovarius but once a year, I find this an interesting collection of heavy metal music. If a tad long.
(originally written for ArchaicMetallurgy.com in 2002)
Let me make it absolutely clear that Timo Kotipelto is my god. We'll get this out of the way before we even start. If he told his fans to all go out and throw themselves in front of fast-moving trains, I'd be riding the front of the TGV before the day was out.
But this album is a dumb fucker of an idea. We take that damn Egyptian/Middle-Eastern/Arabic/whatever riff pattern and stretch it out into AN ENTIRE ALBUM. Now, in case you've had your head up your rectum for the past ten years, I must inform you that the Egyptian style of riffs has positively TAKEN OVER the entire fucking world of metal, and while it's a pretty cool idea, you can only hear it played so many times before it gets annoying. REALLY annoying. And *everybody* seems to be doing it--Edguy, Iced Earth, Therion, Melechesh . . . even Iron fucking Maiden! It's gotten completely out of hand and everybody seems to be so concerned with riding this little trend that I never seem to hear any new riffage anymore. Uggh. The other real problem on here is that a lot of the songs sound very similar in general--there isn't the sort of song-to-song distinction that's in your standard Stratovarius album.
Highlights. Hmm . . . well, Lord of Eternity has a pretty catchy beat, although the riffage is nothing new on the album (and it's only the third song--why are we repeating riffage on the THIRD FUCKING SONG?). And . . . well, [Insert Song Here] has pretty cool riffage and great vocals, but it sounds a lot like most of the other stuff on here. Coming from the front man of one of the most diverse sounds in Power Metal, this bland combination is nothing short of suicide-inducing. The vocals are great, and the beats are varied, but the RIFFAGE IS ALL THE SAME. Which is BAD.
What the fuck is Timo Kotipelto doing here? This is a tremendous waste of a side project--a bland and uninspired album that relies on the big-name stars in teh band (like Kotipelto and Romeo) to draw any sales at all. Avoid it unless you are in desperate need of boring Power Metal.
its a bit disappointing. This solo effort by Stratovarius' lead singer has its good points but there are some weak moments. Most of the weak moments of this album have to do with Michael Romeo's (of Symphony X) playing. Now while I am a fan of Symphony X, I must admit that Romeo seems to be running out of ideas regarding riffs. A sense of "sameness" is starting to creep into his playing and it shows here. Despite that flaw, the album is quite good overall. Koti shines vocally as usual. Examples are "Travel Through Time" , "Beginning" and "Battle of the Gods". There is a lyrical Egyptian theme to the album and the songs flow nicely from one to the next. Again, another concern here is that the guitars are a bit held back. Now I know this is Koti's solo effort and is to highlight his vocals, some of the songs would be better with the guitars more upfront as long as Romeo had something more original to offer. The problem there is that if Romeo does come up with more riffs, he will most likely use it for Symphony X. So my suggestion to Koti for the next album is to probably find an upstart metal guitarist who is hungry to display his skills and will bring a more fresh sound.