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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)