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Consider Symfonia Timo Tolkki's self-planned coming-home party back into power metal after the dudes of Stratovarius kicked his ass out and turned Tolkki's vapid gimmicks into sensational music; see "Elysium" for additional information. This time Tolkki bought a number of prominent musicians boasting accomplishments in Angra and Helloween among a plethora of others. The fanboy poo is of course flying from hand to hand now that this once-noteworthy figure has "returned" to his natural form, yet "In Paradisum" is far from the greatness some pompously assume. The album is essentially melodic power metal caught in an awkward pose, offering little substance once the sugary fluff and half-assed instrumentality are overturned. If this is excellent power metal, then this review was written by a giraffe that lives in the ocean.
"In Paradisum" is what many fear it would be: power metal by numbers. Symfonia seems to have blueprinted what was to be in their debut via a list, organizing intros, bridges, choruses, solos and transitions through a cloned process of juvenile song writing. Every track follows a predictable decree in which these items lifelessly turn on Tolkki's uninteresting riffs. Andre Matos' off-key, squeaky voice is so bad it's almost funny, and the other super troopers of Symfonia have little to no presence throughout the album as it is. The material is largely unmemorable, and Symfonia sees no end to these gigantic perils which plague the record from its mediocre opening to the lame-duck ballad that ends "In Paradisum."
Symfonia drops the balls right from the get-go, and the band immediately crumbles when Matos' cringe-worthy vocals cover the apathetic intro-verse of "Fields of Avalon." The overall scheme is powerless and generic, restricted to the most predictable angle one would expect in melodic power metal, yet still showcased through Tolkki's fret-slashing solos and Matos' awful voice. The remaining tracks sway between fast and slow, hard hitters and ballads, but nothing changes the fundamental spitefulness and fatigued garbage overall. It's quite a shame considering this was supposed to be something greater than Tolkki's usual stuff; it's nothing like that "Saana" crap, but I still feel like puking every time I force myself to experience Symfonia's intergalactic letdown of an album.
Well, I suppose the lackluster tracks and less-than-exemplary performances drive this into the ground; the intent is acceptable, but totally annihilated by Symfonia's dire chemistry. The whole album basically sounds like a collection of rejected Stratovarius riffs and second-rate keyboards stuffed between below-average ideas and novice song writing, so really nothing goes Symfonia's way. The only selling point of this release is Symfonia's lineup, and since every member fails to deliver anything beyond their usual performances, I'd recommend skipping this moldy facade with extreme prejudice. I at least hope Tolkki fans will finally throw in the towel on this band and their idol; he can't even get his own equation right anymore.
This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com