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Occasional smooth magic but no chaos - 60%

kluseba, January 12th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Frontiers Records

There aren't many things Timo Tolkki hasn't tried out yet and he has added something completely new to his extensive curriculum vitae with this female-fronted symphonic power metal project around himself, his colleague Jami Huovinen on drums and Chilean singer Caterina Nix on vocals. Chaos Magic's first self-titled effort focuses on modern industrial soundscapes and symphonic layers as backdrop for Caterina Nix's emotional, melodic and soothing vocals. Tolkki plays bass, guitar and keyboard on this record but his most important participation might be as producer and songwriter because this album was made to help Caterina Nix get her international breakthrough and not to offer Timo Tolkki another occasion to show off his unique skills which is quite humble and respectable. If we consider the fact that both artists met by chance years ago and that Tolkki remembered the female rookie vocalist and decided to support her career shows how special this collaboration is.

Sadly, just like so many other of Timo Tolkki's recent outputs, Chaos Magic's debut didn't get much attention or praise. On one side, this is regrettable because Tolkki tried out something completely new, because Caterina Nix is a truly skilled vocalist and because much less talented female-fronted metal bands like Battle Beast, Beyond the Black and Blues Pills get way too much credit. On the other side, while being profesionally crafted with a decent production, one has to admit that Chaos Magic misses a unique touch to really stand out. The record recalls early Within Temptation and mostly focuses on smooth ballads and soothing half ballads with only a few faster and heavier songs at the very beginning and the very end of the record. Chaos Magic is a record that is enjoyable listening to but you won't remember one single song from this output a few days after you have listened to it. Chaos Magic is a decent symphonic metal release but ultimately faceless and comes at least one and a half decades too late to have any significant impact. This type of music has been performed over and over again by bands such as Epica over the past few years and they generally did a better job in a more creative songwriting department.

Fans of Timo Tolkki's regular power metal album don't need to check out Chaos Magic's debut effort because it's very smooth and entirely focused upon Caterina Nix' vocals. If you like smooth symphonic metal with a few minor electronic elements, you should dig this record though. If you have lost or sold your old Within Temptation records but feel nostalgic for some reason, Chaos Magic also offers what you need. If you like female metal singers or aspire to become a singer as well, you could learn a couple of things from this release as well. Chaos Magic is good for what it is, no more, no less.