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Underwhelming, but too damn catchy. - 60%

Empyreal, June 6th, 2008

Here comes the Tolkki Train again with yet another album! Fortunately, unlike his misbegotten headache Saana, this new project, titled Revolution Renaissance, reigns in the bullshit to make for a listenable and somewhat enjoyable palette of Power Metal fruits and vegetables.

Apparently afraid of negative feedback, our good friend Timo Tolkki has crafted a healthy and well balanced diet of happy, upbeat Power Metal that reigns in silliness and pomp in favor for clean, simple, catchy melodies and nimble guitarwork, with a crystal clear, shiny production job to round the whole thing off in style. This really isn't spectacular, as it is too safe and fluffy to pack any real punch (beyond the ballsy Speed Metal riffing of opener "Heroes") or bite, and it's all so simple and basic that, if not for the distorted guitars, it would very well be pop-rock music rather than Heavy Metal. The vocal duties on New Era are shared by Michael Kiske, Tobias Sammet and Pasi Rantanen, and they are clearly the focal point here, with few instrumental breaks - and when there are some, they are short and snappy. There are really only a couple good songs here, the best being the opening feel-good jaunt of the aforementioned "Heroes," with Tobias Sammet belting out the cheesiest, happiest lyrics you can imagine with 110% power. "I Did It My Way" is decent Keepers Helloween worship, with a catchy chorus via Kiske, and "Glorious & Divine" is a fun, catchy song that flows like the white water rapids, with Sammet's smooth croon giving it an extra spice of personality. "Last Night on Earth" is another good song, reminiscent of later Stratovarius, with strong melodies and a very catchy chorus. Hey, it might not be the most amazing stuff ever, but how can I turn down such blatantly catchy, fun shit? I can't, that's right.

Otherwise, there isn't much of worth here, and only a few traces of Tolkki's usual inconsistencies pop up: the awful "Born Upon the Cross," with its Jesus-blowjob styled lyrics that will make any self respecting Heavy Metal fan cringe in disgust, the boring "Keep the Flame Alive" and the even worse "Angel," and the plodding, lame title track, which shamelessly rips off an earlier Stratovarius song in "Soul of a Vagabond."

This one is pretty middle-ground, and unless you worship Timo Tolkki, you can safely skip it and not miss too much. Catchy but shallow.

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