Symfonia - In Paradisum review
|Release date:||March 2011|
01. Fields Of Avalon
02. Come By The Hills
06. Pilgrim Road
07. In Paradisum
08. Rhapsody In Black
09. I Walk In Neon
10. Don't Let Me Go
I really hate to tear apart albums which helped shape my musical direction. I really do. This was my first power metal album and, when I was working on my dad's boat, it was one of the few albums I kept constantly replaying, just because of how much I enjoyed listening to it. If it wasn't for this album, my interest in metal would likely have not happened. But I feel I must be honest with myself and say that this album, with the benefit of over a year and a half worth of power metal listening, is really not that great.
Let's start with the performances of the band members. All of them are pretty big names in the power metal world, but this really doesn't give a great demonstration of the skills of anyone apart from Tolkki (and maybe Mikko Härkin, when you can hear the keyboards): in fact, I'm personally not convinced it is Uli Kusch drumming, as he barely does anything that interesting on the whole record. Seriously, if it is him, he sounds like he was on autopilot for most of the album! The bass is practically inaudible even at the best of times. And, finally, we move to the weak link on this record: Andre Matos. I've heard bits of Angra, so I know what he sounds like normally. Here, he sounds noticeably worse than usual. He sounds horribly uncomfortable with how high he's singing and there are points when he sounds painful to listen to. Maybe it's also the effects of age, but his voice also sounds weaker than when he was in Angra. Onto the music!
Now, saying they sound like Stratovarius is understandable, considering Timo Tolkki was involved in the songwriting, but this time, I mean that quite literally. In fact, the only thing that really tells it apart is the fact that Andre Matos is singing it, not Timo Kotipelto. And it sounds like the songs were written for someone other than Andre Matos, so I don't feel too bad in saying that these are guys that sound like a Stratovarius cover band who decided to try writing their own songs. And, if that was true, they'd have done a good job! Unfortunately, three of these guys are well established songwriters (Tolkki, Matos and Kusch, the last of whom wasn't involved in the writing on this album), so I have to say that these songs fall well short of what you'd expect them to come up with. Some of the songs are decent, but, when you remember the stuff these guys have written before now ('Awaken The Giant", "Carry On" and "Mr Torture", to name one from each songwriter), it just shows how weak these songs are overall. However, before I come across as completely negative, these songs are still worth a listen if you like Stratovarius, since you'll know what to expect of this. I personally quite enjoy listening to "Rhapsody In Black" every now and then, as it's a nice mid-paced track which is also great fun to practice on guitar, and there are moments when the other songs become worth listening to, but the sheer unoriginality of the sound and Matos' uncomfortable voice throughout the album make it hard work to listen to.
All told, if you like Stratovarius, you'll probably enjoy this because you'll get what you expect. However, if you weren't sold on them before now, stay away from this, because it really won't change your mind. One for the Strato fans who miss Tolkki? Definitely, if you can cope with Matos.
|Well, it looks like we get two Stratovarius releases this year. There really is no other way to describe this new Timo Tolkki project. Sure, calling it a "ripoff" would be far from the truth, as the main man from this band is the one who pretty much established Stratovarius' sound, so let's just go with "uninspired".
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