The latest solo record from Stratovarius frontman Timo Kotipelto really offers no surprises. It’s a collection of melodic and power metal tracks designed to show off his vocals, and overall it’s a very mixed bag despite a lineup that features Children of Bodom keyboardist Janne Wirman, Stratovarius bassist Lauri Porra and Thunderstone drummer Mirka Rantanen and guitarist Tuomas Wainola.

It opens with the power metal number “Once Upon a Time” which will probably please fans disappointed by the last Stratovarius record. It’s a fast number with lots of twinkly keyboards and Kotipelto offering up the soaring vocal lines you’d expect. From there, though the record slows down a bit, going for a more melodic rock sound. There’s a lot of Scorpions in the guitar, a little Rush in the vocals and a lot of generic in the songs as a whole. “City of Mysteries” gets a lift from a nice guitar groove, but “Sleep Well” and the title track probably won’t be remembered five minutes from now.

The record picks up again with the fifth track, “King Anti-Midas” which gives us the first bit of gallop in the riff since the first song, but again, the riff is the most memorable part of the song, not Kotipelto’s vocals. He finally returns to the full-on power metal sound for “Angels Will Cry,” which is one of the strongest numbers on the record. After that, there’s not much to recommend this album – the near laughable ballad “After the Rain,” the by-the-numbers 1980s metal track “Mr. Know-It-All” and the nondescript “Dreams and Reality.” The record comes to an end on a good note with the 8-minute “Last Defender,” which opens in an acoustic ballad-style that’s much stronger than the aforementioned “After the Rain,” and as the song goes on it boasts some nice guitar riffs. That said, the song does seem to drag on just a little too long.

Stratovarius fans will probably find this record somewhat interesting, but most will want to pass. Though there are a few OK songs, there’s nothing really memorable here.

By Fred Phillips

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
August 10th, 2007


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