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Jani Liimatainen - My Father's Son Award winner

Jani Liimatainen
My Father's Son
by Kevin Lewis at 13 June 2022, 9:07 AM

Jani Liimatainen is a Finnish guitarist and songwriter who has played with a number of excellent bands. This, however, is a solo effort meant to be a creative outlet for his heavier Metal side. There is still plenty of melodic on this disc. There is also an all-star cast for vocals. He uses eight stunning vocalists on the ten songs, and they make this record feel like a greatest hits album. Released on May 6, 2022, via Frontiers Music SRL, this is sure to be an instant hit with fans of tremendous vocals over excellent music.

The disc opens with “Breathing Divinity,” a slower-paced song of hope. The guitars are exactly what you would expect from Jani. Melodic and powerful, they weave through this song, and all the others, with a precision that is meant to accentuate the rest of the instruments and the vocals. Bjorn “Speed” Strid brings his 80s infused power metal vocal talent to this one, giving a wide range of tones.

In a throwback to his earlier days, he pairs again with Tony Kakko of SONATA ARCTICA fame. Having spent the better part of a decade in that band, Jani knew exactly what song would fit his voice the best. “All Dreams Are Born to Die” is a dynamic song with great rhythm. Straddling heavy and power metal expertly, the song is a massive piece of work that pleases the senses.

For tracks three and six, Jani taps one of my favorite new singers to emerge in the last few years, Renan Zonta. This is a Brazilian singer with an incredible range. He’s got highs and lows, grit and clean, and charisma. “What Do You Want” has a bit of the bluesy, folksy sound his voice fits so beautifully. “The Music Box,” on the other hand, is a ballad with a lot of melancholy and hope in it. Heavy on the pianos, this is a pretty song with a metric ton of emotion. The slow build to the highlight and crescendo to end the song are phenomenal. This one gave me the shivers.

Into The Fray” is more along the lines of the power/symphonic metal of Jani’s roots. Timo Kotipelto spent some time with Jani in STRATOVARIUS, another massive band from the power/symphonic genre. This is back to the straightforward rockers we are used to. The rhythm is massive, and the guitar work is as exquisite as always.

The only song with female vocals is “I Could Stop Now” featuring none other than Anette Olzon, the Swedish siren we’ve all grown to love from such bands as THE DARK ELEMENT and NIGHTWISH, as well as her solo material. The song has a bit of a country and western feel, especially the bass line. Her voice is silky smooth and used here to maximum effect. The piano really steals the show here, playing along under the rhythm in an almost classical melody.

The title track finishes the album. It is a massive composition sung by Antti Railio, another Finnish voice that is such a beautiful addition to this masterpiece. At 11 and a half minutes, this is a bit of a progressive song that has a number of excellent shifts that twist and turn the melody and tempo through a series of maneuvers meant to showcase that talent of every single member of this band. They pull this one off with such precision that it almost makes you wish each of the songs were written like this.

Jani Liimatainen has issued a dynamic set of songs that have a variety of influences and run through more than a few genres. All of them are done well, never sounding unnatural. I like that he put these out as a solo record. I don’t think they would have worked cohesively under a band’s moniker and sound. I don’t know if this is a studio project only, but if it is, I hope there are more to come.

Songwriting:  9
Musicianship:  9
Memorability:  9
Production:  9

4 Star Rating

1. Breathing Divinity (Vocals: Björn “Speed” Strid)
2. All Dreams Are Born to Die (Vocals: Tony Kakko)
3. What Do You Want (Vocals: Renan Zonta)
4. Who Are We (Vocals: Timo Kotipelto)
5. Side by Side (Vocals: Pekka Heino)
6. The Music Box (Vocals: Renan Zonta)
7. Into the Fray (Vocals: Timo Kotipelto)
8. I Could Stop Now (Vocals: Anette Olzon)
9. Haunted House (Vocals: Jani Liimatainen)
10. My Father's Son (Vocals: Antti Railio)
Pekka Heino – Vocals
Tony Kakko – Vocals
Timo Kotipelto – Vocals
Anette Olzon – Vocals
Antti Railio – Vocals
Björn Strid – Vocals
Renan Zonta – Vocals
Jonas Kuhlberg – Bass
Rolf Pilve – Drums
Jani Liimatainen – Guitars/Keyboards/Programming
Jarkko Lahti – Piano
Jens Johansson – Guest keyboard solo
Janne Huttunen – Guest saxophone solo
Record Label: Frontiers Music SRL


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Edited 20 March 2023

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