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Timo Tolkki's Avalon - The Enigma Birth Award winner

Timo Tolkki's Avalon
The Enigma Birth
by Kevin Lewis at 19 July 2021, 2:17 PM

TIMO TOLKKI’s AVALON is a Finnish band that writes Metal Operas. The Enigma Birth is the fourth release from the band and, like all those before it, uses multiple vocalists to play various roles. Released June 18, 2021 via Frontiers Records, The Enigma Birth is their latest epic opus. Featuring voices from all over the world and a truly international group of musicians, this is a massive project that delivers excellent results.

AVALON is power, symphonic, progressive and epic metal all rolled into one. You hear this immediately in the first track, “Enigma Birth”. The guitars and keyboards duel each other while the drums sprint and the bass keep the same pace. The vocals, layered in and around and over all of this, go from belting to soaring falsettos. Every box is checked, everybody is satisfied. This song absolutely rocks.

Following that, “I Just Collapse” is a more melodic song. Featuring Chilean vocalist Caterina Nix, this song is slower, but still exhibits all the power you’ve come to expect. AVALON only uses the best in the world, nothing less. The guitar work is exquisite in this song. The solo is tempered and fits the tone with great precision. The rhythm is more subdued, but still full of restrained power. The vocals are very prominent and you hear why with that last scream.

Memories” almost starts like a power ballad, but quickly gets heavy. Adding Brittney Slayes to the mix on vocals gives even more depth. She is pure power and knows how to hit a note with absolute precision. Her deeper, darker tones offset Caterina’s lighter tones in some spots, harmonize at other times. The guttural scream under the lighter vocalizations prior to the solo is something to behold. The music is fantastic, but it is hard to pay attention to. The vocals are that good.

The next couple of songs feature male vocals from Raphael Mendes (ICON OF SIN) and James LaBrie (DREAM THEATER). Mendes has gained a lot of notice for his ability to channel his inner Bruce Dickinson while LaBrie is one of the most recognizable vocalists in the world. Both songs are power personified. The music is equally as powerful as the vocals, though again, you have to listen multiple times, and focus on each segment, to truly appreciate just how epic all of this really is.

Truth” features Jake E.  of AVALANCHE and “Another Day” has Marina La Torraca of PHANTOM ELITE. More phenomenal vocals over excellent music. “Another Day” has a more symphonic feel thanks to the more prominent keys at the beginning of the song. “Truth” is more power metal. Both are great songs. The compositions on this record are all fantastic.

The last song featuring a new guest vocalist is “Dreaming”. Here we get Fabio Lione (ex-RHAPSODY OF FIRE, ANGRA) offering his power to the project. This is the best example of the blending of power and symphonic metals. The intricate guitar work, the delicate keyboards and the layered classical instruments start the song with a gentle, almost lilting tune. Then you get knocked back in your chair with a vocal scream and a blast of guitars. The variable rhythms in this song are the best example of the progressive tendencies of this band.

The Fire And The Sinner” has Jake E. and Brittney Slayes working together. This is the power ballad of the record. Using contrasting male and female vocals on this song adds a layer of depth previously unheard on this record. These two work so well together it is hard to believe they aren’t in the same root band. They blend in this smooth, silky tone that really pleases the ear.

Wrapping the record up is “Without Fear,” a powerhouse of a song that pounds the ears. The guitars are speed and precision combined, the vocals make great use of vibrato and grit in equal measure. The keys fill the gaps with extended tones creating an absolute wall of sound. The rhythm is frenetic. Again, Fabio Lione shows his skill. This is a fantastic way to wrap this record.

AVALON is the brainchild of Timo Tolkki. He is a phenomenal writer and great guitarist. He also has the ability to gather the best and brightest shining stars around him to accentuate the brilliance. Start to finish, this is a great record. The vocal talent on it is worthy of all the acclaim you can throw his way. Some of my favorite singers are on this and I love going back to tracks over and over to hear how well they manage to integrate into a project they don’t normally work on.

You don’t attract this kind of talent writing mediocre music. You can’t draw this kind of talent without putting them with great musicians. This is a complete package. This is a “Who’s-Who” of the Metal world. To not listen to this record is to do yourself an injustice. To listen once does not allow you to capture the depth and complexity of the whole thing. I’ve had it on loop for the better part of a week and I still hear new things every pass through. This is the mark of a great record.

Songwriting:  10
Musicianship:  10
Memorability:  9
Production:  9

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. The Enigma Birth (feat. Pellek)
2. I Just Collapse (feat. Caterina Nix)
3. Memories (feat. Caterina Nix, Brittney Slayes)
4. Master of Hell (feat. Raphael Mendes)
5. Beautiful Lie (feat. James LaBrie)
6. Truth (feat. Jake E)
7. Another Day (feat. Marina La Torraca)
8. Beauty And War (feat. Raphael Mendes)
9. Dreaming (feat. Fabio Lione)
10. The Fire And The Sinner (feat. Jake E, Brittney Slayes)
11. Time (feat. Marina La Torraca)
12. Without Fear (feat. Fabio Lione)
Lineup:
Andrea Arcangeli – Bass
Marco Lazzarini – Drums
Timo Tolkki – Guitar
Antonio Agate – Keyboards/Orchestra
Record Label: Frontiers Records SRL
     


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