The debut and only full-length album by Finnish Power Metal superband.
Timo Tolkki, a name is written in golden pages in the history of Metal. He was the guitarist, main composer for Stratovarius and also sung on their first three albums. Released two personal albums, one Rock Opera named “Saana - Warrior Of Light” and three more with the band Revolution Renaissance not to mention that he is a killer producer capable of creating killer sound. His name is connected with the dawn and rise of Power Metal in the mid to early 90's. Tolkki tried to start from scratch with Revolution Renaissance recruiting musicians that weren't very well known but after three albums this band too came to an abrupt end.
So this time Tolkki decided to recruit some powerful names for his next band (project?). Andre Matos (ex-Angra, Shaman, Viper), the legendary Brazilian singer that sung in monumental albums like “Theater of Fate”, “Angels Cry” and “Holy Land”. The awesome drummer Uli Kusch, who has played and recorded with bands like Mekong Delta, Helloween, Gamma Ray, Masterplan, Holy Moses, etc. Keyboardist Mikko Härkin (ex- Sonata Arctica, Kenziner, etc.). And bass-guitarist Jari Kainulainen, former Tolkki's partner in Stratovarius, and also Masterplan, Devil's Train, Shadowquest, ex- Evergrey, Kotipelto etc. As you can imagine, this is a Power Metal super-group we have before us with names that carry a very successful past yet this also can become a burden when it comes releasing new music.
The album was written by vocalist Andre Matos and guitarist Timo Tolkki (ex-Stratovarius), with the former focusing on lyrics and the latter focusing on the music, and both having some input on each other's parts. The drums were recorded in two days in a separate studio, with the guitars, bass and keyboards being recorded in Helsinki. Work on vocals started on the first day of 2011 in a cabin on top of a mountain where Matos and Tolkki kept isolated with no internet or telephone.
Regarding the music of the album, Matos said: "Symfonia is not supposed to be a band or a project that was meant to reinvent the style. What we wanted was to get all those famous musicians together who somehow had their highlights in this specific musical field and see what comes out of it. See when those people are together, and if they deliver their best, what kind of Power Metal comes out of it.' So this was the proposal of the album, and we never denied it. So if someone came with some criticism like, "But it's more of the same, and it brings nothing new. It just sounds like Stratovarius and Angra". Well, that's exactly what we wanted"...
...And this is the main problem with Symfonia's debut, the band sticks to the same formula that worked wonders for Stratovarius in the past, it gives the impression that the songs sound that way because this is what people would expect from a guy like Timo Tolkki. The songs vary from mid to fast tempo and while there are plenty of anthemic and sing along choruses good leads and fast double base there is absolutely nothing that a fan of Tolkki's work hasn't heard before. In fact, one could characterize the music as Stratovarius with Aangra vocals, but this would be unfair since this album packs a couple of surprises. Songs like “Rhapsody in Black” sounds like an Avantasia composition especially in the chorus. But the real gem i a “In Paradisum” that manages to sound powerful, sad, depressive and at the same time mesmerizing. Andre really shines on this one hitting his famous insane high notes yet at the same time sounds expressive and haunting, bringing to mind his chilling performances from Viper and Angra days. Clearly, a song worthy of these Power Metal pioneers legacies.
Musicianship is up to the high standards one would expect from a band like this, Tolkki's guitar work sounds impressive as ever (just check “In Paradisum” solo) and Uli Kusch gives another powerful performance behind the kit.
The same thing can be said about the production - crystal clear sound crisp and powerful, exactly what one would expected from an experienced producer like Timo Tolkki.
This album isn't a return to the golden days nor it will spark another Power Metal fire like these guys did with their own bands many years ago. It sounds close to their roots but at the same time has a more of the same feel and falls short in inspiration, especially if one would bring the masterpieces of the past to mind. But it's a good album if you're unaware of the previous albums that Tolkki, Matos and Kusch have created, if you're just getting into Metal and will definitely ignite a spark to search for these guys earlier works!
Edel Germany GmbH/Soyuz Music, 2011 (SZCD 7256-11). Made in Russia.
1. Fields Of Avalon 5:09
2. Come By The Hills 5:01
3. Santiago 5:54
4. Alayna 6:17
5. Forevermore 5:32
6. Pilgrim Road 3:37
7. In Paradisum 9:36
8. Rhapsody In Black 4:34
9. I Walk In Neon 5:45
10. Don't Let Me Go 3:57
Total playing time: 55:24 min.