Tolkki, Timo - Hymn Of Life

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Nuclear Blast
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 60:23:00

Timo Tolkki is the famed guitarist from the well known and well worn Finnish heroes Stratovarius and with Hymn To Life Tolkki presents his second solo album following Classical Variations And Themes from 1996.

Just to open the proceedings, this is not a reworked Stratovarius, nor a melodic power metal magnum opus. This is a personal slice of Mr. Tolkki in a more relaxed, introverted avenue that steers well clear of his past compositions. The album features Anssi Nyk?nen (d) and original Stratovarius keyboardist Mika Ervaskari, as well as two guest vocalists in Sharon Den Adel (Within Temptation) and Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween). As for Tolkki himself, he obviously provided the rest including bass, guitar, and some keys along with the recording, the producing, and the mixing.

Hymn To Life is a melodic metal/rock album that is average at best. The lack of excitement is one problem but others show themselves constantly. Let's start right at the beginning. The album opens up with one of the most magnificent tracks I've heard of late, a track sung by ex-Helloween singer Michael Kiske. The man still has the most awesome vocal style - relaxed, involved, but bursting with passion and confidence. His vocals fit "Key To The Universe" perfectly. If only Tolkki could have kept him throughout the whole album because from there on the album descends into forgettable territory that is a discredit to not only Tolkki but to fans of music in general.

Tolkki's vocals, for the most, don't work, but there are hints of pleasure mainly in the early tracks like "Divine" and "I Believe." He hasn't the range to pull off what he wants to pull off, but when he sings naturally then things are better. Take "Now I Understand" or "Little Boy I Miss You." I almost laugh at his lack of vocal skills on the latter. Did nobody think to tell Tolkki that he has a pleasant voice - just don't overdo it. Tolkki's vocal melodies are pleasant at most times but at times I think he tries too hard because he has difficulty controlling his voice. Lyrically, the album focuses on the personal side of Tolkki with songs like "Father," "Dear God," "It's X-mas Morning," and "I Believe." Emotional attachment aside, the lyrics are childishly written. I know he is trying and again, on some songs it works, but it's a poor creation at best.

Musically the album presents us with mainly slow-mid tempo rock songs that don't stun with their speed but rather they keep the dark mood of the album, which was a good choice by Tolkki. What wasn't a good choice was how he butchered the track "Father" with some seriously screwed vocal melodies and abhorrent music. When he sings, he sings as if one of his testicles is being slowly removed and the music is like nothing I've heard before and nothing I will want to hear again. Tracks like "Divine" display fantastic qualities that are heavy but not, and overall there's a small amount of heavy riffing, but they are back in the mix and the solos are present but again, they are not the focus of this personal album.

This is one of the worst solo albums I've heard of late and I hope that Tolkki does a better job next time because he is one of the fiercest guitarists going around. Hymn To Life? How about Get a Life?

Similar To: Not Stratovarius

[This review originally appeared November 2002 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]

Intro / Key To The Universe / Now I Understand / Divine / Little Boy I Miss You / I Believe / Are You The One? / Father / Fresh Blue Waters / Dear God / Its X-mas Morning / Hymn Of Life

Timo Tolkki - guitar, bass, vocals
Anssi Nyk?nen - drums
Mika Ervaskari - keyboards


Sharon Den Adel (Within Temptation) - vocals
Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween) - vocals

Classical Variations And Themes (1996)
Hymn To Life (2002)

Genre: Melodic Metal

Origin FI

Added: February 20th 2005
Reviewer: Gary Carson
Artist website:
Hits: 772
Language: english


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