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Kotipelto - "Waiting For The Dawn"
Century Media 2002

Solo debut from the first voice of Stratovarius, Timo Kotipelto, is a very nice try. In his lyrics he brings ancient Egypt back to life. Timo chose an interesting line-up. Jari Kainulainen - bass (Stratovarius), Sami Virtanen - guitar and Mirka Rantanen – drums (both from Warman), Gas Lipstik - drums (HIM) and M. Romeo - guitars (Symphony X). So you don’t have to worry about good riffing and crazy guitar solos. In power drive piece "Knowledge And Wisdom" you will be impressed by some Helloween fashioned guitar picking over the main riff. Nothing unusual when Roland Grapow dictates all guitars in that song.

I almost forgot about the main thing. Timo’s vocals. Crystal clear unique Stratovarius siren, of course. But here we have an important difference. No one was to dictate Timo how to sing. All vocal lines are his own freedom of musical expression. So his solo debut deviates very much from what he is doing with Stratovarius. Timo is showing what a talented songwriter and composer he is. Beside that he’s done a brilliant job also as a producer. In production the whole thing remained alive, which is a rare thing to find in nowadays Scandinavian "instant" approaches in production, where usually everything sounds so clear and predictable.

What we can find are mainly mid-tempo songs with dynamic symbiosis between guitar and keyboard solo parts and bridges that are incorporated in middle sections. I forgot to mention another two Timo’s "neighbors" that contributed in playing the keyboards. Janne Warman (Children Of Bodom, Warmen) and Mirko Harkinen (Sonata Arctica). Janne also used some Hammond lines in "Vizier". Timo’s vocal lines remind me very much of Iron Maiden golden period (1984), especially in songs as "Battle Of Gods", "Chosen By Re" or in the opener "Travel Through Time".

Kotipelto therefore brings us somehow expected Epic melodic Power Metal stuff that is closely related to the roots of early eighties metal movement. Despite of all sorts of marvelous lead breaks songs are still remaining compact and are keeping high melancholic atmosphere throughout entire record (especially "Arise"). "Waiting For The Down" in middle section turns in a great puzzle of oriental motives, typical for Iron Maiden Powerslave time period. Acoustically driven "The Movement Of A Nile" closes the travel through ancient Egypt in a special way with a great melancholic acoustic chorus inside.

Let us hope that Stratovarius boss Timo Tolkki heard his colleague’s release and will therefore leave some creating room for Stratovarius singer’s ideas, which would bring refreshment that is bloody needed in further Stratovarius releases.

Author:   Ale¹

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