Friday, November 28, 2014

ALLEN/LANDE: ”The Great Divide”

Rating: RRRR

Label: Frontiers 2014
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

”Never change a winning formula”? That’s what they say anyway… All three previous Allen/Lande-albums were written by the Swedish songwriter/producer/guitarist Magnus Karlsson and featured the two great vocalists Russell Allen and Jorn Lande. You won’t win any prizes for figuring out what part of the formula has been changed…  Karlsson’s role in the project has been assigned to former Stratovarius guitarist Timo Tolkki, a surprising move from Frontiers but in the end it has been a rather successful one. At least when it comes to the quality of the music, the commercial success remains to be seen.

I wasn’t sure how this album would turn out, as Tolkki’s recent material has been hits and misses. The first Avalon album was a good one, but the second one failed to match it. I shouldn’t have worried, for this album Tolkki has been very focused and written a good selection of songs. Stylewise these songs aren’t that drastically different to those on the previous albums, even though there are definite echoes of Tolkki’s Strato-years in some of the songs. The production is powerful and clear, and the two singers sing like metal gods.

Highlights… the opener ”Come Dream With Me” is a powerful and very melodic track with both of the singers sharing vocals. This has a certain ”Stratovarius-single”-vibe to it, thanks to its’ anthemic chorus and catchy guitar work. ”Down From The Mountain” is a bit heavier but just as melodic, as is the fast paced ”In The Hands Of Time”. ”Lady Of Winter” is the kind of a plodding mid-tempo track that I usually don’t like, but damn it, this one comes with a superb chorus that’s hard to resist! ”Hymn To The Fallen” is also very good and ”Bitter Sweet” is a great, majestic ballad.

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