Timo Tolkki - Hymn to life - 2002


Although this CD will not be officially released until 28.1.02, progVisions proudly introduces you the second solo CD of Stratovarius guitar player, Timo Tolkki, after the classic adventure of "Classical variations" (96).

I suppose the most sadistic readers will want to read a review written by me about the leader of one of my hated bands, but after nine CD's playing the same song with different lyrics, Tolkki forgets about destinies, infinities, mystery's, galaxies, etc., and has surprised me with a very varied CD that I like a lot. Here there is no cheap baroque style not even heavy metal, there are only very correct songs and good sound. I suppose you´ll understand I´m not talking about King Crimson.


Timo (guitars, bass, keyboards and vocals) has chosen Anssi Nykänen (drums), and Mika Ervaskari, first Stratovarius keyboards; and Michael Kiske (the amazing Helloween ex-singer) and Sharon den Allen (Within Temptation) to sing a couple of songs. The CD tries to be autobiographical, intimate, and personal, about the childhood and life of Tolkki. And he is very proud of it because he has sent the lyrics to the media.

After a short intro (a shout), the CD opens with "Key to the universe" (4:06), a mid tempo song, powerful and elegant, with great vocals courtesy of Michael Kiske. "Now I understand" (4:24) is more energetic and it has a refrain very American."Divine" (4:31) is a song more mediocre and contains an hypnotic drum and bass rhythm."Little boy I miss you" (4:38) is a nice ballad with pianos, keyboard layers and lots of passion. Some parts remains me to "Angie" (¿?). A song very beautiful. "I believe" (5:28) pretends to be another intense song but it doesn´t own the level of the songs previously listened. Too American this time. But the next song is really impressive "Are you the one?" (5:05) sung by Sharon. Incredible beauty and intensity. A calm ballad, with natural crescendos, and great vocals. More or less I´ve listed to this song ten times today. Now I must talk about the eighth track "Father" (6:24) in which Timo talks about the trauma he had when he saw his alcoholic father cutting his wrists and jumping from the fourth floor. This song is very industrial and very heavy, and the lyrics are very raw (You killed my innocence, you drunken fuck, I hate you, I piss on your grave and curse your memory). Uffff... this is very hard for me; I´m going to listen to "Rocket to Russia" of The Ramones and then I will go on with Timo´s review. OK. Another interesting mid-tempo song with acoustic guitars and electric guitar arpeggio's is "Fresh blue waters" (4:16). One mediocre ballad "Dear God" (5:09) and a simple and nice "It´s Xmas morning" (4:21) precede the best song of the CD, the suite "Hymn to life" (11:36). A delicate piano intro and calm waters take us to another beautiful slow song with birds singing. In the middle of the song appear some orchestral movements ending with an intense speech with a background piano (My god!!!, it seems I´m listening to a new age or soundtrack CD). A very moving end.


In summary, a conceptual CD plenty of good songs (some better and some worse), very intimate (sometimes too much), that maintains the listener´s interest without problems, and has very memorable moments -the last song and the song sung by Sharon-. I insist... this CD is NOT heavy metal and is NOT progressive rock. It´s only good music. A CD musically more interesting than the whole Stratovarius discography. This guy is very clever. Listen to it and think for yourselves.

author - date - rating - label

Alfonso Algora - December 2001 -   - Nuclear Blast