Like Gandalf the wizard, Timo Tolkki has long been wandering in strange lands, trying to find his path back to the world. Claiming shock when the members of STRATOVARIUS carried on without him (and resumed being badass), Timo sought refuge in his own project, REVOLUTION RENAISSANCE. “New Era” was a mediocre release, and “Age of Aquarius” started slipping out of the realm of metal. As a matter of fact, I’d just about given up hope on Timo entirely. I knew that the third and final RR album was coming out this year, and figured I’d give him one last shot.
Well, he hasn’t redeemed himself quite for all of the poor to mediocre power metal he’s made, but “Trinity” is a BIG step up in quality. This is no “Saana- Warrior of Light," and it’s not watered-down like the self-titled STRATOVARIUS release. “Trinity” is the sort of power metal that you’ve forgotten that Timo once made. Pretty straight-ahead in its formula, this album has dropped former attempts at silly atmospheric and symphonic elements. The guitars are back, the tempo has been turned up, and the rhythms are strong.
The vocal lines sung by Gus Monsanto are very heavily reminiscent indeed of STRATOVARIUS, and I keep expecting his voice to cease, replaced by Timo Kotipelto. There are some pretty dumb lyrics on a couple of songs here (“Life is a highway, we’ve got one chance!”) that will make most listeners roll their eyes, but this is hardly the epitome of bad flower metal. Gus is definitely a competent singer, and his voice has a not-unpleasant edge to it. I personally feel that this is a personal best vocal performance for him, having heard a number of his projects.
Now, I’ve heard some rumors suggesting that Timo didn’t actually record the guitars on this album himself, and I have no idea if that’s true or not. In any case, the quality solos are back, and it is a very refreshing feeling. I haven’t felt a Tolkki solo that really SOUNDED like a Tolkki solo in quite some time. This nostalgia for classic, conventional power metal is what makes “Trinity” remarkable. It’s one of the genre’s masters (say what you may about his recent subpar work) making a hefty stride towards a return to form. The rhythm is crunchy and tight, the leads dynamic and excellent, and the solos are superb!
Something of a surprise to me on this album was the lengthy titular track. I’m always wary of songs that pass a certain length in standard power metal. More often than not, they seem to be long-winded and wear out their welcome long before the halfway point. I genuinely feel that this is not the case with “Trinity," however. It’s ambitious and long, but has a lot to offer, including some very dramatic sections and a very emotive guitar solo. Other favorites on this album include the wonderfully catchy “Falling To Rise," the straight-ahead rockfest that is “Crossing The Rubicon”, and the frenzied opener, “Marching With The Fools." Low points include “A Lot Like Me” and “The World Doesn’t Get To Me," which are a bit tiresome lyrically.
All things considered however, I would say that REVOLUTION RENAISSANCE and Timo Tolkki went out with a considerable bang. Honestly, I don’t know how long Timo can abstain from music and metal, and harbor a hunch that he may return to the scene again someday. REVOLUTION RENAISSANCE will always have a lukewarm welcome in most places, but I think that it has been a most interesting project overall. “Trinity” is certainly the most solid and pleasing of the three releases that Tolkki manufactured. He may be a troubled man, and I was ready to dismiss him, but Timo Tolkki gave us one last taste of what he’s capable of before abandoning his project. Now I’ll be darned if I don’t want him to have another go.
(Online November 23, 2010)