Chaos Magic_Chaos MagicTimo Tolkki is a busy chap. Sure, he isn’t Vardan busy, but I don’t begrudge anyone time to enjoy of deep vacations, not even the former mastermind of Stratovarius. While maintaining his Timo Tolkki’s Avalon project and manning the writing desk for the Allen/Lande albums, you’d think the man would be all tied up. Yet he found time to team with Chilean songbird Caterina Nix to create Chaos Magic, a mega-melodic goth-metal outfit looking to horn in on the sales of Within Temptation, Sirenia and all the other rack metal denizens. Timo’s connection to Nix goes back to the second Timo Tolkki’s Avalon platter where she shared lead vocals with luminaries like Floor Jansen and Simone Simons. According to the promo blurbage, he designed Chaos Magic to “develop the vocal talent of Caterina and show a diverse side of Timo’s musical talents.” Using that rubric, I suppose he’s succeeded on both fronts, as Caterina shows she’s a legit and capable (albeit generic) crooner and the soft, poppy material is definitely something we haven’t heard from Timo before. But when using the standard AMG “should you buy this?” rubric, results may vary and mileage may differ. One thing’s for certain, you can safely judge the music by the cover in this particular case.

And that means a platter of light, inoffensive goth anthems and balladry with as little metal as can safely be added while still getting coverage on Blabbermouth and Metal Sucks. The best way to describe it is a less successful version of Within Temptation‘s The Silent Force, then I could move on to beers and brauts, but since I’m expected to blather on for 700 words, allow me to elaborate. Opener “I’m Alive” is the kind of simple, slightly symphonic music you’ve heard a million times. The rather unremarkable music is topped by the big, glossy vocals of Ms. Nix and everything is designed to be safe, easy listening with enough vocal hooks to stick. I say “vocal hooks” because no hooks whatsoever will be forthcoming from the music itself, which often reminds me of those pre-set music recorders used by street performers so they can sing along with something, anything.

Caterina Nix_2015This continues across the length of the album, with most songs working well enough to pass muster, but none really grabbing you. “Dangerous Game” is better than most and could definitely exist as a B-side on any recent Within Temptation platter, and “Seraphim” ups the symphonics and pretensions to arrive at something akin to Within Temptation‘s  symphonic version of “Aquarius.” And while I’m at it, Within Temptation!

There’s a mild Middle Eastern theme and more bombastic presentation on “Passionflow” that makes it stand out a bit, and closer “The Point of No Return’ is as heavy as things get, approaching the hard rock/light power heard on the recent Kiske/Somerville platter. The rest of the album floats by in a hazy, ethereal fog. It’s so light weight in fact, that it’s actually startling when a metallized guitar riff opens penultimate track “Right Now.” That’s never a good sign.

The low point comes in the form of back-to-back ballads, with “Dead Memories” sounding like an Evanescence outtake, and “Please Don’t Tell Me” veering uncomfortably close to the iceberg that is Celine Dion, and you know how her heart likes to go on and on….

Timo Tolkki_2015Ms. Nix is clearly  a talented singer and she sounds good on all the songs. She has essentially the same voice as Sharon den Adel (guess who) and employs it in much the same way as she would. She doesn’t over-sing or go all crazy opera diva, which is great, but there’s little about her that stands out for the scores of similar female vocalists. Very good looking, pretty voice, classically inclined, it’s all there as usual. Though Timo handles guitar, bass and keyboards himself, as mentioned earlier, the music is unremarkable and exists solely to support the vocals. I suppose Timo deserves props for stepping aside and letting Nix run the show, but the whole thing ends up rather soulless as a result.

This is really becoming Frontiers Records niche: pairing random musicians for these hit or miss vanity projects. Well, Chaos Magic is no Allen/Lande. Heck, they’re not even Kiske/Somerville, but they aren’t terrible either, though the utter lack of surprises, moxie or metal is pretty disappointing. This is just safe, by the book gothic rock, as bright and shiny as it gets and as vanilla as possible. So very unmetal.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Frontiers Records
Websites: Too kvlt for the inter-webs… huh??
Release Dates: EU: 2015.07.3 | NA: 07.10.2015

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  • Alexandre Barata

    I don’t even care about music with a pair of legs like those!

    • You sexist bastard!

      • brutal_sushi

        Me thinks you worded that wong.

      • Alexandre Barata

        Thank you.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      I don’t think you should objectify Steel Druhm like that

  • Tentacles

    Rack Metal – This has just surpassed ‘corset metal’ as my preferred derogatory genre descriptor.

    • I dunno, I think I still prefer Corsetcore. But this group seems to be genre savvy and there’s no lace… to be seen… barely.

    • PanzerFistDominatrix

      “Rack city bitch, rack rack city bitch, ten ten ten twenties on ya titties bitch”

      ‘Tyga – Rack City’ – YouTube dat shizznit

  • Those boots should be mine!

    • You gotta sing for those boots, woman.

      • I tried, I don’t think the hammering on the door was in encouragement… Save yourself and just give me the boots ;)

    • Monsterth Goatom

      Everyone does black. Dirty white boots are better, or silver pumps. You can’t go wrong with silver pumps.

      • basenjibrian

        Ruby Red!

        • Monsterth Goatom

          Yes, there’s no place like home.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      it looked like she was struggling to walk in them…You’d really be doing her a favour if she passed them on…

      • Favours are not my strong point, but I’m prepared to give it a try…

  • Fazy

    I have a weakness for both den Adel and Tolkki, so I suppose I could listen to this record without falling victim to sleep or hyperglycemia.

    And thanks for enriching my dictionary again, Druhm, rack metal is even better than corsetcore (more versatile too!).

    • I can’t take credit for it. The term was coined discreetly years ago on AMG. I’m just bringing it into common parlance.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        And for this may you enjoy of deep gratitude.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Just to turn the tables for a moment, what would it be called if the lead singer is a studly, Adonis-like male? Butt metal? Chest Hair Metal?

    • It would obviously be Pec Metal.

    • PanzerFistDominatrix


      • Kudos for that one.

        • PanzerFistDominatrix

          Most obliged… And Scott Columbus did play on a stainless steel drum kit, the “Drums of Doom” no less. So, I reckon he’s somewhat of a father figure to you…?

      • Carlos Marrickvillian


    • Johan

      Edit: Damn, Druhm beat me to it!

  • Refined-Iron Cranium

    That was one awkward music video. The music did little to help.
    The song may as well have been Gnesa – Wilder (look it up) and I wouldn’t have told the difference.

    Also, I’m surprised this is even classified as metal. It’s like Amaranthe, just without the groundhog screamer.

    • Timo seems to end up involved in some pretty awkwardly exploitative videos. Watch the one for “Enshrined in My Memory” with Elize Ryd. It’s borderline Cinemax After Hours stuff.

      • Lol I remember that one…. bring on the invisible dress!

      • Aguy

        The “exploitation” doesn’t bother me. I mean, these women know they’re trading on their looks, no one’s holding a gun to their heads and making them star in videos. It’s more the cynicism of “hey, let’s have a hot chick in the band, that’ll draw more fans.” I like looking at hot chicks as much as the next guy, but I don’t know her, I’ll probably never meet her, and she sure isn’t asking to stay at my place for “coffee”, so isn’t it really just about the music? And most rack metal (great name) is pretty mediocre rewarmed shit.

    • Tanuki

      I have no idea what the hell is going on in that clip. or the music for that matter. I was holding it together and then BAM!. 2:20 happened and I just lost my shit.

  • De2013

    Now that’s one of the greatest uh… stairs I’ve seen in a while.

    • PanzerFistDominatrix

      Don’t lose hope! Australia just competed in the Eurovision Contest as bizarre as it sounds. For real, Google it if you don’t quite trust a commentor with a name like mine :-)

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        On behalf of my fellow Australians I’d like to apologise to the rest of the world for Guy Sebastian.
        I promise we had nothing to do with that.

        • PanzerFistDominatrix

          As long as you can give Psycroptic a push to come tour Europe again, maybe bring Ouroboros as support, then apology is accepted.

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          It’s all good, that Drowning the Light record from earlier this year more than makes up for it!

        • Hulksteraus

          Plus one million here too… Makes you ashamed to be from Australia sometimes :)

    • Kalsten

      My same though. I was listening to the song and thinking “mmm, this is Eurovision material” xD Which is not a good thing, really.

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    That song is like Lady Gaga for people too trve to listen to Lady Gaga. I thought the first pic was a still from a James Bond film, and I refuse to complain about it.

  • Lemonitos

    I think there’s a typo there… “Caternia Nix”. You may remove this comment.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    If you look carefully in the video you’ll notice she has nice legs

    • I don’t know, I think more evidence in the form of another objectifying video will be happily supplied by Timo.

    • I’m not seeing much past the boots myself… maybe Hell3’s right, another video would help.

  • Meh. Tolkki’s had issues in the past with breakdowns and whatnot, but the kicker was the failed PledgeMusic campaign. He went full retard…

    I am glad he’s not polluting Stratovairus these days. ;)

  • Wilhelm

    wow, awful song, bad vocals, terrible video, but those gams!

  • Ralph Plug

    Ah, Frontiers Records. Home of has-beens and cheesy AOR. I used to really hate reviewing a lot of their stuff, haha.

    • CarvedInStone

      A lot of the stuff coming out there is indeed very cheesy but they also put out some good stuff like Eclipse, Rated X (the new JLT project), recent Mr. Big, recent Winger, California Breed, Royal Hunt, Lynch Mob, Primal Fear and House Of Lords. If you’re into that kind of music they can be a real goldmine.

      • LOL…you like Winger.

        • CarvedInStone

          Yes I do. They latest album has been kick-ass and Reb Beach is a great guitarist in Winger and Whitesnake. Am I supposed to dislike them only because they were made fun of on Beavis & Butt-head?

  • michael rodrigues

    wow i actually can’t stand this

  • Doomdeathrosh

    Judging by the cover, it should have been 3.5 at least!

  • Anybody else totally creeped out by Timo Tolkki’s relationship to young women who are vocalists in his bands?

  • Dinsy Jones

    I’ve got a lot of respect for Mr. Tolkki for the early days of Strato and I don’t even dislike Within Temptation, but for some reason I found this album unlistenable. I must be reaching the point of saturation for this type of music.