Wow, Timo Tolkki just can’t catch a break! First, the founder, mastermind and guitarist of long running power metal institution Stratovarius had to leave the fold due to personal problems and private demons. Now problems have forced him to call it a day with follow-up band Revolution Renaissance, shortly after releasing Trinity, their third album. I was only lukewarm about their debut and actively disliked the slow and soupy mess that was Age of Aquarius. However, after spending time with the band’s swan song, I have to admit, it’s a shame to see them pack it in. This is a solid slice of melodic European power metal and a clear improvement over the prior Revolution Renaissance outings. While nothing on Trinity is genre defying or “revolutionary” in a musical sense (it actually sounds A LOT like his former band), it’s well done, enjoyable and contains some moments of exceptional power metal songwriting sure to please fans of the style.
Taking his inspiration directly from the older Stratovarius albums like Episode and Visions (before he started weighing them down with too much orchestration), Trinity contains straight ahead power metal with an emphasis on catchy melodies and choruses. This was a wise decision by Mr. Tolkki because this is the style he always excelled at writing and what made Stratovarius a successful commodity. Songs like “Falling to Rise” and “World Doesn’t Get to Me” are great examples of simple, rocking Euro-metal, no frills, no overblown/over saturated keyboards, just metal with hooks (there are some well placed keyboard by Bob Katsionis of Firewind). When Trinity sticks to this formula, it works and satisfies the power metal urge without giving you cavities from too much candy coating. When things veer off into the realm of over-orchestration as with the title track (all ten plus minutes of it), things don’t work so well. That was the problem with Stratovarius circa the Elements albums and apparently Timo hasn’t come to grips with that yet. Fortunately, Trinity is largely composed of short, sharp metal attacks without a lot of fluff and cream filling.
One thing is clear right from the start. Timo is a very talented guitarist. His riffing and soloing are energetic, exciting and fluid on most of the tracks and he knows how to drive a song with a riff (“Crossing the Rubicon” in particular). He’s also an effective song smith when in the old Stratovarius style, although I could certainly do without lyrics like “dreamchild, don’t let them steal your dreams, you have to hide your rainbow” (Angry Metal Cringe every time). Another minor complaint involves self-plagiarism, with the riffing on “Crossing the Rubicon” sounding too much like “Learning to Fly” by his former outfit. I guess if you’re gonna borrow, borrowing from yourself isn’t so bad. The vocals of Gus Monsanto are solid, effective and work well with the style. He isn’t the most talented power metal vocalist out there and at times he seems to be straining for the high notes but he gets the job done and sounds great at times (especially on “Falling to Rise”).
This is exactly the type of album AMG would savagely and gleefully give a 2.0 (at best!), but for fans of zippy, straight-up power metal, this would be a worthy addition to their collection. It will especially appeal to fans of Stratovarius and will feel very familiar to them. Mr. Tolkki has managed to go out on a high note and after contributing so much to the genre while suffering so many setbacks, I sincerely wish him all the best in his future endeavors. Good luck sir and keep it metal.