Kotipelto – Serenity

By Mike Maher

I’ll give this album 7.5 out of 10. A straight 7 for Timo’s efforts and + .5 for the great playing of Wirman and Wainola!

“Serenity” is the third solo release for Timo Kotipelto, lead singer for power metal legends Stratovarious. The album has 10 tracks, is available now, and is released by Candlelight here in the USA.Pretty much everyone who would read this review is familiar with Kotipelto’s voice from his work in Stratovarious, and this album features his soaring vocals set in a more hard rock, slightly power metal vein.

The songs are catchy, with good guitar riffs and keyboard solos. Janne Wirman, of “Children of Bodom” and “Warmen,” handles the keys and brings the album up a notch with some great work. (NOTE: – Anyone who loves keyboards should definitely check out the “Warmen” albums, they’re great!) Guitarist Tuomas Wainola of the Finnish band Heartplay has some nice shredding on the song “Angels Will Cry” and I really like his sound and style on the rest of the album. When you come right down to it though, the album is standard “Kotipelto” fare. I’m not saying that’s bad: he has a great voice and there are some cool songs on the album, but it’s nothing earth shattering or better yet, let’s say it is nothing unexpected. The guy has an awesome voice and sticks to what the fans will like.

Stratovarious just completed their Japanese tour at the end of May, and Kotipelto says on his website that it was great to get out there and play with the guys and see the fans. But with all the ups and downs in the Stratovarious camp over the last few years and Kotipelto’s publicly stated disappointment in the way the band’s last album “Stratovarious” sounded, I wonder if he is putting more into the solo gig now. He has toured for this album and has more upcoming dates in Finland, and on his website responds to some fans questions about touring by saying he’d love to play a North or South American tour with his solo band. Not many guys who throw out a solo album while they are in an active big name band will devote much time to touring for that solo album, but can we really call Stratovarious “active” these days? I digress! On to the songs!

The first single released for the album is “Sleep Well,” which was an excellent choice. The song has a great opening riff and a catchy, sing-a-long chorus that quickly became my favorite. I always listen to the album as I am writing the reviews and while I am sure that “Sleep Well” is my favorite song, there are so many other good ones on the album that have a chorus that you want to sing to yourself, it’s hard to pick out the top 3. “After the Rain” is a nice slow ballad. On the track “Mr. Know-it-all” it’s kind of funny to hear Kotipelto sing “but do you really have the balls? Or is it just that you are weak inside.” I didn’t even think I’d hear Kotipelto sing that line! Haha! The title track, “Serenity” is good, as are “Once Upon a Time” which is a great power metal, high vocal album opener in the Stratovarious style, and “City of Mysteries” which has a nice low end guitar with a little crunch to it.“Last Defender” also has some great guitar work and is a good choice for the album closer.

So, people who will automatically buy this are Stratovarious fans, or Kotipelto fans who bought his previous two solo releases. I’d listened to “Coldness” and owned “Waiting for the Dawn” several years ago, but I didn’t really get into them too much. I’ve spun this disc several times and listened to it at work. It’s solid, if somewhat routine. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes the sound of Timo’s voice. I admit that I’m no hardcore fan (I only own one Strato album, “Infinite”) but I do like Timo K.’s style and vocals, and I’m glad that I got to review this album.