Some days are just awesome – you hear some great music from a favorite band or a new artist. Other days are decent enough, and you enjoy what you’re listening to. Some days, though, you just have to suck it up and take one for the team. This is going to be one of those days.
CHAOS MAGIC (out now via Frontiers Music) is a collaboration between guitarist and producer Timo Tolkki and Chilean singer Caterina Nix. The two had formerly worked together on the widely panned Angels of the Apocalypse release from TIMO TOLKKI’S AVALON. I guess it made sense to someone, despite the lackluster response on that album, to continue that partnership on this self-titled album. I really can’t imagine why.
It’s not that Caterina Nix’s singing is bad – it’s not, and it’s definitely much better than her performance on the Angels of the Apocalypse release. It’s just very generic – she sounds like any of hundreds of other vocalists who sing in this exact same style, and absolutely nothing in this performance distinguishes her and helps set her out in front of the others in the crowd. Not everyone can be Sharon den Adel, but apparently everyone can try to sing like her.
That said, Caterina got absolutely no help from the music. It’s bland, it’s cheap, and it’s boring. I’m not sure how this is even classified as a form of metal – it’s mostly electronic sounds from synthesizers and drums, with barely enough of a guitar sound to make it in symphonic metal, but only if you don’t think too much about it. This is a release that was needing a full sound to help showcase her voice, and it fails miserably.
I can picture Timo Tolkki sitting in a workshop – he pulls out a mostly empty bin marked “Guitar Riffs” and selects three or four items from that container. He then yanks out overstuffed bins marked “Uninspired Synthesizers” and “Yawn-Inducing Drums” and empties them onto the bench. After mixing them all together, he then cuts them all into roughly equal portions and decides that everything is perfect.
This is a really disappointing album – Tolkki’s releases over the last decade have been very heterogeneous and tend to swing widely between “Excellent!” (SYMFONIA’s In Paradisum) and “OH MY GOD! SOMEONE FILL MY EARS WITH CEMENT!” (Angels of the Apocalypse). Unfortunately, he shit the bed again on this one, and there’s really not much redeeming about it. More sadly, I don’t think anyone really expects better these days. We hope for the best, though, and are usually left wanting.
STANDOUT TRACKS: Can’t do it. Sorry.