Back in the day, before Stratovarius became popular, the band was Timo Tolkki's all the way. The man basically wrote 90% of the material for their first three albums before he decided to quit vocal duties and hire the then long standing vocalist, Timo Kotipelto, to focus more on his guitar virtuoso shred skills. They did have keyboards back then as well, but they weren't to the extent either that captivated audiences with superb virtuosity from Jens Johansson. Even if Twilight Time
lacks a lot of factors that made Stratovarius who they are musically, and obviously can't compete to any of the band's top tier albums, such as Visions
. But, Twilight Time
still holds firm as a standing point for the band's future, and maturity back when they were the “new kids on the block”. Yet, we also learn things as well musically about the band that we would've never imagine before, especially if you're familiar with their stuff with Kotipelto on vocals.
“Break the Ice” starts off the album, and from the get-go the listener should realize the sound is nowhere near conventional power metal standards. With a mix of vocals that shy away oh-so slightly from power metal, mainly because they're nowhere near being the type of strength that many are use to within the genre. Even the rhythm section is odd for power metal standards – it's quite interesting to hear doom metal characteristics within the some riffs, and a phrygian influenced tone for a solo mixed in as well. So that's why you would hear about Stratovarius having dark prog sections in their older material. Yet, it maintains consistency, and originality, but it might be difficult for the average Stratovarius fan getting into after being so use to their newly developed sound that came about on Fourth Dimension
Even other songs such as “Madness Strikes at Midnight”, showcase dark tones, phrygian based melodies within the solo(s), that give the listener reasons why to pay attention during the listen. Other songs such as “Twilight Time” and “The Hills Have Eyes” also follow the same concept musically as well; dark prog sections, and note worthy solos from Timo Tolkki. But, that doesn't keep the album from having any sort of diversity at all. A very few amount of songs start to tread within the power metal boundaries that will soon evolve into their signature sound later on in their career with Timo Kotipelto on vocals, such as “Out Of the Shadows” and “The Hands of Time”. While both songs are upbeat and energetic compared to the rest of the album, and like I said before, they are prototypes that will forevermore evolve into their brand of power metal. There is also an instrumental song as well, named “Metal Frenzy”, and to be honest with you it's ***ing retarded. Besides that, there's a closing ballad that features an emotional Tolkki on vocals and guitar, and the song borderlines of being a highlight, but it varies on opinions.
Unfortunately, there's one problem with the album that evades itself from reaching its utmost potential, and Timo Tolkki's vocals stand clear in the way. If I had to personally grade his vocal performance than I would have to be giving it a 65/100. It's quite annoying actually, everything about the album instrumentally is stellar. But, because of the vocals being weak in strength and pitch, it makes almost every song virtually forgotten. Don't get me wrong or anything he's not a bad singer, he does have some catchy parts, but overall it's a bumpy ride on a dirt road. Even if Timo Tolkki is an average singer, we can thank his guitar skills. He truly has impressive solos practically in every song, as well as interesting guitar riffs, and that alone keeps the album interesting and worth the listen. But, that doesn't overshadow the horrendous vocal qualities throughout the album. Whether or not if there were some good moments, there's just too many parts that falter. So, all-in-all, Twilight Time
is an okay album at best, though it may not have a great vocal performance, it surely does have a lot of high grade guitar solos.