Timo Tolkki (Timo Tapio Tolkki) (born March 3, 1966) is a Finnish musician best known as the former guitarist, singer, songwriter and producer of the Power metal band Stratovarius. With his tenure lasting for more than twenty years, he was the longest standing member of the band before his departure in 2008.
After leaving Stratovarius he formed two supergroups named, Revolution Renaissance and Symfonia, (with Andre Matos (Shaman, Angra)) both of which have since disbanded. In a 2011 article by Guitar World magazine, Timo was included in the all-time top 50 list of the world's fastest guitarists.
Timo started playing guitar at the age of seven and practiced intensely, sometimes eight hours a day.
Before joining Stratovarius in 1984, he had played with the bands Antidote, Thunder and Road Block. At the beginning of his career with Stratovarius, he served as vocalist as well as handling all lead and rhythm guitars, and at times bass guitar (until Jari Kainulainen's arrival in 1993). After the band's third album, Dreamspace (1994), Timo Tolkki handed over vocal duties to Timo Kotipelto, who took over from the album, Fourth Dimension (1995) onwards.
This was largely due to Timo Tolkki's desire to evolve the overall musical direction of the band and concentrate on his guitar work. Further changes were made after Dreamspace, including the departure of the remaining original members of the band, keyboardist Antti Ikonen and drummer Tuomo Lassila, due to creative differences.
In 1994, Timo Tolkki released his first solo album, Classical Variations and Themes, which had at the time been one of his longtime ambitions. The album was similar to his work with Stratovarius, but with more focus on primarily instrumental compositions. His second solo album, Hymn to Life (2002) showed a more personal side, dealing with such emotional issues as his relationship with God and his late father.
He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2004, following a nervous breakdown which occurred some months after Stratovarius acrimoniously disbanded. After a period of rehabilitation, he went on to make a full recovery later that year and subsequently opened his own recording studio named Goldenworks. A final self-titled album with Stratovarius was released in 2005, after which he announced his departure from the band in 2008. Upon leaving he decided to waive the legal rights to the name. He later claimed this was done as a protest due to the remaining members deciding to continue the band as Stratovarius.
The studio lineup for the New Era album was Michael Kiske (Helloween, Unisonic), Tobias Sammet (Edguy, Avantasia) and Pasi Rantanen (Thunderstone) on vocals, Pasi Heikkilä on bass, Joonas Puolakka on keyboards, and Mirka Rantanen (Thunderstone) on drums. Timo himself is the only one included in the permanent lineup, which was announced later.
In March 2009, the band released their second album Age of Aquarius with a permanent lineup when Gus Monsanto (Adagio) joined the band as the new lead singer. The band said that it was "by far the darkest, heaviest and most Symphonic album that Timo has ever been involved in.". In October 2009 Timo announced that both Justin Biggs (Former Therion live member) and Mike Khalilov have left the band due to musical differences.
In an interview with the Finnish news website kp24 published on 10 May, Timo Tolkki announced that Greek Firewind and Outloud keyboarder Bob Katsionis was the new keyboard player of the band and that they were currently mixing their third and final album, Trinity, which was released in fall.
On 28 July Tolkki announced the break-up of Revolution Renaissance. He commented by saying:
"Due to my private problems, the lack of interest in Revolution Renaissance, shown by the promoters, and the current situation in the music industry that affects to everything including the production budgets, it has become impossible to continue the band.
We have tried to book shows in these last three years, but we haven't been able to do so. A rock band cannot exist without direct contact to its fans. Therefore I have no other choice but to make the decision to stop the band and its activities due to the above-mentioned reasons. The third and final album of the band will be released at the end of September. From the bottom of my heart I would like to thank all the fans of my music throughout the years. It's been a great journey."
Symfonia was a short-lived Symphonic power metal supergroup formed in 2010 by Andre Matos (vocals), Timo Tolkki (guitars), Jari Kainulainen (bass), Mikko Härkin (keyboards) and Uli Kusch (drums). On February 18 of 2011, the band made its debut performance at Finnish Metal Expo. The band released its only album, In Paradisum, in March 2011.
After touring together as members of Stratovarius and Angra, guitarist Timo Tolkki and vocalist Andre Matos became good friends. When Andre moved to Sweden, Timo Tolkki called him and told him he had some song ideas he would like to show him. On the condition of being part of the songwriting process but not of the managing duties due to his other activities,
Andre Matos flew to Helsinki and started working on the songs, though at that time they did not know if those songs would be used in a band, or a project or anything alike. Timo Tolkki then completed the team with other musicians who were living in the Nordic countries back then: bassist Jari Kainulainen, keyboardist Mikko Härkin and drummer Uli Kusch. Months later, the five musicians met in Helsinki and started rehearsing.
By October 2011 last news were that drummer Uli Kusch officially left the band to continue recovering from his nerve damage which made it impossible for him to play drums for a year. The band did a tour in South America (mostly in Brazil) and would start to record a new album subsequently.
By December 2011, Timo Tolkki announced in his official Facebook page that he would probably never record anything again (he later announced he would return to music with his new project, Avalon). In his long text, Timo cited some problems during the recording and touring of the first Symfonia album.
Symfonia's homepage has since been replaced with a big red square with the verse "the key to the universe is love", which appears at the song "Key to the Universe" from Timo Tolkki's solo album Hymn to Life.
In a post at Symfonia's official forum Timo Tolkki stated that "ending the Symfonia as it is, was a rational decision based on both the opinions of me and Andre Matos and the hard evidence or facts.", thus confirming that the band is no more.
Commenting on the sudden end of the band in a 2013 interview, Andre Matos said:
[...] all of us (the other members) received an email from him [Timo Tolkki], where he stated like, 'Look, I think Symfonia didn't reach the level that I expected it should have reached. Therefore, I must say to you all that there's not going to be a second album. Therefore, I must say to you all that there's not going to be Symfonia anymore. And therefore, I also would like to let you know that I'm intending to quit my musical career forever.' And that was wow, kind of shocking for everyone, like we didn't know what to say.
I knew stories from Timo. I had been warned before, because I am friends also with the other people who have worked together with him. But I mean, we had been working on this Symfonia thing for over a year, and nothing really weird happened before this very day. [...] and I said to him, 'Look, I have to respect your decision. It's your life, it's your decision. I still have my solo band which I will dedicate back again. I will go back to it. The only thing I would like you to do is to justify your attitude together with the people who are already compromised with this new record and a possible new tour, because I don't think it's really fair.'
Timo Tolkki and Andre Matos remained out of touch since then. Andre Matos died on June 8th, 2019, due to an heart attack.
Timo Tolkki's Avalon (also known simply as Avalon) is a Finnish Metal opera project created by Timo Tolkki in 2013.
According to Timo Tolkki "I find the Metal Opera concept fascinating and logical to me at this point of my career. I love classical music and just like in Classical Opera, in the Metal Opera you can also create stories and have almost limitless possibilities musically".
The project, including its name, was conceived by Frontiers Records's founder Serafino Perugino in 2010. He called Timo back then and asked if he wanted to do a metal opera like that. The project's debut album, The Land of New Hope, was released on May 17, 2013 through Frontiers Records. The album features performances by vocalists Elize Ryd, Rob Rock, Michael Kiske, Russell Allen, Sharon den Adel and Tony Kakko, as well as the participation of guest musicians Alex Holzwarth on drums and both Jens Johansson and Derek Sherinian on keyboards.
Tobias Sammet, German musician and mentor of Avantasia, another metal opera which had its 6th album released in March 2013, received the news of Timo Tolkki's own project with initial sarcasm, stating: "Wow, someone is extraordinarily creative here: the title, the guests, the timing... What a funny coincidence, isn't it?! But there have been thousands of Metal Operas, especially after Avantasia. Such is business...". However, he later stated: "There are a lot of metal operas out there, and I have to deal with that.
If something is very successful or even not successful then other people may feel inspired by it. It's Timo Tolkki (laughs) what can I say, he's a great guy and he does what he does. I wish him the best of luck."
When asked about if he was aware that this project would be compared to Avantasia, Timo replied that "Nobody owns a franchise to 'metal operas' which is not really an operatic format because it doesn't have any real dialogue between the singers."
In October 2013 Timo launched a news website for the project in which he announced the sequel to The Land of New Hope, which was provisionally titled Avalon II. The cast of guest musicians will be revealed one by one. Simone Simons of Epica fame is the first confirmed singer. Floor Jansen will play the leading role. It was also announced that Timo's former bandmates in Stratovarius, drummer Tuomo Lassila and keyboardist Antti Ikonen will play on this album.
On January 28, Timo revealed the title of the album (Angels of the Apocalypse) and the rest of the cast: Fabio Lione (Rhapsody of Fire, Angra), David DeFeis (Virgin Steele), Elize Ryd (Amaranthe) and Caterina Nix. Timo also announced that there will be a contest for guitar and keyboard players, with the winners getting a chance to perform a solo with him in one of the songs.
A European tour was planned for May 2014, coinciding with the release of the album.
Return to Eden (2019) and The Enigma Birth (2021)
In early 2019, Timo Tolkki announced the third Avalon album and remaining part of the Avalon trilogy, Return to Eden, with the main working song, "Promises". The fourth Avalon studio album, The Enigma Birth was released on June 18, 2021, extending the Avalon conceptual saga.
The Land of New Hope (2013)
Angels of the Apocalypse (2014)
Return to Eden (2019)
The Enigma Birth (2021)
Sami Boman (Silentium) orchestration on The Land of New Hope
Antti Ikonen (Stratovarius) keyboards on Angels of the Apocalypse
Nicolas Jeudy orchestration on Angels of the Apocalypse
Andrea Buratto (Secret Sphere) bass on Return to Eden
Giulio Capone (Temperance) drums, piano, keyboards on Return to Eden
Santtu Lehtiniemi additional guitar on Return to Eden
Marco Lazzarini (Secret Sphere) drums, piano, keyboards on The Enigma Birth
Federico Maraucci additional guitar on The Enigma Birth
Caterina Nix Aghonya, (Chaos Magic) lead vocals tracks 9-10 on Angels of the Apocalypse lead vocals tracks 2-3 on The Enigma Birth
Eduard Hovinga (Elegy) lead vocals tracks 7, 10 on Return to Eden
Chiara Tricarico (Temperance) backing vocals track 9 on Return to Eden
Marina La Torraca (Phantom Elite, Exit Eden) lead vocals tracks 7, 11 on The Enigma Birth
Brittney Hayes (Unleash the Archers) lead vocals tracks 3, 10 on The Enigma Birth
Raphael Mendes (Icon of Sin) lead vocals tracks 4, 8 on The Enigma Birth
PelleK lead vocals track 1 on The Enigma Birth
On 24 July 2013, Timo Tolkki announced via his Facebook page (among a statement regarding Stratovarius) that he would be the producer, mixer and songwriter for a new album of the duo Allen/Lande, composed of Symphony X vocalist Russell Allen and Norwegian singer Jørn Lande. The album The Great Divide was released on October 17, in Europe and October 21, 2014 in North America.
The Great Divide (2014)
In May 2015, it was announced that Timo would produce and perform in a project with Chilean singer Caterina Nix titled Chaos Magic. Caterina and Timo met in Chile when Stratovarius was performing there. She would later guest sing in Avalon's second album, Angels of the Apocalypse. Their first, self-titled album was set for a July 3, release in Europe. In June 2015 they released their first videos: a video for the song "I'm Alive", and two lyric videos for "One Drop of Blood" and "A Little Too Late".
Chaos Magic (2015)
Infinite Visions & We are the Revolution
In 2022, Timo Tolkki releases the single from the new album called "We are the Revolution", with several other guest artists, from his album "Union Magnetica", Infinite Visions.
From the period spanning Stratovarius' first three albums, Timo Tolkki's guitar playing was more Progressive and heavy. During this time he preferred E♭ tuning, with his compositions often bearing a dark and unnerving tonal quality (particularly on Dreamspace). Following Timo Kotipelto's arrival as lead singer, Timo Tolkki's style shifted gradually more towards the traditionally speedy and melodic format of Power metal, with an emphasis on such elements as neoclassical phrasing and various shredding techniques.
Throughout his career, Timo has played ESP Guitars. His primary model is a customised M Series, most notably in solid black and another with the artwork of Visions (1997) on the body. In some Stratovarius music videos, he is seen playing an EX series. Mesa/Boogie and Laney was his amplification of choice until 2001, after which he switched to using Marshall. Since 2007 he has used an ENGL Powerball.
Timo Tolkki has been married three times. He has one daughter from his second marriage, born in 1988/1989. Since 2000, Timo has been in a relationship with Dominika Gottová, eldest daughter of Czech singer Karel Gott. They got married in 2010. Dominika Gottová filed for divorce in December 2019, but the proceedings were halted in November 2020 after the couple decided to reconcile.
Gimmel – Kaksi kertaa enemmän (2003)
Dreamtale – World Changed Forever guitar solo on "The End of Our Days" (2013)
Ring of Fire – Battle of Leningrad (2014)