Thursday, April 4, 2013

Avantasia - The Mystery of Time (2013)

I have always been kind of two-sided about Tobias Sammet's Avantasia. In one way I can see the great music and the epic opera feeling that the singer from Edguy is trying to present but I feel that the music most of the time does not have any emotions. So there was no surprise that I had mixed emotions before the launch of "The Mystery of Time" but I had a gut feeling that this rock epic could be one of the best Avantasia records up to date.

Just like in the previous albums, "The Mystery of Time" is filled with guest appearances from several famous rock names. Some of the artist appearing on this record are Biff Byford (Saxon), Bruce Kulick (Grand Funk Railroad, Ex-Kiss), Michael Kiske (Unisonic, Ex-Helloween), Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids) and many more. I am not going to say that I am against the guest musicians but one of the problems with Avantasia is that the guest musicians makes the albums a little less personal. I am really curious of how a album filled with only music that was fully composed and performed by Tobias Sammet would sound like. But I will give Tobias this, he still makes the music his own and the guest musicians has to adapt to the music (which they mostly do pretty well) instead of making songs that would fit every musician which ultimately leads to a more enjoyable album.

The music is very much the same as it has been in the latest Avantasia records. A mix of operatic influences, light version of power metal and some epic progressive sounds baked in the dough. It is a very enjoyable sound indeed but I like it more when bands and projects tries to expand and develop their music, a task that Sammet did not fully complete. It is a new story in the lyrics and some new intentions here and there, but there is very little in the music that is new. But it still sounds good so I do not mind it that much.

"The Mystery of Time" tells the story of Aaron Blackwell who lives in a small English town during the  Victorian era. He is a young scientist and in the album he is forced to investigate the mysteries of time, god, religion and science itself. The story is intriguing,  it fits really well with the music and it gives the album another dimension that lifts the overall performance. This is definitely Tobias Sammet's greatest strength, his ability to tell an interesting story without cutting corners in the music is a rare and great talent. The story gains the most life in songs like the powerful "The Watchmaker's Dream" and the theatrical "Black Orchid" where you can feel that Sammet and his guest musicians puts their heart and soul to the tracks. Another very interesting track is the heavier track "Invoke The Machine" where there is a clear sign that the Pretty Maid singer Ronnie Atkins has made a big mark in the musical part on this track. Works surprisingly well even though this is not a typical Avantasia track.

There is also two songs that barely reaches over the ten minute barrier, but only one of these songs are holding up to the full play time. The song is "Saviour In The Clockwork" and with its amazing chorus and well timed tempo shiftings, it is truly a feast for your ears when it comes out of the speakers. It is such a shame that "The Great Mystery" does not hold the same standard as "Saviour In The Clockwork" does. "The Great Mystery" is an okay album closer I guess, but it is an uninspiring track that makes you wonder when it is finally over. I know that Sammet can write long epics. In fact, one of my favourite track from Avantasia is "Stargazer" from "Angel of Babylon", so it surprised me that he wrote a very uninspiring epic that could easily been either left out of the album or shortened. Another low point is the single "Sleepwalking" which acts like a big sleeping pill (the title is at least fitting).

This album could have been an amazing rock epic that would have gone through the ages as one of symphonic rocks greatest albums. Unfortunately, because of a song that is too long and a sleeping pill, this album is just great instead of amazing. "The Mystery of Time" is a very interesting concept album and every fan of Tobias Sammet should without a doubt get this record, but it hurts that this album could have been so much better. It is still an enjoyable album and it is one of the better Avantasia albums, so Sammet should be proud of his latest offering to the world.

Songs worthy of recognition: Black Orchid, The Watchmaker's Dream, Saviour In The Clockwork, Invoke The Machine

Rating: 8,5/10 Spectres

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