Sunday, February 7, 2016

Avantasia - Ghostlights (2016)

The original "solo project with tons of guest artist thrown into the mix" band is here again. Edguy singer Tobias Sammet has once again gathered his forces for an full frontal attack, I could be wrong, but this might be the strongest army Tobias has gathered thus far. Or what do you say about Sharon Den Adel, Dee Snider, Michael Kiske, Jorn Lande, Marco Hietala, and some unknown dude named Geoff Tate. Good guy Tobias Sammet, giving small names a chance to shine.

Anyway, "Ghostlights" is just what you would expect from a Avantasia album. It has its distinct sound, with small little tweaks so that the guests can perform at their best. For instance, we have a heaviness and power in "Master of The Pendulum" that fits Marco Hietala like a glove. It is just like he was singing a Nightwish or Tarot song. Tobias certainly balances on that thin line between originality and straight copying a little more than he usually does, but it still feels like a pure Avantasia record.

The most worth noting thing in this album is that it could contain a future Eurovision Song Contest participant. Yes, you read that correctly, Avantasia is competing to be the German entry for this year's ESC (which is in Stockholm, Sweden). It is the opening track "Mystery of A Blood Red Rose" that is competing, but not in its original state. Because of the rules of the competition, the track is shortened to about three minutes when it competes. The original song is a great one, bombastic and grand, just like Avantasia is, and I do think it fits the whole spectacle that ESC is. I hope it makes it to the main competition, because then I know who I will vote for :).

Back to the album, a album that is one of the heavier ones in the band's history. Well, maybe not heavier, but it is not as melodic as previous efforts. I do not mind this at all, because as long as it sounds great, I am in. Of course, the main portion of the album is still pure, bombastic power metal, and especially the three Kiske songs (the title track, "Unchain The Light", and "Wake Up To The Moon") are really bursting in a classic way.

This album may not have a big concept like the last album had (or I have just missed it completely), but it does have a big, epic story within it. "Let The Storm Descend Upon You" is a 12 minute epic that not only features an epic line-up of Jorn Lande, Ronnie Atkins, Robert Mason, and of course Tobias. It is without question the song that makes the biggest impact, with its ultra epic chorus and fantastic musicality. Each singer makes a awesome effort to make the listener sit on the edge of their seats during the full play time, cooperating in an impressive manor. Sammet sure knows how to create some epic mastodons.

I still think the album misses some kind of edge, something to take it up to the next level. Oh well, it is still a really nice album that fits really well in Avantasia's discography. It is a classic Avantasia album, bombastic, epic, lots of different voices and characters, but still a unified sound that is instantly recognizable. Tobias never ceases to amaze me, he still manages to create great new Avantasia records, despite it only being a side project from Edguy. Great job Tobias, and good luck on "Unser Lied Für Stockholm" (Our Song For Stockholm).

Songs worthy of recognition: Let The Storm Descend Upon You, Mystery of A Blood Red Rose, Master of The Pendulum, Unchain The Light

Rating: 8/10 Babylon Vampyres

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