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Avantasia – The Mystery of Time [Review]

Themysteryoftimecover

Avantasia – The Mystery of Time
2013, Nuclear Blast Records
Buy the album

1. “Spectres”
2. “The Watchmakers’ Dream”
3. “Black Orchid”
4. “Where Clock Hands Freeze”
5. “Sleepwalking”
6. “Savior in the Clockwork”
7. “Invoke the Machine”
8. “What’s Left Of Me”
9. “Dweller in a Dream”
10. “The Great Mystery”

Band:
Tobias Sammet – Lead Vocals, Bass
Sascha Paeth – Guitar
Russell Gilbrook – Drums
Miro – Keyboards

Additional Musicians:
Joe Lynn Turner – Lead Vocals
Michael Kiske – Lead Vocals
Biff Byford – Lead Vocals
Ronnie Atkins – Lead Vocals
Eric Martin – Lead Vocals
Bob Catley – Lead Vocals
Cloudy Yang – Lead Vocals
Bruce Kulick – Guitar
Oliver Hartmann – Guitar
Arjen Anthony Lucassen – Guitar
Ferdy Doernberg – Organ

Produced by: Tobias Sammet & Sascha Paeth

Tobias Sammet just does not quit! Between Edguy and Avantasia, he’s constantly recording or touring. He’s the German equivalent of Dave Grohl. Busy, busy, busy!

It seems to be paying off. The Mystery of Time has done very well across Europe and while it didn’t break the Billboard 200 in the United States, it sold well enough in its first week to make Billboard’s Heatseeker and Hard Rock charts.

Thankfully, The Mystery of Time is only a 10-track collection and not a double album effort like when Sammet released The Wicked Symphony and Angel of Babylon simultaneously back in 2010. But don’t worry, there’s enough power metal epics here — “The Great Mystery” and “Savior in the Clockwork” both clock in (no pun intended) at 10 minutes.

Though I included this album in my Top 10 list for 2013, I didn’t get around to really listening to it until the end of the year even though it was released in March of 2013. Boy, I’m sorry I procrastinated. This may be my favorite Avantasia release yet and the presence of the German Film Orchestra Babelsberg only adds to the majestic metal that Avantasia already brings to the table.

Speaking of that orchestra, Edguy used them for their Hellfire Club album. I admit it’s getting harder to tell the difference between Edguy and Avantasia these days. Sammet is the driving force in both bands and they both play power metal. The only real difference is that Edguy seems to have a cheesy sense of humor and Avantasia uses a lot of guest vocalists.

Yeah, definitely should have rated this one higher for 2013. The more I listen to it, the more I like it. Great vocal performances all around, great melodies and songs that you can’t get out of your head. Best Avantasia album yet.

Highlights: “Spectres”, “The Watchmaker’s Dream”, “Sleepwalking”, “Savior in the Clockwork”, “Invoke the Machine”, “What’s Left of Me”, “The Great Mystery”

http://www.tobiassammet.com/
http://www.facebook.com/avantasia/

AVANTASIA – The Wicked Symphony & Angel of Babylon: Deluxe Edition

Avantasia – The Wicked Symphony & Angel of Babylon: Double Album Deluxe Edition [Import] (2010, Nuclear Blast Records)


Disc 1: The Wicked Symphony

1. “The Wicked Symphony” … 9:28
2. “Wastelands” … 4:44
3. “Scales of Justice” … 5:04
4. “Dying for an Angel” … 4:32
5. “Blizzard On a Broken Mirror” … 6:07
6. “Runaway Train” … 8:42
7. “Crestfallen” … 4:02
8. “Forever is a Long Time” … 5:05
9. “Black Wings” … 4:37
10. “States of Matter” … 3:57
11. “The Edge” … 4:12

Highlights: “The Wicked Symphony”, “Scales of Justice”, “Dying for an Angel”, “Blizzard On A Broken Mirror”, “Runaway Train”, “Crestfallen”


Disc 2: Angel of Babylon

1. “Stargazers” … 9:33
2. “Angel of Babylon” … 5:29
3. “Your Love is Evil” … 3:53
4. “Death is Just a Feeling” … 5:21
5. “Rat Race” … 4:07
6. “Down in the Dark” … 4:23
7. “Blowing Out the Flame” … 4:51
8. “Symphony of Life” … 4:30
9. “Alone I Remember” … 4:48
10. “Promised Land” … 4:47
11. “Journey to Arcadia” … 7:12

Highlights: “Stargazers”, “Death Is Just A Feeling”, “Rat Race”, “Blowing Out The Flame”, “Symphony Of Life”, “Alone I Remember”, “Promised Land”

Musicians:
Tobias Sammet – Lead Vocals, Bass
Russell Allen, Jorn Lande, Michael Kiske, Tim “Ripper” Owens, Klaus Meine, Andre Matos, Bob Catley, Ralf Zdiarstek, Jon Oliva, Cloudy Yang, Oliver Hartmann – Guest Vocals
Sascha Paeth, Bruce Kulick, Oliver Hartmann, Henjo Richter – Guitar
Miro Rodenberg – Keyboards, Orchestration
Sascha Paeth, Jens Johansson – Keyboards
Simon Oberrender – Organ
Felix Bohnke, Alex Holzwarth, Eric Singer – Drums

Producer: Sascha Paeth & Tobias Sammet

An epic collection featuring two epic albums! This deluxe edition collects both of Avantasia’s 2010 releases plus features a fairly lengthy booklet full of pictures and notes on the making of the albums. This time, instead of pure laziness, I actually had a good reason for not reviewing this set when I initially planned… it was just too much to absorb at once!

For some strange reason, unlike The Wicked Symphony, Angel of Babylon has not been released as a single disc in the United States although it is available as an import. I bought this collection on Amazon shortly after the street date because it turned out it was cheaper than having to order both albums separately because Angel of Babylon‘s import price was ridiculous at the time. This collection itself is actually an import (some of the text of my particular copy’s cellophane wrap was in Spanish) and it was retailing for $60-70 at most online shops when I first looked. YIKES!!! There are some very good deals to be found for it in Amazon’s Marketplace though, that’s how I got my copy and only paid$27 for it.

The very first thing I think of when I think of Avantasia are the amazing vocals that are always involved. Of course there’s Tobias Sammet, who is one of my favorite metal vocalists but Jorn Lande, Michael Kiske and Russell Allen shine on both albums just as they did on The Scarecrow. Jorn is featured on so many of these songs he might as well be considered a full-time member of Avantasia alongside Tobias. A Sammet/Lande album, anyone? And that’s not all! Klaus Meine, Tim “Ripper” Owens and Jon Oliva make appearances as well.

To this day I still have not heard the first two Avantasia albums. Some have complained that Tobias has taken the music in a slightly different direction, which is his prerogative since Avantasia is a side-project and a labor of love after all. Actually… Now that I think about it, if anything, I think Avantasia has become a bigger focus for Tobias than Edguy has been lately. Even so, the line has been blurred and both groups are becoming a bit interchangeable in sound. Not that I’m complaining, I like the direction both bands are headed in: great melodies, huge fantastic vocals, big drums, a bit of pop music, some ’80s hard rock, catchy choruses. Not many can do melodic power metal better than this.

I leaned towards The Wicked Symphony when I first bought this collection but after giving both albums many spins, I think I like Angel of Babylon better. There’s really no filler on that album at all. Either way, both are better than The Scarecrow (which I liked) and are two of 2010’s better albums!

HELLOWEEN – Treasure Chest

Helloween – Treasure Chest (2002, Sanctuary Records/Metal-Is Records)

Disc One
1. “Mr. Torture” … 3:28
2. “I Can” … 4:39
3. “Power” … 3:28
4. “Where The Rain Grows” … 4:46
5. “Eagle Fly Free” … 5:08
6. “Future World” … 4:02
7. “Metal Invaders” … 4:10
8. “Murderer (Remix)” …4:33
9. “Starlight (Remix)” … 4:13
10. “How Many Tears” … 7:15
11. “Ride The Sky (Remix)” … 6:43
12. “Halloween” … 13:18
13. “A Little Time” … 3:59
14. “A Tale That Wasn’t Right” … 4:42
15. “I Want Out” … 4:41

Disc Two
1. “Keeper Of The Seven Keys (Remix)” … 13:50
2. “Dr. Stein (Remix)” … 5:03
3. “The Chance” … 3:46
4. “Windmill” … 5:12
5. “Sole Survivor” … 4:30
6. “Perfect Gentleman” … 3:53
7. “In The Middle Of A Heartbeat” … 4:30
8. “Kings Will Be Kings” … 5:08
9. “Time Of The Oath” … 6:56
10. “Forever And One (Neverland)” … 3:50
11. “Midnight Sun” … 6:19
12. “Mr. Ego (Take Me Down)” … 7:07
13. “Immortal” … 4:04
14. “Mirror Mirror” … 3:43

Band:
Andi Deris – Lead Vocals
Michael Kiske – Lead Vocals
Kai Hansen – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Michael Weikath – Guitar
Roland Grapow – Guitar
Markus Grosskopf – Bass
Uli Kusch – Drums
Ingo Schwichtenberg – Drums

Helloween is a very well respected band in the power metal community, but I’ve had a hard time getting into them. From what I’ve heard, they seem like a campy and lighter version of Iron Maiden. But…

I’m a sucker for power ballads and Helloween has done two of the best power ballads I’ve ever heard with “In The Middle Of A Heartbeat” and “Forever And One (Neverland)”. They were the two main reasons I bought this compilation album (which features remixes and remasters), though I also wanted to give the band another chance after disappointing me a few years earlier with Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II.

After listening to this album, I have a greater appreciation for the band, but I’m completely content with owning this compilation and not delving into the band’s catalog unless I get an extremely strong recommend from someone.

A limited edition box set was also released featuring a third CD showcasing the band’s B-sides.

Highlights: “Mr. Torture”, “I Can”, “Power”, “Eagle Fly Free”, “Future World”, “How Many Tears”, “Halloween”, “I Want Out”, “Soul Survivor”, “In The Middle Of A Heartbeat”, “The Time of the Oath”, “Forever And One (Neverland)”, “Mr. Ego (Take Me Down)”, “Immortal”

www.helloween.org
www.myspace.com/helloween

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