AVANTASIA- A Ghostly Chapter
Let’s get something out of the way early- this is not my first foray into Edguy brainchild Tobias Sammett’s vision of Avantasia. I’ve been listening to these guys since first being introduced to The Metal Opera a number of years ago. I think I was a little late to the party, but you know what they say about how great music is timeless. Well, fast-forward to 2016 and Sammett has brought his latest ambitious vision to the forefront with Ghostlights. There’s been a lot of hype surrounding this album, mainly due to the myriad of vocal talent he tends to bring with him when he takes us on these mystical musical voyages.
Ghostlights is no different. Sammett knows how to find the perfect musicians to complement his ideas,and this time he’s gone out and gotten himself quite the collection. Some of these names you’re going to recognize right away as some seriously heavy hitters in the metal world- names like Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider, former Queensryche vocalist Geoff Tate, European metal legend Jorn Lande and Helloween/Unisonic frontman Michael Kiske- among others. Sammett knows how to elicit just the perfect response from his listeners, and he seems to know exactly which pieces to put into the puzzle at just the right time.
And now it’s time to press play….
“Mystery Of A Blood Red Rose”- is this Avantasia or Meat Loaf? If it wasn’t for Tobi Sammett’s vocals, I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. It’s a decent track to start the CD off with, but I’m left expecting a lot more.
“Let The Storm Descend Upon You”- just a shade over 12 minutes. A little reminiscent of “The Seven Angels” from their earlier album. Once the music kicks in… yep, THIS is the Avantasia I was waiting for. Oh HELL YEAH. Jorn Lande. Not even three minutes in and this is already charting high on my scale. The twin vocal work takes this track to a whole new level. The time flies by before you even know it.
“The Haunting”- Do we have a guest on this one? DEE MUTHAFUCKIN’ SNIDER. Now THAT I was not expecting. And damn, does he KILL it on this one! It’s a slower track than the first couple, but no less fantastic. Man, only a quarter of the way in and I’m already feeling it.
“Seduction Of Decay”- Okay, who am I going to be surprised by now? Another slow-tempo, but crunchy track. I’m already liking. Hold on…is that Geoff Tate? Yep.. no mistake about it. His soaring vocals are the perfect fit for this one.
“Ghostlights”- the title track. And right off the bat, they’ve ramped up the speed. The rest period is over, and it’s time to kick things into gear once again. And sure enough, another vocal maestro adds his name to the menagerie as Michael Kiske provides his pipes for this high-energy rocker.
“Draconian Love”- solid mid-tempo rocker.
“Master Of The Pendulum”- Marco Hietala. I’d recognize that voice anywhere. Hellz…YEAH. Don’t let the beginning fool you- this one will get your head banging quickly,and it only lets up slightly and briefly. Overall, this one is easily one of the most energetic tracks on the disc so far. Talk about a way to kick off the second half of this slab o’ kickass.
“Isle Of Evermore”- Sharon Den Adel provides the vocals on this one, and this is the chance to relax, catch your breath and take in the journey so far. A much-needed respite, and this track is the perfect oasis.
“Babylon Vampyres”- An uptempo rocker with Warrant/Lynch Mob vocalist Robert Mason providing the narrative to this chapter of the tale. This definitely sounds like something that would not be out of place on a Lynch Mob disc, and it surprisingly doesn’t feel out of place on this one either.
“Lucifer”- this one’s another respite, a slow track that allows you to regain your composure… or is it? Once again Jorn Lande lends his unmistakable pipes to this one, lulling you into a false sense of security and serenity before the pounding rhythms draw your right back in.
“Unchain The Light”- Michael Kiske returns for another engagement on this high-tempo, high-energy track that grabs you right from the start and doesn’t let go.
“A Restless Heart And Obsidian Skies”- This one also feels like the outro to this disc, and in most places it probably would be. But this isn’t any disc- this is Avantasia. Expect the unexpected. Once things kick into gear, this has the Avantasia feel that we’ve come to expect from earlier albums. A great listen, and a solid lead-in to the finale.
“Wake Up To The Moon”- All good things have to come to an end, and in the case of Ghostlights, they didn’t hesitate to save one of the best tracks for last. They want to end this tale on a memorable note, and this doesn’t disappoint. Loaded with guest vocals from those who have contributed previously (well, some of them at least- I don’t think they could have gotten everyone in on a four-minute track, ya know?) it’s a damn solid ending to what has been a great ride.
Ghostlights is definitely one to add to the collection if you’re an Avantasia fan, and if you’re not, this album might just make you one.