Released: January 11, 2011
Avantasia creator and ringleader Tobias Sammet has finally seen last April’s release of Angel of Babylon released in the U.S. this week. This is Avantasia‘s fifth studio album, and the final album in the trilogy of the Scarecrow Saga, of which Sammet sings the part of the Scarecrow.
Avantasia is part symphonic power metal, part metal opera. Think Jim Steinman with bigger balls and louder guitars. The Edguy frontman has brought together an extraodinary cast of special guests to bring this series to life, and there is no let down on talent for this record either.
Joining Sammet, who also plays bass on the record, is guitarist and producer Sascha Paeth, with Miro on keyboards, and monster drummers Alex Holzworth (Rhapsody of Fire) Eric Singer (KISS, Alice Cooper).
Perhaps the fact that this CD has been spinning in my car for a solid week now is an early indicator that I’m a fan of both Avantasia and the new album. This album was released alongside the second part of the trilogy, The Wicked Symphony. While Symphony was the better of the two albums, I think Babylon takes more chances. There is more experiment in these tracks.
The album kicks off with the album’s longest track, the nine and a half minute “Stargazers.” I get an old school Rainbow vibe on this one, in part because Jørn Lande (Masterplan) lends his Dioesque vocals, along with Michael Kiske (Helloween) and Russell Allen (Symphony X). Oliver Hartmann (At Vance) plugs in for lead axe work on the album’s first three tracks.
The title cut, while strong and melodic, didn’t call out to me all that strongly.
“Your Love Is Evil” is a very catchy and engaging track, though the verse music feels like it was copped from an 80’s Vixen album. I won’t fault them for that because the song works.
Jon Oliva (J.O.P., Savatage) tiptoes into “Death I Just A Feeling” with a sinister and disturbing intro. He’s so good at this stuff, he really makes this song come alive… or is that dead?
Listen to “Death I Just A Feeling” —
The guitar lick that starts and flows through “Rat Race” fell off the back of a White Lion album. A tasty and fond homage to Vito Bratta. Reason enough to like this song.
Jørn Lande returns for “Down In The Dark” along with lead guitar chops from Bruce Kulick (Union, ex-KISS).
“Blowing Out The Flame” is a power ballad with a Faustian theme.
One of the album’s most dynamic tracks is the haunting “Symphony of Life,” a atmospheric and grand song that could easily fit on any Within Temptation record. Relatively unknown German vocalist Cloudy Yang lends her stunning voice, and truly brings this track home with cinematic flair.
Next up, “Alone I Remember” rolls out with a bluesy barroom riff, that rocks into a classic 80’s hair metal anthem.
“Promised Land is another rocker, and explodes with guitar work from Henjo Richter (Gamma Ray).
The album closer is “Journey To Acadia.” Arguably the album’s weakest link. Very operatic in scope, but it seems aimless.
In all, Sammet has built another engaging listen. If you like symphonic or power metal you’ll want this record, and 80’s metal fans will find much to enjoy as well.
Avantasia’s next record will be a live recording from their 2008 tour. The Flying Opera is scheduled for a March release.