Just for a moment in time, I believed that I will have to destroy this review, destroy my inner feelings and say how horrendous this album was, because if the truth may be said, the first couple of songs don’t help in making a good concept, I think those ones could be better in a late place of the track list, but who am I to say that kind of opinions, I did not write the album, I could not change the concept, I’m just another worthless fan trying to express something that probably nobody cares, but anyhow I will go.
Definitely is not a back to the roots, but who says that get back is a good step, sometimes only moving forward is the option, only depends how you move. Tobias Sammet has managed to rememorize his latest releases, in order to put something together and make a symphony, not rock, not metal, just a symphony he has in mind, with this I’m not saying that he has put aside from we all know, he still keeps on rocking, but in his very personal way, a way we all know.
I’ll pass the first 2 songs, because they really didn’t like to me, so I won’t stop on it, from “Black Orchid” to “The Great Mystery”, is a really good mixture of rhythms, atmospheres, riffs, great screams, memorable choruses and an excellent production, having a symphonic orchestra behind, great compositions, not innovating, but not bad as many people may think, I know many of you won’t be agree with me, just because you want another “Metal Opera”, but guess what? That was like 10 years ago, you could not expect an opera stays the same forever, it will always move forward, like it or not, and I know there will come a point, where it won’t like to me either, but what the hell, I can’t stop the great mystery of time.
The performance of the musicians on this album is simply amazing, all of them prove why they are here, and why Tobias have look up to them, they are simply rocking on this release. For the rest is up to you to find, the great mysteries in life are always for us to discover, this album is not for everyone, and I will not say that if you don’t like you’re wrong, probably I am the one mistaken here, but what can I say?, “Dreamers come and go, but a dream’s forever”
I cannot think of many occasions where a side project not only has become equally, if not more popular than the main project but the material has grown superior. That is what has happened with Tobias Sammet’s AVANTASIA. A side project developed in 2000 as a separate outlet from Sammet‘s main focus EDGUY. Where EDGUY is a straightforward Pop / Power Metal band, AVANTASIA is much more grandiose exploring symphonic elements and the material is epic in scale.
Originally meant to be a two-part opus with the release of 2001s “The Metal Opera”, Sammet thankfully continues to return to his alter ego and has unveiled his latest release through Germany’s Nuclear Blast Records “The Mystery of Time.”
The most exciting part of an AVANTASIA release is the many famous contributors that Sammet gathers to guest on his records. This time around we have no shortage of jaw dropping performers. The list is extensive with Michael Kiske (ex-HELLOWEEN), Ronnie Atkins (PRETTY MAIDS), Joe Lynn Turner (ex-DEEP PURPLE & ex-RAINBOW), Biff Byford (SAXON), Eric Martin (MR. BIG), Bob Catley (MAGNUM) and Bruce Kulick (ex-KISS) who make for a substantial list of guest performers.
It has been three years since the double release of "The Wicked Symphony" and "Angel Of Babylon", which was a 22 song double album that pummelled the listener into overload. This time out "The Mystery of Time" shows a more focused AVANTASIA even though the record clocks in at over an hour. We have two epic tracks that are over 10 minutes in “Savior In The Clockwork” and outstanding album closer “The Great Mystery”.
Again the one and only Michael Kiske steals the spotlight, as his contribution is outstanding especially on the spectacular up-tempo “Where Clock Hands Freeze”. The chorus is glorious and gorgeous as his voice is majestic and soaring. This track is a truly magical moment and a crowning achievement in their catalogue. The interaction between Sammet and Kiske is magical and is always the high point of an AVANTASIA record.
The tender moments of “Sleepwalking” and “What’s Left of Me” are breathtaking. The latter shows Eric Martin showcasing his incredible vocal range and a beautiful power ballad is born. Another magnificent chorus rings out and the two vocalists out duel each other in a beautiful arrangement. “Sleepwalking” showcases unknown female vocalist Cloudy Yang stealing the spotlight as we are treated to a compassionate vocal performance that could very well be on modern radio.
Legendary singer Ronnie Atkins throaty growl is the perfect foil for Sammet’s crystal clear voice on the first single “Invoke the Machine”. One of the best singers over the last 30 years, Atkins makes the most of his appearance and has one of the best performances on the record. Another quick paced track that features some jaw dropping guitar work from Oliver Hartmann and Sascha Paeth punctuates one of AVANTASIA’s stronger tracks.
Even though this is a marked improvement over the last AVANTASIA release, at times the record is still bloated and a lot to absorb. It took me about five intent listens to really capture the magic of the record. It is not a record to listen to while doing other things. It demands your attention. The more concentration you give the record the more you receive out of it.
Another incredibly strong release in the catalogue of AVANTASIA, "The Mystery of Time" shows the band at its best. I believe that their output has been far superior to EDGUY’s recent releases that I would love to see Sammet concentrate full time on this band. He has already said that he is composing "The Mystery of Time Part II" and I anxiously await its release.
1. Spectres 2. The Watchmaker's 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
Tobias Sammet – Lead Vocals / Bass Sascha Paeth – Guitars / Production Miro – Keyboards Russell Gilbrook - Drums
Guitars Bruce Kulick (on tracks 3, 6, 10) Oliver Hartmann (on tracks 4, 7, 9) Arjen Anthony Lucassen (on track 2)
Vocalists Joe Lynn Turner (ex-Rainbow, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen) (on tracks 1, 2, 6, 10) Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween, Place Vendome, Unisonic) (on tracks 4, 6, 9) Biff Byford (Saxon) (on tracks 3, 6, 10) Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids) (on track 7) Eric Martin (Mr. Big) (on track 8) Bob Catley (Magnum) (on track 10) Cloudy Yang (on track 5)