News From The Front   

Do not read this article !

It is 4 pm on Monday 8th March 2010 and there is no crowd in the Cantada, small bar in the 11th quarter of Paris that regularly hosts pre-album listening of new albums from the metal scene.

After having said hello to Tobias, who seems as relaxed as ever as he prepares to take on interview after interview, we place ourselves in a dimly lit, stone walled room. Under the starring eyes of a skeleton, we enter a merciless battle of brothers in which we each attempt to ask the most inspired questions with the most clever references and funniest comments.

Even though we were unhappy about Nuclear Blast’s decision to offer us merely an hour of this double album, it is actually with relief that we leave the room at the end of the hour. This is because the new album is intense and quite hard to assimilate.

Without wasting another second, here are the songs we heard track by track:

Avantasia Tome 4 : The Wicked Symphony

1. The Wicked Symphony
After an intro strongly infulenced by the music of Hans Zimmer, Tobias is the first singer to be heard on this epic orchestral track which reminds us of “Empty Hollow Suite” on Rage’s new album. During The Scarecrow, Jon Lande appears in the second verse of the song. The man stays true to himself, and unsurpringly, sends chills all down us. The pair is then joined by fellow vocalists in unison on the most powerful and leading choruses.

First observation : the vocals are pretty damn good. Each singer, Jorn most of all offers a vocal performance that is demonstrable yet also ecstatic. The guitarists aren’t far behind either. On this album, Tobias chose to incorporate Oliver Hartman and Bruce Kulick (Kiss). No doubt, this is a way to ensure some epic duels. Guitarists who read this will not be disappointed: they will definitely get their money’s worth from this album. The first solo starts off with a tribal break and dancing vibe before ending with a very rock n roll riff, followed by a second solo just as full of sentiment.

The song named after the album title « The Wicked Symphony » isn’t called that for nothing. It happens to be the track that illustrates the album’s “firework” aspects to the utmost.

2. Wastelands
The happy metal intro which is typical of the Edguy style lets us predict fairly quickly that « Wastelands » is a typical speed melodic. It’s time for Kiske to make his entrance, followed by Sammet in the second verse. The track is very conventional and mediocre, however, the effective solo dual does help.

3. Scales Of Justice
This is the heaviest track on the album. The shouted intro, much like Iced Earth in spirit, leads the way. Yeah, we recognised you, Tim Owens! “Scales Of Justice” could easily have featured on an Iced Earth album because of its melodic and slightly angry chorus, composed by Schaffer’s gang.

4. Dying For An Angel (track available on streaming www.tobiassammet.com)

The hit song on this album is undoubtedly the best single Avantasia have created to this day. “Dying For An Angel” is a mid tempo made for radio song in the same style of “lost In Space” (single by Scarecrow) with its unstoppable chorus. The song’s alchemy is perfect, as it is a perfect mix of Scorpions and Edguy. Once again, the guitar solo is also terrific and manages to wrap it all together nicely. It’s the kind of track could listen to on repeat!

5. Blizzard Of A Broken Mirror
« Blizzard Of A Broken Mirror » is yet another mid tempo heavy metal track which is introduced in the traditional power chords first and descending into toms way. At times, the song reminds us of Stratovarius and this time it’s up to André Matos to deliver the Freedom Call type chorus.
After the second chorus, the atmosphere relaxes with another guitar interlude which also sounds like Hans Zimmer. After which the song transforms into a power ballad bringing us progressively back to the chorus.
This track is interesting because of the way it is constructed.

6. Runaway Train
With this track, very quickly, we start to see appearing a successor to « Cry Just A Little » according to the piano/violin intro. This soppy ballad is an obligatory feature for Tobias. Once again, Jorn Lande is in the centre of attention. As the guitar and drums burst their way through, we are reminded of “Land Of A Miracle” by Edguy. Once again, Jorn, just like Blackie Lawless or his idol David Coverdale would do, shows his amazing capacity to maximise any mediocre track. However, this illusion does not last and “Runaway Train”, which is far too long, remains a mediocre track. Unlike “Cry Just A Little” that, despite its small quality, manages to make you smile.

7. States Of Mother
After the riff that made « Scales of Justice » sounds like a heavy metal fire ship, it’s actually up to another speed melodic track with a surprisingly cheerful Russel Allen. Despite this slight sense of intrigue, the track uncovers nothing memorable.

Avantasia Tome 5 : Angel Of Babylon

8. Stargazers
A minimalist intro is utterly disrupted by an ice breaking Helloween-type speed metal with clear guitars and vocals.
The chorus is repetitive (with “Stargazers!” being sung over and over) and sounds a lot like “Lord Of The Wastelands” by Stratovarius (from the album Fourth Dimension, 1995). Including a mini bass solo and yet another guitar solo; which ends up being quite good actually.

9. Angel Of Babylon
Despite the fact that the keyboard in this track sounds a lot like “Hunting High And Low” by Stratovarius, it didn’t manage to grab our attention. This fact is then confirmed when we realise that the keyboard solo is in fact played by Jens Johannsson, keyboard player for… Strato. And it all falls into place.

10. Death Is Just A Feeling
The track that will make everyone smile for sure. With music coming straight from one of Tim Burton’s animation films, Jon Oliva takes on the caricature tone of a bad buy in a cartoon. It’s one of the most original tracks on the album and it also has a great chorus.

11. Rat Race
« 1, 2, 3, 4 » and it’s time for « Rat Race » ; typical Edguy song with an effective chorus, and once again, a charismatically radiant Lande.

12. Journey To Arkadia
This double album ends a bit like a second volume novel, meaning with a pompous chorus where all of the characters come together for the musicale type finale. Your dearest servant has to admit that this is a bit lame and exaggerated, yet it is the kind of thing you would expect for the closing moments.

To summarize :

Overall, The Wicked Symphony/Angel Of Babylon goes from being excellent to mediocre. Unfortunately, despite Tobias’ enthusiasm for certain tracks, this double album contains too many fill in the gaps songs. They are conventional and almost reflective. For this reason, it’s difficult to be annoyed at Tobias, who created a 10 times more powerful Avantasia, heightening each aspect of his project.

He insisted on this point a few minutes later in the interview, as he claimed that the idea was not to go back to basics to please the fans. Knowing the man’s will to always go forward rather than folding to what the more conventional of his fans want, we believe him. On the subject, here is our interview from 2009 : « Not evolving because of the fear of losing your fans is the most comercial behaviour you can adopt« .

The fact is that this double album is a perfect summary of the two greatest periods for Avantasia, with the hard rock/radio influenced sensibility from The Scarecrow mixed with the epic dimensions of Metal Opera Part 1 and 2. As for the solos, they are excellent and this is strengthened by their often too great recurrence. Too many solos can overdo it, even when they are played by Bruce Kulick. We had previously criticised Tobias for being too present on some of his albums, yet on this one he is more in the background, allowing Jorn Lande to become Sammet’s alter ego. The alchemy between Avantasia’s sound and the guests of the album is perfect, a part from with the track “Scales Of Justice” which sounds way too much like Iced Earth. The best one has got to be the duo between Tobias and Klaus Meine.

Album comes out April 3rd. Here is the list of guests as a reminder:

* Klaus Meine (SCORPIONS)
* Eric Singer (KISS, ALICE COOPER)
* Michael Kiske (HELLOWEEN)
* Bob Catley (MAGNUM)
* Sascha Paeth
* Felix Bohnke (EDGUY)
* Alex Holzwarth (RHAPSODY, SIEGES EVEN)
* Russell Allen (SYMPHONY X)
* Cloudy Yang
* Oliver Hartmann (AT VANCE, HARTMANN)

A detailed interview of Tobias will be available very soon. Stay connected!

Laisser un commentaire

  • @JustaPerson

    I don’t think this kid read the article at all and just decided to rant like the moron he is, not realizing he is criticizing the writer for having the same viewpoints as him about the album. WHAT A MORON!


  • Metal'o Phil / RM dit :


    To tell you the truth I’m quite surprised by your comment. It feels like we’re not talking about the same article!

    Unlike what your accusing me of, my appreciation of The Wicked Symphony/Angel Of Babylon really is lukewarm. According to me there are a lot of fillers. Many of the songs have kind of bored me by their conventional sides. And by saying that I’m only repeating what I already wrote in the article.

    But for Christ sake, guys, you should really read before reacting straight away.


  • Amaury / RM dit :

    Your right.
    The price : 1 500 000$.

    I don’t understand your reaction cause this article just analyses the facts…there are good and bad things. Just like in any record.


  • JustaPerson dit :

    I Wonder just how much did tobias pay you for this review as its utter and absolute bullshit.

    The proof of you being paid to write this article is right there, with you hyping up every song in the album(s), including the incredibly mediocre « Have A Nice » day song « Dying for An Angel ».

    Its quite sad that Tobias has to resort to such marketting strategies as his fans are leaving him one after another because of his new sell out direction.


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