THE METAL OPERA Pt. II
Showcase Album for September 2002
1. The Seven Angels (14:15)
2. No Return (4:28)
3. The Looking Glass (4:48)
4. In Quest For (3:52)
5. The Final Sacrifice (5:00)
6. Neverland (4:57)
7. Anywhere (5:26)
8. Chalice of Agony (6:00)
9. Memory (5:39)
10. Into the Unknown (4:24)
AFM/Painful Lust 2002
|More Releases by
Avantasia - The Metal Opera Pt I (2001)
Edguy - Mandrake (2001)
Edguy - Theatre of Salvation (1999)
Edguy - Vain Glory Opera (1997)
(multi vocalist releases):
Beto Vasquez - Infinity (2002)
Missa Mercuria (2002)
Ayreon - The Final Experiment (1997)
Nikolo Kotzev's Nostradamus (2001)
|Tobias Sammet recieves nothing but
love from me. His unique voice with the slight German accent sets him apart from the rest,
for there is truly no one that captures the spirit of Tobi than well, Tobi. He manages to
smoke all other relative newcomers to the power metal genre to the point where they seem
like apparitions of themselves. He's that good. Range, talent, and a depth that just opens
with decadent richness makes every song he sings spring into life with lush vibrance. The
mudane is suddenly special just because he's singing it, and his songwriting skills are
equally impressive. His main band Edguy has been nothing but hitmakers since they
fluttered onto the scene and got it together backed by a bigger production budget with
their third disc, the smashing "Vain Glory Opera" and its even more exciting
followup "Theatre of Salvation".
The first Avantasia release was met with unabashed delight from power fans across the globe in early 2001 for the genre has dwindled on a fast track to stagnation since all the third rate Hammerfall knockoffs came out of the box and infested the scene like a pox on the genre. A mixture of top of the line vocalists showed up to help out with the theatrical opera-like atmosphere. The only blemish on the otherwise spotless piece of powered excellence was the fact the vocalists all tried to sound like Tobias (with the notable and obvious exception of David DeFeis and Sharon Den Adel). Later that year came a full length Edguy disc, "Mandrake", and despite raves (myself included) in retrospect it just didn't cut it as the same kind of delictable classic as Tobi's benchmark, "Theatre of Salvation". All roads lead to an artist's shining moment of glory thus everything Sammet's attempted since has circled back around to the inevitable "Salvation" comparision. "Mandrake" was just too simplistic and straightforward to not be crushed under the sizable weight of "Salvation" and many feared he had simply stretched himself too thin. One can only be so prolific before the inspiration fades out and begin affecting the written material.
"Avantasia: The Metal Opera Part II" may very well have enough fantastic elements to knock the former champion off its throne. Stuffed with complex arrangements, sweeping Savatage-ish pompous theatrics that thrill the soul to its metal core, glorious nods to vast medieval epics, and thunderously explosive examples of speed metal's finest...Tobias has compacted it all into one blazing album of terrible beauty and tragic wonder. Many will be blown away by its massive scope and careful attention to detail. From start to finish the disc is a treasure box, you never know what rare piece you will discover next that will dazzle your senses and stun your eardrums. Magnificence that stands unparalleled in the genre today.
What a mixed party we have here, its almost like the gathering of an AD&D campaign. Religious figures, the standard fantastic races and even a talking (err singing) tree. Kudos go to Tobi for the clever casting. Kai Hansen's gruff aggressive voice is perfectly suited to his character with his dwarfish nature and Andre Matos, flying solo and free from his ex-band Brazil's beloved Angra, carries the higher pitch tone and passive elegance of a tree hugging elf. David DeFeis is as commanding as always, standing apart from the crowd with his booming pipes and their not-so subtle inflections of power. Michael Kiske reprises his spot as the druid, this time recieving proper billing after the 'mysterious' appearance on The Metal Opera Pt. I last year. He doesn't make too many appearances outside his Christian solo works but still earns points for mass appeal simply for being such a huge part of Helloween in their 80s glory days. Luckily his voice is still intact as well. The other singers include Ralf Zdiarstek, Oliver Hartmann, the ever lovable Rob Rock who is probably still floating on cloud 9 after his successful solo outing a year or two back, the under utilized Within Temptation beauty, Sharon Den Adel who's light and feathery voice should have been showcased more often, and finally a genius new addition for the grand finale of this fairy tale opera, Bob Catley. Bob Cat plays the Tree of Knowledge and manages to sound both worldly, wizened and glowing with supressed power. The man is a vocal marvel and the distinct voice is truly a diamond amongst the gems of the all star cast. With such a glut of people packed into one ten song release, there's not much time for excessive showboating (other than Tobias, he's doesn't miss a song). Ten people, ten songs, you do the math. Seven people have been shoved into the opening epic alone. Which is not a bad thing at all, it only leaves one wishing that there were more singers teaming up to play off of each other. The fourteen minute opener does a decent job of this, but the others are basically Tobias, and whoever happens to be tacked on that particular track along with him. Which realistically, despite all the fanlike fawning and sparkle heart love heaped on the disc, is a problem in the land of Avantasia. With such a gaggle of great musicians and vocalists assembled, their talents are more often than not, sadly underused. A shame really, for having so many unique voices involved in one project could have been mindblowing. Sharon's role was whittled down to nothing more than a brief cameo, but Tobi is in every song. A little egotistical perhaps, but then again this is his project and being AFM's premier artist (and top seller), I'm sure the record company didn't quibble with him. It is his album, a vehicle to spread the gospel of the greatness of Tobi. He's the star, and this is not a problem because he's a delightful singer and personality, and hearing him outside of his main band Edguy is a treat indeed.
Then there's the problem with the story itself. Avantasia is your standard Dungeons and Dragons crossed with Tolkien's Middle Earth type fare with a dreamworking loop thrown in. Every element that makes a good generic fantasy story, from varied takes on the human race such as elves and dwarves to the damsel in distress.
"The Seven Angels"
While it may not be quite on the level of 'masterpiece', and a few minor problems marring what could have been a slice of pure perfection, Avantasia "The Metal Opera Pt II" still stands as the greatest power metal release of 2002 thus far. Maybe the best since the first Avantasia disc debuted in 2001. In a genre that is quickly stagnating and being smothered to a premature death by bands flooding the airwaves in continous pathetic attempts to halfheartedly duplicate the handful of bands that have unique styles, Tobias' project is a breath of fresh air with its mammoth scope, inspired atmospheres, and with its star studded cast - its a relative who's who of the genre. This disc is packed with everything one would want or dream of from a power release, Helloween-esque speed tracks, grand songs based around a melodic core, delicate dreamyhearted ballads, the superb epic opener, and a wonderful cast of musicians. The production is solid, the song writing perhaps a little typical at times but bursting with the melody of life, and the performances are all one could hope for. If power is your cup of tea and you are disillusioned by the state of rock, then this is tailor made for you...