A Symphonic Rock album that has enough diversity to have something for every Metal lover.
Tobias Sammet's ambitious Rock Opera enterprise continues to go from strength to strength and once again he's brought in an excellent cast of heavyweights to help out. Sammet succeeds where others who use multiple singers fail because here there's a narrative where each singer is a character, playing their part in the story. This means there's cohesion despite the disparate voices; the end result is a varied and inventive release.
It goes where previous Avantasia records have gone before but there are new musicians as well as those who've shaped the Avantasia sound previously. Old stalwarts like Jorn Lande, Bob Catley, Ronnie Atkins and Michael Kiske are back because they complement Sammet's vision perfectly; their voices conveying the requisite emotion and gravitas. The characterful Dee Snider joins the ranks this time as well as Marco Hietala, Robert Mason and Geoff Tate.
Across twelve tracks, the album tells a complicated story of a spiritual awakening of a life lived in the modern, materialistic world through a story of corrupt scientists who, under the pretence of building bridges to bring people together, are actually manipulating the world to their own ends. Sammet uses every trick in his musical arsenal to keep the whole enterprise engaging.
The twelve minutes of Symphonic Power Metal on the more typical, big and bombastic 'Let The Storm Descend Upon You' will appease existing fans, but it's the more surprising songs that are the real draw. Opener 'Mystery Of The Blood Red Rose' is the illegitimate child of Meat Loaf; when the Pop Rock hook unfurls, aided by female backing, you experience that same revving of engines and wind in your hair escapism that the 'Bat Out Of Hell' records provide.
There are a couple of other very melodic moments in the fast-paced title track, the Melodic Metal of 'Babylon Vampyres' and the one-two knockout punch of the uber catchy 'Unchain the Light' and 'A Restless Heart And Obsidian Skies'; the latter sung by Catley whose voice has the necessary authority, backed by a whole chorus line of voices, to carry this triumphant curtain closer.
There's heavier Metal in the creeping riff of 'The Haunting' and Prog Metal on 'Seduction Of Decay'. Then there's the distinctly Gothic Pop Metal of 'Draconian Love' (think Sisters Of Mercy) and the fragile beauty of 'Isle Of Evermore' that has a very different sound to the rest thanks to the dreamy vocals of Sharon Den Adel.
The result is a Symphonic Rock album that has enough diversity to have something for every Metal lover but also has a depth that takes multiple listens to fully appreciate. Sammet's restless creativity is well realised on 'Ghostlights'; another strong addition to his growing catalogue.