Album Review: Avantasia – Ghostlights

avanThere are certain words that when combined create an excessively joyous feeling, one these combinations is “new Avantasia album” and today we get to type it. A couple of years ago Avantasia wrapped up The Mystery of Time tour, and Tobias Sammet, frontman and musical maniac, closed on a rather cryptic note. Would there be more Avantasia? Only time would tell. Time has now told, and sitting in front of us is a solid hour of power metal, singing prowess and so many riffs that you’ll need to start taking notes.

I think by now we all know Mystery of a Blood Red Rose, the opening song to the album. Largely due to it being the first song released and a potential German entry in the Eurovision Song Contest which means the Eurovision Song Contest has finally become interesting. It’s slightly the odd one out of the album, focussing on a more Meatloaf type sound and all performed by Sammet.

As if to counter the solo single type track, they pull one of the highlights of the album out next. Let the Storm Descend Upon You is a twelve minute long epic featuring Jorn Lande in all his glory, Ronnie Atkins and Robert Mason. It’s a hell of a “cast” for the album, the aforementioned singers are also joined by the likes of Geoff Tate, Dee Snider, Marco Hietala, Sharon den Adel and Herbie Langhans along with the old classics/favourites, Bob Catley and Michael Kiske.

It would take most of the site space to go into this album properly so I’ll look at a few choice moments. Ghostlights, the title track, is a throwback to the more full on power metal days of Avantasia. While Metal Opera 1 & 2, mainly 1, was majorly power metal, recent albums has seen proggier and hard rock elements slipping in nicely, creating an even bigger scope and sound.

Official video for Mystery of a Blood Red Rose

Draconian Love is probably the biggest departure from the Avantasia sound to date, and is one of the oddly catchy songs on the album. The deep voice of Langhans is a vast difference from the highs of Kiske and co. and is almost reminiscent of HIM.

My favourite song follows, Master of the Pendulum. Featuring Marco from Nightwish, it has one of the most “get stuck in your head” choruses of the album with the vocals going up and down like an excessively hilly rollercoaster. Writing this has it in my head again and I need to get it out.

Thankfully Lucifer is on hand to do that. This is another of the finest moments of the album. It feels like the end of a much longer song, yet at 3:48 is the length of a normal bands song. It’s arguably Jorn’s shining moment on the album.

A Restless Heart and Obsidian Skies is another favourite, potentially because it has Bob Catley in full flow on it, or because it’s just a really good song.

One of the things you might notice about the album is that it’s a “grower.” When I listened to The Mystery of Time, Scarecrow etc for the first time, I was blown away. After my first listen to Ghostlights I thought it was pretty damn good, but didn’t get the full impact. However, after a couple of listens, when the choruses and melodies got into my head properly, I understood the full power of the album. I have a strong feeling this might end up one of my favourites from the band, but it’s clear this is one of Sammet’s crowning moments in his song writing career.

Five Catley

5/5!

Ghostlights is out now via Nuclear Blast

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