The greatest super group project is back with another album and a world tour. For me, this is the most anticipated album of 2016. Tobias Sammet decided to get back in the studio with his creation, Avantasia. Avantasia started out in 1999 as a metal opera concept album featuring a wide variety of singers and musicians. Sammet never had plans to tour but with the success and demand, the show eventually became a world-class tour.
Produced by Tobias Sammet and Sascha Paeth, with engineering and mixing by Paeth.
The main band consists of Tobias Sammet – lead vocals on all tracks with additional keyboards and bass. Sascha Paeth – rhythm and lead guitars on most tracks and bass with additional keyboards. Michael Rodenberg – orchestration, keyboards and mastering. Felix Bohnke – drums
The first single “Mystery Of A Blood Red Rose” starts this album off with a classic Avantasia sound to be a sure commercial hit. Sammet hits vocals on the softer side which makes this a perfect track to for a single on the radio. With this world tour coming to North America we all need to put some requests out to play some good new music.
“Let The Storm Descend Upon You” brings in three amazing vocalists to join Sammet. Jorn Lande, Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids, Nordic Union) and Robert Mason (ex-Lynch Mob) all sharing the microphone with Sammet. A great combination of styles, all adding to the flow of this over twelve-minute song. This also adds lead guitarist Oliver Hartmann to the mix. Overall, even though long, it does not lose the listener giving different aspects of music genres from a symphonic feel to a hard rock.
“The Haunting” is a track I was looking forward to once I discovered that the legendary vocalist Dee Snider (Twisted Sister) teamed up with Sammet. Snider is new to Avantasia but right from the start, you know this song was made for Snider. What a great job he has done. It starts off slow with the orchestra and keyboards, giving it a darker “Dracula movie” vibe. This would be a great opener at Sweden Rock Festival. With both bands playing, just a thought!
Another new vocalist to Avantasia sees Geoff Tate (Operation Mindcrime, ex-Queensryche) singing with Sammet in “Seduction Of Decay”. Sammet, with more great songwriting, writes to the style of his vocalist. This takes me back to Tate‘s early days as his vocals are spot on. The band playing a style that will sure be a hit to any Queensryche fan. A great mix between Tate and Sammet.
In the title track “Ghostlights”, Sammet shares the vocals with Lande and Michael Kiske (Kiske/Somerville, Unisonic, Place Vendome, Helloween, Revolution Renaissance and SupaRed). Lead guitar is Oliver Hartmann. More of power/speed metal song with the fast guitar and drumming. Kiske starts off the singing with his powerful high range voice and a song written for his style. As a fan of anything Kiske does, this is right up there with other fast paced Avantasia songs.
“Draconian Love” has a singer new to me – Herbie Langhans, who shares vocals with Sammet. Langhans has this incredible vocal style reminiscent of David Bowie. A great lower toned song with Sammet complimenting the deeper smooth vocals of Langhans. Hard to pick a favourite song from this album but this will be a memorable track.
“Master Of The Pendulum” brings in the legendary vocalist from Nightwish, Marco Hietala. Once again Sammet writes a song for his singers but still keeps it to the Avantasia feel. As a fan of Nightwish, when I hear Hietala start to sing I anticipated Floor Jansen to join in. Maybe next album Jansen can join the Avantasia alumni. This song will not disappoint and once Nightwish fans find out about this they will want a copy.
“Isle Of Evermore” slows things down with Sammet sharing vocals with Sharon Den Adel (Within Temptation). As a fan of her music, her voice is beautiful in this song. Sammet shows his softer more serious side making this a remarkable ballad with orchestration done perfectly.
“Babylon Vampyres” speeds things up putting Robert Mason back on vocals with lead guitarist Bruce Kulick (Grand Funk Railroad, ex-Kiss) and Hartmann joining Kulick. This song fits in perfectly with past albums The Wicked Symphony and Angel Of Babylon.
“Unchain The Light” brings back to the microphone Atkins, Kiske and, of course, Sammet. Hartmann is on lead guitar once again. A great trio of vocalists brings this song to life with lots of energy.
“A Restless Heart and Obsidian Skies” puts Bob Catley (Magnum) on vocals which he has done a handful of memorable songs over the years for Avantasia. Kulick is back on lead guitar. As a fan of Magnum since around 1984, it is always great to hear his vocals. With Sammet singing alongside, this makes a classic duo for Avantasia.
If you go out and buy the Digi-book edition, which I recommend, then you get the bonus track “Wake Up To The Moon” with the collaboration of 6 vocalists. Sammet, Kiske, Lande, Catley, Atkins and Mason bring this Ghostlights album to a close. A great finale with each singer making this song a piece of their own.
Overall another masterpiece from Avantasia. I would have to admit it took a few listens to really get the full effect, and once it sunk in I was hooked. To put all this talent on one album is not only a lot of hard work but to take this on the road may prove even more challenging due to all the artists involved. A dream for me will come true as they just announced they are not only coming to North America but nice and close to me in Toronto, Canada this April! Got my tickets — front row center, and I couldn’t ask for anything better, except the fact I will see them again in June at Sweden Rock Festival.
Shawn “Animalize” Irwin