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Review: Avantasia - The Metal Opera
The Metal Opera

Label: AFM Records
Year released: 2001
Duration: 59:03
Tracks: 13
Genre: Power Metal

Rating: 4/5

Review online: November 11, 2007
Reviewed by: Larry Griffin
Readers Rating
The Metal Opera

Rated 4.24/5 (84.8%) (25 Votes)

Being that the new Avantasia EPs are almost upon us, I decided to take the waiting period to go back and review Mr. Sammet's previous efforts with his rather ambitious, ornate little side project. This seemed to have been hyped right up to the heavens by Sammet himself, the label, and power metal fans in general, but I have to say it's really not as good as all that. Sammet is obviously proud of Avantasia, and it might get hailed as visionary and creative, but really it's just more of the same glorious, operatic power metal we had come to expect from his main band Edguy, being especially reminisicent of the Theater of Salvation era. The choruses are big and happy, the double bass drums are set to "overdrive," the keys churn out fluttery, infectious melody lines, and the solos are high-flying and majestic - just like Edguy was way back when. It's still a generic formula, but hell, power metal never needed to be original to be good; so if you happen to be a fan of this style of poppy, melodic, catchy power metal, then Avantasia will likely not disappoint. There is some sort of story here, but from a passing glance it seems pretty generic, so I won't bother to go into depth with it.

A controversial topic here is the fact that Sammet has basically taken a handful of esteemed power metal vocalists and tossed them into a gigantic melting pot along with his aforementioned generic-power-metal-done-right formula. We have easily recognizable names such as Kai Hansen, Timo Tolkki, Sharon del Adel, Andre Matos and Michael Kiske (listed as Ernie to avoid publicity), but Sammet still takes the lion's share of the verses and choruses, only allowing the others to come out of his shadow every now and then. Kiske gets a relatively large (in comparison to the others) platter of the vocal work here, and Hansen sings some of the verses on "Sign of the Cross," but overall the potential here wasn't reached; it just feels like a glorified Edguy album with a few extra vocalists, rather than a full-fledged "opera." Oh, and the production, too - it's very clear and crystalline, but where are the guitars? This could definitely use a thicker, more muscular guitar tone, as this thin, papery cardboard sound will not cut it at all. The drums are also too high in the mix, with the double bass clicking away for just about the entire hour you'll spend listening to this, and of course the vocals are right at the front of the mix, typical of Tobias.

Despite the numerous gripes, this still remains, as I said, a solid power metal album through and through. Not every song hits you right between the eyes, but there are no clinkers here and nothing you want to skip, save for those little interludes that pop up a few times throughout the album's duration. "Reach Out for the Light" blows open the gates, a speedy, rather generic power metal tune that's done so well that you barely notice, segueing into "Serpents in Paradise" which is another speedy and derivative power metal tune, except this time with a bombastic, explosive chorus that will knock you out of your seat, and a cool slower part towards the middle, plus some operatic chanting that spices things up. Other standouts here include the absolutely killer "Sign of the Cross," which might be the best song Sammet has written thus far for Avantasia, with a catchy medieval keyboard melody carrying it, as well as a great solo from Edguy guitarist Jens Ludwig, and the heartfelt little ballad "Inside," which lets loose a tidal wave of emotion that will weaken the knees of even the toughest metal warrior. To conclude, this might not be as fantastic as Sammet promised, but it is a good old album of happy-clappy Euro power metal that fans of that genre will eat up.

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