Avantasia – Ghostlights Running Time: 70:03
Release Date: 29-01-2016 Nuclear Blast
Album Review by Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King
Having not reviewed anything since before Christmas, I needed something I could get my teeth into, and boy did this album deliver that.
Avantasia are a German supergroup/rock opera project created by Edguy vocalist Tobias Sammet and “Ghostlights” is their seventh full length album. With contributions from a variety of vocalists and musicians over the years, the project’s history can be divided into three periods, each consisting of a various number of concept albums. “Ghostlights” belongs to the third, and more recent, period along with the preceding album “The Mystery of Time.”
With a name made up from the words ‘avalon’ and ‘fanstasia’, Avantasia describes a “world beyond human imagination” and this album certainly does invoke use of the imagination as it gently pulls you in and submerges you into a whole different world.
“Ghostlights” concludes the story started on “The Mystery of Time”, a story of a protagonist who uses a group of scientists willing to find a way to align everybody’s personality so they can understand each other and make the world a better place. Says Sammet, himself, of the concept “the whole concept of this album deals with questionable ideals you have in life. It depends on which philosophy you have in life. Such ideals can be very different from each other. And it’s about distraction to find cross-fires on the way to find out what you really want from life.”
Very deep and meaningful and this album certainly has the darkest atmosphere Sammet has ever created. With songs such as “Draconian Love” and “The Haunting” conjuring up very gothic images, I had in my mind this whole album being played in front of a Victorian backdrop. A sort of Dracula-esque scene, lots of smoke, and very eerie feel.
Of course, whether Sammet intended this album to have that feel, only he would know but I absolutely loved it. Featuring the guitar talents of Bruce Kulick and Oliver Hartmann, Sammet also enlisted a long list of vocal talent, ranging from Geoff Tate, formerly of Queensryche, to Dee Snider from Twisted Sister, to the haunting vocals of Sharon den Adel of Within Temptation fame, and Bob Catley from Magnum, with lots more besides (see below for the full list of contributing musicians)
Being a big fan of rock operas, and who wouldn’t be growing up with the likes of Savatage’s Gutter Ballet and King Diamond’s Abigail, I thought this album was great from the very first song I heard. At 1 hour and 10 minutes long, possibly considered too long by some, the twelve tracks each have a totally different feel to them, and with each one I listened to, my favourite track on the album changed. My only gripe with the length of the album is that I couldn’t listen to the whole of it on my journey to and from work!
I have read a few reviews saying how sh*t they thought this album was and I can understand why some people would think that. It could be considered very cheesy, and maybe a little overpowering, but, personally, I think that all adds to the charm of the album. I love strong choruses and powerful guitar solos and the power ballad for me is very underrated but I think this album deals with them extremely well. “The Isles of Evermore” could be seen as a bit wishy-washy but Sharon den Adel’s vocals were perfect for the song and I think it was a great addition to the album as a whole.
In my opinion, and let’s face it, this review is just my opinion, there is not a bad song on the album. Some albums have a few strong tracks while the rest is filled with mediocre songs that just pass the time into the next big track. This album does not do that. Each track, although belonging to a concept album, could stand up all by itself and still be seen as a story on its own.
I loved this album and nigh on two weeks in my car is testimony to that. Not once have I got bored with it or even considered changing it. If you love rock operas, go out and buy this album. If you don’t, still go out and buy this album, and maybe after a listen or two, you will.
Tobias Sammet…..you rock (opera) god, you!!
Mystery of a Blood Red Rose
Let the Storm Descend Upon You
Seduction of Decay
Master of the Pendulum
Isle of Evermore
Unchain the Light
A Restless Heart and Obsidian Skies
Tobias Sammet – vocals and bass
Sascha Paeth – Guitars
Miro – Keyboards & orchestration
Felix Bohnke – drums
Let the Storm Descend Upon You – Jørn Lande, Ronnie Atkins, Robert Mason
The Haunting – Dee Snider
Seduction of Decay – Geoff Tate
Ghostlights – Michael Kiske
Draconian Love – Herbie Langhans
Master of the Pendulum – Marco Hietala
Isle of Evermore – Sharon den Adel
Babylon Vampyres – Robert Mason
Lucifer – Jørn Lande
Unchain the Light – Ronnie Atkins, Michael Kiske
A Restless Heart and Obsidian Skies – Bob Catley
This review was originally written for MGV