Avantasia - The Metal Opera (part I)
AFM Records
True Metal (Opera)
13 songs (59'10)
Release year: 2001
Tobias Sammet's site, AFM Records
Reviewed by Chris
Major event

Gosh... I wish there was something to do for this album for it is a lost cause and I don't think ...

Scared ya, did I ? yeeeeeah I didn't think so neither, you all looked at the quote first didn't you ? well, I can't blame you. So seriously, the Avantasia CD finally made its way to our home and I must say that this is simply the best way to start the year.

Asking ourselves if 2001 will be as good as 2000 metal wise, and that cool fellow Tobi answers to our prayers with the most bombastic metal opera ever released !!! Now my friends THIS is a metal opera, unlike Ayreon as far as I'm concerned (nice atmospherical double album, but please not an opera). The first class singers cast are part of story as characters, Tobias being the lead character (Gabriel) : he appears on each and everyone of the songs. So it's an opera where the characters don't get to have a full song for themselves, but instead they appear in different songs, sometimes on only one, sometimes on many of them (like Kiske who have a very important role and appears on many tracks). Amongst this dream team cast you'll find Kiske, Hansen, Rock, Defeis, Matos and a couple of others. Needless to say that you will be blown by the performance of these singers as well as our little Gabriel (Tobi's character) who impress me once more with his vocals. Tobias is slowly but surely increasing is range, from the common Edguy voice that reminds a lot Bernhard Weiss from Axxis (I wonder if it's one of Tobias' influences) to many other styles and voices... on the single he simply immitated David Defeis on a track that isn't (unfortunately) on the full album, don't ask me why since the songs rock like hell. Anyway I was saying that he could sing like M. Defeis, but not only a poor immitation, no my friends, he can simply sing like him (the raging Defeis, the angel like voice is somehow impossible to immitate, at least I haven't heard anyone do it) with the little difference that he could reach higher notes (congratulations Tobi, you never stop to impress me !). Too bad Tobias doesn't sing like David in that release at all.

So, vocally speaking the album is a diamond as it features some of the best voices around, I miss a couple of great singers and hope they could find their way in the future like Ralf Sheepers, Hansi Kursch and Bernhard Weiss, as they are amongst my fav. singers (with Tobias, Defeis and X-Japan' singer Toshi). Now musically, well, do you like Edguy ? Then there's a pretty chance you will love Avantasia. It's in the same veins since Tobias writes everything for both Avantasia and Edguy, but still, it's a bit different in a certain way. The guitar riffs are fiercly fast and very impressive. Guitars solos are pretty much like in Edguy, nice and melodic ones. But everything else rocks too : drums, bass & arrangements. Expect on some tracks where Ludwig is back on guitars, the rest of the music is also performed by guests like Henjo Richter, Alex Holzwarth, Markus Grosskopft to name only a few. I also have to say congratulations for the production, the sound will simply blow your minds far, far away ! One of the best crystal clear & powerful sound I've ever heard. The overall is a never heard before bombastic melodic epic metal opera ! Only the instrumental tracks are a bit "easy" and "soft" (far from what we can do with classical music) and they remind some background music from Playstations RPG games.

As for the songs themselves, they're epic to the bones, songs like Serpents In Paradise, Glory Of Rome or The Tower are setting new marks into the Epic genre (just like "Vain Glory Opera" and "Theater Of Salvation" songs in their own time). More pop-like songs like Avantasia or Breaking Away are also very cool. More in the vein of Edguy's songs you'll find Reach Out For The Light and Farewell. The only track that should have been avoided is the ballad Inside that feels like it's been done in one take and Tobias' voice feels "tired" on that song. But it's no big deal.

Amongst disappointments (yep there are some) is that sometimes it feels like some singers are not used to their full potential and that they sing like Tobias. This applies the most to Kiske which voice is almost lost and sometimes I can't even make the difference with Tobias. Andre Matos is recognizable but he almost don't use his incredible vocal range. Rob Rock will do some pretty cool stuff and take operatic voice in the most astonishing way, proving he's a hell of a singer (but that no one will deny :) ). Also excellent though not present enough is David Defeis, mixing both his raging and angelic voices. The poor Kai Hansen feels like it have been left behind, he sings a couple of moments then an there and at no point his excellent high pitch screams are used (remember Hammerfall's I Want Out cover). It's no big deal, but it maybe why the album isn't as good as what it could be. But let's face it, it must be very difficult to write something as huge as this and I'm already very impressed by the result.

A little parenthesis on the storyline, quite cool, lots of nice existing concepts merged together forming an original though simple story. The way it's written (by Tobias) in English is another questionable point. At some moments in the storyline it's very funny to read Tobi's jokes but somehow the fact that english isn't is native language makes the entire story heavy to read and many times I hesitated in stopping the reading. Only the storyline kept me motivated enough to read it but I already know I won't do it a second time :). I really think Tobias could have left the funny jokes as they are and asked some writter to rewrite it in a more book oriented fashion.

Details aside, this is only part one of the Metal Opera, which means that soon (please very soon :)) a second volume will complete this one. But don't count on a third one since Tobias has been very clear about Avantasia being a one time thing (well, two actually :)). Even so it contains more things to say and areas on which one can critic some decisions than "Vain Glory Opera", the overall is still mind blowing. An Epic release that we're not about to forget any day soon.

The best release I've heard since a fucking long time and I simply can't hit the stop button unless I'm exausted and it's time to sleep (even so actually)... the rest of the time it's Avantasia. When I eat: Avantasia, when I drive my car: Avantasia, in the shower: Avantasia... well you get the point, it's a very very addictive CD. True Metal master Tobias Sammet is a hell of a songwriter (but that I've said a long time ago already), probably the most original one in the so-called True Metal wave. He certainly is one of my Metal Gods ! If you must only buy one album these days, then let it be this one, cause it's a hell of a Epic Metal Masterpiece. In Tobias I trust !

Killing Songs :
Serpents In Paradise, Breaking Away, Glory Of Rome and The Tower !!! (What unbelievable songs my friends)
Chris quoted 97 / 100
Other albums by Avantasia that we have reviewed:
Avantasia - Ghostlights reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Avantasia - The Mystery of Time reviewed by Chris and quoted 88 / 100
Avantasia - Angel of Babylon reviewed by Kyle and quoted 82 / 100
Avantasia - The Wicked Symphony reviewed by Kyle and quoted 80 / 100
Avantasia - The Scarecrow reviewed by Chris and quoted 96 / 100
To see all 10 reviews click here
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