Monday, July 21, 2008

Album Review : The Scarecrow - Tobias Sammet's Avantasia*****



For Fans Of - Power Metal, Edguy, Helloween, The Scorpions, Hammerfall, Dragonforce

Tobias Sammet is the singer and sometimes keyboard player with German power metal outfit Edguy, and in his spare time his ropes together a collection of his celebrity rock mates (Alice Cooper, Bob Catley, Rudolf Schenker, Eric Singer, Kai Hansen and Sharen den Adel have all appeared on Avantasia albums) and produces wildly over the top metal opera's. After the first two Avantasia albums (and two 5 track EP's), Sammet said he wasn't doing any more, it's good for us that he changed his mind because The Scarecrow is the best of the lot.

The Scarecrow kicks off with the six minute 'Twisted Mind' a big, Eygyptian sounding riff giving way to great melodies, nice clean vocals and scorching guitar solo's. Over on the continent people never lost their love for proper heavy metal, whilst we got seduced by the largely crap wave of American nu-metal, the Germans and Dutch and Scandanavians continued to produce loads of really good proper metal bands who wanted to write decent songs, sing properly and perform blistering amounts of fret wank.

This incarnation of Avantasia has all the speed and technical ability of Helloween / Gamma Ray, as well it should with Kai Hansen contributing guitars to the mix, drums are there to provide rhythym and direction, there isn't the need for all out blast beats here. The album isn't short on length either, most traks weigh in at over five minutes and the title track is an epic eleven minutes long, plenty of tunes for your pound then.

The stand out tracks here are the aforementioned 'Twisted Mind' with its meaty riffs, the lighter but nicely singable 'Carry Me Over' is probably the most radio friendly at just under four minutes and 'Cry Just A Little' would have had massed ranks of lighters held aloft before the smoking ban.

Sometimes these so called 'supergroup' projects fail to do anything good, there are plenty of project albums put out by groups of musicains that just make you think "Oh I wish they'd just put out an album with their real band", but Sammet had molded his assortment of singers and musicians into a great sounding outfit, on record at least. Avantasia have just finished a world festival tour taking a 15 strong band including Magnum's Bob Catley plus Amanda Somerville and Andre Matos.

Real power metal, played well, is an absolute joy, and this technical thrill ride is the very epitome of the art.

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