AVANTASIA - Ghostlights
January 29, 2016, a year ago
Let’s get this out of the way: Ghostlights is the best Avantasia album since the Metal Operas first sent a ripple in the power metal world 15 (!) years ago. Listening to Tobias’ weekly radio show, you reach a better understanding of where the guy comes from. The dude loves ‘80s melodic hard rock, glam metal, AOR, Helloween (obviously), and…Meat Loaf. What we get with Ghostlights is a varied album that’s not different just for the sake it, and if any doubters thought Tobi no longer had the ability to put the “pow” in power metal, rest easy friends because he reminds why people hold the Metal Operas near and dear to their heart.
The title track, “Babylon Vampyres”, and the Marco Hietala-led scorcher “Master Of The Pendulum” put majestic past hymns like Edguy’s “Babylon”, “Return To The Tribe”, and “Golden Dawn” to shame with memorable guitar solos, choruses that will continuously drip out of your head, and the energy that will leave the listener’s mouth hanging out in amazement to the grandeur of these songs.
Tobi typifies his Meat Loaf fandom with the first single, “Mystery Of A Blood Red Rose”, with a piano driven, bellowing chorus that showcases Sammet’s versatility as a singer and songwriter. Sammet’s heroes in Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider and former Queensrÿche vocalist Geoff Tate take the lead on two songs. Snider is no stranger to theatrics and is on the gloomy, creepy “The Haunting”, which I could also see Alice Cooper (an Avantasia album) lending his voice to. While Tate has taken a lot of criticism in the past couple years, he shows his ability to put on a good vocal performance when he wants to with the slow burn of “Seduction Of Decay”.
Avantasia mainstays Michael Kiske, Jorn Lande, and Bob Catley all lend their voices as well with Kiske and Lande lending their prowess to the 12 minute epic “Let The Storm Descend Upon You” (also with Warrant’s Robert Mason and Pretty Maids’ Ronnie Atkins) with its unconventional structure and a chorus first appearing almost 4 minutes into the track and adding that extra element of power metal goodness to “Ghostlights” and “Unchain The Light”. Catley brings the grace and is like the wise old man who brings the proceedings to a close in the hopeful, gazing into the sunset closer “A Restless Heart And Obsidian Skies”. Within Temptation’s Sharon den Adel makes her return to the family in the ballad “Isle Of Evermore” and thankfully it is an acceptable, atmospheric tune that is miles ahead of the embarrassing “Sleepwalking” from the last album.
It’s amazing that Tobi has managed to craft an album that rivals his best work back when it all started at the turn of the millennium. Ghostlights is an extremely early contender for album of the year and it’s paramount that North American fans get out to the three shows scheduled for April.