Thursday, May 2, 2013

Avantasia - The Mystery of Time

Avantasia is pretty much the greatest musical concept I have ever come across. Take one of the most brilliant singers and songwriters in power metal, and throw in a bunch of the subgenre’s best vocalists, and you get several albums that are masterpieces. On “The Mystery of Time”, Tobias has recruited quite a few singers outside the bounds of power metal, but as expected, all of them deliver a fantastic performance. The only disappointment in terms of guest singers is that nobody was able to step up and completely take over the record the way that Jorn Lande did on the previous three Avantasia albums. Michael Kiske makes a solid effort, with a fantastic performance on “Where Clock Hands Freeze” (and a couple other tracks), but Lande’s voice provided a better contrast to Sammet’s. Aside from this caveat, “The Mystery of Time” is one of the strongest records of the year.

The opening track, “Spectres”, is a classic Avantasia song. It really demonstrates the varying dynamics that this band excels at creating. In a moment’s time, it can smoothly transition from loud, heavy parts, into softer vocal driven moments. And of course, this leads into a grandiose, epic chorus. If you are familiar with the buildup to the chorus in “The Wicked Symphony”, you will definitely notice a similar technique being used in “Spectres”. Likewise, this transition is used in the adventurous pop-rock song, “Sleepwalking”.

It’s worth getting the talk of “Sleepwalking” out of the way. Much like “Lost In Space” or “What Kind of Love”, this is a song that is completely out of place on a metal record. It is a pop duet with Cloudy Yang (who gives a much better performance than she did on “Symphony of Life” from “Angel of Babylon”) that will definitely frustrate you the first time you hear it. For one thing, the song just begins with no break from the prior track. It’s an abrupt start, to an unexpected song. If it weren’t for Sammet’s decidedly metal vocals, this song could play on the radio and nobody would bat an eye. As mentioned, however, “Sleepwalking” does have one of the most satisfying choruses on “The Mystery of Time”, and after a few listens, it will likely grow on you.

Returning to the metal part of this album, there are 8 tracks that are all on par with the other two. The 10-minute “Savior In The Clockwork” has a speedy main riff, not unlike something that could have been on the first two Avantasia records. Despite being as long as it is, this track doesn’t feel like a journey at all; in fact, it fits in with the other 4-5 minute songs perfectly. The other long song, “The Great Mystery”, is much more epic. While much slower than “Savior In The Clockwork”, this last track truly feels like the culmination of over an hour of huge anthems. Other highlights include the plodding, yet catchy “Black Orchid”, the more upbeat “The Watchmaker’s Dream”, and the semi-ballad “What’s Left of Me”. You really can’t go wrong with any of these tracks. There isn’t too much experimentation on this record, so it seems unlikely that any Avantasia fans could dislike it, and it’s accessible enough that it should appeal pretty much everyone. As a complete fanatic of Avantasia, I could not have asked for anything better!

 Be sure to check out and like Avantasia on Facebook!

"Black Orchid"
"Savior In The Clockwork"
"Dwellar In A Dream"

Final Rating
4.75/5 or 95%. 

Written by Scott