CD REVIEW: AVANTASIA – Ghostlights

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Label: Nuclear Blast Records

Release Date: January 29, 2016

Rating: 10/10

Reviewed by: Robert Kitay

One of my most anticipated releases of 2016 absolutely does not disappoint.  Featuring an all-star cast of guest vocalists, great song writing, and a tasty assortment of song styles, this album not only met my expectations, but it exceeded it.  Who are the guest vocalists? Well, we have Dee Snider (Twisted Sister), Geoff Tate (Queensryche), Michael Kiske (Helloween, Unisonic), Jorn Lande (Masterplan, Jorn), Ronnie Adkins (Pretty Maids), Marco Hietala (Nightwish), Sharon Den Adel (Within Temptation), Robert Mason (Warrant), Herbie Langhans (Seventh Avenue, Sinbreed), and Bob Catley (Magnum).  Of course Avantasia and Edguy mastermind Tobias Sammet sings on each song.  This album deserves a song by song review, so lets get to it.

“Mystery of a Blood Red Rose” has very much a Meatloaf style to it, from Tobias Sammet’s singing style to the song structure.  Although I’m not really a Meatloaf fan, I still enjoy this song.  However, this is one of my least favorite songs on the CD.  The best is yet to come.  If the previous track is Meatloaf, “Let the Storm Descend Upon You” is your mashed potatoes.  This song is what I expect of an Avantasia song, and the style of song that is an Avantasia staple.  At 12 minutes long, it features great vocals by Jorn Lande, Ronnie Atkins, and Robert Mason.  Good song that further sets the stage for what’s to come.  “Seduction of Decay” features Geoff Tate, and honestly I can’t remember the last time I heard him sing this great.  Probably the best I’ve heard him sing since Operation Mindcrime.  The song overall has a Middle Eastern type sound and is quite original.  Tate and Tobias really sing great together here.  Another of my favorite songs on the album.  “Draconian Love” is a very unusual song.  Herbie Langans provides the guest vocals on this song and he sings unusually low.  Like “The Haunting” earlier on the album, this song is full of atmosphere.  Somehow, some of Langans’ deep vocals when he sings “Hey, hey, hey” remind me of vocals from The Human League.  Awesome guitar solo by Sascha Paeth.  Another one of my favorite tracks on the album.  “Isle of Evermore” features vocals by Sharon Den Adel of Within Temptation.  Sharon sings with a somewhat sultry voice on this along with Tobias.  A slow and moody balled.  Decent enough song, but not one of my favorite songs on the album.  With “Lucifer,” the first half of this song is a piano ballad before kicking it up in the second half.  Jorn’s voice really shines on this song.

“The Haunting” features vocals by Dee Snider. His vocals are great, although I wouldn’t immediately pick them out as Dee Snider.  The entire song is somewhat slow, creepy and full of atmosphere.  One of my favorite tracks on the album.  “Ghostlights” features vocals by Michael Kiske, singing really high, along with contributions by Jorn Lande and Tobias.  Great power metal styled song.  “Master of the Pendulum” features Marco Hietala from Nightwish, and this song has very much a Nightwish feel to it.  It has a somewhat fast tempo and wouldn’t have seemed out of place on, let’s say “Imaginaerum,” even without female vocals.  Yet another fantastic guitar solo by Sascha Paeth.  A great song!  “Babylon Vampyres” brings us back to the power metal, this song features Robert Mason of Warrant along with Tobias and is a nice little catchy tune.  Nice chorus, and sweet lead guitar licks traded by Bruce Kulick, Oliver Hartmann, and Sascha Paeth.  The guitar work is the star in this song.  “Unchain the Light” is another song that is just classic Avantasia.  Very melodic with multiple guests singers.  This song features Michael Kiske (once again singing really high), Ronnie Atkins and Tobias.  Fast moving and great chorus.  “A Restless Heart and Obsidian Skies” song starts somewhat slow and then kicks it up.  This song features Bob Catley of Magnum and is a nice close out to this great album.  Nice guitar solo by Bruce Kulick as well.  This album will certainly end up on my top ten of the year list.  I enjoy it more and more with each additional listen.  There is a lot of depth here, and with each additional listen I find new things that I missed on my previous listens.  Very highly recommended.

One final note, Avantasia just announced their very first US concert appearances ever.  Check them out at one of these shows because you never know if you’ll have another chance:

April 11 – House of Blues, Anaheim, California

April 13 – Queen Elizabeth Theater, Toronto, Canada

April 15 – Playstation Theater, New York, NY

Tracklisting: Mystery of a Blood Red Rose – Let the Storm Descend Upon You – The Haunting – Seduction of Decay – Ghostlights – Draconian Love – Master of the Pendulum – Isle of Evermore – Babylon Vampyres – Lucifer – Unchain the Light – A Restless Heart and Obsidian Skies

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CD REVIEW: AVANTASIA - Ghostlights

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