Review by shadowdoom9 (Andi) for Avantasia - The Metal Opera (2001)
From 1998 to 2000, Edguy vocalist Tobias Sammet was dreaming of starting his own metal opera project, and he knew that was the right time to fulfill his vision, with an explosion of new amazing bands and the rise of metal veterans from the late 80s. It was his greatest opportunity to collaborate with many different music from new and old bands from the power metal scene. He and his recruits have united for the massive project that is...Avantasia!
The band members are each from one of the power metal bands I've reviewed in my Ultimate Metal Family Tree band challenge; Tobias Sammet (Edguy), Henjo Richter (Gamma Ray), and Markus Grosskopf (Helloween), plus Rhapsody of Fire drummer Alex Holzwarth. Amazing stellar musicians, though the guest singers are awesome too.
The Metal Opera begins with a symphonic "Prelude", which is a nice promising start. The symphonic parts continue on through the fast-paced "Reach Out for the Light". Tobias Sammet (Gabriel Laymann) sings with former Helloween vocalist Michael Kiske (credited as "Ernie") (Lugaid Vandroiy). Amazing vocal range there! Then the harsh growls of Virgin Steele vocalist David DeFeis (Friar Jakob) are displayed in "Serpents in Paradise". NO, I don't mean death growls, I mean a bit like ZP Theart (DragonForce) having a cold that makes his voice as gravelly as Tom Waits. Another interlude "Malleus Maleficarum" accents the operatic drama with narrations by Ralf Zdiarstek (Bailiff Falk von Kronberg) over a symphonic retake of a certain section from Edguy's mighty epic "The Kingdom".
Then we head to the empowering powerful "Breaking Away", once again featuring Kiske (I'm not gonna call him "Ernie", OK?). The amazing range of Kiske once again powers up the ballad "Farewell", especially during the final chorus. I guess that song is slightly better than Gamma Ray's "Farewell". There's also a verse sung Within Temptation's Sharon den Adel (Anna Held). "The Glory of Rome" has genuine vocal interplay between Ralf Zdiarstek and Rob Rock (Bishop Johann von Bicken) in the verses, while Sammet shines in only the chorus. The tune is a bit weak but the baritone-ish voice of At Vance vocalist Oliver Hartmann (Pope Clement VIII) helps make the song decent.
"In Nomine Patris" is another symphonic interlude, good but not as great as the previous two. The project's "theme", "Avantasia" leans dangerously close to the sh*tty radio-friendly poppy hard rock that would inspire Edguy to start moving to that sound for a couple albums. Fortunately, it doesn't come out that bad and works well as a great highlight. Then there's one more symphonic interlude, "A New Dimension", a bit more bombastic then all the other interludes, sounding a bit like Old School RuneScape soundtrack. "Inside" isn't so great, but it's notable for its piano work by Frank Tischer along with vocals by Angra's Andre Matos (RIP) (Elderane the Elf) and Gamma Ray vocalist Kai Hansen (Regrin the Dwarf). Both vocalists' amazing performances continue in the notable "Sign of the Cross". Edguy guitarist Jens Ludwig does a spectacular solo on that song and the towering closing epic "The Tower". Stratovarius' Timo Tolkki contributes spoken vocals as the speaking tower. A glorious ending...to Part I!
That's right, there a Metal Opera Part II!! The second part might be different but both parts have great content contributed by many musicians. A brilliant project thought of since the year Edguy's debut was released, 1997, The Metal Opera has done its part in saving metal from dying down and gave the genre and many bands more life!
Favorites: "Reach Out for the Light", "Breaking Away", "Farewell", "Avantasia", "Sign of the Cross", "The Tower"