Monday, November 30, 2009

Retrospective: Avantasia (Part 2)

Continuing from the last installment of the Avantasia Retrospective:

Lost In Space are another pair of releases in close succession by the band Avantasia. These two are not as closely-entwined as The Metal Opera was. They are collections of new songs to be released on the upcoming (at the time) album, The Scarecrow, cover songs, and some variations of songs previously released. Most of the covers are pretty good, with the ABBA and Freddie Mercury songs taking the limelight, but again as will most singles and EPs, you should wait for the full-length album to hear most of these songs. One peculiar detail is that both EPs contain the exact same title track - no variation on recording or length, the exact same song. This to me seems like a bit of a cop-out/spit in the face to anyone willing to purchase these two EPs. But seeing as I didn't, I can't really complain. If you're a mega-fan of Avantasia then go pick up these EPs, the variations in songs and the covers make it worth it. If you're not a Avantasia-head then just stick with acquiring the covers, and wait to get The Scarecrow.

  • The Scarecrow (2008)
As Avantasia's newest full-length release, The Scarecrow had big shoes to fill, unfortunately it did not rise to the occasion. It's not that it's bad - far from it - but it just seems like a totally different band from The Metal Opera days (which is what I stated in my last post). The band's sound has moved away from the symphonic-progressive power metal, towards a more radio-friendly hard rock. These elements are still in the music at places, the title track is a eleven-minute long work with several movements and styles within, but it just seems as an afterthought.
The Scarecrow is another concept album, this time telling the tale of a lonesome creature (one we can assume is on the cover) as he searches for his love and in discovering who he is and where he can live in peace. While The Metal Opera was all about being against organized religion (in true Nordic fashion), The Scarecrow is more of a comparison to the way people live their lives today, only looking for happiness and hope.
Again, The Scarecrow is not a bad album, I've listened to it a few times now and I have to say it is pretty good. But the progressive and symphonic elements that I have come to love are just not present in this release.
  • Ayreon vs. Avantasia: Elected EP (2008)
Not really an Avantasia album per se, but instead a slight musical collaboration between another progressive project band, Ayreon and the only continual member of Avantasia, Tobias Sammet. Elected is a four-song EP, mostly of alternate versions of Ayreon songs, but the title track ("Elected") is an Alice Cooper cover, featuring Sammet on vocals. The cover is really well done, but the rest of the EP is pretty dull, nothing really worth picking up. If you can find the "Elected" cover by itself, do so, but that is it. I'm probably going to work through Ayreon's discography here soon, so more on them later.

I look forward to the two new Avantasia albums that are set to release in 2010, The Wicked Symphony and Angel of Babylon, and I hope that with a double-album release (both in the same year) it will be another epic story, like The Metal Opera was. If you like epic story and music, and don't mind clean vocals and symphonic arrangements (alot of my friends have problems with both of those) the check out Avantasia, the truly epic project band.

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