Avantasia – Ghostlights Review
Label: Nuclear Blast
Genre: Rock Opera/Power Metal
Release Date: January 29th, 2016
Tobias Sammett is a good guy. He likes to fulfill his vision of combining firepower from several excellent singers and musicians with concepts beyond human imagination, as they say. Avantasia is a super group composed of known duo power producer/mixers Sascha Paeth and Miro who plays the strings and keys respectively and the guys from Edguy, the man himself and Felix Bohnke on drums. The old lineup was also a majestic force to be reckoned with but this epic-churning army is proud to present the ending chapter of a three-phase series, Ghostlights.
Starting off with a fine representation of what to expect from the album when it comes to the sound itself is Germany’s possible candidate for a European song contest, Mystery of a Blood Red Rose. A little under four minutes, it does wonders in preparing your ears for the real deal. Arguably the sturdiest rope inside the sack, Let The Storm Descend Upon You will keep you accompanied through an excellent, wild mid-tempo ride with three other singers, Jorn Lande, Ronnie Atkins and Robert Mason from groups such as Masterplan, Pretty Maids and Warrant. The main riff is so easy to abuse as it catches your ears and lands to a fistful chorus entrance. Oliver Hartmann, who previously sang from the previous albums, strikes a complementing lead before the song ends with one more cheer with the theme. To set everyone’s expectations, no one can’t just avoid singing along with these graceful compositions moving forward.
The Haunting is supposed to invigorate you with a dark essence, but famous Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider shows you that it’s possible to fluidly assess a situation with minor arrangements and flow straight to a wonderful blending of consonants. Seduction of Decay is a heavy hitter enveloped with an egyptian-hungarian theme with distortion sealed by yours truly, Geoff Tate of Queensryche. As it mellows down with a soft bass conclusion, Ghostlights instantly injects you with the Avantasia’s usual adrenaline-pumped musical machine. Lande offers his services once again and with this type of glorious rush, there’s no better way to top it off with no other than Sammet’s consistent voice partner, Michael Kiske from Helloween fame.
There’s a fine line between creating romantic songs and just sounding like you want to tear the souls of hopeless romantics. Herbie Langhans of Sinbreed does the latter very well in Draconian Love and it would be no surprise to see this one pulling off another lyric video. Master of the Pendulum borrows Nightwish’s Marco Hietala for a burst drive that discreetly introduces itself as a slow but menacing wild ride. If you’re looking for a bit of new-age exploration with tender synths and effects, Isle of Evermore soothes through everything with ease as Sharon Del Adel from Within Temptation lets you imagine gazing through the fields with sweet surround sounds. Prepare for instant submission to playful guitar work as Babylon Vampyres unleashes a lot of that. Robert Mason once again enters the adventure along with a former member of Kiss, Bruce Kilick for some intense string attacks from sunset to sunrise.
Lucifer grants itself a compassionate keyboard duo with Lande/Sammett and even with the record for the shortest song in the album, it doesn’t waste any time rocking out the flames from the night you play this song. Around this time, the audience might have captured a pattern with song structures as over half of the songs bear a separate introductory passage that leads to the real motif. Unchain The Light is one of them and the aroma instantly kicks in once the chorus ties you together with Kiske and Atkins sharing the stage. Even the smallest details like the fairy-ish piano keys go well with quick subsections and that seems to stem from the fact that everything was just wholeheartedly written and arranged by one man.
Sharing the same middle ground traits with its fellow tracks, A Restless Heart And Obsidian Skies’ long name does not relate to how short it takes for anyone to temperamentally lay on this song’s lap and still raise your horns for a tune that bears some resemblance to the classic Eye in the Sky. Magnum’s Bob Catley also gets some interaction with this. And to conclude the chapter, Wake Up To The Moon unites six talented vocalists into one basket to bid a fruitful goodbye down with the curtain.
Tobias has created a genuine collection of carefully-woven catchy passages and for the audience that encompasses the basic foundation of power metal fandom, Avantasia seems to have outdone themselves when it comes to composing vivid songs to a certain level that most other groups stopped reaching after a number of releases. The volume and mixing all pack together and does not suffer from any audio point. Ghostlights doesn’t really have any real weaknesses, aside from subjective opinions looking for something that will beat the very first release (Metal Opera 1). It’s easy to choose a favorite among the song selections here…or rather, it’s difficult in a sense that every song takes the cake. It wouldn’t hurt to mix them with your usual ballad/power playlists as well but there will be people who might give this a go and never listen back since some verse parts don’t jive together with that usual casual relative pitch. One can admit, Ghostlights may not be for the heavy drinker but it offers a warm embrace for connoisseurs and melody-seeking enthusiasts. Mr. Sammett did it again, ladies and gentlemen. Concept accomplished.
1. Mystery Of A Blood Red Rose
2. Let The Storm Descend Upon You
3. The Haunting
4. Seduction Of Decay
6. Draconian Love
7. Master Of The Pendulum
8. Isle Of Evermore
9. Babylon Vampyres
11. Unchain The Light
12. A Restless Heart And Obsidian Skies
13. Wake Up To The Moon
Total Playing Time: 01:14:41