Review Summary: The third part in The Scarecrow Saga proves to be its weakest.
Tobias Sammet has taken the cheesiest genre in popular music, tripled le fromage-factor, and yet, he still made it all work – and not just once. His ‘metal opera’-pioneering side project Avantastia
released The Metal Opera
and The Metal Opera Part II
early last decade, after which he called it a day. But as of a couple of years ago, Avantasia is back. Sammet’s second project inside his project is even more ambitious than his first: The Scarecrow Saga
is one serious trilogy. Together with numerous guest appearances from well-known names in the hard rock/metal scene (mostly vocalists), Sammet and crew have put together first part The Scarecrow
in 2008, and this year they’ve rounded out the storyline with the simultaneous release of The Wicked Symphony
and Angel of Babylon
, the respective second and third part in the trilogy.
Now, both of those first two efforts were great, though over-the-top power metal albums. The former had its share of inconsistencies, but the latter got the formula right nearly all the way. Huge credit must be given to the guest vocalists, who, on both albums, served their purpose well in increasing variety and preventing Sammet’s performance to become monotonous, thus making the records more interesting and viable. Closing part Angel of Babylon
, however, is the weakest album out of the trilogy, something first and foremost caused by the vocals. The variety of voices is not as large: Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween
) and Russell Allen (Symphony X
) also appeared on The Wicked Symphony
, but are much less notable here (Allen does a nice job on the closing track but only gets a few lines) which is a shame considering the unique voices they both carry; Jon Oliva (Savatage
), who has a much rougher voice than his fellow singers, is the only one really standing out with his performance on Death is Just a Feeling
. Jørn Lande (Masterplan
), who has been the most prominent guest vocalist on both previous releases, but even more so here, fails to really make a dent, simply because his voice doesn’t boast the same recognisability as most of the other guests. Like on The Scarecrow
, there is also a minor female vocal appearance. Unlike the completely failed attempt that was What Kind of Love
on that album, however, Symphony of Life
is not a cringe-worthy ballad, and proves powerful enough to work.
With the absence of a vocal section as impressive as the ones of the previous two parts, it becomes clear what makes Avantasia’s formula really work. Without an impressive enough guest palette, Sammet’s project becomes too samey-sounding. Angel of Babylon
feels generic next to what we’ve already heard from this project. It’s not just the essential vocal section though; this third album rehashes too many old ideas, and doesn’t come up with anything close to the highlights of the first and second. In fact, by the time we’ve moved through the first, let’s say, three or four tracks, the damage has already been done. On all fronts, Angel of Babylon
just doesn’t feel as inspired compared to its counterparts, and by the time we get to ‘ooh, let’s make this a REALLLLLY EPIC closer’ Journey to Arcadia
, we just don’t care anymore. As the album progresses, it becomes more and more tiresome to listen to.
Sammet has simply gotten too caught up in his little brainchild. Whereas the concept is great, the guests are some of the best in the scene, and the execution is generally well-carried out, this is just a formula that the good man can’t seem to pull off thrice. Angel of Babylon
feels as if it’s the smaller, less important brother of The Scarecrow
and The Wicked Symphony
, and anyone would have to conclude that he had been better off just making this a two-parter.