Review Summary: Magnificence that’s driven home with a full bus of familiar faces.
It’s weird just what kind of reaction the power metal genre can get from the metal community. Usually, there’s a collective sense where most are truly nonplussed, but more often than not, new albums that are doing nothing more than recycling old ideas are often met with disdain managing to back the preconceptions that the genre as a whole has run its course. Fear not, like any genre there’s the occasional album that fills all these features but somehow manages to exceed the stereotype, building on the genre with a record that’s memorable, catchy and thoroughly enjoyable. For those familiar with this particular brand of music, chances you would have heard of Tobias Sammet. No? Of Edguy fame, yeah that’s the guy. Under the Avantasia moniker, Tobias and co. have now released six studio albums (even after stating the project would be shut down a few years back). The music is highly symphonic and mostly matches the structure of an opera, which adds an extra element to the music. The Mystery Of Time
is a definite contender for 2013’s power metal album of the year
What makes this album all the more impressive in design is the star studded line up. With Michael Kiske (Helloween, Unisonic), Biff Byford (Saxon), Arjen Anthony Lucassen (Ayreon, Stream of Passion), Eric Martin (Mr. Big), and Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow, Yngwie Malmsteen) just to name the inclusion of a few of the sounds on The Mystery Of Time
this album was set for greatness even before a single vocal cord is warmed up. With all these inclusions it’s fair to check just how cohesive the album is as a whole. Simply, it comes together well, without a single misstep or hiccup. The individuality of each guest member can be felt. Whether it’d Byford’s traditional metal edge or Turner’s vocal presence, each section adds to the record in the best possible way. The Mystery Of Time
, features a remarkable sixteen artists, contributing in various (and not always small) amounts. If Avantasia can be accredited to anything outside of Edguy, it’s the fact that he knows what he’s doing and how to do it without falling face first into mediocre power metal cheese.
At a reasonable sixty one minutes, The Mystery Of Time
doesn’t outstay its welcome, instead the record is over when the listener wants more. As a whole, The Mystery Of Time
is a vibrant, warm, busy listen but is accessible from start to finish kept interesting by Sammet’s music ingenuity and excellent song writing with the combination of high caliber guest artists. Avantasia is far from a dull boring listen, especially considering the ballads on the album showcase the band’s strongest song writing. Tracks like ‘The Great Mystery’ and the ten minute epic closer ‘The Great Mystery’ are sure to go down as modern rock opera greats, relying on soaring melodies and accompaniments to promote each section of the songs. ‘Black Orchid’ is also another quasi-ballad worth mentioning, combining a highly orchestral theme with balanced lyric sheets and catchy hooks, the track also utilizes a slightly rockier tone, courtesy of Bruce Kulick (ex-KISS).
Overall, The Mystery Of Time
is a sonically big album. Treading ground that’s all too familiar without sounding boring or repetitive, Avantasia’s 2013 effort is an album that achieves what a lot of power metal records simply can’t. With the added help of guest musicians this album boasts a steady display of talent from start to finish without ever regressing into dull passages or brooding, over emotive tracks. The Mystery Of Time
does have a distinct level of cheese to it, but largely it’s a good cheese that only helps make this record such an interesting listen. Despite the occasional predictability to come with tracks, it takes little away from the album as a whole. Fans of the band will know exactly where things are going, even with the guest roster changing things up. Thankfully, a strong writing process and an excellent presentation allow for The Mystery Of Time
to be one of the band’s best records. Tobias Sammet has put together renowned musicians and a genre that is largely considered stale, managing to revive the done before sound showing off talent, not only on an individual level but also as a collective. The Mystery Of Time
is the catchy, power metal album of 2013.