Review Summary: Quintessential, above average power metal.
This is the metal opera that has generally been lauded by power metal fans for being excellent in every way, and embodying the spirit of metal in general, and power metal in particular. I happened upon the songs a long time ago, and recently got around to buying the Metal Opera Part I&II Special Edition Digibook. For the first time ever, I put a CD in a disc tray and listened to an entire album, from start to finish.
So, what was my impression?
"This is amazing!"
Then I ripped the CD, saved my favorite songs for my MP3 player and took the album with me in my car to work so that I could listen to it again. It became quickly obvious, after the rush of adrenaline and amazement had diminished, that this album is mostly mediocre. If one could distill the essence of "power metal" into a single album, with no extraneous additions, gimmicks or imagination, he would probably create something not similar to Dragonforce's intense speed and three-minute guitar solos, or Blind Guardian's heavily layered epics; instead, he would probably write something similar to Avantasia's debut effort, The Metal Opera.
I will do a musical rundown, but I need not do one of each individual track, because most of the tracks are essentially the same:
First, the verse begins with the guitars playing a fast and energetic, but repetitive and simplistic dun dun dun dun dun dun, with a decent to rather catchy melody.
Follow that with a melodic pre-chorus with some drum runs, and then explode into a chorus that might be catchy (The Tower) or might be generic (Sign of the Cross, the Glory of Rome). Then comes a totally uninspired, bland guitar solo that might as well not exist, and finally it might have some amazingly melodic vocal refrain that attempts to erupt into a roaring chorus, except the chorus almost invariably does not have the energy to bring the song home.
Despite being critical with the album, I still like several songs, such as the eponymous Avantasia, the aforementioned epic conclusion, the Tower, the highly melodic Farewell, with its catchy chorus and choir work, and Reach out for the Light, which is a solid power metal song, if nothing more than that.
As one of the first (if not the first?) "Metal Operas," this album laid the groundwork for many more -- and many superior -- collaborative projects, and for that it deserves to be respected, and I am not disappointed in my purchase; however, if you are deep in the waters of power metal, having listened to common acts such as Blind Guardian and Dragonforce, in addition to more obscure acts like Wildpath and Solar Fragment, then this album will probably be little more than a quickly dismissed, simplistic debut effort with a couple of noteworthy gems.