Avantasia
Ghostlights


4.5
superb

Review

by Kenneth E. Rathburn CONTRIBUTOR (103 Reviews)
February 2nd, 2016 | 93 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Let the storm descend upon you.

Remember when Kamelot released The Black Halo? More than a simple triumph, it set a new standard for subsequent power metal albums. Kamelot may have enjoyed success with prior releases, Karma and Epica, but it was The Black Halo that solidified them as a reckoning force in all of heavy metal. Similarly, Tobias Sammet (Edguy) has seen celebration follow his supergroup side-project, Avantasia. Built with thematic elements, grand storytelling and musical collaborations in-mind, Sammet's ultimate goal with Avantasia was to create an opera of sorts, hence the debut album, The Metal Opera. Subsequently, Avantasia have become synonymous with concept albums and, more specifically, those meant to be part of an overarching saga (The Metal Opera, The Wicked Trilogy). The latest entry, Ghostlights, follows 2013's The Mystery of Time, boasting a wide host of musicians, including Dee Snider, Geoff Tate, Jorn Lande, Ronnie Atkins and several more. What follows is an album sure to captivate listeners and set the precedent for heavy metal in 2016.

Sammet describes Ghostlights as a "journey in 12 chapters, 12 pictures, 12 dreams, and 12 reflections of reality...The task was to make each lyric work on its own, and yet together have them form some kind of a complete story." "Theatrical" immediately springs to mind, and Sammet achieves this effect without falling into the same trap that others have. Where we traditionally have interludes and plainly spoken words remind us that what we're hearing is, in fact, a story, Ghostlights' overall approach is more straightforward. The music stands its ground first and foremost, using every featured artist to not only lend each song its own identity, but reinforce the fact there are multiple characters in the underlying tale. Oftentimes concept albums depend on each song to carry the next, making individual listens of certain tracks far less fulfilling. Not a concern with Ghostlights. Much of what holds the entire album together audibly are brief, subtle calms at the beginning and end of each track. A small touch, but one that allows each song to either stand alone or work with the group.

Going through each individual artist and their performance would transform this review into an essay; a total of 18 are on display, 11 of them supplying vocals. Including Sammet, two to three vocalists appear on almost any given track. This may look like a crowded affair, but everyone works together like a collection of fruits blended together to create the ultimate smoothie. For instance, Dee Snider might be easy to pick out on "The Haunting," but even he avoids turning into a complete distraction. Instead of being used as a crutch, he's utilized the same way as everyone else: as a means to enhance the album's core sound. Ghostlights has more vigor than its recent predecessors, enough to make even detractors surrender their defenses and become enthralled. Alluring guitar leads, triumphant choruses, rousing back-up vocals and the occasional somber moments are all present in fine form. Variety is also in high supply, with "Mystery of a Blood Red Rose" being but a neutral precedent for the wondrous storm ahead. The title track and "Unchain the Light" are energetic while "Master of the Pendulum" evokes a heavier, more deliberate sense of high-octane riffage--it's practically ripped right out of Hellfire Club. "Isle of Evermore" is Ghostlights' calmest moment, featuring Within Temptation's Sharon Den Adel to complement the chilling ambience. Then there's "Let the Storm Descend Upon You," a powerful, progressive epic whose 12 minutes are bound to be repeated and eat hours away like they're seconds.

Avantasia won't be viewed the same way again. Where once was a supergroup of musicians sticking to symphonic power metal's confines, there's now a collection of talents being directed by someone who finally realizes what his project should do. The result is an album that leaves you eager to listen not just once, but several times on end. Ghostlights is Tobias Sammet demonstrating that he's not only found his voice, but a collective voice for many to contribute to. The man has always been a visionary, but his work never quite matched the vision. That is, until now.



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3.8
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
February 2nd 2016


840 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I'm glad I came across this album. Avantasia haven't really caught my interest because they always seemed to blend into the power/symphonic field too easily, but here they really stick out. Definitely helped to get the sour taste of the new DT album out of my mouth.

InFlamesWeThrash666
February 2nd 2016


6037 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Not a huge fan of symphonic/power metal metal but this album is pretty great to be honest. I might bump up my rating

Digging: Bjork - Homogenic

EvoHavok
February 2nd 2016


6436 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Aryeon" - Ayreon

"After Forever's Sharon Den Adel" - She's from Within Temptation

Album rocks; Sammet never disappoints.

Digging: Dir En Grey - TOUR16-17 -mode of DUM SPIRO SPERO-

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
February 2nd 2016


840 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Whoops lol. Thanks for pointing that out, EvoHavok.



I do tend to mix Within Temptation and After Forever up though, maybe if I actually listened to them it would help.

EvoHavok
February 2nd 2016


6436 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

No problem. You can find albums to enjoy from both bands.

Toondude10
February 2nd 2016


10760 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

reminiscent of 80s and 90s prog and heavy metal, very good album. Need to listen to their previous stuff now.



Not a fan of Draconian Love though, sounds more like an attempt at a Michael Jackson/Whitney Houston cover.

Piripichotes
February 2nd 2016


304 Comments


is this really THAT good? how would it stand against the Metal Opera pt 1?

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
February 2nd 2016


840 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

@Piri I'd say both are testaments to their time. The Metal Opera has that classical, folk-like feel that older power metal albums were known for. Ghostlights has more variety which, combined with the lyrics, makes it feel more dynamic to me. It's fun without feeling too silly for its own good (not that TMO was); it's a more interesting experience and doesn't feel too boxed in like most concept albums.

Toondude10
February 2nd 2016


10760 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

My one big issue on the review is that you reference The Black Halo too many times. Your first paragraph pretty much sets it up as a comparison piece between this and Kamelot. There's nothing particularly wrong in comparing the band to other artists, but you just have to be careful in what exactly you're trying to say. You're trying to sell us this album, not The Black Halo.



'Theatrical' immediately comes to mind, and the album achieves this effect without falling into the same trap that other albums have fallen into--including The Black Halo.



My point exactly, just getting rid of "including The Black Halo" helps the sentence helps drive your point more. You don't really need to reference Kamelot here.



Other than that the review's fine. I could nitpick a couple other things but I don't have the time atm.

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
February 2nd 2016


840 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I was wondering that, but I decided to go with it since I feel both albums accomplished similar feats. One of the first things that came to mind when I listened to "Let the Storm Descend Upon You" was how it evoked that same mass-repeat effect "Memento Mori" did to me, and the more I thought about it, the more I saw this as Avantasia's own Black Halo. So, I figured keeping that album in-mind would help to illustrate the sensation of hearing this album.



But I will admit that leaves less room to talk about this album itself, so I'll look into making a few tweaks.





zaruyache
February 2nd 2016


16374 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

I suppose I'll have to check it out if it stands out against other power metal. Woo

Poet
February 2nd 2016


6003 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I was going to review this but was too lazy to write anything. It's definitely Avantasia's best and is the best album in the genre in quite a while.

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
February 2nd 2016


840 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Made some changes. Cut out The Black Halo references after the first three sentences and reworded a couple things throughout. Hopefully it reads better.



@Poet: This is the first time I felt I could really get into one of their albums, I've been all over it today. I've noticed it's harder to write a good, detailed review for something that's really good. But words flow to me if I'm reviewing a stinker.

Emyay
February 2nd 2016


6269 Comments


tremendously bad band name

ZippaThaRippa
February 2nd 2016


9303 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You can just go and fuck off

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
February 2nd 2016


840 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Meow.

Emyay
February 2nd 2016


6269 Comments


i mean, i'm excited to check this out (hopefully its good), its just that the band name is objectively awful

RunOfTheMill
February 2nd 2016


2877 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

ohhhhh baby gotta check this one out

Nazzadan
February 2nd 2016


1207 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Pos'd as fuck, their best album IMO and I'm a big gay Metal Opera fanboy

ScuroFantasma
Contributing Reviewer
February 2nd 2016


9574 Comments


Great review man, I really want to hear this now. Still a couple weeks before its out here.

Digging: Escape from the ZOO - Killacopter



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