Something different for a change as I’d like to write about my thoughts on the newest addition to the Avantasia releases: The Mystery of Time.
Avantasia is a side project of Edguy’s singer Tobias Sammet, who’s quite skilled when it comes to song-writing, in which he uses these skills and creates (captivating) stories and brings together many different musicians from many different bands to play and/or sing them.
I’ve talked about this project in my Wacken Reviews (just search my blog for those) and told you that I’ve been fortunate enough to see them perform on stage, twice.
But today I’d like to talk more about the „printed“ versions of the songs.
When I first heard about this project I was curious as I read that Sammet had wrote a Fantasy story and made it into a Metal Opera.
It took me a while to get my hands on the releases, but when I did I was captivated by the brilliance that are
The Metal Opera Pt. 1 & 2.
These two tell the story of the young cleric Gabriel that gets a closer look into the schemings of his brothers/superiors. They try to get their hands on a relic to close off peoples imagination forever.
When his sister is put under arrest for being a witch and he reads some documents he shouldn’t have read, everything changes. He himself is put under arrest and meets Vandroy the magician, who promises to help him in Anna’s rescue, if he in turn would bring back the artifact. So they flee together and Gabriels mind is sent into a world of Fantasy (Avantasia) where he faces many trials, while the elder stays behind guiding him.
This short summary doesn’t give enough credit to the story those two long-players depict.
And while in the first one Sammet explains the story in a lot of details, he didn’t do this in the second one – because fans were to lazy to read. I obviously do not belong to those and would have liked to have the story there as well.
But that can’t be helped and I am left with the little hope for a story-only release some day. I really liked the characterizations and thoughts he had put into the story. It’s a pity that only so little of it could be told.
As I said, these compilations were my first contact with Avantasia and when I found them the project was long since disbanded. Or so everyone thought.
Around 2007 Sammet decided to let Avantasia resurface.
The Wicked Trilogy
As Gabriels story had been told, he now went into a different direction – not only story-wise.
Again many musicians from the first two albums like Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen (the founding members of Helloween and by now in their own projects Unisonic and Gamma Ray) joined him again, but also new additions and special guests like Alice Cooper and Bob Catley (Magnum). All in all it is always an interesting ensemble with this project and to name everyone would take simply too long.
This new version told the story of a man trying to follow his dream to become a memorable musician and is not just told in the 2008 release „The Scarecrow„, but also in 2010s double-album „The Wicked Symphony“ and „Angel of Babylon„, giving the story the name „The Wicked Trilogy„.
While the first two albums were depicted as Metal Opera’s, these were as Rock Opera’s. Describing the new sound pretty well.
But as I am a fan of fantastical stories this one didn’t really capture me, though the music did. And that was worth it. Though it made them just like any other album, without this special something they had in the Metal Opera storyline. After all the project name has the word „Fantasia“ (Fantasy) in it, but there wasn’t that much Fantasy in this one, unfortunately.
The change in sound and storytelling was strange at first, but the songs proved captive again. What also changed, was that Sammet got more and more into the focus, well he is the mastermind behind all of it, but as these three albums also held a little autobiographical background, it felt to me as if the other participants became less and less important. Though probably only in the eyes of the audience. He hopefully still sees them as what they are: amazing musicians; and not gets this whole thing over his head.
Regardless, I anticipated each release and of course the tour they had started.
This after all let to two of the greatest concerts I’ve been at so far. But I already covered those in my Wacken-Reviews.
Having said that, I have reached the point I wanted to write about in the first place:
The Mystery of Time
Again Sammet had told the people Avantasia was finished.
Again he couldn’t stop writing for it – he even turned the music of his own band, Edguy, more Avantasia-like, which is a pity as they were capable of making their own great kind of music.
And thus he created a new story. This time he again tells a tale, though in a more scientific setting, as the main character Aaron Blackwell (who probably gets stuck in my head with the name Arthur o.O) argues with Science and Reason amongst others about the mysteries of time. I am personally not that much of a SciFi fan, but this story is also interesting in his „philosophical“ aspects. Where The Metal Opera dealt with the struggle of losing ones make-believe, the Wicked Trilogy with the prices that come with fame, this piece deals with the momentariness of time. What it means to use or not use a moment given to us in a situation. This again is an interesting concept and as it seems The Mystery of Time is only the first chapter of the story. I’m curious where this is headed, especially as the story itself is partly told through what seems to be diary entries (with a hard to read font) of the protagonist.
With the return to the storytelling also returned the great (cover) artwork that has been there with the Metal Operas. I kind of prefer those abstract creatures over the clearly outlined pictures they used for the Wicked Trilogy, though the Scarecrow, the (creepy) Angel and whatever it was for the third part, were done well too. Still, in the inside were only photos of Sammet, which again supports the focus theory from above…
Anyway, while there was a return to the original roots with the story and the artwork, Music-wise the long player describes itself as Rock Epic, which again fits it quite well as it is a mixture of rock tunes combined with the music of the Filmorchestra Babelsberg. I might haven’t mentioned this before, but I’m quite a fan of orchestras and orchestra elements in songs, so this was a really nice change. Surprisingly all songs are rather soothing and calm. For me it seems like an album with 10 ballads (well 11, but the last one’s an extra). Nothing really that much of an up-tempo track, at least not compared to what I listened to these past months. Where I could pin point the songs I liked right away with the other albums, I can’t with this one.
I don’t know if this is just me or the music. I have listened to it several times by now and I am only slowly getting used to the songs, but I still haven’t found any where I would say: Yes, that’s it.
I am somewhat looking for songs like „Memories„, „The Toy Master“ or „Death is Just a Feeling„, but none has a similar streak to them…Some even remind me of old or other songs…
Don’t get me wrong, the songs are great and all, but I haven’t found that special something I am looking for in a song, but maybe I will after listening some more to it. Some songs do have the potential for becoming my favourites. Simply because of the orchestra elements and the melodies. 😉
Nevertheless, the Mystery of Time is again a great piece of musical conception and storytelling. And another reason for Sammet and his people to tour again.
And as luck would have it they play a show in Berlin.
And guess who will be there to enjoy it. 😉
So, see you around
[Edit: If you are interested about how the concert was, look here
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Its nice to find a hard core find avantasia fan just like Me. I share most of your opinions. Specially for the mystery of time being 11 ballads, but as I kept hearing the songs and finding more about the story behind it… It just gets better everytime, songs like black orchid, savior in the clockwork, spectres, invoke the machine and whats left of me are becoming my favorites. I have seen them twice too and those are by far the greatest concerts I’ve been. I will see them in Berlin and Mexico for this tour and I cant wait anymore!
Thanks for your comment.
I totally agree with you on the songs becoming better and better the more you hear them. Especially the melodies are quite fascinating. Though I still can’t tell you which ones my favourite.
Only four days left until Berlin. I am so looking forward to that! 😀
Thanks for this review I was looking for someone that could have interpreted the Mystery of Time story as i trully feel Tobi is a great musician algo pick his friends and idols very well , his inteligence to creat a metal opera in the scenario was genious!
Thank you for the comment.
Though I did not really interpret the story itself…at least I can’t remember doing so…
Anyway, I agree with you on your point about Tobi. 🙂