Avantasia - 2008 The Scarecrow
ALBUM: The Scarecrow
LABEL: Nuclear Blast
SERIAL: NB 2065-2
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: Tobias Sammet - lead vocals & bass * Sascha Paeth - rhythm and lead guitars * Eric Singer - drums
Guests: Bob Catley, Alice Cooper, Oliver Hartmann, Roy Khan, Michael Kiske, Jorn Lande, Amanda Somerville - guest vocals * Kai Hansen, Henjo Richter, Rudolf Schenker - additional lead guitars * Michael 'Miro' Rodenberg - keyboards and orchestration
TRACK LISTING: 01 Twisted Mind * 02 The Scarecrow * 03 Shelter From The Rain * 04 Carry Me Over * 05 What Kind Of Love * 06 Another Angel Down * 07 The Toy Master * 08 Devil In The Belfry * 09 Cry Just A Little * 10 I Don't Believe In Your Love * 11 Lost In Space
BackgroundTobias Sammet's returns with the third Avantasia instalment. While the earlier two are both recommended listening, I feel 'The Scarecrow' stands in a field on its own in terms of successfully using multiple vocalists. Actually for the first time in many attempts at similar projects, the use of different vocalists results in enhancing this recording and the songs. While we have the inclusion of many well known contributors like Magnum's Bob Catley, Alice Cooper and now solo artist Michael Kiske (Place Vendome), special mention must go towards Sascha Paeth and 'Miro', who have always been unsung heroes, as they have both contributed to many great albums, I make special mention of the classic Kamelot epic 'The Fourth Legacy'. Obviously the talents of Tobias shine through but overall it provides a powerful documentary on some of the most talented musicians currently in melodic rock.
The SongsThe masterful 'Twisted Mind' opens which seems to be the offspring of Edguy's, 'Tears Of The Mandrake', Tobias has the pure sense to bring in the excellent Roy Khan of Kamelot, if they only could also bring in Sonata Arctica's Tony Kakko I would never ask for anything else, maybe just Wolverhampton Wanderers return to the Premership. Roy Khan really could manufacture an excellent AOR album, if ever he desired to investigate this area, he is one of the most powerful and versatile vocalists at the moment. This opening is an excellent tune, heavy in parts, but a melodic powerhouse.
Which puts you in the mood for the title track, 'The Scarecrow', this comes in over the ten minute mark, it is a mammoth track and not for the fainthearted. Traditonal instruments are used in the opening minutes which provide an excellent stimulus to get the blood flowing and sweat pouring from your melodic pores. Listen out for these refrains as they pop up during the song as frequently as the fall of England's wickets in a cricket match! The additional vocals from Jorn Lande are clear and concise and he matches his previous best in the shape of Masterplan song 'Back For My Life'. The use of horns straight out of a Cecil B DeMille film gives a theatrical nature to the CD. This album has not been thrashed out in some garage, Jorn spits out the lyrics with a venom attached to every syllable, faster than a speeding Enzo. A tremendous melodic title track with classic background chorus vocals.
'Shelter From The Rain' goes to show what Helloween could be sounding like now, if Michael Kiske had stayed the course. This is Germany and Britain in perfect unification, with the English gent Bob Catley providing excellent support, which has the effect of moving the song from Helloween to Magnum, then back again, moving like a BMW formula 1 car to the finishing line.
'Carry Me Over' is a top notch melodic AOR tune. Tobias rightly keeps this one to himself. It is simple, instant, catchy, and memorable, some current melodic releases just don't come close to what Tobias has managed to achieve here. This is the kick up the backside AOR needs every once in a while, a power metaller showing how it should be done.
'What Kind Of Love' opens with a Sir Cliff Richard introduction no less!, also the first time we hear the tones of Amanda Somerville (a very talented solo artist, vocal coach to Epica and After Forever, as well as providing vocals to Andre Matos, Mob Rules and Edguy) her performance and involvement really puts this CD in a major league and a change to the overall direction, hopefully to access the lucrative commerical market. One of Tobias' most accomplished performance he has become so much more than just a 'metal' performer. The orchestration is added by the exceptional 'Miro', while Michael Kiske absolutely nailing the last verse, his best yet.
'Another Angel Down' is very much an Edguy influenced tune with Jorn Lande appearing again. It is a hard driving melodic rock tune, which would not look out of place on a 'Project Gotham Racing Soundtrack'. Vocals are mixed so well that you don't hear the joins. Jorn has finally found a source in Tobias to propel him to a higher level, Jorn shows just what he is capable off. We see Jorn basking in the glory of teutonic songwriting.
'The Toy Master' begins with Eric Singer, (Kiss, Badlands) providing a crashing signal to bring in Alice Cooper, where we find Mr Furnier at his most menacing for some time.
'Devil In The Belfry' is probably the least memorable tune, a straight forward melodic power tune, it's not that it isn't good but it does melt into the background compared to all the other tracks, maybe I will discover more of its appeal and individualism, that is so abundant in the other tracks, after a further couple of months.
'Cry Just A Little' is a delightful ballad mixing passion with the artistry of Bob Catley, another purposeful performance, really Tobias could have a whole career in writing pop ballads to other well known artists, if he ever gets bored.
Two songs left, what other album in your collection has the best songs at the end. In my view the final couple make this my first 10 out of 10 rating.
'I Don't Believe In Your Love', I have already testified in my top 10 of 2008, being my song of the year. This is not a Valentine Days tune, it's the ultimate relationship break up song, together with Unruly Child's, 'Who Cries Now'. It has a crunching riff that slams you against a wall and follows up with a kick, while you are still struggling to recover from the initial onslaught. It has Oliver Hartman (former At Vance vocalist and respected solo artist) providing a classic performance, doing his best Ronnie James Dio impression. This song has enough passion and heart pounding moments for a quiet librarian to rip off her glasses and start shaking her long locks.
This is followed by the uplifting 'Lost In Space' which is a majestic pop tune. Tobias again shows that he can cover many music genres from pop to power metal, to stripped down ballads and enormous symphonies.
In SummaryI did consider reviewing the Edguy new opus, which is the day job for Tobias, however I went with this one as I have had more time to consume it's beauty and intricacies. It could have been so easy for Tobias to keep this all for himself, but he must had been in a very charitable mood and has relinquished his hold on these. I find the songs benefit from his generosity. All the musicians seemed to be thoroughly involved in this CD and it has reached monstrous limits of perfection. Gone are the days of Tobias Sammet being a Bruce Dickinson copyist, this guy is an ultimate composer while still at a relatively young age, I just hope he gets the true recognition he deserves.
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englandashes February 24 2009 2200 reads 5 comments Print