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Review: Avantasia - The Wicked Symphony
The Wicked Symphony

Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Year released: 2010
Duration: 60:40
Tracks: 11
Genre: Power Metal

Rating: 4.25/5

Review online: September 15, 2010
Reviewed by: Adam Kohrman
Readers Rating
The Wicked Symphony

Rated 3.97/5 (79.43%) (35 Votes)

Here we are with the new Avantasia album, The Wicked Symphony, once again headed by the wacky mastermind Tobias Sammet. With a cast of accomplished metal and rock vocalists, he has set out on another very ambitious task. Fans were very polarized by Avantasia's previous album, The Scarecrow, as many people (myself included) thought that it ventured too far into pop/rock territory, with simple, forgettable, and radio-friendly songs. That influence isn't gone here. In fact, it's still here full force during songs like "Dying for an Angel." The difference is that there's passion in the presentation. Along with the fact that both the pop metal, mainstream songs and the longer, more epic metal songs are very catchy is the fact that these songs have a sense of dedication to them. Unlike the current state of Edguy, you can hear Tobias' heart in this project. This album isn't perfect, as there are some points that feel rushed and in need of more work. As a whole though, it's a vivacious and strong album from a project I and many others had left for dead.

Sammet can compose vocal melodies with such distinctive flair. It really is remarkable. He can make simple melodies with inane lyrics sound rivetingly dramatic --and of course-- infectiously catchy. I've been singing these songs nonstop for a while now, and I won't stop any time soon. The chorus on "Wastelands," Klaus Meine's impeccable performance on "Dying for an Angel," or Bob Catley's heartfelt moans on the opening to "Runaway Train" help to make The Wicked Symphony's vocal performances both ebullient and variegated. It sounds as if it's performed by an ensemble cast. When vocal melodies switch off between different vocalists, the album doesn't seem too far from a Broadway musical. While some will certainly decry such a trait as cheesy, I pity them. Once you can open up to something that at times ventures far from the traditional constraints of heavy metal, you will be much happier, enjoying fresh, new sounds.

When making such an accessible album, it's impossible to escape accusations of dumbing down the music. I'm not going to pretend such accusations are completely unwarranted here. Some points on The Wicked Symphony are initially catchy, but lose their impact after four or five listens. They're just too simple. While some solos on this album are progressive and enrapturing, others seem like they've been vomited into written tablature. About half the solos on this album are nothing but simple patterns of notes played quickly. They stick out like a sore thumb and greatly hurt the power of their respective songs. Thankfully though, when these solos end, they usually change right into one of the album's many grandiose choruses. While the transitions may be a bit choppy at such points, such problems become mere quibbles among vocal melodies of such energy.

After The Scarecrow, I'm tempted to call this a comeback album. I didn't think I'd ever hear something from metal's resident jokester genius with this level of creativity. Like many others, I thought he had relegated his songwriting to derivative, poppy power metal. I was wrong, and I'm so glad to be.

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