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  AVANTASIA
'Ghostlights'
(Nuclear Blast)
Release Date: 29th January 2016


Joe Geesin

joe geesin


avantasia

The Europeans have done a lot with Power Metal and the Symphonic branch of the family tree has spread far and wide. And it's produced many a band, or in this case, a project. The brainchild of Edguy vocalist Tobias Sammet, with a group of core musicians and a number of "name" guests, this is the German band Avantasia's seventh album.

The project's name comes from a combination of the words Avalon and Fantasia, which gives a fair indication of the musical direction.

In keeping with the rock opera super group project of Avantasia's previous albums, the personnel includes Dee Snider, Geoff Tate, Jorn Lande, Michael Kiske and Bob Catley.

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Avantasia's first album, 2001's 'The Metal Opera' featured guitarist Henjo Richter (Gamma Ray), bassist Markus Grosskopf (Helloween) and drummer Alex Holzwarth (Rhapsody) alongside Sammet, and guests included guitarist Jens Ludwig and vocalists Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen.

The aesthetic and lyrical influences came from early fantasy literature such as Lord Of The Rings and the Red Sonja series, the story continuing in the following year's 'The Metal Opera pt II', which featured a similar array of guests.

The 'Lost In Space pt I & II' EPs both appeared in 2007, featuring Black Sabbath / Kiss drummer Eric Singer, and were part of the following year's Scarecrow concept album. Alongside the ever guesting Lande, Kiske and Bob Catley was an appearance by Alice Cooper. Star studded indeed.

'The Wicked Symphony' and 'Angel of Babylon' were released in parallel in 2010, which saw the sound get a little more progressive. 2013's 'The Mystery Of Time' was very well received and was real highlight, featuring Biff Byford, Bruce Kulick and Joe Lynn Turner alongside the core of Sammet, guitarist Sascha Paeth, keyboard player Miro and drummer Russell Gilbrook.

'Ghostlights', with a core of Sammet, Paeth, Michael Rodenberg (keyboards, orchestration) and Felix Bohnke (drums), and guest guitarists Oliver Hartman and Bruce Kulick, was recorded late in 2015 and kicks off in fine fashion with 'Mystery Of A Blood Red Rose' - melodic Power Metal with a solid background, a nod to the mid 80s hard rock.

Ed's note: "Tobias has swallowed the Meat Loaf/Jim Steinman songbook on this one and thinking he was in paradise, he belched it up all over one big, huge dashboard light. But Tobias told us: 'I wouldn't do that...'"

The second track, 'Let The Storm Descend Upon You', runs to over 12 minutes and it's where it's all happening. Big swirling keyboards interplay with the guitars, and some hard crunchy vocals from Jorn Lande and Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids). The changes in heaviness add a good dimension.

'The Haunting' is a more atmospheric track, which builds to a heavy and equally melodic number. Upfront alongside Semmet is Twisted Sister's Dee Snider, power and range adding to the feeling. 'Seduction Of Decay' is a chunkier number, and vocals come from (ex Queensryche) Geoff Tate.

The title track is more Melodic Power Metal than Symphonic, like a heavier Freedom Call, with lead vocals coming from Semmet, Lande and Michael Kiske. Piercing and driving, and a blistering guitar solo too.

'Draconian Love' is a gentler track before building, and 'Master Of The Pendulum' has a rocking bouncy rock feel in between the crunchy riffs.

Turn it down a notch (or three) with the Sharon Del Adel led 'Isle Of Evermore', as hypnotic as atmospheric. In contrast 'Babylon Vampyres' is an intricate guitar led track, shredding from the outset. 'Lucifer' is a quiet starter and builds well to a blistering finale.

A highlight for me is 'A Restless Heart And Obsidian Skies'; gentle and mid-paced before building, it is Bob Catley's vocals that stand out. This guy can hold power and melody, and more importantly your attention. I've always been a fan of Catley and Snider and their tracks here more than prove their worth.

A largely fantastic album, there's one or two weaker moments, but when it goes all out it is really wonderful listening. Look out for the 2CD edition with a bonus track and disc of live material.


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18.01.16







WACKEN WINTER NIGHTS IS HEAVY METAL WONDERLAND

wacken

Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.

wacken

Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.



Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.

wacken

MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.

wacken

Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.

WACKEN 2018 TRAVEL PACKAGE ENQUIRY

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