Artist:  Avantasia
   Title: The Wicked Symphony
   Label: Nuclear Blast

'The Wicked Symphony' is part II of the Scarecrow trilogy of albums from Avantasia, the band formed by Edguy frontman Tobias Sammet.  This again is one of the most anticipated rock albums of the year so far.  This vision of Sammet's has been praised since the first Avantasia opus 'The Metal Opera', and was carried on with 'Lost In Space' albums, but it was 'The Scarecrow' that really sent waves around the rock world with many within the industry hailing it as their album of the year.

'The Wicked Symphony' / Angel Of Babylon' albums carry on where 'The Scarecrow' left off, with many of the vocalists from that album returning for the next two chapters of the saga.

When you put together a line up that includes Eric Singer, Alex Holzwarth, Felix Bohnke, Jens Johansson, as well as vocalists Michael Kiske, Bob Catley, Jorn Lande, Tim 'Ripper' Owens, Klaus Meine, Russell Allen, Andre Matos and Jon Oliva, you have to sit up and take notice.  This line-up is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the name Avantasia, with the albums like 'The Rock Opera' and 'The Scarecrow' both cementing the name of Tobias Sammet in the anoles of rock history and with this new double CD, 'The Wicked Symphony' / 'Angel Of Babylon', he has gone that one step further.

The first album 'The Wicked Symphony' opens up in spectacular fashion with Jorn Lande the first of the duettists with Sammet taking the mike for the title track 'The Wicked Symphony', an epic nine minute plus spectacle that sets the scene for the whole album.  Lande is in top form as usual, belting out the vocals like there is no tomorrow, with the towering drumming of Alex Holzwarth beating a path towards the soaring guitar work of Sascha Paeth.  I've heard some great album starters but this one is just titanic and worthy of the Avantasia moniker.

After the masterful opener you could easily think how do you follow that, but amazingly things just keep getting better as each track unfolds.  Another Sammet masterpiece is 'Wastelands', this time it's the turn of Michael Kiske to take up the mike again, a wonderful slice of symphonic metal, with the drum stool this time take up by KISS's Eric Singer, and this one also features one Oliver Hartmann on the six string.  The who's who of rock and metal continues with 'Scales Of Justice' as Tim "Ripper" Owens releases some great metal vocals, a wonderful full metal experience as only Owens can.

The more gentle rock is brought to the front with the first single off the album 'Dying For An Angel', one of my favourite tracks off the album, with the mighty Klaus Meine adding his own unique and inspiring vocals spin on the proceedings.

The pace is picked back up big style with 'Blizzard On A Broken Mirror', with Andre Matos punching out the tremendous vocals on this one, Felix Bohne Sammet's band mate from Edguy is the tub thumper on this one, again a towering anthem, this is one of those very rare alums that the phrase "All Killer, No Filler" fits the bill perfectly.

The album continues its impressive path with the excellent 'Runaway Train', with melodic rock legend Bob Catley and Lande joining Sammet on this 8.42 masterpiece, before another of my many favourites from the album, the simply stunning 'Crestfallen', again Lande is just fantastic and is without a doubt the star turn on not just 'The Wicked Symphony', but also 'Angels Of Babylon'.

The album just throws out monster track after monster track and one of the most intense pieces from both albums has to be 'Black Wings', this time it's Ralf Zdiarstek who joins Sammet on the vocal front, like Ripper Owen before him, Zdiarstek brings a touch of pure metal to the proceedings, a sometimes dark and moody track with some sublime guitar work courtesy of Paeth.

The heavy vibe is continued with the massive bass ridden 'States Of Matter' with the mighty Russell Allen adding o the vocal artillery on this metal masterpiece.  The final track 'The Edge' brings the whole album to simmering point as this gentle rock ballad, as again Sammet goes it alone vocally as the guitars of Bruce Kulick bring this simmer sensation to boiling point.  A great way to end the first of the two albums, just give yourself time to absorb what has gone before, then put on the second part 'Angel Of Babylon' and once again take the magic carpet ride that is Avantasia once more.. 

Tracklisting:

1. The Wicked Symphony
2. Wastelands
3. Scales Of Justice
4. Dying For An Angel
5. Blizzard On A Broken Mirror
6. Runaway Train
7. Crestfallen
8. Forever Is A Long Time
9. Black Wings
10. States Of Matter
11. The Edge
12. Twisted Minds (live at Wacken Open Air 2008) (Japanese Bonus Track)

                   

 

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