First of all, how cool is that album cover? Second, is there anyone besides me who is finding the recent Edguy material solid but a little too whimsical and lighthearted? Well, thankfully Edguy frontman Tobias Sammet is continuing on with his symphonic metal opera Avantasia, the latest installment being The Scarecrow, a bombastic mix of metal, prog rock, movie soundtrack elements, and Broadway theater swagger. More serious and overblown than Edguy for sure, the music of Avantasia also has less relentless speed metal moments, opting for more of a symphonic, theatrical scope that brings elements of power/progressive metal, melodic prog, pop, and Celtic styles into play. As always, Sammet has brought together a host of guest stars here, including Magnum's Bob Catley, Jorn Lande, ex-Helloween belter Michael Kiske, Kamelot's Roy Khan, Alice Cooper, Oliver Hartman, Rudolph Schenker from The Scorpions, Gamma Ray's Kai Hansen, drummer Eric Singer from KISS, guitarist /producer Sascha Paeth, and Amanda Somerville. Expect traces of Queen, Helloween, Meat Loaf, Nightwish, and Trans Siberian Orchestra influences all over The Scarecrow, which is ultimately a star-studded and grandiose affair from start to finish.
While the story is pretty detailed and obviously has links to past Avantasia releases, it's the musical fireworks and work of the many guest vocalists that really stand out here. Power metal fans will love the scorching "Shelter From the Rain", which features some slamming drum work from Singer along with a wild guitar battle between Paeth and Hansen. In addition, it's great to hear Sammet alongside one of his biggest influences Kiske, who quite frankly sounds wonderful singing this type of material again. Sammet's passionate vocals on the power ballad "Carry Me Over" is spot on, and you can definitely hear some hit potential on this one. Somerville's gorgeous crooning on the lush and symphonic "What Kind Of Love" could easily appeal to the Celine Dion crowd, while the menacing Jorn Lande just slays on "Another Angel Down" as his commanding attack plays perfectly against the more melodic vocals of Sammet amidst tricky guitar & keyboard fueled arrangements.
What a trip it is hearing the legend Alice Cooper on the grueling metal piece "The Toy Master", one of the heaviest numbers here. It's too bad Cooper doesn't do more stuff like this, and he fits right in here on this deliciously Egyptian tinged metal rocker. Catley, Khan, and Sammet get all poignant on the tender ballad "Cry Just a Little", while the heavier symphonic rockers "Twisted Mind", "Devil In the Belfry", "I Don't Believe In Your Love" and the epic title track features Sammet alongside various combinations of Khan, Lande, and Catley, each piece sounding like an all-star power metal summit.
There's no reason that The Scarecrow can't appeal to a much wider audience that your typical power or symphonic metal fan. Complete with plenty of ballads, some proggy tracks, and loads of rockers, this grandiose and classy offering from Tobias Sammet and the rest of Avantasia is well worth your attention.
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