Tobias Sammet's Avantasia now returns with a new album, and the Edguy vocalist has once again assembled a most impressive and experienced list of contributors. The vocalists are Michael Kiske (Unisonic, ex-Helloween), Biff Byford (Saxon), Joe Lynn Turner (ex-Rainbow, ex-Deep Purple), Bob Catley (Magnum), Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids), Eric Martin (Mr. Big) and Cloudy Yang. Musicians include Bruce Kulick on guitar (ex. Kiss), drummer Russell Gilbrook of Uriah Heep and the very talented Arjen Anthony Lucassen also on guitar. Sascha Paeth is back on lead and rhythm guitars and the master producer aids in achieving the quality sound of this album. One of the highlights of this album is the inclusion of the German Film Orchestra Babelsberg as you really can't beat the real thing, and their entrancing performances work so effectively entwined with the material Tobias has created.
The conceptual release The Mystery Of Time is a fairy-tale about time, illustrator Rodney Matthews has done such a great job with that very cool and fitting artwork. As a complete package The Mystery Of Time has it all on offer and while of course Tobias is the star of this show and his vocals do sound striking as he plays the lead role of a young scientist called Aaron Blackwell. The remainder of the Avantasia team do their parts to assist in successfully creating a wonderful listening experience.
Enchanting music abounds on The Mystery Of Time which does not feature constantly heavy material more a mixture of metal and rock with bombastic touches and grand choruses. A fine vibrant opener is "Spectres" and Tobias is joined by Joe Lynn Turner and then again on "The Watchmakers' Dream" propelled briskly by Russell Gilbrook's animated drumming. Biff Byford gets his turn with the excellent mid pace metal of "Black Orchid" which features one of those epic Avantatsia choruses. "Reach Out For The Light" on Avantasia's debut remains one of my favourite Avantasia tracks and Michael Kiske's always wonderful vocals are a a big part of that fondness, Michael returns in this new tale and we are introduced to him on "Where Clock Hands Freeze" which is a lively similarly paced power metal tune.
The single "Sleepwalking" follows and it's one of those tracks that is easier to digest and gets better with each listen, "Savior In The Clockwork" is the first of two musically adventurous songs that run at substantial length the other being "The Great Mystery" which is where you find Bob Catley's vocals and more great orchestration. Power metal fans will eat up the potency of "Invoke The Machine" with Ronnie Atkins and "Dweller In A Dream" has more input from Michael Kiske. The distinctive vocals of Eric Martin feature on the ballad called "What's Left Of Me" another good song. The bonus tracks on the special versions are also enjoyable if you want to stretch the budget.
The constant quality of Avantasia's material continues to be upheld with The Mystery Of Time I can't wait to hear where Tobias takes us when the second chapter is released. Each Avantasia recording has its differences and that is compounded by the selection of vocalists of which there have been many. I find it hard to choose a favourite as every one is just so good, though I'm probably slightly partial to those first two.
2. The Watchmakers' Dream
3. Black Orchid
4. Where Clock Hands Freeze
6. Savior In The Clockwork
7. Invoke The Machine
8. What's Left Of Me
9. Dweller In A Dream
10. The Great Mystery
11. The Cross And You (Bonus Track)
12. Death Is Just A Feeling (Alt. Version) (Bonus Track)