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Avantasia – The Scarecrow

Label: Nuclear Blast USA
Format: CD
Released: 2008
Reviewed By: Rich Catino

Avantasia is the metal opera side project of Edguy’s Tobias Sammat with “The Scarecorw” being part three.

The official Avantasia line-up now for “The Scarecrow” is Tobias on vocals joined by Sascha Paeth on rhythm and lead guitars, Eric Singer (Kiss) on drums, Miro Rodenberg (keyboards and orchestration), Henjo Richter from Gamma Ray doing additional lead guitars, and as always several guest performers.

The first part called “The Metal Opera” had a lot in common musically with Tobia’s day job Edguy. Not much variety in the compositions, well some, it was orchestrated, it was like Edguy meeting with Virgin Steele. Hey you gotta start somewhere.

“Part 2” which again featured Markus Grosskopf (Helloween) on bass and Alex Holzwarth from Rhapsody on drums with Henjo Richter on guitar among others had more variety and orchestrations. It was still very much grounded in the Euro Power Metal style and presented like an opera with the different voices borrowing many elements from Rhapsody, Stratovarius (Timo Tollki played some additional guitars), Virgin Steele (David DeFeis who did some singing) and Gamma Ray (Kai Hansen did some guitars) but clearly had stronger better more focused songs than heard on Part 1. I really liked Part 2 it comes highly recommended.

With “The Scarecrow”, Tobias has become more daring with composition and sound compared to the first two installments. This heard especially on the first single/video “Lost in Space”. There is no reason why this album won’t appeal to fans of classic Hard Rock, Heavy Metal and European Power Metal.

1) 'Twisted Mind' - Tobias Sammet (vocals), Roy Khan from Kamelot (vocals), Sascha Paeth (lead guitar).

Kicking the album off Tobias writes a heavy riff and complimenting drum beat for Roy and himself to switch verses and chorus. Tobias avoids the obvious up beat fast Euro Power Metal song for an ironically more Kamelot type arrangement. A great way to start things off.

2) 'The Scarecrow' - Tobias Sammet, Jorn Lande (vocals), Sascha Paeth (lead guitars).

I am so glad to hear Jorn Lande (solo artist, ex Masterplan, Millennium, Allen/Lande project), who I think is one of Hard Rock/Metal’s most promising voices, has finally made a contribution to this project. With a Middle eastern melody line and some subtle backing orchestrations, Tobias takes the helm and trades off with Jorn for the verses and chorus’ who adds his Coverdaleish (Whitesnake) charms. The epic on the album with dynamic plateau during this eleven minute landscape.

3) 'Shelter From The Rain' - Michael Kiske (ex Helloween) and Bob Catley (Magnum) doing vocals, Tobias Sammet (vocals), Henjo Richter and Kai Hansen from Gamma Ray (lead guitars).

Here is the first of two moments where the Euro Power Metal style is heard and this one is classic Helloween “Keeper of the Seven Keys” all the way. I mean look who is on the track, Kiske and Hansen were in Helloween and Henjo is in Gamma Ray. This is like every Euro metal fans wet dream especially when Kiske hits the chorus which is a duet with Tobias. Bob Catley also takes a verse.

4) 'Carry Me Over' - Tobias Sammet (vocals), Sascha Paeth (lead guitar).

One of two songs that are more contemporary and different for Tobias and the Avantasia project. More rhythmically based in arrangement, the guitars drop out for each verse and return for the chorus. Not one of my favorites I gotta say.

5) 'What Kind Of Love' - Amanda Somerville (Aina), Tobias Sammet on vocals.

This ballad has some soft orchestrals and what has become a very popular trend in Metal the male/female duet, here between Tobias and the Celine Dion like Amanda Somerville who is no stranger to metal operas singing previously for Aina.

6) 'Another Angel Down' - Jorn Lande, Tobias Sammet (vocals), Sascha Paeth, Henjo Richter (lead guitars).

A hard driving rocker with Jorn and Tobias trading verses and Henjo adding touch of flash for the solo section.

7) 'The Toy Master' – Alice Cooper lead vocals, Tobias Sammet (vocals), Sascha Paeth, Henjo Richter (lead guitars).

This may very well be my favorite track or at least one of. The dark riff’s tone, ominous intro and projection are very similar to what Alice was doing on his “Brutal Planet”, something I wish he would revisit. Alice takes the helm for the majority of the song with Tobias joining in for the last quarter. And for an extra kick in the ass there’s a change for second half of the song lead by a faster and harder Edguy type riff/lead guitar.

8) 'Devil In The Belfry' – Features some more lead vocal trade offs between Jorn Lande and Tobias Sammet

The music is in the Edguy spirit with speedy guitars, drums and chorus.

9) 'Cry Just A Little' - Tobias Sammet, Bob Catley (vocals), Sascha Paeth (lead guitars).

A tender acoustic ballad with Tobi and Bob delivering a strong duet and chorus with accompanying strings.

10) 'I Don't Believe In Your Love' - Oliver Hartmann (Aina), Tobias Sammet (vocals), Rudolph Schenker from Scorpions (lead guitar).

With Rudolf Schenker taking lead guitar this one starts with a classic hard rock riff as expected, a simple straight forward arrangement and chorus.

11) 'Lost In Space' - Tobias Sammet (vocals).

More rhythmically modern with a very radio friendly chorus. I dare say a song that could be heard on a WB show like Smallville??
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