Avantasia – Ghostlights (Review)

AvantasiaThis is the seventh album from this German Symphonic Power Metal band.

At over 70 minutes in length, there’s a lot of music on this release. Also, featuring guests from such notable bands as Queensrÿche, Twisted Sister, Nightwish, Within Temptation, Unisonic, Edguy and many others, this lives up to the title of Rock Opera with very little effort.

For all the different guest singers, the album has a coherent feel to it, partly due to the cohesive songwriting and partly due to the brains behind the outfit’s voice, which is a near-constant of these tracks in some capacity or other.

The music is bombastic, dramatic, emphatic, symphonic and suitably epic in nature. Unless you just don’t like this kind of thing it’s extremely hard not to enjoy Ghostlights. Great musicianship, high production values, quality singing and well-written operatic Metal…it’s a feast for the ears and proudly espouses the most extravagant side of European Power Metal.

Combined with the effervescent guitars, the orchestral elements are ever-present and a big part of what makes Avantasia so epic. These tracks have such a flair for the theatrical that every song seems to tell a story in bright, colourful pictures, writ large against a suitably ostentatious backdrop. Although the album does have darker elements it’s largely a performance of colour and fantasy, providing the listener with ample opportunity for escapism via the very textured world that the players portray.

Returning back to the guitars; it’s important to remember that this is, ultimately, a Metal album. Thankfully the band remember this too and have included a fair amount of tasty riffs among the orchestration.

Ghostlights evokes various different emotions, as all good operas should, but ultimately I’m left with the feeling of being uplifted and happy. Such larger-than-life music should be celebrated and it’s only appropriate that its lasting impact is a positive one more than anything else.

70 minutes of pure escapist showmanship. Loved it.

Favourite Track: Seduction of Decay. Geoff Tate, (Queensrÿche), has always had one of my favourite voices, and on this track he shines. The music backs him up to the hilt and the entire song is glorious.

Unisonic – Light of Dawn (Review)

UnisonicUnisonic are from Germany and this is their second album. They play Power Metal.

Confident and mature Power Metal floods the speakers when you play this album. It’s the product of absolute veterans who know their genre and know their roles. Even more importantly, however, they also know how to write good songs.

This is the kind of Power Metal that’s distinctly European in flavour and is powered by upbeat drums and high vocals provided by Michael Kiske of Helloween/etc. fame, no less. Also featuring other past members of bands such as Helloween, Gamma Ray, Pink Cream 69 and Krokus; you can see the calibre of the people involved in this project.

The vocals, as would be expected, are typically professional and flawlessly delivered. The choruses soar. The musicianship, also as would be expected, is tight and proficient. The sound is professional and slick, and nothing is left to chance.

For the most part the songs are in the 5 minute mark, with each track feeling like an epic-in-miniature. These are rocking, catchy tunes with highly memorable sections and hooks aplenty. In their competent hands, even the dreaded “power ballads”, (BloodYou and I), are handled well.

This is an album of greater depth than some might credit it with; on first listen it’s obviously highly accomplished and very good, but the more you listen the more the melodies seep into your consciousness and the more you want to listen to it. It’s downright addictive! The vocals in particular are deceptive. Michael Kiske is known for his exceptional voice of course, and Light of Dawn is no different, but the impressive thing is that there’s no showboating or ostentation with his voice; his talent is born from simply being a great singer and having a voice that flows smoothly like the finest wine.

Light of Dawn is an exemplar of the European Power Metal style. There are no surprises here but if you’re a fan of European Power Metal then there’s a wealth of treasure contained in this album.

This is a band destined to do well.