Avantasia - The Metal Opera
(9 reader votes, average 3.44 out of 5)
by Ben Perry
Avantasia - The Metal Opera review

Artist Name: Avantasia
Album Name: The Metal Opera
Release Date: November 13, 2000

Band on Record:

Tobias Sammet: Vocals (Gabriel Laymann)
Ernie (Michael Kiske): Vocals (Lugaid Vandroiy)
Kai Hansen: Vocals (Regrin, the dwarf)
David DeFeis: Vocals (Jakob, the Dominican Monk)
André Matos: Vocals (Elderane, the elf)
Oliver Hartmann: Vocals (Pope Clement VIII)
Sharon Den Adel: Vocals (Anna Held)
Rob Rock: Vocals (bailiff Falk von Kronberg)
Timo Tolkki: Vocals (voice in the tower)

Henjo Richter: Rhythm and lead guitars
Markus Grosskopf: Bass guitar
Alex Holzwarth: Drums
Frank Tischer: Piano on “Inside.”
Norman Meiritz: Acoustic Guitar on “Farewell.”
Tobias Sammet: Piano, Keyboards, and Orchestration.
Jens Ludwig: additional lead guitars on “Sign of the Cross” and “The Tower.”

Track 1: “Prelude”
Not much to this song, just an intro, but uses the orchestration to give a prelude to the Avantasia theme song later in the album. It’s not bad.
Song Rating: 8 out of 10

Track 2: “Reach Out for the Light”
The perfect way to kick off a metal opera, furious guitar riffing and soaring vocals from Tobias and a triumphant return to the metal genre by “Ernie” (read: Michael Kiske from earlier Helloween) to provide a fantastic duo vocal presentation. The guitar melody is also fantastic guitar melody and a blistering solo.
Song Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Track 3: “Serpents in Paradise”
Featuring one of my favorite vocalists due to his diversity in both high range and in lower registers, David DeFeis from Virgin Steele, his wavering voice is complete contrast to the higher pitched Sammet. However, both work together to make this one of my favorite tracks on the album, not to mention the fantastic guitar work that is played on here. Interesting drum sequences as well, a winner all around. :B
Song Rating: 10 out of 10

Track 4: “Malleus Maleficarum”
The track title is translated from the Latin as “The Hammer Against Witches” since this story in Avantasia deals with the burning of a witch (Anna) at the stake and the attempt to free her from imprisonment it makes sense that it would be used. Other interesting knowledge is that Friar Jakob from the album is based on Jacob Sprenger who co-penned the treatise. The song though, is probably my least favorite on the album. Everything on it seems to overlap and the vocals are completely unintelligible after the part spoken by Ralf Zdiarstek. Cool organ piece, though, creepy.
Song Rating: 4 out of 10

Track 5: “Breaking Away”
For some reason, Kiske’s vocals are not quite as good as they have been on the album. They’re not bad, by far, but a little lackluster it seems. Everything else is good though, strong fast guitar rhythm and a sweet solo, possibly one of the best on the album and even a piano number that works with everything else.
Song Rating: 9 out of 10

Track 6: “Farewell”
This is a slower tempo song to bring a nice relief to the barrage that has come from most of the other tunes. The intro brings a nice flute style into the music to break up the straight rock. The power picks back up for the choruses, though, and that brings the weakest part of the song with way too many vocals overlapping. I’ve heard a lot worse however, just never been a fan of the many voices together. A great female vocal on the track, Sharon Den Adel is her name from Within Temptation playing the part of Anna.
Song Rating: 9 out of 10

Track 7: “The Glory of Rome”
Very heavy song, the beginning kicks it right off and nothing lets up as the song progresses. Rob Rock adds his wonderful opera style vocals as Johann Adam von Bicken and although there are some choral lines in the song during the chorus they have the ability to get stuck in your head and play over and over. The keyboard section that plays behind the vocals and thundering guitar and drums reminds me a lot of the work Jon Lord from Deep Purple contributed with the first 5 or so Purple albums.
Song Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Track 8: “In Nomine Patris”
This is mostly an orchestral track, not much going on and barely over a minute so no rating needed.
Song Rating: N/A

Track 9: “Avantasia”
I love how this song starts out with the fading in, and then just rocking the socks off of you through the entire length of the music. Everything is catchy, even those choral choruses that Tobias likes to put in. Kiske’s vocals are back to being as great as they first were and everything else is spot-on with great musicianship.
Song Rating; 10 out of 10

Track 10: “A New Dimension”
This tune sounds a lot like the video game soundtracks I used to play back in the day. Its decent, but nothing to write home about.
Song Rating: 5 out of 10

Track 11: “Inside”
This is a piano driven track, musically, and all the vocals flow perfectly over the music. Each of the three vocalists sounds superb and they work perfectly with the music.
Song Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Track 12: “Sign of the Cross”
This song works the fast to slow tempo changed perfectly to fit the vocal style to those who are singing during the changes. Sammet and Hansen work great within the faster style, while Matos does his work within the slower portions greatly. There is a phenomenal solo on here as well to go with what was already a fantastic musical track.
Song Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Track 13: “The Tower”
This is an epic song to end this epic album of church corruption and misguidance. A few vocal parts, such as the beginning when everything overlaps and near the mid-point when the high notes are held for a long time are the only downsides to the song where every singer does a fantastic job in delivering their lines. The music is top notch as well and throws everything that was great on the other tunes and then adds even more epic parts.
Song Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Overall Review:
This is an awesome album from the side-project of Edguy front man Tobias Sammet. The album deals with the tentative burning of supposed witch Anna, sung by Sharon Den Adel of Within Temptation, and how her stepbrother is trying to save her from the fate Pope Clement VIII has delivered. The album is, musically, one of the best there is drawing from many great power metal bands: Edguy, Gamma Ray, Helloween, Stratovarius, etc. to just name a few.

The songs all have the powerful music delivery that comes from the power metal genre, where the vocals come in is to provide a terrific melody to accompany the speed and power. The greatest return, possibly, on the album is the return of Michael Kiske to the genre. Credited as “Ernie” his singing on “Reach Out for the Light,” “Avantasia,” and “The Tower.”

The story of Avantasia is a criticism of the Catholic Church and the tendency for the religion to remain blind to the wrongdoings that go on within the Church. The recent sex-scandal that was being unveiled around the time this album was released may have been the mode of inspiration for Tobias Sammet, but using the mode of Pope Clement VIII from the 17th century and his burning of witches brings the scope even wider. Malleus Maleficarum is a book, in addition to a title track and mention, that was used to prove the existence of witchcraft and provide a manual in which to torture and execute those who were said to be witches. The book itself is biased to prosecute women as the title is a female derivative in Latin, and women are, as said in the book, “all witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which in women is insatiable.” The Catholic Church endorsed the publication of this book for many years, and remained blind to the deaths it caused, much in the way it turned a blind eye to the sex abuse that was happening within its diocese.

In the songs, Lugaid (Michael Kiske) calls for Gabriel (Tobias Sammet) to “reach out for the light” (“Reach out for the Light”), and light is commonly used metaphorically to represent truth and goodness. Tobias wants people to “break[ing] away” because otherwise they will be stuck “lying here in chains” (“Breaking Away”). The Catholic Church has always been good at wanting people to follow what they want, and there is a great need to break from that conformity and “stop them controlling your mind” as Lugaid puts it in “Breaking Away” because the Catholic hierarchy does not even understand what it is doing within the story, just as in real life it has never wanted anything that is against their teachings to be widely recognized “keep our people afraid…keep them away from what they shall not see” as Friar Jakob sings in “Serpents in Paradise.”

If Pope Clement VIII gave up the seal to the tower in “The Tower” he would wreck havoc and destruction down on both Earth and the world of Avantasia, but because the voice in the tower (Timo Tolkki) has promised “the ultimate illumination, the gnosis and the power to defend Your kingdom on Earth with a strong hand” (“The Tower”). Little does the Pope realize the voice is not God, but the Devil that he has warned everyone about for so long, but in the time he needed to see, was too blind too.

That being said, there is some real historical backing the story Tobias has put together in this amazing album. Not only that, but there is an all-star cast of singers and musicians that play everything superbly that make this a classic album, not only for good music but the message that comes with it.
Overall Rating: 9 out of 10

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