REVIEW: Ghostlight, Avantasia

The latest offering from Tobias Sammet’s Avantasia is Ghostlights, coming after a four year wait since their previous album The mystery of time. I usually get quite impatient waiting years for new albums from my favourite bands, however I have to make an exception for Avantasia knowing how busy Tobi is. In these four years we were treated with an Edguy album - Space Police: Defenders of the Crown - and a tour to accompany it.

The first song ‘Mystery of a Blood Red Rose’, Tobi’s only solo song on the album, is a powerful track with a ballad sort of feel to it that sounds like it’s been taken straight from Meatloaf’s songbook. The album opener was also entered into the Eurovision song contest for Germany, which doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, with Lordi being the only metal band I can recall entering, and incidentally winning it! Next up is ‘Let the Storm Descend Upon You’, a twelve minute epic with Jorn Lande of Masterplan and Ronnie Atkins of Pretty Maids accompanying Tobi throughout. With a heavy piano and guitar intro layered with different tempo changes throughout the song, it’ll be a favourite for most longtime fans of the supergroup. The third song ‘The haunting’ with Dee Snider is my personal favourite song from the album. I sometimes find it hard to be objective, especially with big projects like this one. With Michael Kiske being one of my favourite singers of all time being involved in a project like this it’s hard not to be biased and automatically feel like it should be my favourite song because Kiske’s singing on it, whilst honestly i’ve never really been a fan of Twisted Sister, even seeing them headline Graspop in 2013 I wasn’t blown away by them. However I did enjoy Snider’s performance much more at wacken 2015 where he starred in rock meets classic performing a few songs, but he was massively overshadowed by Kiske who also performed with rock meets classic and sang Helloween’s ‘I want out’ - something I never thought I’d see live that made the trip to Germany completely worth it. Back to ‘The haunting’, though. It’s a slow song and although Snider isn’t as technically gifted as some of the other guests on the album his performance on this track is so powerful it will genuinely make you think there is something else in the room whilst you’re sleeping that night.

The next song, ‘Seduction of decay’, is still quite slow but also hard hitting, with vocals from Geoff Tate of the original Queensryche lineup - now in his own band Operation: Mindcrime(Yeah we all see what you did there Geoff). I’ve seen Queensryche a few times at festivals whilst he was still fronting them and it’s very easy to see why Tobi got Tate to make his first appearance on an Avantasia album this time around. Now the next song is what most Avantasia fans have been waiting for, the song ‘Ghostlights’ featuring Michael Kiske and Jorn Lande, making his second appearance on the album. With a fast paced intro well and truly earning Edguy’s drummer Felix Bohnke his money, and without wasting any time a powerful introduction from Kiske. It doesn’t take him long at all to impress, wailing in a pitch reminiscent of his Helloween albums. He still completely has it, so effortless from 35 years ago, it’s really quite unbelievable. With the title track having three vocalists and Jorn being very similar in style to Tobi it’s very well split up via a solo break in the middle, also being one of the only songs on the album with both guitarists performing. They are Oliver Hartmann of At-Vance and Hartmann alongside Sascha Paeth who you’ll remember from Heaven’s gate back in the early 90’s but he’s been involved with many metal bands such as Angra, Rhapsody, Kamelot, Epica and Edguy to name a few since. Next up is ‘Draconian Love’, which slows the album down once more. Herbie Langhans of Seventh Avenue lends a deep, gothic vocal performance to the album, and his style juxtaposes Tobi’s perfectly giving a good mixture to the track from solemn verse to epic chorus. Marko Hietala is the next guest to grace the album via ‘Master of the pendulum’ - undoubtedly a reference to the Nightwish song ‘Poet and the pendulum’. Marko has established himself in in the industry massively since he took over bass and backup singing duties for Nightwish, but as the lead singer and bassist of Tarot he still goes fairly unnoticed as they continue to miss out on the credit they deserve in Heavy Metal history. The song starts off slowly but kicks in suddenly with Tobi showing off his range more than ever. It’s quite a bit heavier than most Nightwish songs, but also quite similar to one of their more underrated tracks - and one of my favourites - ‘Master passion greed’.

‘Isle of Evermore’ is next up, featuring Sharon Den Adel of Within temptation. I love Within Temptation, but honestly I think the song is good, but overall quite disappointing. Knowing what Sharon is capable of I feel that Tobi hasn't utilised her vocals as well as he could, and the song is quite repetitive with short verses. I would have liked to have seen another female singer on this album as well as Sharon, especially with bands like Epica and Delain becoming bigger names and having amazing female singers fronting them also. The next song, ‘Babylon Vampyres’, brings back the high tempo to the album. Robert Mason, formerly of Lynch Mob and now fronting Warrant, is the guest on this song with Hartmann, Paeth and Bruce Kulick of KISS all playing guitar on this track, coupling together to produce my favourite solo midway through the song. Next track ‘Lucifer’ is another slow starter, with a piano intro and another very powerful performance from Jorn Lande taking point again on this song. With the song’s drums and guitar changing halfway through, it’s one of the shorter songs on the album but it does manage to pack one hell of a punch nonetheless. And now the return of both Kiske and Atkins on the penultimate song off the album. ‘Unchain the light’ is another fast paced song with Atkins and Tobi leading the way as kiske moves in on the chorus, doing what he does best and delivering his high pitched unwavering vocals to give the song an extra edge before another classic guitar solo bridges towards the end. For the final song on the album Bob Catley of Magnum - a favoured guest of Tobi’s time and again - is the guest singer who harmonises slowly throughout to give this incredible album the ending it deserves. ‘A restless Heart and Obsidian Skies’ reminds me more of the songs off the first Avantasia albums, with more of a story telling feel to the song, just leaving me with a feeling that I’m probably going to have to wait at least four more years for another Avantasia album! However if it’s as good as this album - and I’m sure it will be - then it’ll be well worth the wait. And with a tour coming soon I shall get to see them perform in a show that isn’t at a festival and I’ve waited a lot more than four years for that!

A big thanks to our roving reporter Terry Devaney for delving into an album review on this occasion. I can confirm that he did go and see Avantasia at their London show earlier this month and that he hasn’t washed his ears since!



Artist - Jesters of Destiny
Title - The Sorrows That Refuse to Drown
Label - Ektro

Thirty years after Jesters of Destiny arrived, dropped Fun at the Funeral and disappeared back into the night, they’re finally back with a second full length release courtesy of Ektro Records, and whilst it could never live up to first album, the eccentricity of the band shines through once more and it’s a crazy ride from start to finish. Pick it up on April 4th!



Artist - Hammerfest IX
Date - 23rd- 26th March
Venue - Pwllheli, Wales  

One of our main highlights of the year, this month we’re off to Wales for Hammerfest, HRH’s Heavy Metal flagship. With the return of two Power Metal titans alongside a host of others, this year looks to be one of their best ever. We’ll be covering the whole festival and conducting interviews as well so lookout for the cameras!