By Jason Wellwood
The Wicked Symphony, for those of you unaware, is the second part of Avantasia’s The Scarecrow Trilogy (the third part, Angel of Babylon is also out now), demonstrating that Tobias Sammet does not know how to do things small.
Avantasia follows the classic ‘Metal Opera’ formula by having one consistent singer on each song but having a cast of vocal characters show up on appropriate pieces. Having used some stellar voices previously, Jorn Lande, Bob Catley, Michael Kiske reprise their roles from The Scarecrow (Kiske has actually been on all of the Avantasia releases) Sammet steps it up a notch this time bringing in the huge voices of Russell Allen, Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens, Andre Matos, , and Ralf Zdiarstek…who actually has done nothing EXCEPT Avantasia (he was on the first album) and Edguy vocals. Oh…and another little known singer by the name of Klaus Meine. Not that Avantasia needs any sort of ‘street cred’ but including the absolutely unmistakeable vocals of The Scorpions will definitely grab some hard rock fans. Yes kids, Avantasia may no longer just be the darling of power metal and Kiss nerds (Eric Singer and Bruce Kulick both play on this and previous records) worldwide.
The Wicked Symphony is exactly what you want from an Avantasia record. The production sounds huge, and clear, there isn’t a bum note in the playing, the songs are catchy as hell (I defy you to not sing along with “Dying For an Angel”) and the silly, tongue-in-cheekiness of the Edguy lyrics are left behind. Avantasia is definitely a much more intelligent avenue for Sammet, who writes every single song on the record. His crafting of power metal opera becomes stronger with each release and doesn’t stumble into progressive metal opera (oh yes, there is a huge difference), keeping the songs short, concise and amazingly memorable. Can I have Angel of Babylon now?