Nima : Somehow I could have seen it coming, because in the past Edguy frontman, Tobias Sammet, had already said that there would never be a new album of his Avantasia project. Yet in 2010 alone he came with two albums, 'Angel Of Babylon' and 'The Wiched Symphony', there appeared DVD/live album 'The Flying Opera - Around The World in 20 Days' and they went on tour again - supposedly a farewell tour - in 2011. And yes, in 2012 the new album, 'The Mystery Of Time', was already announced. This wasn't really unexpected, and yet it was a bit, especially because I hadn't expected a new album so quickly. In an interview with the best man in this issue of Lords Of Metal you can read all about it.
But damn, when you have the ability to create albums like 'The Mystery Of Time', it would be a damn shame not to do it. From the first seconds of opener 'Sceptre' the album has me in its grip immediately, and I already have Goosebumps all over my body. All the characteristics and trademarks of Tobias Sammet are immediately present. The previous two albums, especially compared to 'The Scarecrow', again showed a more accessible side, but 'The Mystery of Time' goes a step further back in time and breathes the same atmosphere as the first two Avantasia records, 'The Metal Opera'. Don't get me wrong, because this is not just a repetition of the success formula of those records, and the progressive rock approach of the later albums is again present. So in 'Sleepwalker' (which is also the first single from the album) we get a melodic AOR and sometimes poppy ballad, and in especially 'Savior In The Clockwork' we find a more progressive approach. It's just that melodic power metal has the upper hand on this album. Although we find all those influences in all tracks.
Well, what more can I say about the album? If you have always embraced Avantasia, then 'The Mystery Of Time' will also become a new addiction. Musically this is perhaps not the most thoughtful album Sammet has put the Avantasia name on, but when it comes to the overall feel this is for me personally definitely the best! The album is catchy and has the power to take you away from reality completely for an hour. And that to me is always one of the most important things I expect from an album. Don't get me wrong, because the compositions are anything but simple, and the music contains several layers, making each new listening turn lead to new discoveries and the album does not become boring - while it is instantly catchy. And that's one of Sammet's many talents.
And finally, Sammet has always had the gift to get the right guest musicians, and also 'The Mystery Of Time' contains some very special guests such as vocalists Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween, Unisonic), Amanda Sommerville (Trillium, Aina) and Bob Catley (Magnum) - who were also on the previous albums - but this time also people such as Eric Martin (Mr. Big), Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids), Joe Lynn Turner and even Biff Byford (Saxon), all of whom lift songs up to an even higher level in their own ways. Or what about guitarists Bruce Kulick (ex-Kiss) and Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon)? Of course the regular team consisting of guitarist/producer Sascha Paeth and keyboardist Michael "Miro" Rodenberg are again involved with the album, and we even get a sixty piece orchestra, which is to be heard on the majority of the album. The beautiful artwork of Rodney Matthews (one of the best-known fantasy artists who is also known from album covers for Magnum, Prayin Mantis, and Nazareth, and one of the best-known Tolkien illustrators) completes the whole, and all together make 'The Mystery of Time' one grand, breath-taking masterpiece, and a must for all power metal fans. Pure brilliance!