Nima : After the release of the last masterpiece, ’The Mystery Of Time’, Edguy frontman Tobias Sammet admitted that he had let go of the idea of putting his Avantasia project to rest, because he had too much fun with it. The excitement of whether or not the man would release new album, and whether or not he would tour with Avantasia may have become less because of this statement, but that makes it no less special. For me personally a new Avnatasia album is always a blast, and for weeks my musical world mainly revolves around the new record.
And well, what can I say about the seventh studio album, ‘Ghost Lights', which will be released at the end this month? Sammet and his faithful companions, guitarist/producer Sasha Paeth and keyboarder Miro, have again delivered a masterpiece, and I have the strong suspicion that I already have my personal number 1 album of 2016 here! On 'Mystery Of Time' the band went more in the power metal direction of the first two albums, but 'Ghostlights' shows an even better balance between the typical power metal of the first albums and the more rocky and progressive elements of the later albums. I could go on and mention every songs separately and a write a couple of A4 pages, since each song is a masterpieces on its own, but let me put it this way: this album has everything you can expect from Avantasia: fast power metal, progressive, symphonic rock and metal, traditional hardrock, AOR, gothic and epic tunes, a huge amount of bombast, and of course strong, catchy vocals by Tobi and many guest vocalists.
The list of guest musicians is as always as impressive as the music itself. Regarding instrumentalists the list is somewhat more limited this time. Edguy-mate Felix Bohnke this time is responsible for all the drums, and besides Paeth, guitarists Bruce Kulick (ex-KISS) and Oliver Hartmann (ex-At Vance) again play on a few songs. However, the list of guest vocalists is longer. Returning stars are Bob Catley (Magnum), Michael Kiske, Jorn Lande, Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids), and Sharon den Andel (Within Temptation), who was also on the 'Metal Opera' albums. In addition, in Herbie Langhans (SinBreed), Marco Hietala (Nightwish), Robert Mason (Warrant), and the even bigger giants Geoff Tate (Operation: Mindcrime, ex-Queensrÿche) and Twisted Sister's Dee Snider we have a few debuting stars, who lift the album to a higher level and provide extra icing on this already delicious cake.
Each vocalist of course his/her own stamp on the songs and gives the record the versatility we are used to from Avantasia. The dark and theatrical 'The Haunting’ (with Dee Snider), the sometimes Gothic/New Wave-like ‘Draconian Love', in which Herbie Langhans shines with low vocals a la Andrew Eldritch (The Sisters Of Mercy), and the Gothic-vibed ‘Isle Of Evermore’ (with Sharon), however, are somewhat the elements of surprise on this album. The great thing is that the total picture is ever recognizable as Avantasia.
As a whole 'Ghostlights' is again a breathtaking and highly addictive experience, which is immediately catchy but also leads to new discoveries with every spin. The record therefore never becomes boring for even a second, and even after big 70 minutes only hungers for more. Every time! Shortly put, this is already a classic of its kind, and an absolute must for all fans of symphonic, progressive rock and heavy/power metal.