Have a listen to: "Let The Storm Descend Upon You"
Avantasia – Ghostlights
Release Date: 29th January 2016
Nuclear Blast Records
This review was supposed to be in on Sunday. The problem with that though, is that I did not anticipate the journey that I would have to go on in order to write it. I had the (mis)fortune of going to a child’s first birthday party on Sunday afternoon, with the plan to get this done afterwards and return me to a normality of not getting hit in the face with half inflated balloons.
Inside the first forty seconds of the opening track ‘Mystery Of A Blood Red Rose’ I was hooked. The opening guitar riffs coupled with the soaring metal wizard vocals reminded me of a quality I have not heard, in what is basically a genre to itself, in a long time.
I have a friend that will share music tips backwards and forwards with me and I was texting him as the first chorus kicked in. “I may never have been aware that I was wondering what it would sound like if Meatloaf and Dio had a baby, but I think I just found out”. This is something I still stand by.
‘Ghostlights‘ brings us back to a level of metal that hasn’t been seen or heard since the best days of Dio and the heyday of Iron Maiden and it carries on the tradition in a way that could not fail, but make Bruce Dickinson shed a tear.
There is no weak point to this album; each track will remind you of why you fell in love with the genre to begin with. I have never wanted to see an opera before in my life, but if it was done half as well as this album I would be there every weekend.
‘Let The Storm Descend Upon You’ takes advantage of the fact that your head is spinning and kicks you down the rabbit hole quicker than even the best hallucinogens. Fight it all you want, you are going to imagine yourself in the most fantastical epic there is, you and Conan are now best friends.
By the time I had made it through the album to ‘The Haunting’ my wife thought I had lost my mind completely. Wrapped in a sheet, toga style, complaining that there ‘isn’t enough fog in the living room’ will have that effect on people, but I was conjuring an image in my mind, dammit.
It is very difficult to describe the tracks themselves without drawing various band members riding dragons through the desolation of our current music scene. This is an album that may well change your religious beliefs, or if you reach the level I was at by ‘Seduction Of Decay’ you would be wondering out loud why capes aren’t in fashion anymore, and becoming determined to bring them back.
I had almost returned to normal by the time I heard ‘Master Of The Pendulum’ but I had to imagine myself and five hundred angry clones shouting along with the chorus as part of the final act of some, as yet unimaginable, epic adventure.
‘A Restless Heart And Obsidian Skies’ starts to wind down the album. The trip is about to end, you need to be returned gently to real life. The track continues the atmospheric tone of the rest of the album but is not as continually frantic as the earlier tracks. At this point in the “film” the battles have ended, the dragons are under control and the demons are back in their cage.
I have not been carried away by an album, like this, ever. I cannot in all seriousness remember a time when music has captured my imagination like this and it is a bizarre, intoxicating experience. If I ever write a fantasy epic, you had better play this album in the room while you read, because that is how I will have written it.