by: TJ FOWLER
Label: Nuclear Blast
You don’t see many rock opera spectacle these days. In fact you never saw many of them to begin with but in this day and age they are basically extinct with the exception of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Thanks to Tobias Sammet and his super group of guest musicians in the form of Avantasia we can always be assured we are going to get a healthy dose of Euro rock opera every few years. Well the year of 2016 unleashes Avantasia’s ‘Ghostlights’ which has a whole slew of guest musicians from Dee Snider (Twisted Sister), Marco Hietala (Nightwish, Tarot), Michael Kiske (Helloween) to just name a few.
‘Ghostlights’ opens with the first song the band released for public to hear, the catchy ‘Mystery of a Blood Red Rose’, which is a fantastic song and obviously inspired by Meatloaf. In fact, I am surprised to NOT see Meatloaf on this album somewhere. He would have fit in perfectly with what Sammet is doing with Avantasia and obviously Meatloaf is one of the defining forces in this type of music.
The album’s next few tracks play on and if you are familiar with rock opera styled groups then you know what to expect. Grandiose lyrics, some songs that last longer than normal songs and a lot of orchestral and dramatic flows of the music from slow to fast, soft to aggressive. Basically a lot of passion is portrayed on ‘Ghostlights’.
Is some of it a little pretentious? Sure. It is a rock opera album after all. Everything is supposed to be larger than life. Is the album full of good and fun songs? Absolutely. It is also interesting to hear the different ways songs play out with the other musicians on the album and how their personality adds to the songs they are given.
Dee Snider adds s sinister feel to his song ‘The Haunting’, Marco Hietala adds his haunting and unique vocal style to the gothic and catchy song ‘The Master of the Pendulum’ and for Helloween fans, Michael Kiske’s songs, ‘Unchain the Lights’ and ‘Ghostlights’ sound very much like…Helloween musically. These two songs are the two that mostly strongly resemble songs from a former band the member. There is also one song called ‘Draconian Love’ that sounds a lot like a 69 Eyes song.
Overall I am very pleased with ‘Ghostlights’. I think Tobias used each of his guest musicians to the best of their ability and harnessed each of their strengths to the maximum and as a result many of the songs are truly fantastic to listen to.
If there is one negative I have to point out is that the second track on the album, ‘Let the Strom Descend Upon You’ is WAY too long. I know that is typical of this genre but it could have ended about 6-7 minutes before it actually does and it would have been find. The song is good but not 12 minutes long good.
Otherwise, ‘Ghostlights’ is a solid album from Avantasia and worthy of your hard earned money if you are a fan of Meatloaf and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.