Avantasia - The Scarecrow
Nuclear Blast
Rock / Heavy / Power Metal melpot
11 songs (63'34)
Release year: 2008
Tobias Sammet's site, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Chris
Album of the year

Its been with a undenied impatience that I awaited this new Avantasia album ever since I learned of its existence. As you might have read my review of the singles, I was quite disappointed with some of the content in those feeling that they were more fillers than actualy EP worth content, especially for the pricing that no doubt exceeded one of an album. Is The Scarecrow the album that I (and no doubt countless others) was waiting for. Well yes (for me) and no (for many fans I'm sure).

No cause it has almost nothing to do with the previous Avantasia albums, except the name. If you're expecting this album to be a relentless bombastic Power Metal deflagration then you'll be sadly disappointed at the expection of a few titles (Twisted Mind, Another Angel Down, Shelter From The Rain & Devil in the Belfry). This album is actually a melpot of very different styles, from AOR, Hard-Rock and even a song that could pretty well be a Pop song. At first I was disappointed and thought I'd hate it, but once I started to accept it for what it is, the album actually shined very brightly ! So if you don't mind that this album is even slower and less powerfull than Rocket Ride, then you'll be able to enjoy it fully. If on the other hand you're waiting for an Avantasia 3 with Speed Power in your face sheer metal attitude, then this album is clearly not for you. The first song, Twisted Mind is a great Power Metal mid-tempo song, reminiscent of Kamelot, no surprise there than Khan is also featured on the vocals then (but I feel like Tobias tailored the songs for the performers and sometimes resembles their own band's in style, if only for some elements here and there). The Scarecrow is also a mid-tempo, but a more docile one mostly, its a great song though, very emotional. Tobias shows all his talent as a singer throughout this album, and especially on that song. The chorus is great with the background choir is adding dimension to the song. Then comes Jorn Lande which is featured in many songs, almost stealing Tobias' thunder on the album. Jorn is simply unbelievable (as usual) and is slowly but surely gaining the top spots of my top 10 all-time singers (Tobias having been up there for quite a while now). Songs where Toby and Jorn share the vocals have so much power and breath emotion throughout their awesome respective vocal deliveries. Shelter from the Rain features Michael Kiske too and what I had noticed on the singles didn't change here, Michael is not at the top of his game, and his delivery is without a doubt the lowest in the entire album. I almost wish he hadn't been part of the cast on this one (I'll admit that I've never worshiped him the way many metalheads do so maybe its just me :) ). Shelter from the Rain sounds a lot like an Edguy song, with its great catchy chorus, all in all a great power metal tune. Also on that song is Bob Catley which vocals are also grandiose and adding that grain of magic to the overall sound of this new album. Up til here the album isn't actualy slow per say (except some moments during song The Scarecrow). Things are about to change though as the next song, Carry Me Over, sets the tone of the change. This song is, for a lack of a better description, a Bon Jovi like song. Its great Hard Rock ballad and its very catchy and a great song, but its where the name Avantasia start losing its meaning a bit, at least for die hard fans. Tobias is going solo on vocals on this one. Definitely a radio hit in its own right, I already can see some fans grinning and grunting when they'll listen to this song for the first time. I on the other hand, being a big fan of Bon Jovi, didn't mind it a bit. What Kind of Love is the Pop song of the album, there is no metal factor that song WHATSOEVER ! It sounds like a Lara Fabian song (no need to look for your glasses or contacts, you read that last part just right). A duo actually with Amanda Sommersville and Tobias. Its an awesome song full of emotion that is very touching and heart warming, but I never thought a song like this would be attached to the name Avantasia and I can already hear some fans scream of heresy (please stop crying Greg ;) ) ! The fact is that this song is actually a tour-de-force and one of the most beautiful song on the album, its just its not metal AT ALL. I think its a gutsy move, and that its been done with brio, bravo Tobias. Then come Another Angel Down, which we had on the singles, which by the way was supposed, at least to my understanding, to be a song not to be found on the album, but I'm glad its here since its the best song from the Lost in Space EPs and definitely has its place on this album, its kick-ass from start to finish and puts the metal back to the album after the two slow songs that preceded it. Jorn shines so well here I'm almost willing to ask Tobias to make an album with Jorn alone, the duo that Toby and Jorn are able to pull off is one of the best you'll ever find on the metal scene today. The Toy Master sees the most anticipated guest of the album, no less than Alice Cooper, and the first part of the song feels like its been tailored to sound like an Alice Copper song (except maybe the power oriental style intro), or maybe like my wife said, Alice is so unique that no matter what he would sing, you'd recognize him instantly (that's true !). In any case, this song is a great song, with some great moments, its a mid-tempo song with great vocals, a great chorus fulfilling any Alice's fans. Tobias must have felt quite good singing along side Alice I'm sure. After an awesome solo, the song's beat change and this accelerate, more choirs that gives the song more punch towards the end (a bit like the end of The Scarecrow song). An intriguing yet beautiful song. Then comes the ultimate killer song of this album, and its not a surprise that its a faster, powerful, ultra-bombastic (a la Edguy) song. Devil in the Belfry is a slap in the face and the song to beat in 2008 (good luck !). Awesome cubic riffs, great vocal melodies, a song to be remembered for all eternity. Again the Tobias / Jorn duo will send shivers down your spine and the ultimate chorus will blow your mind away ! I have no doubts old fans will be crying and asking why the entire album wasn't of this bombasticness, passion and majesty. Definitely my favorite song on the album, and one of my all time Tobias-written song. Cry Just a Litte is again a slow / ballad song, which goes crescendo to a more powerful power metal like ballad chorus, again this song is very emotional, thanks also to the great Bob / Toby awesome performances. I Don't Believe in your Love is a great if typical Hard-Rock tune and starts with a great riff, the song is very catchy and powerful at the same time. Again the Tobias / Jorn duo shows how much these two singers work amazingly together. The song as panache and a great chorus to boot. Tobias sings EXACTLY like Paul Stalney in the high parts of the chorus, and when I say exactly I first wondered is Paul wasn't a last addition guest here (no no its Tobias singing exactly like him, not too surprising since Tobias is a great KISS fan). The album closes with Lost In Space, which I won't go into detail about, a great song too and a great closer.

Eric Singer and Sasha Paeth are great in their respective places and deliver a great performance throughout, though I'm sure some people will find the solos to not be to the level of what we're used in Edguy or the previous Avantasia albums, with maybe the exception of The Toy Master solo which is quite sublime ! On the lyrics side, we're far from the damsel in despair in need of saving from the fantasy land of Avantasia, its more about love dynamics and how they apparently go wrong. Tobias said in the video promo of the album that the concept was important to him, so I'd guess some of the lyrics must represent some love story that didn't work (?). The sadness in some of the song and the bitterness of some of the lyrics definitely give a very emotional touch to the album, perfectly underlined by the beautifuly written music that Tobias delivered here.

So in the end I love this new Avantasia album except its name (Avantasia). It has little or nothing to do with the heroic fantasy world created by Tobias and named Avantasia. Its down to Earth subjects that are explored here and therefor the name sounds wrong, and it will no doubt make a riot with some of the fans expecting the follow-up of the adventures started in the first two metal operas. But I guess why not use Avantasia's fame to promote Tobias' new project, I guess anyone in their right mind wouldn't let the marketing power of the name go to oblivion. Yet I would have loved it more if it was called Tobias Sammet' Scarecrow (and in my head that's how I will name this album). I think it would have made MUCH MORE sense actually. But well, its a technicality, but one that will bother many fans of the first two Avantasia, as they no doubt where waiting for something more powerful, bombastic and more majestic throughout. I have no doubt that these people will think I'm crazy with my review and quote, but I couldn't care less. Tobias Sammet clearly needed to express some feelings with this album, and he took a risk in not going mainstream or writing what people wanted him to write but instead wrote what he wanted : some Hard-Rock, some Metal, some bombastic moments, but some slow and emotional ones, clearly he needed that and I respect his choice. I won't lie to you, if the next Edguy album is slower than this I will be sad, but what is presented here on The Scarecrow is, once you accept it for what it is, some stellar delivery (I can imagine my friend Greg throwing a chair on his computer screen at this exact moment :D, calm down my friend). Like I said before, to me this album is a tour-de-force, a melpot of different stlyes that breathes talent and emotions. I almost hesitated to post this review directly into the classic section, and while it has its place there, I didn't do it for some other release that would have deserved the instant classic posting (like Lost Horizon - Flame to the Ground Beneath), so I won't do it for this one either (its actually that we never did this because of the weekly format of the site, but maybe we should consider moving old albums that have their places there one day). Definitely an album of the year, a tremendous display of musicianship from all the parties involved, and a great way to show the world that Tobias isn't limited to Power Metal as this albums shows how mature the song-writting and overall compositions are. Fantastic album Tobias, congratulations ! ...and let the forum ranting begin ;). If you love beautiful music, you can't miss this album, Two thumbs up (3 if we count the Rise of the Morning Glory LOL). In Tobias Sammet I Trust !

Killing Songs :
They're all great songs but Devil in the Belfry and Another Angel Down are out of this world
Chris quoted 96 / 100
Other albums by Avantasia that we have reviewed:
Avantasia - Moonglow reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Avantasia - Ghostlights reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Avantasia - The Mystery of Time reviewed by Chris and quoted 88 / 100
Avantasia - Angel of Babylon reviewed by Kyle and quoted 82 / 100
Avantasia - The Wicked Symphony reviewed by Kyle and quoted 80 / 100
To see all 11 reviews click here
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