Avantasia - The Wicked Symphony
Nuclear Blast
Power Metal / Hard Rock
11 songs (1:00:30)
Release year: 2010
Tobias Sammet's site, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Kyle
Major event

Tobias Sammet, if anything, is an ambitious man, especially when it comes to Avantasia. The Metal Opera albums were some of the best and most influential power metal albums put out in the 21st century, and in my opinion, The Scarecrow came pretty damn close to living up to those standards; perhaps not in quality (and certainly not style), but certainly in terms of scope – it just feels like a really, really big project, and it’d be hard to deny that a lot of hard work was put into making that album great. And in my opinion, it was indeed great. So when Mr. Sammet confirmed the rumor that Avantasia’s next project would be not one, but TWO new albums (and only two years after the release of The Scarecrow at that!), I was excited to say the least. For reviewing purposes, I have mainly concentrated on the first of these two, The Wicked Symphony, these past couple of weeks; an Angel of Babylon review will be coming next Monday. Unfortunately, I must say that I don’t enjoy The Wicked Symphony nearly as much as I did The Scarecrow. It’s not a bad album by any means – it’s actually quite good – but after falling in love with The Scarecrow, I can’t help but be disappointed with this.

The Avantasia formula remains essentially the same as it was on The Scarecrow with The Wicked Symphony: Mid-paced symphonic power metal with a strong hard rock influence and an impressive swath of guest vocalists. I would be lying if I told you that a fanboyish shiver doesn’t run up my spine every time Jørn Lande or Michael Kiske takes center stage; those guys are simply some of most phenomenal vocalists in metal, as are the rest of the guest musicians: The full roster also includes Russel Allen, Bob Catley, Kiuas Meine, Tim Owens, André Matos, and Ralf Zdiarstek as guest vocalists, as well as various guest musicians such as Rhapsody (of Fire)’s Alex Holzwarth. If a line-up like that doesn’t make you excited, then well, you simply can’t call yourself a power metal fan, plain and simple.

Oh, and Tobias Sammet sings too. But you already knew that.

Now it’s time to discuss the music itself. Take heed, Avantasia fans: The Wicked Symphony is much less heavy and even slightly less catchy than The Scarecrow. Dying for an Angel in particular is so poppy and un-metal that it could easily wind up on modern rock radio, though admittedly, Kiuas Meine gives an incredible performance here that saves the song from being one of the poorest Avantasia songs ever written. Thankfully, this is the only song where no traces of metal are to be found (other than The Edge, the sole ballad); every other song is enjoyable to listen to, and a couple even qualify as being superb. Wastelands is pure, shimmering, uplifting melodic power metal that’s reminiscent of Shelter From the Rain on The Scarecrow, Michael Kiske performance and all. Scales of Justice is a thrashing heavy / power metal track in the vein of Iced Earth, and Tim Owen’s Dio-esque performance here fits perfectly and makes it another highlight; there’s a slower, more melodic switch up towards the latter half of the song that reminds me much of early Angra. Forever is a Long Time is a groove-influenced power metal song, and here, Lande delivers yet another awesome performance, especially on the incredibly catchy chorus. States of Matter is another impressive song; It’s similar to Forever is a Long Time in that it has groove-oriented riffing and a great chorus, but it’s a bit faster, and Allen’s performance here is one of my favorite contributions on the album.

There are also two really long songs here, which is a deviation from the normal Avantasia standard of one per album. The first is the title track, and the second is Runaway Train, and both are very different from one another. The former is much more straightforward, beginning with a symphonic intro before transitioning into a straightforward power metal track – a great song, and a ton of guest vocalists are used here, but at the same time it’s definitely the least impressive of any of Avantasia’s long songs because it’s far too straightforward. Runaway Train is the second long song, and it’s a much different beast, if you could call it that; incredibly melodic, it’s probably the easiest track on the album to sing along to, and it manages to be bombastic despite its slower tempo. If you like operatic music, this is definitely one song that you'll want to check out straight away.

Though as good as those songs are and as consistent as this album may be (I can honestly say I was entertained all the way through), hardly any song on The Wicked Symphony lives up to my expectations and the level of quality presented on The Scarecrow. The album, for lack of a better word, simply feels rushed. Tobias had six years to write the last Avantasia album, and he wrote TWO in only two years’ time, so while it’s understandable that this isn’t as good, I think that much more time could’ve been put into this. I would rather have waited for four years to get an album as well crafted as The Scarecrow than wait for only two and receive something so straightforward as The Wicked Symphony. But however flawed it may be, this album is certainly a welcome addition into the Avantasia catalog that will likely both please and divide Sammet’s fanbase (as if it could be divided any further). The Wicked Symphony definitely won’t make it onto my best of 2010 year-end list, but it’s a fun listen nonetheless.

Killing Songs :
Wastelands, Scales of Justice, Runaway Train, Forever is a Long Time, States of Matter
Kyle quoted 80 / 100
Aleksie quoted 87 / 100
Goat quoted 60 / 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 Scarecrow reviewed by Chris and quoted 96 / 100
To see all 11 reviews click here
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