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Avantasia - "The Mystery of Time" (CD)

Avantasia - "The Mystery of Time" CD cover image

"The Mystery of Time" track listing:

1. Spectres
2. The Watchmakers' Dream
3. Black Orchid
4. Where Clock Hands Freeze
5. Sleepwalking
6. Savior In The Clockwork
7. Invoke The Machine
8. What's Left Of Me
9. Dweller In A Dream
10. The Great Mystery

Reviewed by on April 29, 2013

"As it turns out, 'The Great Mystery' was no mystery at all…as Sammet went out and created the masterpiece we all knew he was capable of."

The ambitious efforts of Tobias Sammet over the last three years (releasing Edguy’s “The Joker” in 2011 and both “Angel of Babylon” and “The Wicked Symphony” for Avantasia in 2010) while conducting multiple tours had many fans thinking that perhaps the prolific composer really ought to take a break before suffering burnout or lack of ideas. On the heels of the announcement of new LP “The Mystery of Time,” along with Turilli-esque hype to announce further hype had only two possible results: a lackluster performance, or a release worthy of year-end honor. I am not one of those Avantasia fans that met the commercial turn of the band with a wall of whining, nitpicking the composer to the point where the only thing he could do to get praise from the power metal elitist is create “The Metal Opera, Pt. I” all over again (just to hear complaints about doing just that)! Well, in a way, Sammet really has created it all over again…but in a way that refreshes the old formula with a modern punch!

Outside of the myriad of guests that take place on the release, right out of the gate the star of the entire album is Miro, who plays some of the most electrifying keyboard material ever, especially the hamond organ sounds of “The Watchmaker’s Dream,” which (combined with a power metal punch) makes for a tasty and refreshing combination. Just after Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s stunning solo, you feel transported to the seventh inning of a 1950’s baseball game. As odd as it that may sound, it is one of the coolest parts of the entire release.

As for the guest vocalists, you can prepare for stellar performances from Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids) (on “Invoke the Machine”), Eric Martin (Mr. Big) (on “What’s Left of Me”), but it is Biff Byford’s (Saxon) duet with Sammet on “Black Orchid” and Joe Lynn Turner (Sunstorm/Ex-Rainbow) on “Spectres” and “The Watchmaker’s Dream” as well as the convergence of the two with legend Bob Catley (Magnum) on the closing opus “The Great Mystery” which represent the album’s true highlights. Oh and yes…even the much overused Michael Kiske has admirable, yet nasally, performances on “Where Clock Hands Freeze,” “Savior In The Clockwork,” and “Dweller in a Dream.”

I cannot say enough about song arrangement and placement. Releasing “Sleepwalking” was an odd choice (if you look anywhere outside of commercial appeal), since it only served to take out the perfect placement on the album (a Kiske sandwich with Cloudy Yang in the middle). In tandem, the song is a nice break between two speedy numbers. On the whole, the album is well balanced and highly entertaining.

As for Tobi himself, “The Mystery of Time” represents his best achievement both vocally and as a composer since Edguy’s “Mandrake” was released in September of 2001. “The Great Mystery” reveals an album filled with high octane numbers – a refresh of the ole “stale” power metal take with an infusion of hard rock and rock opera - something lacking a bit on the last two releases (though highly enjoyable releases they are). The production is pristine and the musicianship is of the highest quality. As it turns out, “The Great Mystery” was no mystery at all…as Sammet went out and created the masterpiece we all knew he was capable of.

Highs: High energy with a refresh/reboot on the ole power metal formula.

Lows: Fans of over the top rock opera's need not apply.

Bottom line: The only mystery revealed is that Sammet has reinvented the word "masterpiece."

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)