If Tobias Sammet's name sounds familiar to you it's because
he is the lead vocalist and mastermind behind German power
metal band Edguy. In 2001, he began the Avantasia project
and released The Metal Opera 1 and 2.
Avantasia means “a world beyond human imagination,”
and fantasy themes are the focal point. The Metal Operas featured numerous guest musicians and vocalists including
Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation), Michael Kiske (Helloween),
Timo Tolkki (Stratovarius) and others. The music itself is
melodic power metal but is far removed from Edguy. After five
years dedicated to his full-time gig, Sammet has returned
with The Scarecrow, another collection of hard rock
and symphonic power metal, once again with help from some
friends. Notable guests include Alice Cooper on “The
Toy Master,” a track which revisits '80s era Alice.
He sounds more evil and fun here than he has in years.
Jørn Lande (Masterplan, ARK) lends his vocal talents
to “The Scarecrow,” “Another Angel Down”
and “Devil in the Belfrey,” while Roy Khan (Kamelot)
sings on the opener “Twisted Mind.” Eric Singer
(KISS) plays drums on the entire album. Sammet, of course,
provides his voice on each song, as well. His talents are
overlooked in Edguy, perhaps due to the band's comedy factor.
Imagine the vocalist of Steel Dragon in the movie Rock
Star and you'll have a good idea of Sammet's voice. Yes,
he uses all of the metal cliches, but he does it with authority
and swagger, making the perfect heavy metal vocalist. On some
songs he sounds like he could be a distant German cousin of
The Scarecrow is a mix of power metal, speed metal
and '80s-style hard rock. The hard-rocking opener “Twisted
Mind” sets the table for this diverse album. Power
metal songs like “Shelter from the Rain” and “Another
Angel Down” are fast and catchy. “What Kind of
Love” is a ballad in which Sammet duets with Amanda
Somerville of Aina. The song is beautiful and fits in on the
album but can't be classified as a metal song at all.
It sounds like a song from the Disney Princesses, but it's
good! “Carry Me Over” is a power ballad and Sammet's
emotional vocals lead a powerful chorus that sounds out of
a dream. This one could easily be a hit single. “Lost
in Space” is the album's first single and is a stadium
rocker, with a shouted chorus in the vein made popular by
'80s hair metal acts. This one is just plain awesome. With
so much that each song has to offer, repeated listening is
Tobias Sammet's Avantasia is an ambitious, forward-thinking
project and The Scarecrow displays just what kind
of musical and vocal ability he possesses. The cast of heavy
metal veterans helping him out not only makes the album interesting
but unpredictable. There is a certain nostalgia to many of
the songs, but for some reason there is also a timelessness.
I think that's what Sammet was going for here, leaving the
door wide open for the listener to think and explore.