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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Different? yes. As good? Undoubtedly
A lot of people will dislike, perhaps hate this album. They will be expecting an album of non-stop near-symphonic power metal, and they will NOT get it. This album, for the most part could not be more different, and is, with some songs, marginally more comemrcial, which will probably turn a lot of people off even more so, but i am not going to dwell on that, i am going...
Published on 30 Jan. 2008 by J. White

versus
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent album but...
I can only agree with Strato666.
In fact I was about to start just the same: this album is NOT a metal opera and there is no physical continuity between the tracks.
At first you can be a bit disappointed an after a few listenings... you just can't get it out of your player !
Great technicality, good rhythm, good lyrics, slow, speed, everything you can...
Published on 7 Feb. 2008 by D. Brix


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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Different? yes. As good? Undoubtedly, 30 Jan. 2008
By 
J. White "strato666" (Clydebank, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Scarecrow (Audio CD)
A lot of people will dislike, perhaps hate this album. They will be expecting an album of non-stop near-symphonic power metal, and they will NOT get it. This album, for the most part could not be more different, and is, with some songs, marginally more comemrcial, which will probably turn a lot of people off even more so, but i am not going to dwell on that, i am going to talk about the quality of the album. and some damn quality it has!

This, for me, is album of the year, and will probably remain so unless an equally great album suddenly, unlikely, comes along. I at first was rather dissapointed at the change in style between avantasia albums, but i was soon won over by the brilliant composition and quality performances and songs on offer, which i will all review in the order they appear on the album:

1. Twisted Mind - 10/10. The first song is a good example of part of the albums new style: melodic metal, but more of the mid-paced simple kind. Anyway, back to the song itself, i couldnt not think of a better opener: a great song with a fantastic vocal performance from the untouchable Roy Khan (Kamelot), it has a slightly nasty, dark feel to it and has an awesomely catchy chorus and nastily, dark-feeling opening 20 (or thereabouts) seconds...

2. The scarecrow - 10/10 - god! after the first track you would think this could not get any better, but then this song comes along! it has a sort of gaelic world music opening, and it genuily works: it is a beautifiul opening, and together with some nice guitar work it goes into one of the most powerful pieces of progressive-tinged mid-paced melodic heavy metal i have ever heard, with stunning vocal performances from both tobias and jorn lande, it also has a stunning chorus, and is alltogether an epic masterpiece that has stunning melodies, performances and is generally a wonderfully composed piece of melodic metal music.

3. Shelter from the rain - 09/10 - This is more like the typical avantasia of old: a straight ahead slightly speedy power metal track, and is pretty much as you would expect it to sound, and although it has rather cringe-worthy lyrics, it is another excellent song, with some top class performances. i personally find the main verse slightly lacking, but Michael kiskes performance on the songs chorus, and the second verse is stunning and raises it up a notch. Great power metal song.

4. Carry me over - 08/10 - Hmm, at first i did not like this song, as it was nothing compared to the first 3 songs, but now i actually genuinly like it. Ok, it is a very catchy ballad, and is basically a straight-out AOR song with pop-touches, but again it is a very nicely composed and quite touching ballad: utterly commercial AOR with pop-touches it may be, but if you are not to judgemental, i can't see how someone cannot enjoy this nice little song.

5. What kind of love - 09/10 - People will hate this song: they will use it as an excuse as to why this album is "too commercial" and "not avantasia", as this is in no way metal and, hell, not even rock! BUT, and this is a big but, this is a stunning song. This is Pure epic pop music, the kind of power ballad you would expect to hear in dated eighties music, and i dont know why, i cant explain it, i lvoe this song. ok, it is cheesy and in no way is it rock or metal, but it has a wonderful melody and a stunning vocal performance from Amanda Somerville. For the open minded fans not averse to a bit of epic pop, this is great stuff, for others? not so much.

6. Another Angel down - 09/10 - Another (like track 3) song which could have been on the first two albums: a very power metal feeling song, but one which also sounds like the more mid-tempo avantasia of new: not much you can say about this great song except that it is a fantastic Melodic metal song with a really neat ongoing riff, and yet another great duet between Jorn and Tobias. Powerful, melodic stuff.

7. The toy master 10/10 - Another song people might not like, like tracks four and five. This song is very commercial and does have a rather marmite-like vocal performance from alice cooper, but in my opinion this is a great song and a wonderful example of what is so good about the new avantasia album: Melodic Hard rock and metal given a unique twist, with some of the best in the field singin their hearts out. Well, alice cooper doesnt really "sing" persay, and he does sound his age, but hell i lvoe this song, from its creepy sounding chorus and beginning to the awsomely commercial drumwork to the all-around great melodies: a stunning, creepy-feeling epic.

8. Devil in the belfry - 10/10 - Another great song! This is a very typical feeling melodic metal track, but one that despite it's utterly cliched nature, won me over: it is brilliant for one simple reason: the melodies and performances are pitch-perfect and as powerful and affecting as can be. simple. Just Great.

9. Cry just a little - 06/10 - in the same vein as carry me over, this is another AOR'ish Ballad, but its not as good, nowhere near really. def the weakest track on the album, not much to say about it apart from that the rest of the album has brilliant melodies, consistently so, and this really just does not.

10. I dont believe in youre love - 08/10 - Despire the title, this is a great song. Again, with the title, you expect medicore AOR, but this really is not. OK, it is very melodic but for the most part is simply a mid-tempo (extremely) melodic metal tune, a good example of the albums most consistent and overall style: despite its commerciality, this is a real cracker: along with most of the other songs on the album, this is a wonderfully done piece of melodic metal/hard rock. To be honest i can't find many faults with it. also of note is Bob Catleys brilliant performance.

11. Lost in space - 10/10 - THIS! this song, the one that got avantasia fans doubtful about the new album, and i can see why they might have thought of it as "disappointing", but viewed in the context of this actual album, once one has gotten used to how different it is, it is brilliant: a perfect slice of melodic hard rock/pop-rock thaat does what it does brilliantly: wodnerful uplifting chorus, fantastic bass-line and genuine emotional feel to it (for me at least) makes this song a perfect album closer.

So, if you have got this far into my "review" (more like essay!), then you know that the differences between this album dont bother me, barely at all. i was won over by the sheer quality of everything on offer here, my own absolute highlight being Michael kiskes simply STUNNING vocals on Shelter from the rain or maybe the beautiful title track: maybe my fave avantasia or tobias track ever! In my opinion, this is not an absolute masterpiece, but is pretty damn close. for all open-minded metal/hard rock fans, this is a must. Thank god (or the devil or whatever is cool these days) he decided to make this album!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A more accurate score would be 7 out of 10, 14 Feb. 2008
By 
Big Jim "Big Jim" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Scarecrow (Audio CD)
Strato666 gives an excellent track by track listing below and I agree with much of what he says. For me however, surprisingly, the stand out track is Mr Alice Cooper's contribution on "The Toymaster". Superb! The other rockier numbers are excellent as well although I am not so struck by the lead vocals on track one - and I'm a big fan of Kamelot - but they seem somehow forced and not quite "all there". Maybe it's just me.

Now, the downside. I got lots of negative votes when I described the last Nightwish album as "Andrew Lloyd Webber with electric guitars" amongst other things, so I would crave your indulgence here to state that tracks 5 and 10, the two "ballads" err dangerously close to this level. At least on first listen. Second time around though, they do exhibit a catchy enough appeal which will have the mobile phones aloft whenever played live. To be honest they are Euro-ballads by numbers, no more no less, so if you like that sort of thing then fair enough. So lose a mark for that, half a mark for some less than powerful vocals on track one and you arrive at my 7/10.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The first part of The Wicked Trilogy. Good but not perfect, 16 May 2010
By 
This review is from: The Scarecrow (Audio CD)
Avantasia is a project composed and put together by vocalist Tobias Sammet of Edguy. The first Avantasia release was 'The Metal Opera' in 2001 and its sequel followed in 2002. The albums featured numerous guest musicians such as Michael Kiske, Kai Hansen, David DeFeis, Timo Tolkki, Henjo Ritcher and Sharon Den Adel. Both Metal Opera's are regarded as some of the best, modern power metal albums. The project was revived in 2007 with the release of two EP's, entitled 'Lost In Space', promoting the next full length Avantasia concept album.

"The Scarecrow" was released in 2008 and became one of the twenty best selling albums in Europe. The music and atmosphere of the album was different when compared to previous Avantasia releases. This fact alienated some old fans but also attracted new ones. The music on The Scarecrow leaned more towards hard rock, rather than power metal and the guest musicians involved came from various musical genres. All in all, The Scarecrow is a monumental album, with great songwritting and some outstanding vocal performances.

The main musicians, who are featured on all tracks, are Tobias Sammet on bass and lead vocals, Sascha Paeth (ex-Heaven's Gate) on guitars and Eric Singer (Kiss) on drums. Guest musicians include Henjo Richter (Gamma Ray), Kai Hansen (ex-Helloween, Gamma Ray) and Rudolf Schenker (Scorpions).

The cast of guest vocalists features several big names from both rock and metal. Alice Cooper, Jorn Lande (ex-Ark, Masterplan), Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween, Place Vendome), Roy Khan (Kamelot), Bob Catley (Magnum), Oliver Hartmann (ex-At Vance) and Amanda Somerville (Aina).

The music can be described as bombastic, epic and varied. There are several hard rock influenced tracks, some fast power metal numbers, one heavy metal tune, two soft rock songs, a pop song and a couple of ballads. The instrumental portion of the album is exceptional, featuring memorable guitar riffs, excellent guitar solo battles and solid drumming. The vocal performances vary from truly outstanding to acceptable.

The best song on offer is surely the over 10 minute, epic title track. "The Scarecrow" starts with a Celtic intro, brakes into hard rock territory, contains slow and faster tempo moments and features a symphonic passage as well. The song's chorus is really strong and addictive, the vocal battle between Tobias Sammet and Jorn Lande is amazing and there is also a long guitar solo before the majestic finale. Jorn Lande's vocals truly stand out; as he delivers a wonderful David Coverdale meets Ronnie James Dio performance. Michael Kiske also appears, towards the end, singing some higher notes in the background. A definite highlight and one of the best songs Sammet has ever composed!

"Shelter From The Rain" is another strand out track and the faster song on offer. The song carries an old Helloween vibe and features some of Eric Singer's most impressive drum work, both Henjo Richter and Kai Hansen on lead guitars and Sammet, Michael Kiske and Bob Catley on vocals. It includes a melodic and epic intro, fast double bass drumming, an amazing high pitched vocal performance by Kiske, a shining chorus, an outstanding guitar battle between Richter and Hansen and a fitting hard rock passage, with great vocals by Catley.

"The Toy Master" is a track sang by Alice Cooper and the only song containing a minimal vocal performance by Sammet. The song starts with an eerie atmosphere and soon kicks into a memorable and strong hard rock mode. The song is played in mid tempo, contains an acceptable performance by Cooper, a nice chorus, excellent guitar solos, a great bridge with strong riffing and a power metal climax.

"Another Angel Down" is a somewhat typical power metal tune, featuring a strong vocal performance by both Lande and Sammet. Nice guitar leads, a memorable guitar battle and an uplifting chorus round off the track perfectly.

"Twisted Mind" is the album's opener and another strong tune. It begins very effectively, with a wall of heavy guitar riffs, contains some great guitar melodies and carries a dark atmosphere. Roy Khan sings together with Sammet, providing a fitting vocal performance to the songs mood. The chorus is nice but nothing mindblowing, while the track drags a little towards the end.

Some of the remaining songs are also good, but not to the extent of the aforementioned ones. "Devil In The Belfry" is a catchy up-tempo track. It starts nicely, with a fitting guitar solo, contains further good vocals by Lande, but its chorus is too bombastic and unimpressive, dragging the song down. "Cry Just A Little" is an average acoustic ballad, while "I Don't Believe In Your Love" is a mediocre rocker with nice guitar work. The remaining songs are two softer pop-rock tracks (Carry Me Over and Lost in Space), sang entirely by Sammet and a pop ballad (What Kind Of Love) with the female vocalist Amanda Somerville. These three tracks, while not terrible, damage the flow of the album and feel out of place.
(There is a much better, 'extended version' of the song Lost in Space - featured on The Lost In Space part1&2 album - with Michael Kiske on vocals and an added guitar solo)

Overall a strong album and the first part of "The Wicked Trilogy" concept, which was completed in 2010 with the release of two new albums. When compared to its sequels, (The Wicked Symphony and Angel Of Babylon) The Scarecrow is probably weaker than the second album and more uneven; due to some weak songs, the fact that Sammet gets the lion's share of the vocals and the absence of continuity between the tracks. Still a memorable album with some great tracks and amazing vocals.

(Be sure to check out 'The Wicked Symphony' and 'Angel Of Babylon')
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5.0 out of 5 stars Complex, Diverse, and Loads of fun, 3 July 2011
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This review is from: The Scarecrow (Audio CD)
I first heard the song 'The Scarecrow' on YouTube - and even on laptop speakers and fairly low volume and sound quality, the quality of the music just oozed out. You can feel straight away that this is metal of a very high standard.

The melodies throughout the album are fantastic - the kind you would expect to hear from giants such as Iron Maiden or Dream Theater.

The songs are so varied that there's bound to be one or two that you're not too sure about - but they're all very well written, and performed with expert precision. With guest appearances from the likes of Alice Cooper and Bob Catley, this album is dripping with passion and packed with mega riffs, emotive melodies and soaring choruses.

The top 3 songs on the album (for me) are 'Twisted Mind', 'The Scarecrow' and 'Toy Master'.

'Carry Me Over' is a rock-ballad that might remind you of Aerosmith.

'What Kind of Love' is a slow and operatic ballad that could have been in the Gladiator soundtrack - it's very well done, there's no question - but I feel it may be a little TOO light to be on so early in the album. But that's a very minor quibble (and an odd one, I know).

On the whole this album is very enjoyable. It's so complex, that with some of the songs - the more you hear them the more you will enjoy them.

If you've ever liked anything by Iron Maiden, Dream Theater, Aerosmith, Opeth, Dragonforce, or Meat Loaf - you'll most likely enjoy something here, too.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best albums ever? You bet!, 19 Nov. 2009
By 
Sondre Stromsheim "SondrMan" (Bergen, Norway) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Scarecrow (Audio CD)
Ok, ok, ok.. Alot of guys has complained about how Avantasia/Edguy is evolving.. but why? I must say the Metal Opera Part I & II have some cool songs. But overall it is pretty average albums. Nothing special, almost every song sounds the same and even sometimes it seems childish. But it is two OK albums! The double-drumming, the fast paced guitars, the high vocals and the superfast solos gets pretty boring at times. And the story is only a typical good vs. evil thing.

But now over to "The Scarecrow". It is maybe the best album ever, if you ask me. It has variety; some rock songs, metal, power metal and ballads. Tobias Sammet has taken a step forward, not backwards. Some say he has betrayed his fans, but that's just ridiculous. Sammet has turned into a artist who can make all kinds of music. And I for one love the story. Very original and interesting.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent album but..., 7 Feb. 2008
By 
D. Brix (Leicester, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Scarecrow (Audio CD)
I can only agree with Strato666.
In fact I was about to start just the same: this album is NOT a metal opera and there is no physical continuity between the tracks.
At first you can be a bit disappointed an after a few listenings... you just can't get it out of your player !
Great technicality, good rhythm, good lyrics, slow, speed, everything you can expect from Tobias Sammet !

So why just an average mark ?
Well for the simple reason that 2 out of the 12 tracks is already featured in the previous album !!! (Lost in Space is even featured 4 times over the last 3 cds).
I mean, having these tracks as bonus on the limited edition, I would understand but part of the album... Sounds a bit cheap Toby !

I definitely recommend this album to the Edguy and Avantasia Fans,
For the others, you'd better start with The Metal Opera albums and Lost in Space part 1 or 2.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Scarecrow - Awesome, 16 Sept. 2008
By 
Bagpuss (Aberdeen, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Scarecrow (Audio CD)
Having never heard of Tobias Sammet before buying this album, I wasn't weighed down with the pre Metal Opera baggage.
Tobias has delivered an album that for me is the best of the year.
What surprised me most was the fact that Avantasia was a collaboration and in the past, collaboration albums have never been good. This was the exception.

From the belting 'Scarecrow' to for me, the best track 'Lost In Space', this album delivers in bucketloads.
Well worth the cash.
Tobias Sammet is a genius!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Rock School, 18 May 2008
This review is from: The Scarecrow (Audio CD)
I love this album, but then I like Rock School with Jack Black.

Think back to the bit in the film where JB makes up an epic off the top of his head. You're getting close.

Throw in a slice of Meat Loaf and a sprinkling of Alice Cooper and you're getting warmer.

Then to top it all off chuck in metal riffin', hair bangin', bodice rippin' rock 'n' roll and you're off and away.

Car music if there ever was such a thing !

Simply Wunderbar
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4.0 out of 5 stars very good, 20 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: The Scarecrow (Audio CD)
Some very strong songs on this album, the title track in particular is superb and one of their best. The opening song and 'shelter from the rain' are second while alice coopers track is also a beast of a tune.

I probably rank this just behind the metal opera albums, but it is miles ahead of the other three. Personally I think Sammet's work with early Edguy is superior but if you already know it then this is a decent alternative.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Avantasia, 3 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: The Scarecrow (Audio CD)
What can I say?! Mind blowingly powerful tracks, Metal heads will love it, as will many others. But it really doesn't show itself properly unless you play it LOUD. Through headphones preferably. All tracks are great, if I had to choose weak ones (which there are none, really) it would be maybe "Cry just a little". But its not really weak. Just not my preferred track. GET IT!
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