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on 3 April 2010
(This review is for the 2CD 'Box Set' edition of The Wicked Symphony & Angel Of Babylon)

Avantasia is a project composed and put together by vocalist Tobias Sammet of Edguy. The first Avantasia releases were the 'The Metal Opera' parts 1 and 2. Both records are regarded as some of the best, modern power metal albums and feature famous guests such as Michael Kiske, Kai Hansen and Timo Tolkki. The project was revived in 2008 with the release of the album 'The Scarecrow'. The album featured famous guests such as Alice Cooper, Jorn Lande and Rudolf Schenker, among others and the music leaned more towards hard rock rather than power metal. The Scarecrow was amongst the 20 best selling albums in Europe upon it's release.

On April 3, 2010, Tobias Sammet released The Scarecrow's sequel, as a double album named "The Wicked Symphony & Angel Of Babylon" or as two separate disks. The main musicians remain the same, with Tobias Sammet on bass and lead vocals, Sascha Paeth (ex-Heaven's Gate) on guitars and Eric Singer (Kiss) on drums.

The cast of guest vocalists includes some of the biggest names in rock and metal! Klaus Meine (Scorpions), Tim Owens (ex-Judas Priest, ex-Iced Earth), Jon Oliva (Savatage, Jon Oliva's Pain), Jorn Lande (ex-Ark, Masterplan), Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween, Place Vendome), Russell Allen (Symphony X), Bob Catley (Magnum), Andre Matos (ex-Angra, Shaaman), Cloudy Yang and Ralf Zdiarstek.

Guest musicians include guitarists Bruce Kulick (ex-Kiss, ex-Meat Loaf) and Oliver Hartmann (ex-At Vance), keyboardist Jens Johansson (Stratovarius) and both Alex Holzwarth (Rhapsody) and Felix Bohnke (Edguy) on drums.

Both The Wicked Symphony and Angel Of Babylon are outstanding albums. They offer plenty of musical variety and especially The Wicked Symphony can be regarded as the best Avantasia release up to today. As in the prequel, the music focuses more on hard rock with bombastic choruses and great guitar melodies. Nevertheless, there are at least three fast paced power metal tracks, several heavy metal pieces, some ballads and a few progressive touches scattered throughout the two albums. Additionally, some symphonic passages, big choirs and several extended guitar battles add further colors to the music.

Most of the songs manage to stand out and only a few fall short.

"The Wicked Symphony" is one of the longest tracks on offer and probably one of the most varied peaces on the albums. It begins with a slow symphonic intro, which is soon joined by a section of hard rock riffs. The verses are powered by a vocal battle between Sammet, Russell Allen and Jorn Lande. The chorus features choirs and is catchy and huge. There are several tempo changes, symphonic parts and a long guitar solo. The title track is one of the best songs on offer and both Allen and Lande give outstanding performances.

The single "Dying For An Angel", features Klaus Meine on vocals and is probably the most catchy and accessible rocker. The song features nice balladry vocals on the mellow verses and a big melodic rock chorus, with Meine's vocals harkening back to the Scorpions.

"Wastelands" is one of the strongest songs on both albums, even though it is a somewhat typical power metal tune. It begins with a majestic intro (similar to Helloween's March Of Time) and soon kicks into fast double bass speed with the addition of a melodic guitar solo. Michael Kiske hits some higher notes on the verses and soars to the heaven's on the epic chorus. This is probably Kiske's best vocal performance on a fast power metal song since the 90's. Tobias takes the lead for the second verse and chorus and an extended exchange of guitar solos between Oliver Hartmann and Sascha Paeth follows.

"Stargazers" is the second longest song after The Wicked Symphony and features vocals by Tobias Sammet, Jorn Lande, Michael Kiske, Russell Allen and a brief performance by Oliver Hartmann. On guitars we have Bruce Kulick and Sascha Paeth. The song begins with a ballad type intro and explodes into fast paced double bass tempo, heading for the bridge and chorus. Half way to the song the music switches to a slow lead guitar passage, changes into faster speed again for an impressive guitar battle and drops to a mid-tempo hard rock mode, continuing in that vein until the end. Stargazers contains a memorable power metal chorus, good vocal transitions, impressive solos, tempo changes and both Michael Kiske and Jorn Lande in top form. Definitely one of the best songs here.

"Death Is Just A Feeling" featuring Jon Oliva is the most theatrical song. It begins in a slow tempo and gets heavier in the pre-chorus. Oliva sings in an eerie way, reminding of Alice Cooper on The Toy Master, while the verses provide a creepy atmosphere. The chorus is bombastic, addictive and very fitting for Oliva's voice.

"Runaway Train" is another long song, which can be best described as something between a ballad and a Meat Loaf type of slow rocker. The vocals are shared between Bob Catley, Tobias Sammet and Jorn Lande, while Michael Kiske sings a small part towards the end. The chorus of the song is memorable and bombastic, a mid-tempo Magnum like rock passage is included and the guitar solos throughout the track are outstanding. The voices of the different singers work very well together.

"Promised Land" is an up-tempo hard rock/melodic metal song, with a very powerful chorus, an enjoyable guitar solo and a fine vocal performance by Jorn Lande. Promised Land is another sure highlight.

"Scales Of Justice" features an aggressive Tim 'Ripper' Owens on vocals and is one of the heavier tracks on both albums. The song contains heavy riffing and a good chorus, but suffers from similarities to Iced Earth and a strange Queen-like passage instead of a guitar solo. Nevertheless, a song to check out especially if you enjoy Tim's vocals.

"Your Love Is Evil" is a simple, but catchy rock track. It has a late Edguy feel, a pleasing chorus and a memorable vocal performance by Sammet.

"States Of Matter" is another enjoyable mid-tempo hard rock song. Strong guitar riffs, great vocals by Russell Allen and Sammet, a memorable chorus and a fitting guitar solo round of the track perfectly.

"Symphony Of Life" is a very nice mid tempo gothic/metal song. The track is sang by the female vocalist Cloudy Yang and features symphonic backings, choirs and a very good chorus. While memorable, Symphony Of Life, sounds very out of place on the album.

"Journey To Arcadia" is another theatrical highlight, with great melodies and Bob Catley's strongest vocal performance on the new albums. Nice vocal transitions between Sammet and Allen and a good chorus. All in all a good closing track, nothing more and nothing less.

The remaining songs are quality offerings as well, but not to the extend of the aforementioned tracks.

Fortunately, there are no big disadvantages on this release. One of the major drawbacks of previous Avantasia releases was the fact that Sammet got the lion's share of the vocals. Thankfully Sammet's appearance is minimal on the tunes were the big names like Oliva, Maine and Owens sing, while the longer tracks are vocally more well balanced. One negative point is the fact that although this was supposed to be a concept album, the songs don't flow perfectly together in order to create continuity. Another disadvantage is the inclusion of many mid-tempo and slower rock songs (especially on Angel Of Babylon) and not enough heavier or faster tracks, to perfectly balance the release. One can also argue that with the exclusion of Jorn Lande, the guest vocalists don't get to sing on more than one or two songs.

If listened as a single release and not as two separate albums, "The Wicked Symphony & Angel Of Babylon" probably surpasses both The Scarecrow and The Metal Opera's. Surely some older, classic Avantasia songs like The Seven Angels, Farewell, The Tower and The Scarecrow are not topped here, but the new release is stronger as a whole.

If judged as two separate releases, The Wicked Symphony is surely the better album, as it contains stronger songs and a larger number of guest vocalists. Angel Of Babylon falls a little short due to some weaker songs.

Tobias Sammet should be congratulated for creating this impressive rock opera and for being one of the best modern day songwriters, in both rock and metal.

(The Box Set edition features the 2 albums in digibook cases and a booklet containing an extensive interview, a biography and numerous photos)
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on 27 August 2010
OK. I have to admit that I'm not much into rock (yet). In fact, I'm moving from a classical/celtic/pop/soul/jazz background to an alternative/rock/heavy music. This means that I know nothing of Avantasia's previous releases or about previous bands of its components.

I bought this in a local shop just because I liked the cover (so simple) of the box. Then I looked at the individual CDs and felt curious so I decided to buy it.
I was blown away after the first listening! It's got everything I could wish and much more. Fantastic album! And after reading other customer's reviews (with more knowledge) I believe it was an excellent purchase :-)

Totally recommended!
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on 6 October 2010
Tobias Sammet is better known as the leader singer of Edguy. This solo project and album 'The Wicked Symphony' is by far one of the best and most impressive power metal albums I have ever heard. It's mind blowing to think that one guy came up with this music!

This album has many guests appearance from other influential artists such as Tim Owens and Klaus Meine from Scorpions. This keeps it fresh and interesting from song to song.

Notable tracks are 'The Wicked Symphony' (it takes a while to get into the song, but it's worth every second), 'Scales of Justice' and 'Dying for an Angel (this time I'm being biased because Klaus Meine sing on this song).

I highly recommend this to all power metal fans.
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on 26 September 2013
amazing work. This album is one of the best I have listened to in the last year - yes I bought it quite late, but that's because I did not really think this would be so awesome. Well, big mistake I guess.
Anyway, the songs are really nice, powerful and sometimes even very passionate. It is easy to listen to while drawing doing other stuff. Also the story is quite lovely.
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on 12 May 2010
Tobias Sammet's Avantasia is a remarkably creative and energetic project involving good musicians and singers. The music is varied yet with a strong metal vein and a lot of loud and competent guitarplaying which I enjoy very much. It is even better than the Metal Opera by Avantasia and is a good follow-up to "The Scarecrow". The black box with three small books, containing the two CD's and interview and pictures respectively, is neatly made. Strongly recommended!
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on 23 January 2011
Critics have long been praising F. Mercury for the superb art of his songwriting, repeatedly quoting Bohemian Rhapsody as an example. Well, there are certainly references to be made to the songwriting of T. Sammet on Wicked Symphony.
He manages to intertwine beautiful meanigful lyrics and music which has got the intensity of a whisper in one moment, just to be lifted up to the sheer power of a perfect storm seconds later. Backed by strings and organs and led by nine of rocks most eminent vocalists these outstanding tracks evoke similar feelings of musical delight and passion as for example (and I dare to say) listening to Beethoven's Symphony No.5 does, at least as far as I am concerned.
What a Wicked Symphony from a bright mind and brilliant songwriter!!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 April 2010
I wish I'd bought the box set but like a fool I bought the single albums from the set in a well known chain retailer. MUG! I've missed out on the "extras"!

Anyway, the Wicked Symphony album by common consent is the better of the two, having more variety in the songs, more orchestration, less histrionic singing and a more "proggy" feel. It has echoes of the grandiosity of Queen, the over the top balladry of Bat out of Hell, and the lush yet heavy soundscapes of Dream Theater. George has spent a lot of time over his review so I recommend you read that for more detail, but if you are any way at all intrigued by a quality melodic, symphonic, heavy album then this may be the one for you.

No, it IS the one for you
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on 20 August 2013
The title accurately sums up this album, it just isn't great.

Dying for an Angel is the single you probably heard. I am a big fan of avantasia but this album just didnt stand out for me sadly.

We are all different of course, but I don't think you will be amazed by this album whoever you are....
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on 4 September 2010
Maybe it's just me, as going by the other reviews everyone seems to love this album. For me Avantasia have gone in a cheesy hard rock direction and moved away from the epic power metal that was Metal Opera part 1 and 2. I've given this CD a good few listens and I just can't get into it.
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on 31 May 2013
Tobias reached perfection and created a masterpiece odd at the conclusion of this trilogy. In addition, this box is very good and has everything you might want one duh. Show piece for sure!
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