Avantasia - The Scarecrow
Brought to you by one of Europe's most popular power-metal vocalists, Tobias Sammet, Avantasia is a project based around a concept based around the evident combination of words in their name proper. The Scarecrow may or may not continue the theme, I am unaware and this is my first experience with the band. I've been a moderate fan of Edguy (Tobias' "other" band) for some time, and there are certainly some similarities between the two. But I would say that Avantasia, at least on this album, lean more towards the melodic and the uplifting, cheesy sort of power metal you'll most likely recognize right off the bat as either being totally up your alley or totally lame.
The band is rounded out by an impressive array of musicians, both permanent and guests. Power metal star guitarist Sascha Paeth just recently joined the fold and brings a steady amount of straight-foward, melodic riffing and tasteful leads. Drummer Eric Singer is a legend in his own right and has been apart of this project since it's conception. On The Scarecrow, the three (and many others) work together to create a consise piece of music that flows extremely well, but it somewhat slowed down by the odd power ballad that they have a hard time pulling off. "Twisted Mind" is the perfect power-metal album opener, mid-paced with a triumphant chorus that reaches for the sky. Placing the 11-minute title track at #2 is a bit of a gamble but pays off as it ends up being one of the album's highlights, never showing signs of filler or lackluster writing. The next few tracks are really iffy, especially "Carry Me Over" and "What Kind Of Love", the latter featuring the vocals of well-known metal collaborist Amanda Somerville. She hits her notes perfectly but the balladeering falls flat in the company of the rockers throughout. The middle of the album picks up with "Another Angel Down" and, my personal favorite, "The Toy Master", which features the ageless Alice Cooper doing what he does best; adding the creepy factor.
There are just too many slow, pondering, aimless ballads here to give The Scarecrow a high score. Not my cup of tea, only when done incredibly well and they're simply average through the lens of Avantasia. However there's plenty to enjoy here, especially the epic title track and "The Toy Master". While I won't say "Pick this album up NOW", I will recommend it to any power-metal fans out there, as it's an honest and well-written album from front to back...just a touch too sappy at times.
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