Sascha Paeth’s Masters Of Ceremony - Signs of Wings

Sascha Paeth’s Masters Of Ceremony Signs of Wings cover
Sascha Paeth’s Masters Of Ceremony
Signs of Wings
Frontiers Music srl
In truth, other than being involved in the resurrection and continuation of Avantasia as a band (where Tobias Sammet is the main composer, one would presume), Sascha Paeth hasn’t been to active musically, other that producing and performing, so the announcement of a new album by a new band he created came as a bit of a surprise and immediately created a lot of questions at the back of my mind. What would it sound like, who would involve and all that. Little by little details surfaced and filled in the blanks. Then the actual album was made available and boy oh boy, I don’t think anything could have prepared me for it.
Consisting of Adrienne Cowan (Seven Spires, Avantasia) a petite lady that’s a little vocal powerhouse along with Andre and Felix from Avantasia among others, Masters Of Ceremony seems to be a culmination of good ideas Paeth had, in a variety of styles that Cowan seems able to bring to life without much effort. She’s got quite a range sounding a little bit like Doro when she’s singing sweetly or she pushes the pedal to the metal, crossed with what Alissa wished she sounded like when singing clean. Sascha offers some of his most tasteful guitar playing in a while. Not that he’s bad in Avantasia (I mean he’s a great guitarist) but here he’s also the main composer, so the overall style is more personal and edgier. There’s a great balance in the songwriting between SP’s “old school” past, as most of his playing, if one was to review it separately, ain’t too modern sounding, but his expert production envelopes it in a dynamic modern and edgy production that has the volume and oomph to avoid sounding dated. Cowan’s vocals are spread smoothly all over the mix and are quite pleasant, although the Priest fan in me might have liked her even a little more separated, but just a tiny bit more…
“The Time has Come” begins with a heavy and hard hitting riff that’s followed by a fusillade of drumming that keeps going on, as AC enters the fray with some pretty awesome vocals that reminded me of an edgier, much feistier version of Kimberly Goss from the now disbanded Sinergy. Powerful, edgy, shouty metal, that doesn’t stray from melody.
“Die Just a Little” drops speed to a mid-tempo and has mysterious keys that give it a Kamelot like atmosphere; Cowan starts to sing the first verse rather unassumingly, but as soon as she launches into the chorus OMG… I got vibes of Angtoria, or even a bit of “Where the Wild Roses Grow”, with trimmings of Edguy and even tiny hints of Arch Enemy, when Cowan screams her heart out… quite versatile a performer and what a song! Love it!
“Radar” is frigging weird. It kicks off with a heavy riff coupled by some heavy handed drumming… almost something that you’d expect from an industrial band, as soon as Cowan takes the lead, it gets closer to typical heavy metal and as she goes into the chorus it turns into almost a sea santy, complete with friggin accordions… and just throws in a growly line in there, just for shits and giggles, where she sounds like a thousand sea devils. Impressive… and she only becomes more endearing to the ear, with all the vocal acrobatics she undertakes after the short and sweet solo that ensues in the middle. That’s careful, well thought out songwriting at its best.
“Where Would It Be” begins with some cool somewhat tribal drumming, which has a super simple but persistent riff following it. The irresistible vocal feels like a mix of Angra, Doro and Edguy and Nightwish with Cowan sounding like a fist in a velvet glove. Pretty amazing.
And while one would expect the album to run out of “good” songs, by some point, “My Anarchy” just begins with a cascade of notes and one of the most multifaceted performances by Cowan in the entire album, as she sounds edgy, angry, angelic and melodic at will. Just wow!
“Wide Awake” has a darker tone, not entirely dissimilar to some of the more dramatic Kamelot material… it does begin to show a little bit of “stylistical fatigue”, as its verses are rather unimpressive, but the chorus and Cowan’s delivery do carry it through and its solo nicely slots in and even goes on in unison with a last chanting of the chorus.
I was about to say that the next song would have been pivotal in the flow of the album, even before “The Path” had started… very wisely it’s a very stripped down ballad. Cowan doesn’t even try too hard to emote, as her progressively softening singing does the job wonderfully. Without being the best ballad ever, it fits the album well, provides a breather and feels genuine, instead of an over-dramatic by the numbers number.
“Sick” has a very appropriate title. Imagine Sinergy (verses/bridge) colliding with Arch Enemy (chorus) with a driving riff that any classic metal band might have been quite proud of. It does well into diversifying the album and catering even to the people more into “growly” shit.
“Weight of the World” begins in a cheerful power metal cliché way, only for Cowan to take it into a more adventurous classic metal territory with her Doro-esque vocals. Then the chorus feels like some weird blast from Edguy’s past... with a solo section that wouldn’t have felt out of place in one of the heavier Ayreon efforts. I must say that I likey, quite much!
“Bound in Vertigo” once again seems to open with a shanty like melody, only to go a little space opera, while not discarding the shanty element for the chorus. While the style has given epic songs in the past, bands like Alestorm did it a great disservice by over-relying on it and making the oddest keyboard sound choices. Sufficient to say, MOC don’t make a mockery of the form, but offer a rather measured and mature take on it, complete with a quite emotive solo. While it ain’t the best song on the album – it does mix things up, without resolving to just regurgitating a plethora of clichés other bands rely on for their entirety of their careers.
Lastly, “Signs of Wings” is another soft song, at least at first, before it launches in a bit of a heavy metallic assault. If you could think of a folk kind of berber or Mediterranean song, suddenly getting a Priest-like riff electrifying it, while it continues to progress with Cowan stepping up to the challenge, without having to resolve to screaming, at least not until the songs climax. Doro would have killed to have written something like this. Superbly lyrical and ingenious on account of Sascha and equally breathtaking because of Ms. Cowan’s contributions.
This is what modern metal should sound like… powerful lyrical and awesome!