Avantasia - The Mystery of Time - A Rock Epic

Avantasia - The Mystery of Time - A Rock Epic cover
The Mystery of Time - A Rock Epic
Nuclear Blast
To-BiE, or not to Tobie? As long as you don’t Bieber... brother, you’re fine... I can’t seem able to shut up and Tobias Sammet, can’t seem able to stop putting out Avantasia albums.
Every time, he seems to think it’s the last time, since it’s “hard times” and who’s going to buy them?! Since they cost an arm and a leg to make… but since – apparently – people seem to actually line up in droves to buy actual copies and do go to his shows, he’s not really suffering that much...! He’s also been afforded the chance to bugger about with orchestras and various of his childhood heroes… so that can’t be THAT BAD!!!
“The Mystery of Time” has been released in multiple formats, like a simple CD, a limited edition digibook (that we’ll be reviewing here, with 2 additional bonus tracks) the obligatory LP versions, I think two of them – a black and a picture one and finally also an earbook edition – which is some sort of an oversized book – approximately the size of a vinyl – that replicates the art found in the digibook and adds some more material + another disk with instrumental mixes but unfortunately omits the bonus tracks. A very much sought after canvas printed edition of this version, exists, but it was almost instantly sold out, rendering it, into some sort of an (e-bay) holy grail. Anyhow.
Inside the booklet reads…
“So take the time to follow me into a small old English town during the Victorian era and join a young agnostic scientist by the name Aaron Blackwell as he is forced to explore the coherency of time, God and science; torn between belief in his professional conviction, his spiritual intuition, love and a lodge of scientific occultists”...
Hmm intriguing…
“Spectres” opens up the “epic” with Tobias introducing the tune – not long before Joe Lynn Turner of Rainbow, Deep Purple and countless others fame, joins him to provide some “answers”... it’s a fairly impressive song, with a dramatic rise and pompous chorus that is really quite ideal for a starter as it has this big and boisterous air that – makes it the best substitute for a missing overture...
“The Watchmakers’ Dream” keeps Turner and Tobi, exchanging lines, in fact, a lot more frequently and as such, it's a lot faster, in tempo, quite an allegro piece, with some prog moogy sounds going through it’s latter part as well… oooh...
“Black Orchid” has “Biff Byford” the legendary vocalist of British metal gods Saxon, reasoning young Tobi, sorry I meant Aaron “Blackwell” and Biff is “Reason” (really?!?) haha! Well, this is far slower more pretentious track with crazy string orchestrations and it’s got a ton of atmosphere. It’s got a great melody... not a million miles away – from a slight portion of “Tears of a Mandrake” at one point, there’s a slight parallel… but at the same time it’s quite different… but it will give you a similar chill I guess.
“Where Clock Hands Freeze” has the great Michael Kiske, adorning it with his golden, angelical, voice. Assuming the role of the “Antiquarian” Tobi, comes in and does a verse, and both I think do the final two! Pretty sweet tune!
“Sleepwalking” is the single that sees Tobi/Aaron B, dueting with some cute Asian lady – that I’ve never heard of ever before by the name of “Cloudy Yang” who’s “SHE” probably meaning the heroes love interest, one would assume?
“Savior in the Clockwork” one of the albums – minor epics – at 10+ minutes, has all Turner, Byford and Kiske exchanging with Tobias/Aaron, and trying to give him advice about how to handle… his “situation”... it's quite a piece – as it’s has quite a few moods. “Biffs” sections for instance are mostly dreamy and psychedelic, while – with JLT and Kiske, things are more as you’d expect them. The chorus of the song is quite a diamond too.
“Invoke the Machine” has Pretty Maids front man, Ronnie Atkins as a Nobleman, engaging into a conversation with Tobi/Aaron, and it was almost pushed out as a sort of second single of sorts. It’s a riffy and rocking track and Ronnie is awesome, but they song itself, is rather weird in its prose, so I suppose, I can’t really say that I thought it was the best choice for a single...?!
In “What's Left of Me” Eric Martin the honey voiced vocalist of Mr Big, is a beggar – with no name – that’s right – he’s credited as a nameless beggar... It’s a big ballad with a ton of strings and lush orchestrations... really beautiful. Tobi & Eric trade of verses and sing the last verse together… in a glorious conclusion.
“Dweller in a Dream” is initially Tobi then Kiske assumes the rest of it, with both sharing the bridges and Chorus parts. It's again the “Aaron” conversing with the “Antiquarian” I think – in his sleep. It’s a fast, one but rather wimpy… but good fun.... lots of melody, it’s even funny how I think that they might have thrown a couple of popular classic heavy metal licks in there … but I’m not 100 % sure!
Finally “The Great Mystery (of Time)” concludes the “concept” of the album. “Sir” Bob Catley, is on this one, making this one – sound one extra Bit like Magnum. I mean – Avantasia – in a lot of places sounds like Magnum anyway – I suppose, Tobias, must love the band anyway, their luscious, pompous style, their excellent sense of melody, and all, by here – having their vocalist makes it -just one bit truer... to the original. JLT, is also on it – but you would hardly be able to tell, cause when he sings around the third minute, he does so, in such a harsh manner, that you’d imagine it’s Dio or Jorn! (Go Joe!) There’s even a bit of Biff, thrown in there for good measure, after all he’s reason – isn’t he!? Obviously – this is another epic of 10+ minutes – So Catley rides again to the rescue... there are even some fake “diminuendos” almost bringing the song to a standstill, more than once, until the final huge conclusion and exit.
“The Cross And You” is the first of the two bonus tracks, and it’s a decent rocker with a decidedly more darker tone and well simpler presentation, instrumentation... it’s essentially done much closer to what an Edguy tune would be and not an Avantasia one might be...?!
“Death is Just a Feeling” (Alternative Version/Tobias Sammet) is an alternative version, with vocals by Tobias, instead of Jon Oliva. It was originally included in the previous Avantasia album “Angel of Babylon” so I guess it was a rather easy thing to do... Tobi has to over-sing it a bit, to compensate for the difference between his “timbre” and Oliva’s but he’s doing a respectable job I think reinterpreting his own song… and making it his own, I guess since he owns it anyway...
Overall – It’s a fairly decent effort, the best Avantasia album from a technical standpoint. But I’d dare say that, the best one will forever be the original metal operas (both parts). It may be a little amateur, by today’s standards but the songs ROCKED. Then “The Scarecrow” is just AWESOME. Still most of the live set is based around it... and while the (other two albums that followed in its wake are not that good – it’s still a trilogy and they are not THAT BAD, they are just not THAT GOOD), so somehow, “The Mystery of Time” should have been beyond amazing to really be able to beat those. To release another Avantasia album so soon and to not suck, which – well this doesn’t was a surprising feat to pull off, but I think Tobias, should not wear himself too thin, he should just “recharge” for a bit... and then release something new – once he’s all juiced up... again, obviously, I am not to say to the man when he should go to the “bank” or to the “toilet” or to the “studio” but, you get the picture… we don’t want bonus tracks, we only want “bonner” tracks ie tracks that give us bonners! (I think doctor Tobi might be prescribing me a box if Ciallis and the new CD by Steel Panter out later this year!).
Well – just to wrap up the biz with the album – if you have the other ones – you’d like to get this one too, if you haven’t got the other ones, leave this one for last. But on its own it’s a solid 7,5.
PS: Rodney Mathews has done another one of his awesome covers… just plainly awesome!