Avantasia Album Review – ‘Ghostlights’

Avantasia have long become a mainstay of modern power metal. Started by Edguy-fronter Tobias Sammet as a project in 2001, Avantasia have developed into his symphonic all-star band. ‘Ghostlight’ is the seventh album of Avantasia and just as the previous releases the album features several highly decorated giants of the metal world like Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider, ex-Queensryche  vocalist Geoff Tate, Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween), Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids), Sharon Del Adel (Within Temptation), Bob Catley (Magnum), Bruce Kulick (ex-Kiss and ex-Meatloaf)… The list goes on.

In a way ‘Ghostlights’ isn’t really a surprise. A star-studded line-up, symphonic power metal and an overarching lyrical concept can be expected from an Avantasia album. On the other hand, ‘Ghostlights’ offers a lot more elements than previous records. The album is certainly the most diversified Tobias Sammet, the sole composer, has created so far. The tracks range from the Meatloaf-inspired opener ‘Mystery Of A Blood Red Rose’ and typical power metal, up—tempo tracks like the title song to a couple of ballads and more AOR-type songs. One thing is consistent throughout the album though and that is the production. Nothing less than impeccable would be accepted by Tobias Sammet and impeccable it is. The album was again produced by Sammet himself and Sascha Paeth, a team that has proven to be successful in the past.

Highlights are found in abundance. There is the metal ballad ‘The Haunting’ with Dee Snider on vocals. ‘Another metal ballad’, I hear you say? Listen to Snider’s vocals. They give the whole track a creepy and weird atmosphere which transforms the track from just another metal ballad into one of the strongest tracks on ‘Ghostlights’. By the way, the title track is another one of the highlights. The first impression is that this song could be straight off a Helloween record. Then the vocals set in and you realise this is actually Michael Kiske, former Helloween front man and responsible for some of the genre-defining power metal classics. Good to hear that his voice is still at a top-level.

‘Seduction Of Decay’ has got to be on the highlight list just because it has the best riff on the album. Besides the catchy riff, the track is also the heaviest on the album and features ex-Queensryche front man Geoff Tate, a perfect combination for this track. Last but not least I have ‘Draconian Love’ on the list. The track is probably the biggest surprise with an outstanding vocal performance of Herbie Langhans (Sinbreed). If Andrew Eldritch should ever get tired of singing in Sisters Of Mercy, Langhans would be the perfect solution.

Overall ‘Ghostlights’ is a strong album and probably Avanatsia’s best so far. It shines because of its diversity and attention to detail. The 70 minutes, the record offers, can be quite demanding but also pretty rewarding for the listener. An Avantasia album always requires time to discover all the little nuances and details. This is definitely true for ‘Ghostlights’.