Showing posts with label avantasia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label avantasia. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

video review: 'moonglow' by avantasia

So yeah, I really do wish I liked this more... eh, it happens, I guess?

Next up is Billboard BREAKDOWN and Resonators will be coming soon, but I might venture off into something strange... stay tuned!

Monday, February 25, 2019

album review: 'moonglow' by avantasia

So when I reviewed the newest Saor project, I made the statement it was one of my most anticipated metal releases of 2019... and funnily enough, the other one was released on the same day, and we're going to talk about it now. 

So, Avantasia - symphonic power metal project by mastermind Tobias Sammet, it was something that took a while to truly grip me. Unlike their progressive metal peer in Ayreon, the production wasn't always would it should be - especially early on - and while the projects could trigger some immediate standout tracks, I struggled to love the larger albums as a whole, all the more frustrating given they were intended to stand as album statements. More often they were uneven albums, good but not precisely great, and while I was initially high on their 2016 album Ghostlights as reaching that pinnacle, I expected it to fade on me... and I was dead wrong, because that album wound up making my year-end list and one of its songs cracking my top five favourite songs of 2016! And discovering how and why that album and the band's highlights in their larger discography have risen in my estimations in comparison with other acts has been a little fascinating, especially as my early opinions was that the project could trend toward overwrought cheesiness and being derivative, but with so many of those acts underwhelming in the 2010s with Avantasia only picking up steam with better production, more potent melodies, and better writing, I found myself really looking forward to this album! And like with all Avantasia projects, the guest vocalist lineup was stacked: Jorn Lande, Geoff Tate, Hansi Kursch of Blind Guardian, Candice Night of Blackmore's Night, Michael Kiske of Helloween, it was another stacked lineup and I was all ready for a gloriously theatrical release, which was exactly what Tobias Sammet was promising - and after the disappointment with Within Temptation, I needed that! So, enough fussing around: what did we get with Moonglow?

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

the top 50 best songs of 2016

I've gone on record that this list in particular is always the hardest to make. Refining a list of songs that I've covered on albums I've reviewed over the course of the year - which numbers in the thousands of songs - down to a select six hundred or so, then down to a subset of just under 200... and then the final fifty. Suffice to say, there's always a lot to cover.

But I have to say, this year felt easier than others. I'd say part of it is that I'm getting a better handle on my organization going into these lists, but that would assume I've got some inkling of what I'm doing here. I think the larger factor is that the truly amazing songs that monopolized my year - the top 35 or so - they fell into place remarkably quickly, and that made ironing out the details easier than I expected. Maybe it was because it was easier for me to get passionate about some of these tracks than before, because if you ventured away from the mainstream Hot 100, there was a lot of great music in 2016. Away from the charts there was great metal, rock, synthpop, hip-hop, and especially country, which had one of its best years in recent memory, and fair warning, there's going to be a lot of it on this list.

As always, the songs had to appear on any one of the albums I reviewed - singles or deep cuts, all are possible, so no more wasting time, we have a lot to get through! So let's start off crazy with...

Sunday, July 3, 2016

the top albums/songs of the midyear - 2016 (VIDEO)

Well, this video was a ton of fun to make. Took me less time than I expected too, but it's always one of my favourites every year.

Next up... look, I've never had any interest in Blink-182, so I kind of want to cover the Weval record or Blood Orange... but we are coming up to my third year anniversary, and you all should remember what that means, so stay tuned!

the top albums/songs of the midyear - 2016

There will be a lot of headlines that suggest that 2016 has not been a good year for music - and if you follow the mainstream between the losses of several legends and a haphazard set of releases that slide between underwhelming and disappointing, that's easy to believe.

Of course, that view is not really reflective of reality, because if you look away from the Billboard Hot 100 - which I would advise, it's been a rough six months there - there is quality here. I think the big issue comes in that there have been fewer than normal outright smashes and instant classics as there were at the midyear of 2015, which was really frontloaded with incredible records. 2016 has been more scattershot, with a lot of great records that don't quite rise to the level of immediate classics, and also a fair bit more diverse. Country and folk, for one, have been a great year across subgenres, underground hip-hop has been pretty solid, and there's some great R&B, metal, and rock music that I've liked a fair bit. And that's before you get the genre-bending stuff that sticks the landing incredibly well, and I'd argue we've seen a lot of that thus far.

What this means is that it's been excruciating trying to narrow this down to my usual top twelve, in that the top half was very straightforward but the bottom half is a lot harder to cut. So while I almost chose to open things up to a top fifteen albums of the mid year, I figured I might as well stick with tradition and keep it at twelve, which meant some painful cuts - some of which I think will surprise you. So without further ado, let's start with...

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

video review: 'ghostlights' by avantasia

Again, better late than never. And in this case, I'm happy to get it out, because this was a real welcome surprise.

In any case, Billboard BREAKDOWN coming up next, followed by that new Charles Kelley and maybe Pop. 1280 if I have time. But this weekend I'm going to be out of town, so it might be tight timing. Either way, stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

album review: 'ghostlights' by avantasia

So when I talked about The Mute Gods a few days ago, I brought how supergroups tend to market themselves - these people are attached to something you already know and like, and now they're working together, so you should buy that. In truth, that's one of a few ways, the second being a lot more complicated and unlikely: one artist with a defining vision recruiting a whole team of established artists in order to realize that grand plan.

Now some of you will inevitably point to hip-hop and say, 'Well, duh, we get this all the time', but this falls into a slightly different category, because how often do all those guest verses fit with the story or concept, presuming there's a story or concept at all. When you narrow it down like that, this list gets a lot smaller, and it also further divides into two categories, this time focusing on the man behind said project. Is he a musical genius capable of sketching out a vast world where every unique singer plays a distinct part, or is he simply an incredibly gifted networker who has some solid connections? In the former category in metal, the name that immediately jumps to mind is Arjen Lucassen, the founder of the progressive metal Ayreon project. And on the flipside, you have Tobias Sammet, frontman of Edguy and leader of the symphonic power metal project Avantasia.

Now I've been getting asked about my opinions on Avantasia since I mentioned that I like symphonic metal, but prior to doing this review, I had never really delved into them at length. So I took the opportunity to listen through their previous six albums and try to get a handle on the story that Sammet is writing - that's the big reason why this review is as late as it is. In short... I wish I liked this group a lot more than I do. Don't get me wrong, the group can often put together some spectacular symphonic metal songs, but the albums can feel pretty uneven, partially thanks to tracks not always doing enough to stand out from each other - with the exception of some godawful synth choices - partially because the writing can dip a little too often into metal cliche, and partially because the stories can get incomprehensible if you're trying to follow the plots. Now this upcoming record is following along from the story started on their 2013 project The Mystery of Time, a record aiming for grander symphonic presence, which focuses on a character in Victorian England falling in with what I'd basically described a steampunk machine cult. I definitely think it's a good, if hard-to-follow and frequently overwritten album, although I wouldn't say it always gives us their best individual songs, but apparently Ghostlights was going to be even bigger, even darker, even more grandiose... was that really the case?