BW&BK scribe Carl Begai attended a listening session at Nuclear Blast headquarters on January 19th in Donzdorf, Germany and has checked in with the following first impressions of the album:
"Folks have said Sammet and guitarist/producer Sascha Paeth lost the plot last time out in 2010 by releasing a 22 song double album that pounded the listener into submission with too much information. The Mystery Of Time sees the dynamic duo taking a step back and focusing on crafting a "simple" no-nonsense rock opera; 10 songs, two of 'em ballads, two of them hitting the 10+ minute mark, and influences/inspiration worn shamelessly on the Avantasia sleeve. Of all their releases thus far, the new record is by far the most theatrical, a point driven home by opening track 'Spectres', the epic 'Savior In The Clockwork', and the closing MEAT LOAF-esque 'The Great Mystery'. The use of a flesh and blood orchestra really DOES make a difference against dial-up digital magic, made all the more special because the boys didn't use it on every single track (which is usually the downfall of productions like this).
Plenty of heavy over-the-top metal moments from Paeth's treasure trove of riffs, to guitar leads from Bruce Kulick (ex-KISS) on three tracks, and Arjen Lucassen (AYREON) trading licks with keyboardist Ferdy Doernberg (ROUGH SILK) on 'The Watchmaker's Dream'. Michael Kiske (UNISONIC, ex-HELLOWEEN) blows the doors off with his circa '87 performance on 'Where Clock Hands Freeze' (speedy and heavy), but the big prize goes to 'Invoke The Machine' for it's blatant tip of the hat to cult fave Danish bashers PRETTY MAIDS featuring PM vocalist Ronnie Atkins in a duet with Tobi. Several journalists at the session agreed the song is the high point of the record.
Having Biff Byford (SAXON), Eric Martin (MR. BIG) and Joe Lynn Turner (ex-RAINBOW) on board... jobs well done all around but nothing mindblowing. Instantly recognizable voices, sure, but of the three only Byford really stands out thanks to being placed outside his Wheels Of Steel comfort zone.
Tagging Martin to sing a ballad? Meh. Too easy, and probably the only real disappointment to be had.
As for Master Of Ceremonies Sammet, he's his expected high-on-adrenaline self, easily outpacing and outperforming the latest Edguy record (Age Of The Joker), definitely crushing The Wicked Symphony / Angel Of Babylon albums on all fronts."
Watch for our exclusive interview with Sammet, coming soon.
The Mystery Of Time marks a conceptual story again, and the tracklist is as follows:
'The Watchmakers' Dream'
'Where Clock Hands Freeze'
'Savior In The Clockwork'
'Invoke The Machine'
'What's Left Of Me'
'Dweller In A Dream'
'The Great Mystery'
In April an all-star Avantasia ensemble will set off on a world tour, playing three-hour indoor shows on their own plus a few chosen festivals.
Shows in Amsterdam (details here) and Spain have been scheduled for May and June. Avantasia's complete routing is available at this location.