We are grateful to Tobias Sammet because he did the right thing in resurrecting AVANTASIA, one of the best-sounding bands in the metal world. 2013 sees the release of „The Mystery Of Time„, the sixth studio album of the symphonic metal overlords. The album has a few special guests, who transform it into an all-star achievement, with stars like Joe Lynn Turner, Biff Byford, Michael Kiske, Cloudy Tang, Ronnie Atkins, Eric Martin and Bob Catley shining on its dark sky.
The concept-album illustrates the story of Aaron Blackwell, a young agnostic scientist who is forced to explore the nature of God, time, love and science. In his journey toward enlightenment, Aaron has to find a way to reconcile the faith in his profession with love, intuition and the conflicting knowledge received through mysterious advocates of the occult.
What you notice right away is the impeccable production of the record. This is one of the master-traits of all Avantasia albums – everything sounds massive and killer. Truth be told, „The Mystery Of Time” is a didactic example of great sound.
Tempo wise, the record is very fast, its dynamic rhythm suffering slight changes of pace only in case of the two ballads, „Sleepwalking” and „What’s Left Of Me”. The complex and sophisticated compositions are amazing proofs of musical virtuosity. „The Mystery Of Time” is a heart-wrenching march through the entrails of a fascinating world, with each song sketching the blueprint of a grandiose landscape, both musically and visually.
„Specters” opens the record in a „balls-to-the-walls” manner, not leaving any excuse for weakness. „The Watchmaker’s Dream” continues with a vibe very similar to that of good-old Iron Maiden tunes. „Black Orchid” combines the intricate nature of Avantasia’s creations with the intoxicating, catchy nature of pop.
„Where Clock Hands Freeze” starts in a ballad like manner, only to escalate in a full-blown symphonic race. „Sleepwalking„, however, embraces Aaron Blackwell’s emotional side and conjures up the first ballad of the record. „Savior In The Clockwork” and „Invoke The Machine” will have none of that and vengefully bring back the thundering metal guitars. „What’s Left Of Me” brings the journey to a halt through its reflective, classic-rock ballad identity, filled with the same sentimentality professed by such veterans of the genre as Whitesnake.
„Dweller In A Dream” makes sure to keep our motor clean by draining it of any romantic residue. The tool used is the machine-like precision of the instruments which simply sound flawless. „The Great Machine” is clearly the most versatile song on the album, mixing the virtues of the ballad with several thumping metal marches and with the symphonic complexity of the orchestration. The last song offers the perfect epic ending to a high-quality record.
While „The Mystery Of Time” is not a revolutionary creation, and it does not necessarily bring something new into the metal world, it is an absolute must-listen for all those people who like to lay lavish layers of symphonic sophistication on their hard music. Also, we recommend that this record be used as a production „textbook” by fans and sound engineers alike.
Our mark is 9.5 out of 10.