EDGUY frontman Tobias Sammet‘s all-star project, AVANTASIA will release their new rock opera, The Mystery Of Time, on March 30th via Nuclear Blast. The cover artwork for The Mystery Of Time, hand-painted by world famous British fantasy painter Rodney Matthews, can be seen below:
About the artwork, Tobias states: “It is a great honour for me to have Rodney create the artwork of The Mystery Of Time. Since the new album is a conceptual album and its story has a magical and enchanting atmosphere, there was no other painter I could think of to create the artwork. I’ve had several creative conversations with Rodney during the process and I had the feeling that the concept was inspiring to him right from the start. I put a lot of energy into producing a very detailed and fascinating album, and Rodney had that same enthusiasm to create an artwork just as detailed and fascinating. This is a new chapter in Avantasia’s history and I think it didn’t deserve less than a magical painting by my favorite painter and childhood hero: The one and only Rodney Matthews!“
The Mystery Of Time 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’
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.
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.