NWOBHM living legend Biff Byford of SAXON will be performing guest vocal duties on the latest rock opera by AVANTASIA, The Mystery Of Time. Watch studio footage taken by AVANTASIA frontman/mastermind Tobias Sammet in Brighton, England on AVANTASIA’s official YouTube channel.
Musicians also confirmed to make appearances on The Mystery Of Time – slated for release in 2013 – include drummer Russell Gilbrook (URIAH HEEP), guitarist/producer Sascha Paeth, and guitarist BRUCE KULICK (ex-KISS/GRAND FUNK RAILROAD).
AVANTASIA’s last two albums, The Wicked Symphony and Angel Of Babylon, were released in 2010 and included guest appearances by Klaus Meine (SCORPIONS), Michael Kiske (HELLOWEEN), Tim “Ripper” Owens (ex-JUDAS PRIEST, ex-YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, ex-ICED EARTH), Russell Allen (SYMPHONY X), and Jon Oliva (JON OLIVA’S PAIN, TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA, SAVATAGE) among others.
Watch Tobi’s first studio report from Germany here.
The German metallers, Edguy, have developed their sound from traditional German power metal more into the melodic hard rock approach. The band’s latest effort AGE OF THE JOKER is an excellent output and a testimony of the band’s skills and talents to create catchy metal with a hard rock approach. Edguy have always had the good following in Finland, but the five piece haven’t visited that often. Therefore visiting the Finnish Metal Expo was definitely godspeed for both band and above all fans. Before Edguy took to the stage, Metal-Rules.com had an excellent opportunity of talking to the guitarist of the band Jens Ludwig. So here we go.
Interview and pics by Marko Syrjala and Arto Lehtinen
AVANTASIA – founded by EDGUY frontman Tobias Sammet – will release their new double DVD concert film and documentary, called The Flying Opera: Around The World In 20 Days, on March 18th via Nuclear Blast Records. The title will be released in Japan/East-Asia on Avalon-Marquee.
Started only as a studio project, in 2008 Avantasia embarked on a world tour to write heavy metal history. For the first time a giant all-star project like that did not only gather in the studio to record an album, but The Metal Opera went on tour to play to hundreds of thousands of fans all over the globe within just a few weeks.
On March 18th fans will get the chance to relive the experience with the 2DVD package. One DVD will feature a full concert film in stereo and Dolby 5.1, recorded during their shows at Wacken Open Air 2008 and Masters Of Rock Festival 2008, the second DVD contains a documentary, shot by a camera team that followed the giant trek around the globe to give viewers the chance to catch a glimpse of never-before-seen behind-the-scenes footage, interview-material, the start of Avantasia and its history and all the video clips that Avantasia has ever shot.
The limited edition also contains two CDs featuring the concert and many never before seen photos.
Sammet says: “I am so proud of this DVD package and the featured footage, even though it took a little longer to finally complete it. It gives people an idea of what an impact the first appearance of Avantasia on stage had, and you will get an idea of how everything went beyond our expectations and what the roots and the seeds for the current Avantasia tour are. It portrays one year in Avantasia’s history, maybe the most important year in the project’s history because that is when a studio-project became a traveling institution. There are many Metal Operas, but we made it something real, something to take hold of. Something alive…”
AVANTASIA — the project led by EDGUY frontman Tobias Sammet — is putting the finishing touches on its two-disc DVD, “The Flying Opera – Around The World In 20 Days”, for an early March release via Nuclear Blast Records in Europe and Avalon Marquee in Asia.
According to a press release, “The DVD is a documentary of the legendary 2008 world tour of AVANTASIA, when the band hit the road for the first time to write a new chapter in metal history; traveling around the world with a giant all-star ensemble to bring the metal opera on stage and play on three continents within a few days, crossing the dateline and eventually playing to a total of 400,000 people within only a few weeks. The first DVD contains a live concert with a running time of almost two hours featuring footage filmed at the headlining shows of Wacken Open Air (Germany) and Masters Of Rock (Czech Republic). On the second DVD there will be a movie, ‘Around The World In 20 Days’, that gives fans the opportunity to join AVANTASIA backstage and take a look at the surroundings and the thrill behind the scenes that go along with an extensive undertaking such as this. The DVD set will portray AVANTASIA 2008 when it all started.”
“The Flying Circus – Around The World In 20 Days” will be available as a two-disc DVD set featuring the documentary movie, a live concert film, and additional bonus material. It will be also available as a double live album on CD and as a limited-edition two-CD/two-DVD box set.
Commented Tobias: “I am so proud of this DVD package and the featured footage, even though it took a little longer to finally complete it. It gives people an idea of what an impact the first appearance of AVANTASIA on stage had, and you will get an idea of how everything went beyond our expectations and what the roots and the seeds for the current AVANTASIA tour are. It portrays one year in AVANTASIA’s history, maybe the most important year in the project’s history because that is when a studio project became a traveling institution.
“There are many metal operas, but we made it something real, something to take hold of. Something alive…”
AVANTASIA kicked off its “The Metal Opera Comes To Town” world tour 2010 on November 30 at Z7 in Pratteln, Switzerland. Joining Sammet in AVANTASIA’s touring lineup are a number of special guests, including GAMMA RAY/ex-HELLOWEEN guitarist/vocalist Kai Hansen, Bob Catley (MAGNUM), Jorn Lande (MASTERPLAN), Amanda Somerville, Olli Hartmann and Michael Kiske (HELLOWEEN).
Although rumors keep circulating about further shows from AVANTASIA in 2011, a statement on Tobias’ official web site makes it clear that after AVANTASIA’s December 2010 world tour, there will be no more tours or festival appearances from the project apart from the Wacken Open Air show in August 2011.
AVANTASIA released its new epic masterpiece on April 3, 2010 as regular CDs (“The Wicked Symphony” and “Angel Of Babylon”), two separate double picture vinyls, and as a beautiful collector’s edition with an AVANTASIA picture book.
As always, the top albums are for releases from 2010 that are full albums (no EP’s or demos). They also have to be new studio albums for 2010, not re-recordings, re-releases, cover songs, or live material. Below the combined TOP 30 are links to each staff members personal "best of" lists which besides the top albums contains such things as best new band, best DVD/Blu-Ray, disappointments of 2010, greatest hopes for 2011, personal metal discovery of 2010, and various other metal-related categories. Enjoy!
The Top 30 Heavy Metal Albums of 2010
(Click the album cover to read our review.
If no review is available the link it to the band’s MySpace page.)
1. Accept – Blood of the Nations
Wolf Hoffman’s reaction to the band’s #1 placement in our list was:
"Sensational!!! We are so happy about this reaction by the fans. This last year has been nothing short of phenomenal for Accept."
BLOOD OF THE NATIONS is a fantastic album, so fantastic that it very easily came out on top when we compiled our best of 2010 list! In the media, producer Andy Sneap said when he worked with the band he made them go back and listen to the 80’s albums, and it worked. Accept have delivered the album they needed to make. Accept reformed with a vocalist who is just as good as Udo Dirkschneider. Vocalist Mark Tornillo rages through the songs with power and charisma, without being a clone. Accept have proven to the world in 2010 they are still relevant, powerful, uncompromising and most of all entertaining. Welcome back!
2. Blind Guardian – At the Edge of Time
Easily the best and strongest Blind Guardian album since NIGHTFALL IN MIDDLE-EARTH with a maximum of variety and everything that has turned these guys from Krefeld into what they are today: one of Germany’s most successful and influential metal bands. With AT THE EDGE OF TIME, Blind Guardian returned to the fold in total triumph. This is an album to be enjoyed for numerous repeat listens. Newer fans should eat it up, and older fans should be appeased with the band’s renewed emphasis on their thrashy roots.
3. Ratt– Infestation
Ratt is Metal. Always have been and likely always will be. From their appearance on the very first Metal Massacre compilation in 1981 alongside the likes of Metallica, Malice, and Bitch, to the new 2010 album, Ratt have always been among the heaviest of the so-called "hair metal" bands. So despite what the revisionists may think, Ratt have a firm spot in the development and evolution of the Heavy Metal genre and have earned their spot in this year’s list. Sonically the Ratt Pack is back! The band had stated they wanted a real up-tempo record and distinctly aimed for the classic sound. They nailed it. It’s all there, the swagger and slight sneer of Pearcy voice, the fluid and fiery soloing of DeMartini’s axe-work, the complimentary work of Cavazo…it’s a beautiful thing to behold!
4. Triptykon – Eparistera Daimones
Thomas Gabriel Fischer (AKA Tom G. Warrior) has nothing to prove to anyone. As the principal architect behind Hellhammer and Celtic Frost, Fischer’s body of work is the reason that many bands exist today. Two years since Celtic Frost’s very public dissolution, Fischer could have easily opted to rest on his laurels and bask in the afterglow of his evil legacy, but nooooo. To the contrary, Fischer has assembled a new band and recorded an album of new material that’s arguably some of the best in his career. Triptykon is the band, EPARISTERA DAIMONES is the album, and yes – it’s as good as Fischer has promised it to be!
5. Melechesh – The Epigenesis
Black/Death/Middle Eastern "Mesopotamian Metal" extremists made a big impact this year. Originally from IsraHELL and now based out of the Netherlands, the band has been around in some form since 1993. That Melechesh are able to maintain the album’s early momentum through to the record’s dying moments makes what they have achieved with THE EPIGENESIS that much more remarkable. Unlike so much of what passes for modern-day extremity, every one of this disc’s eleven tracks bristles with its own identity and design. It will demand a lot of attention – this definitely isn’t the record to whip out at your next kegger – but the rewards far outweigh the investment. Absolutely superb in every way.
6. Helloween – 7 Sinners
Helloween are very comfortable right now. They are back on a major label, the line-up has been stable for probably the longest stretch in the bands history, and they have fallen into a great pattern of releasing a studio album every couple of years (right around Halloween naturally). Relaxed, confident and mature the band have nothing to prove but instead of delivering a complacent record, the band have delivered the fastest, heaviest album of their career. It’s their 26th release over and 13th full-length studio album of all-new, original material. Lucky #13 for the band sees a crowning achievement with 13 killer cuts spread across the hour. Helloween have delivered a masterpiece. It will quickly silence all the fans who couldn’t stomach UNARMED from earlier this year.
7. OverKill – Ironbound
The veteran New Jersey boys return with a compelling slab of unmistakeably old school thrash that is tinged with a fine mix of groove, progressiveness and melody that separates Overkill from the multitudes of carbon-copy thrashers out there. This is modern thrash the way it should be played: roots in the 80s but with its direction and ambition befitting a metal scene on the cusp of its 30-year anniversary. It’s a beautiful thing to behold: while most of their contemporaries have split up or sold out, Overkill are still doing their thing, updating and improving but never forgetting where they came from.
8. Nevermore – The Obsidian Conspiracy
Five years – that’s how long Nevermore made us wait for a sequel to the still awe-inspiring THIS GODLESS ENDEAVOUR. By modern-day standards that’s an absolute eternity, the length of which only the likes of Slayer or Metallica could reasonably be expected to get away with. Regardless of delay, the album is a perfect example of heavy metal in its purest, most intelligent and provocative form. As always the band defies classification with elements of power, thrash, prog, blended together into a mixture that is uniquely Nevermore.
9. Sabaton – Coat of Arms
Sweden’s war metallers, Sabaton, have been consistently moving to the forefront of the power metal movement in the last few years. COAT OF ARMS continues Sabaton’s fine tradition of power metal with bite. The band is in fine form throughout and do not disappoint. You listen to a Sabaton album for the pounding marches (“Uprising”) the fast assaults (“Midway”, “Screaming Eagles”), and the catchy hooks and choruses (every damn song!) and COAT OF ARMS has it all!
10. Halford – IV – Made of Metal
Finally! Halford was really overdue. Despite having a skeleton of a catalog, Halford really needed to put some meat on the bones of his solo career. MADE OF METAL is really only the third studio album of all new material in over 10 years. Sure the catalog looks impressive but in reality, live albums, demo albums, EP’s, digital only live albums and novelty Christmas albums are just filler. Halford needed to deliver the goods and we’re pleased to say he is still made of Metal. The album clocks in at a whopping 14 tracks at over an hour it is his longest solo album to date.
Number 11 to 20
11. Crazy Lixx – New Religion
12. Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier
13. Scorpions – Sting In The Tail
14. Immolation – Majesty and Decay
15. Avantasia – The Wicked Symphony / Angel Of Babylon
Bob Catley (MAGNUS), Jorn Lande (MASTERPLAN), Amanda Somerville, Olli Hartmann and Michael Kiske (HELLOWEEN) are among the musicians who will tour with AVANTASIA, the project led by EDGUY frontman Tobias Sammet, on the group’s upcoming tour.
“It’s gonna be a once-in-a-lifetime affair!” said Sammet when the all-star project first set off on a world tour a few years ago. And although it seemed impossible to bring the project onto the stage after an extensive preparatory time, AVANTASIA headlined some of the biggest summer festivals in 2008. To this day, many fans recall the AVANTASIA live shows as magical, once-in-a-lifetime concert experiences.
Commented Sammet: “There has always been the desire to do it again, but, of course, there is always a risk. It requires a huge amount of time and energy; there are no figures based on experience, because I don’t know anybody who has taken an all-star metal opera on the road to play indoor venues. The stage production is abnormally expensive and you must not forget the many people who are involved and who come from different parts of the world. It requires a good timing.
“At some point we sat together and checked if and how we could possibly do it once again and we soon found out that December 2010 would be the right period to do a real tour.
“I admit that four weeks [is] not really a long time frame, but it’s better to do a short tour than no tour at all. And if we hadn’t taken that chance, it would have never happened because we will come with a lot of musicians and vocalists and it’s a nightmare to mind all our individual schedules with our main bands.”
Unlike AVANTASIA‘s festival tour of 2008, the band’s upcoming dates will be full-fledged headlining performances, with the group performing longer sets than has been the case in the past.
“It was great to play Wacken and Sweden Rock Festival, but playing a festival you only have so much time,” explained Sammet. “You play ten songs and people have a party and everybody’s got fun. But doing our own tour, we can really create an atmosphere, we can play a lot longer and take people on a journey through the history of AVANTASIA. We can actually take people to the world of AVANTASIA itself.
“Fans can expect a bombastic concert experience.
“Many so-called ‘metal operas’ have been released on albums recently, but AVANTASIA will bring it on stage and take fans around the globe with them.
“You can’t compare a normal band to what we are going to do. If all your favourite singers appear on one stage at the same night to take you on a musical journey, then this isn’t just great, it’s über-great!”
AVANTASIA released its new epic masterpiece on April 3 as regular CDs (“The Wicked Symphony” and “Angel Of Babylon”), two separate double picture vinyls, and as a beautiful collector’s edition with an AVANTASIA picture book. The deluxe box set features two CDs in two digibooks with impressive booklets, codes for online content (like bonus tracks, etc.) and the AVANTASIA book “The Wicked Trilogy”, including many never-before-seen photos from the tour and from photo sessions, etc. An exclusive interview, liner notes, and a biography is also included. All the album versions were released simultaneously on April 3, so no one ise forced to buy everything piece by piece; instead everyone is able to choose a version of his/her choice right from the release date.
“Dying For An Angel”, the new video from AVANTASIA, can be viewed below. The clip was shot in late January at the ancient town hall in Hannover, Germany and features a special guest appearance by SCORPIONS singer Klaus Meine.
“The Wicked Symphony” and “Angel Of Babylon” are the continuation of the trilogy that began with the 2008 album “The Scarecrow”.
The cover artwork for the two CDs (see below) was created by Thomas Ewerhard, who also worked on EDGUY‘s “Hellfire Club” and AVANTASIA‘s “The Scarecrow” albums.
Regarding his decision to release the new AVANTASIA chapter in two separate CDs, Tobias said, “I have always given my very best, but this new chapter in AVANTASIA‘s history is too much and too ambitious to be just a regular album. I have worked on it for years now, and it has become even more than two albums!
“I knew that story would be spread out over two albums back then when we started working on it in 2006, ’cause we had written a real rock opera of over 20 songs even back then. But since then, we kept composing, and out came even bigger and better material.
“Looking at the music industry today with all the CD burning and downloading, I guess in the near future many of us traditional rock and metal bands won’t be able to spend such a production budget. I am afraid I won’t be able to afford so many guests and such a big production with orchestration and a choir and all that. That’s why this production takes so much time; it may be the last big epic I will be able to afford, and I want it to be the biggest piece I have worked on so far.”
Kiske has appeared on every AVANTASIA album so far, including the first two full-length releases, “The Metal Opera” (2001) and “The Metal Opera Pt. II” (2002).
Thanks to Toby at CMM gmbh for help for making the interview possible.
Promo pictures from the Hartmann website.
Oliver Hartmann is one of the most renowned singers in the melodic hardrock scene. He has recently released his third solo album simply titled 3. I thought that the album was brilliant and felt like it was time to check out what this genius singer was up to. Hartmann had the time to sit down and had a chat with me. Besides his own solo career we also talked about his performances on the Avantasia albums and his collaborations with Edguy singer Tobias Sammett.
Long considered by his peers to be one of today’s most in demand axemen, former KISS lead guitarist Bruce Kulick is set to offer up his third solo outing in the form of the upcoming "BK3" album. An all star cast of contributing musicians make guest appearances on BK3 and help to make this record Bruce’s most eclectic work to date. Speaking with Bruce recently; the talented guitarist took the time to talk BK3 and reflect on his long running career; from playing lead guitar in Meatloaf on the "Bat Out of Hell" tour, to recording and touring the world with KISS, and everything in between that will lead you as a listener to his latest work.
Once again tens of thousands of lunatic metal freaks travelled from all over the world to the small German village located in the middle of the beautiful northern German countryside. The small peaceful Wacken literally goes upside down when nearly 80.000 conquer the village during one weekend in a year. Wacken Open Air celebrated its 19th birthday from the 31st of July to the 2nd of August, whose biggest headliner ever in the history of Wacken was Iron Maiden. Despite Iron Maiden being the biggest name on the bill, however there were tons of other interesting and fascinating names.
Brat: The mass convergence of catholic youth in Sydney for World Youth Day the week Ray and I left brought a smile to my face and a feeling of warmth as I realised it wouldn’t be long until I was part of a similar pilgrimage but to Hamburg Germany and with two major differences—where Sydney was awash with colourful youth, Hamburg would be invaded by a swarm of black; and the trolley suitcases carrying clothing would instead be trolleys full of beer; songs of the gospel would be replaced by metal anthems. They came to worship at the cross—we to worship at the flaming longhorn but we all would display our nations’ flags proudly.
Tickets for W:O:A 2008 sold phenomenally fast. The special edition X-mas pack with extra goodie bag sold out before I could take a long breath after my 2007 trip. By February the official festival ticket seller was “SOLD OUT”. Suddenly the ebay market was flooded with tickets with one ticket reaching a record price of 800 British Pounds—obscene. Even in July with less than 1 month before the festival, there was an average of 5 new listings a day for tickets, which nullified all “SOLD OUT” credibility. (Brat)
Maybe Tobias Sammet underlined his name in the Metal market when rumors flooded the internet about his "strong consideration" in undergoing a sex change in 2005. Maybe it was just Edguy’s fist full of energetic German Power Metal that left fans and newbies thirsting for more. Whatever makes you think of Tobi – by rumors, because you’re a long time fan, or as a devoted hater of cheesy Power Metal, one thing is certain, don’t cut the guy short for his creative song writing, his immense stage presence and his talent.
Tobias Sammet is currently one of Metal’s most engaging personalities. His work with Edguy has taken him to all corners of the world and has proven to be highly successful. However in 2001 Tobias surprised the Metal community with a project called Avantasia and the release of THE METAL OPERA PART 1 was a massive gift to fans. The album bought together a host of Power Metal’s greatest stars, the highlight being that Tobias was able to entice vocalist Michael Kiske back from a self imposed Metal exile. THE METAL OPERA PART 2 followed in 2002 and now we have the latest installment, THE SCARECROW. A different album in many ways THE SCARECROW shows another side of Tobias with many tracks leaning towards a Rock format, more so than ever before. It’s a great album nevertheless made even better with guest appearances from Eric Singer on drums and Alice Cooper on vocals. Michael makes a return as do a number of artist from the first two albums, so do check it out if you haven’t already. I had the opportunity to chat to Tobias and as always he was amicable and ready to talk.
Transcription by Alxs / Live Pics By Arto Lehtinen & Hanntu
Kai Hansen is easily one of the best frontmen in heavy metal today. I recently caught up with my idol (ha) to talk about the band’s latest masterpiece LAND OF THE FTEE II and other things going on in the land of Gamma Ray. Since our conversation it was announced that Gamma Ray and Helloween would be making a stop at this year’s ProgPower USA festival. Plans for this to be more than a one city stop haven’t been announced yet but even when I spoke to him he said they were working on it…so lets hope it works out! Anyway, enough from me, onto the interview…… Prepare for glory!
Additional questions and transcription by Jani “Ozzy” Salo
Legendary drummer Eric Singer first rose to fame playing drums on Lita Ford’s DANCIN’ ON THE EDGE tour back in 1984. Subsequently he joined up with Tony Iommi and played on two classic Black Sabbath albums, SEVENTH STAR in 1986 and THE ETERNAL IDOL the following year. Thereupon he toured the world with Gary Moore before reuniting with his old Black Sabbath colleague Ray Gillen in Badlands. In quick succession he hooked up with Alice Cooper for some touring before stepping in to replace the ailing Eric Carr in KISS and proceeding to record the classic REVENGE album in 1992 and the follow up CARNIVAL OF SOULS in 1997 as well as the live albums ALIVE III in 1993 and MTV UNPLUGGED in 1996. More recently he has, in addition to touring with both KISS and Alice Cooper, appeared on Alice’s BRUTAL PLANET album in 2000 and THE EYES OF ALICE COOPER album in 2003. He has also toured and put out albums with ESP (Eric Singer Project) and worked with Tobias Sammet’s Avantasia, Gilby Clarke and that’s not all… read all about it in this forthright interview.
(***Transcription by Claudia with extra questions from Mortuai; Wacken Open Air 2005 live pics by Brat)
It’s taken the band ten years but Holland’s Within Temptation is finally getting some long-overdue exposure here in North America. Their fifth album, THE HEART OF EVERYTHING, is being released domestically in July on Roadrunner Records and the band also just landed a string of dates supporting Lacuna Coil through May and June.
Speaking with vocalist Sharon Den Adel prior Within Temptation’s show in Montreal on May 13th, I got her thoughts on the band’s first trip to our shores, “The Hottest Chicks In Metal” tour, comparisons to Evanescence and the influence of Celtic music on her band.