By Jason Wellwood
Any two part album is going to suffer from the ‘which album is better’ syndrome when it comes to listeners and fans. Take Use Your Illusion for example, how many people have posited that it would have been better if they had combined the good songs into one album and got rid of all the filler? Thankfully, Tobias Sammet knows this and distributes things equally. This isn’t his first foray into two parters, and it shows on Angel of Babylon. Readers may remember that I was a big fan of the first part of this installment of the Scarecrow trilogy (The Wicked Symphony – which I guess, technically was the second part, and this is the third…) but you’d be forgiven for not linking the two as Nuclear Blast in North America put quite a bit of time in between releases of the albums. In Europe they came out simultaneously on April 3rd but in North America Angel of Babylon hits the streets on January 11th, 2011.
Like all previous releases, Sammet brings out a huge cast of characters vocally and instrumentally here. You’ll recognize the voices of Russell Allen, Jorn Lande, Michael Kiske, Jon Olivia, Bob Catley and Tobias himself on the tracks with standout vocals by newcomer Cloudy Yang (new to Avantasia that is) on ‘Symphony of Life’. The songs on Angel of Babylon might contain more mellow parts than the songs on the previous records but at the same time they seem more intense. It’s like they went ‘for broke’ with this album and all performers stepped things up another notch. Lead off track ‘Stargazers’ starts slowly and builds into a catchy, fist pumping sing-a-long well before the chorus even comes around. Jon Oliva’s turn as a ghost on ‘Death Is Just A Feeling’ is appropriately unhinged while the song itself takes you through an almost nursery-rhyme beginning into a much more bombastic, if dark, musical ride.
Angel of Babylon is exactly what you’d expect from Avantasia, world class songs, performances and production. If you’ve been on board so far, you’ll love this final installment in Sammet’s Scarecrow Saga. This is a must have.