The Wicked Symphony

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Power metal will probably never regain the level of visibility it enjoyed during the '80s heyday of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, but there is still plenty of power metal being recorded in the 21st century; one just has to know where to find it. And German headbanger Tobias Sammet has been doing his part to keep '70s/'80s-style power metal alive -- not only as the frontman for Edguy, but also with Avantasia, the side project he started in 1999. The Wicked Symphony comes 11 years after Sammet founded Avantasia, but there are no attempts to sound modern by 21st century standards. Oblivious to punk-influenced styles like alternative metal, death metal, black metal, metalcore, and rap-metal, this 2010 release underscores Avantasia's firm commitment to power metal as it sounded 25 years earlier. The Wicked Symphony is metal neo-classicism in action, which means an epic approach that enthusiastically recalls a time when Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Helloween, and Queensrÿche were fixtures on MTV. And why shouldn't metal have its neo-classicists? Jazz has Young Lions who emulate the hard bop improvisers of the '50s and '60s; folk has college-age singers whose musical blueprint is Joan Baez or Judy Collins circa 1964. There's no reason why metal shouldn't celebrate its past as well, and Avantasia does exactly that on epic offerings such as "Blizzard on a Broken Mirror," "Dying for an Angel," "Black Wings," and "Scales of Justice" -- all of which keep Sammet firmly planted in his ‘80s-obsessed comfort zone. Few surprises occur on The Wicked Symphony, but if Sammet is fairly predictable, he is also pleasingly consistent -- and this is an easy album to enjoy if one is in the mood for a staunchly neo-classicist approach to metal.

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