After Avantasia came out with the Metal Opera (Parts 1 & 2), it became pretty obvious that it would be hard as heck for them to top it. The leader of the project, Tobias Sammet, grabbed some great talent for this third entry into the Avantasia legend, including Jorn Lande, Bob Catley, Michael Kiske, Roy Khan, and more. With this kind of line-up, and of course the inclusion of Sascha Paeth on guitars, it seemed like a great combination which would equal a fantastic power metal album.
The simple fact is this is a strong record, but it takes a lot of time to get into. The Metal Opera, Part 1 had addicting melodies and a fantastic power metal flow throughout. Then Part 2 was highly ballad territory, but still had a few great rockers like "No Return" and "Chalice of Agony." Now we have The Scarecrow, which is a new conceptual work and not a sequel. The songs are definitely groovy, but would you call it power metal? No. It's a lot closer to hard rock than power metal. Of course it is still incredibly melodious, but not nearly as epic.
"Twisted Mind" goes on a lot longer than it really should, though it is a great song. It could have been more compact, though. It's a similar story with the title track, "The Scarecrow," which is a whopping 11 minutes. The song is mid-paced and does have a really sweet sing-along chorus, and nice synthesized folk sounds during the verse… but it is so long, you could listen to half of it to get the general idea and then just skip to the next track.
You never would have thought it possible that you’d skip tracks on an Avantasia album, but the reality is a lot of them just aren't that strong. On the other hand, "Shelter from the Rain" is a great power metal song that calls back to earlier Avantasia material, though it is freakishly generic. "Carry Me Over" is another nice "hair ballad" with a sing-along chorus, and the verse is as strong as the chorus with the good use of smooth melody.
"Another Angel Down" is probably one of the strongest tracks, and it features a good portion of Jorn Lande's rugged vocal styling. Of course the single "Lost In Space" is great, but that's why it was made into the single. Placing it at the end of the album, though, is an odd choice. It's understandable, though, as the song is so much different than everything else on the entire album. Songs like "The Toy Master" make a good attempt at becoming a memorable cornerstone, but falls flat due to the ridiculous vocal performance.
All in all, it's not quite the album fans were expecting from Avantasia (Can anyone say Metal Opera, Part 3?) but realistically, it has a handful of fantastic songs and some that are just not as desirable but still well done. Upon first impressions, it seemed more like an Edguy album than Avantasia, as Sammet has blurred the line somewhat with The Scarecrow. It's not a revolutionary shift or anything truly spectacular, but it's a different — somewhat familiar — direction for Avantasia. (7/10)
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