Alright fellow Power Metal and old EDGUY/AVANTASIA fans, time to break out the pints of Jagermeister and the box of tissues for crying, because Tobias Sammet has done to both bands what Matt and Trey of “South Park” fame accused Steven Spielburg and George Lucas of doing to “Indiana Jones“. There is literally no other way to fully articulate the non-Metal farce that is this EP’s title track, it is that much of a far cry from better days and that much of a one-fingered salute to the concept of heaviness. Combined with the utterly pretentious over-advertising of this abortion of a song via 5 different versions that are spread across 4 separate releases (one of them a promo that also found its way into my collection), any doubts of the entire venture of “The Scarecrow” lacking artistic credibility are cast away like a dying whore.
Naturally if the song was actually good, even by the half Metal, half Rock standard adopted by Tobias, I’d be more willing to let the venture capitalism going on here slide, but shit is shit no matter how many people it gets sold to. Picture a slightly heavier version of a nightmare in a U2 clone factory and you’ll be close to the nature of “Lost In Space”. And I’m not talking quality U2 circa the late 80s, I’m talking the really banal garbage, laced with comical melodies and nonsensical words that the Irish musical robber barons of our time have been putting out for the past few years. There’s a cute little piano melody that sounds remarkably similar to COLDPLAY thrown in as well, just to add further insult to injury. There’s maybe a slight semblance of older days to be found in the chorus melody, namely the better post-”Mandrake” stuff put out with EDGUY, but the arrangement has been flooded with so much keyboard presence and stripped of any riff or lead guitar intrigue that it goes mostly unnoticed.
The rest of the contents on here sort of climb a couple rungs on the ladder between being abhorrent and being semi-fun. The ABBA and LUCIFER’S FRIEND covers are both fairly pointless. The former is simply adapted to Tobias’ newer brand of Pop/Rock/Metal mixture and is mostly vocally oriented, rather than turned into something that is actually fun to listen to like HELLOWEEN’S more Metal remake of the song. The latter just goes through the motions musically and doesn’t really differentiate itself from the original version save a modern sounding production. Eric Singer’s vocal work is passable by Rock standards, while Tobias is still shouting with a mouth full of phlegm the way he’s been since “Hellfire Club”. “The Story Ain’t Over” sounds like a ballad outtake from the first two AVANTASIA albums. Bob Catley’s vocals are the chief attraction here, sounding like an impassioned answer to MEATLOAF, which is how most of the music tends to listen as well. It has a fairly decent solo and generally rocks out more than any ballads found on “The Scarecrow”, but like any guilt ridden commercialist who’s ashamed of his musical past, Tobias is content to hide this song on an EP rather than place it on a full length that’s aching with guest musicians and lacking actual good songs.
The highlights are the 2 remaining songs on here, which stylistically fit in with the Symphonic Power Metal moniker that this project flies under. “Return To Avantasia” is a brief instrumental symphonic number, carrying the same theme as the opening overture of “The Metal Opera (Part 1)”. It’s a brief moment of nostalgia for anyone who liked the older incarnation of this band, before it became a commercial dumpster for Tobias’ non-EDGUY compositions. “Another Angel Down” is the only thing here that can pass for Power Metal, or Metal at all for that matter. Jorn Lande upstages Tobias like nobody’s business and all but morphs a song that is already similar to stuff heard on MASTERPLAN’S debut into something that sounds so much like it that you wonder what the hell Tobias is even doing on it. It’s a cliché song that follows suit behind an army of variations on Gary Moore’s “Out In The Fields” with double bass beneath it. But it works and is a fun listen regardless of any shortcomings in the originality department.
It’s pretty upsetting that a lot of artists decide to shit on their legacies like a drunken idiot in a pub lavatory, but maybe that’s to be expected as Tobias Sammet is now the self-proclaimed “Lavatory Love Machine”. There is basically no resemblance between what is on here and what AVANTASIA has put out in the past, so any deluded fools who knowingly buy this and expect to hear as such, despite Toby’s new Emo look plastered on the album cover for all to see, are destined for disappointment. I got this and it’s almost as ugly sequel online for $2, and I still feel cheated.
(Online April 11, 2009)