AVANTASIA’s third effort “The Scarecrow” was met with rather mixed reviews after the first two epic Power Metal classics, having taken on a completely different direction by mixing in Rock influences and greatly toning down the symphonic qualities that had put the previous efforts over the top. “Lost In Space” had been released as two EPs prior to the release of the album and Nuclear Blast decided to re-release them together on one CD, and Jonathan has already voiced his not-so-positive opinions in his reviews of the separate releases, so how much does my view differ from his?
Well, while I am not as fatalistic as him in his outlook over the twelve tracks contained here, I have to admit that compared to the soaring and energetic first two Metal operas, the song material contained here is a sorely disappointing letdown, as everything seems a lot tamer, catchier and mass-compatible than anything else he had produced under the AVANTASIA banner before. “Lost In Space” basically has the catch phrase “Single” written all over it, strongly Rock orientated, with some U2 influence in guitar lines, surely one to catch the attention, but unfortunately not one to keep it for long either. “Another Angel Down” is one of my favourites off “The Scarecrow”, energetic, more upbeat, reminding me a bit more of the first two albums, before “Return To Avantasia” raises the hopes with a reprise of the original theme from the debut, but unfortunately that only lasts a meager 47 seconds…
From the second part, “Promised Land” is a nicely powerful track with Jorn Lande on vocals, good, but no stroke of genius, while “Scary Eyes” brings back the Power Metal a bit, but nothing outstanding either. Other than that we get four cover versions, ABBA’s “Lay All Your Love On Me” (I love ABBA and I find that their songs work perfectly in the Metal environment), LUCIFER’S FRIEND’S “Ride The Sky”, which reminds me more of LED ZEPPELIN like Rock than what I’d expect from AVANTASIA, “Dancing With Tears In My Eyes” by ULTRAVOX (love that song, the version is nice, but nothing more) and Freddie Mercury’s “In My Defense”, plus two other versions of “Lost In Space”.
Overall there is some light, but in the end only very little reminds of the AVANTASIA we all had grown to love and that is something that doesn’t help its case, together with the doubts why there had to be two EPs and then this re-release on top of it to begin with… Unless you really want to go for the cover versions or are a completist of Tobi Sammet, save your money for something more worth it…
(Online July 13, 2009)