Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Avantasia - Journey to Arcadia

"This plane, with whom I have shared joys and sorrows, is the Arcadia of my youth. I kept flying, believing in myself. I have no regrets about my life. Dreams do not vanish, so long as people do not abandon them.” – Captain Harlock

Space Pirate Captain Harlock and his ship the Arcadia
Arcadia is a province in Greece, in poetry it is a peaceful land of natural beauty. The fall of Rome caused the majority of territories within the Roman Empire to experience a throw back in technology, resulting in what people who are not historians like to call, “the dark ages.” Unlike the majority of Europe, hidden away in the Greek Peloponnesian region rests Arcadia, Arcadia avoided the darkness of the era and had a rebirth of quiet agricultural living. To escape to Arcadia was to escape to peace.

As you can see Arcadia is actually a real place.
Happy Arcadia by Konstantin Makovsky
Arcadia for generations has been thought of a hidden paradise.
I could have focused on the whole escapism angle in my last music in review; “Runaway Train,” clearly is a song suggesting some escape, but I had something else/more to say about that song, so let’s talk about, “Journey to Arcadia.”

I picked up “The Wicked Symphony” and loved it, but I was confused that I could not find part three of the Scarecrow epic, “Angel of Babylon.” They released both albums at the same time in Europe, so why here in Canada did we only get one of the two albums? I looked it up, and apparently I was not the only one surprised by this development, other Canadian Avantasia fans along with HMV employees could not explain the reason why only one of the two albums was made available here. As annoying as that was, this is 2010 and it was easy enough to buy “Angel of Babylon,” at So let us conclude the Scarecrow trilogy by talking about a third song by Avantasia on their third album in the set.

There is a reason at the age of twenty-seven I can still sit through “Wizard of Oz,” in its entirety, it is captivating; the childlike imagination captured there within does an amazing job of saying profound things about life and dreams. Most of us end up trading one for the other; it takes a lot of hold on to both. There is something about dreams of escape, as cliché as it is, be careful what you wish for, a magical world may be far from what you were hoping for, or it may be just too damned weird to enjoy. In time we all learn to trade youth for wisdom, but we shouldn’t have to let our dreams die by the wayside, we can have both.

I like the sounds of Arcadia though. It’s not my dream world by any means, but simplicity, is something I have longed for, for a long time. That is the thing about Avantasia, there is no clear picture of a linear story. There is a great provocation to use your own mind to see it your own way. “Journey to Arcadia,” is one of the softer songs on the album, but I believe it is the best. “The Scarecrow” set an unbelievable standard of quality, “The Wicked Symphony,” was in so many ways the most exciting and intense of the three albums, the conclusion “Angel of Babylon,” is lighter and gentler. Our signature character was so hopeless in searching for a kinder peace of heart, and here at the end waiting both the Scarecrow and us we find the joy of Arcadia. How appropriate “Journey to Arcadia,” is the last track on this journey, it was the light at the end of the tunnel.

Until next year my friends, hang on to a runaway train.

- Colin Kelly

A lonely boy, a handful of dreams
Cold wind blows through a heart wired-in
Open skies he would explore
No there ain't no mastery
Of a passion and a deep blue love

Yearn to see far away places
One day he'd feel two hearts collide
In his eyes tears and desire
But he prays and he swears every night
One day scales will fall from her eyes

Just with a dream
Just with a dream and with a song
On my own I may stumble and fall
It don't matter at all when you're blessed with
Just what's yet to come, what's yet to come

When dogs run barking
And I don't hear no sound
And the sky is as blue
As eyes have never seen it
Then I remember
What I'd have been dying for
Faith rescue my dream
From a role that I've been put in
On their screen

Your eyes, and as I'll look into your eyes
We're at the crack of dawn
Life will stop telling lies
And destiny will know
It's just you and I

Burning feet on the ground
Got my head in the clouds
Journey to Arcadia
And I know I will stand
What I can't comprehend
Journey to Arcadia

The more we see we understand
That there's a lot that we don't know
As you awake on padded ground
The final curtain of the show

Far from the eye but close to heart
No matter how we try
Can't repel the counterpart
Our common bond we can't defy

I've seen them standing at the crossroads
When they were waiting for a sign
And they unlearned to face the silence
As they unlearned to turn inside

You're turning to the sky
And you're dying for an angel
If you want it bad enough, see those eyes
That's where two glances collide

Learn to breathe, learn to crawl
Learn to stand, walk and fall
Learn to lose and to love, to believe, to rise above
Love is more than to love

Burning feet on the ground
Got your head in the clouds
You're out to find Arcadia
And you know you will stand
What you can't comprehend
Journey to Arcadia

The more I've seen I understand
That there ain't nothing that I know now
As I awake on padded ground
The final curtain of the show

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Avantasia - Runaway Train

Welcome to Avantasia.

Back in January 2009 I reviewed Avantasia – Lost in Space, and informed the good people who read my music in reviews that the best album of 2008, at least in my opinion, was Avantasia – The Scarecrow. Fortunately for me, and you as well, Tobias Sammet was not done. He had so many ideas that he had eight additional tracks that never saw official release on The Scarecrow, and he had many more ideas to come, as it was his intention all along to make The Scarecrow a trilogy.

The lead song writer, singer, bass player, and occasionally keyboard and lead guitarist, Tobias Sammet, is sort of like a modern Mozart, insofar that he has a great skill set and mind set to write beautiful music and also he is very young, as of this moment Tobias is thirty-three. Sammet’s rock group “Edguy,” was formed back in 1992 when he was merely fourteen years old. Under the Edguy title Sammet has released eight albums plus a ton of singles which for reasons unknown never made it to release on any of the albums, under the Avantasia project he has released five albums (arguably six) with a ton of songs never released on any of the official albums. You know someone is creative when they can’t even fit all their ideas on thirteen studio albums, and this is an ongoing problem.

I could try to beat into all your minds that Avantasia is in fact the greatest thing in the world right now, and I have a lot of things I could use to argue this point, but personal taste usually wins out such debates, so let me play the emotional card and explain to you why this music perfectly suits me. I love methodical music, and Avantasia is very methodical. I have always loved rock opera’s, I love the narratives style, and I love how it creates a pattern of familiarity that really speaks to the human ear, and well Avantasia is a perfect example of such a concept. I love this style of music, finding simplicity in complexity, and harmony in chaos.

The other reason this music really speaks to me is the story being told is open enough for our imagination to fill in the blanks. The story is there if you want to pick it out, but instead of being told to you point blank it is told only through the poetic thoughts and expression of the main character.

“The Scarecrow is a tragic story of a lonesome creature, emotionally isolated from his environment and suffering from a distorted sensory perception.” - Tobias Sammet

That’s a neat concept, dealing with a lot of powerful and deep ideas that I as well have given a lot of thought about in the past. If I could sum up my feelings for Avantasia in a single sentence it would be; this is the kind of music I would write if I had the talent, it speaks to me on every level.

This year Sammet released Avantasia – The Wicked Symphony, part two of the epic, and on this album I fell in love with my favourite Avantasia song of all, my favourite song of the year, “Runaway Train.”

There is a reason why it took me till halfway through the month to write up this music in review and that reason is life sucks. If you know me well there won’t be any need to elaborate so I won’t, I’ll just restate the obvious, I’m living life the hard way most every day, at the very least it feels that way. “Runaway Train” is all about being miserable and yet finding bliss in a faraway world, it is escapism, and it is the beautiful to think if you but hold on to a runaway train it will take you somewhere else, “a world beyond human imagination.” This song couldn’t possibly do a better job of capturing both extremes, dark inescapable misery, and yet, freedom and peace, just one train ride away, all you need do is hang on through the wind and rain.

As I said this is the kind of music I would right, what a narrative, in just one song it paints an entire story for your own mind to fill in all the blanks and paint wild images both grim and glorious. I feel a kinship with Sammet, even though we have never met, there is a great measure of parallel thinking between the two of us and I couldn’t be more thankful for his existence and the music he has given me, it captures so many things I would have wanted to say, and says it better than I ever could have. No one could ask for better music than that.

Until next month, hang on to a runaway train.

- Colin Kelly

Your pocket full of dreams
Your mind in a daze
Keep on chasing rainbows
Fly high
Leave the past behind
The dark road you take bears no escape

In a world of grand illusions
Where love is just a dream
You got to make your sacrifices
Time to pick your poison

The fool is he who is noble minded
And bellies up to poverty
He's not a king in the world of diamonds
Paling into oblivion

I lay down my soul for glory
I've given a life away
Don't know if I am sorry
Blind me, blind me

Don't know where I'll be going
I got to get away
From the pain of recollection
Drawn into the faint

Hang on to a runaway train
No turning back
Tethered to a runaway train
Take me away
Torpid in the wind and rain
No turning back
Hang on to a runaway train
Take me away

If I'm a stranger to myself
Then I better got to stay away
Even better got to get away, get away
Time to pick my poison

Feel the devil sitting in my neck
Straight ahead into the unknown
Oh father I forgive you for I
Don't know what I'm doing

It's only human nature
To keep away from pain
Take a train to ecstasy oh
Ride on, ride on

Inhale the scent of heaven
Respire the smell of fame
You've been to hell and back
You can't change things anyway, no

I hang on to a runaway train
No turning back
Tethered to a runaway train
Take me away
Torpid in the wind and rain
No turning back
I hang on to a runaway train
Take me away

Reaching out to rule the world
you'll watch the mirror shatter
As you'll be dazzled by the sight
Once only diamonds mattered

How can you justify the way
When you wake up screaming
Will you pretend that you were blind
When you were really seeing

Your image everywhere
The looking glass: a sheet of ice
It's thick enough to dance on
In a frozen realm of lies

But the ice will break
And you will scream repenting
Oh boy the ice will break
You'll just feel your heart rending

Riding on to a world of funny flowers
Riding on to the white wide world
If coming back would hurt my pride
I rather take another ride
Riding on, winter on the mirror
Riding on into the unknown
If I'll awake in pain one day
I got to catch just one more train

Days gone by
Who'd want to live forever
On our knees up your road
Paved with good intentions
Fly high
Where angels can't breathe no more
Some dare to go blind
Some stay behind

I hang on to a runaway train
No turning back
Tethered to a runaway train
Take me away
Torpid in the wind and rain
No turning back
I hang on to a runaway train
Take me away

Hang on to a runaway train
No turning back
Tethered to a runaway train
Take me away
Torpid in the wind and rain
in the wind and rain
I hang on to that runaway train