Tobias Sammet – a name standing for high-quality Heavy Metal. Whether it's with Edguy, the band, that has been nobled as their prince royal by the two chief-scorpions Klaus Meine and Rudolf Schenker, as soon as the Scorpions – after all Germany's globally acknowledged rock export No.1 – will retire after their farewell tour. Or under the flag of Avantasia, the Rock-Musical project that originated in 1999 and to which our lad from Fulda was able to invite no less a figure than Horror-Rock icon Alice Cooper, Savatage-mastermind Jon Oliva, Magnum's singer Bob Catley, Kiss-drummer Eric Singer as well as Klaus Meine and Rudolf Schenker, to name but a few.
Until today, Edguy and Avantasia have got about three million CDs worldwide sold to their name – all that only released on indie labels and (quoting Sammet) „without currying favor with today's Fastfood-music industry“. On top of that, one should not forget that Sammet completed highly celebrated world tours with both bands, which – among others - led him to South America, the USA as well as Japan and Australia. Moreover, Sammet & Co. rank among the frequenters on the stages of the biggest festivals all over the world – such as the Wacken:Open:Air in 2008 and 2011 with Avantasia as headliner, being on top of the bill. Even the top positions of the charts are commonly frequented territory for both ventures – Avantasia recently with THE FLYING OPERA - AROUND THE WORLD IN 20 DAYS on the DVD-chart's pole position.
It is forseeable that AGE OF THE JOKER – that's the title of the ninths studio album (when including the single-handedly released CD SAVAGE POETRY in 1995) which will be released on the 19th of August – will add some impressing numbers to this formidable balance. That's because this record features all of the qualities that the willing fan expects to come from Sammet and with which chart-stormers à la ROCKET RIDE (Top 10 of the german album charts), TINNITUS SANCTUS (Top 20) and FUCKING WITH F*** (that as a live-album at least got in at position 35) were able to impress: gorgeous melodies at their catchiest, hymnic songs at their best – and additionally many a musical innovations to overawe.
Sammet and his men don't feel a delicacy about integrating unusual sound elements into their compositions from time to time: That's why the venerable Hammond organ gets a chance and radiates Deep Purple-atmosphere in ’Robin Hood’, while Led-Zeppelin-feeling opens 'Pandora's Box', which furthermore has some more cards on its sleeve with some influences of Stomp-Rock, Blues, Country and Western-ambience. 'Behind The Gates To Midnight World' also pulls out all the stops when it comes to versatile structures and smoothly intertwining motif changes: massive riffing with hardness grades à la Metallica, progressive sounds in the vein of early Queensryche up to the nonchalant piano arrangement as an outro.
On the contrary, 'Rock Of Cashel' teems with cheerful swing grooves – again, 'Nobody's Hero' impresses with a subtle mystic flair and could easily pass off as a tribute to Heavy Metal icon Ronnie James Dio, who passed away last year. Lastly, the Heavy Rocker '2 Out Of 7' proves: With this album, which has been recorded under the aegis of regular producer Sascha Paeth in the Gate Studios Wolfsburg as well as in the Peppermint Studios in Hannover, the quintet from Fulda hands us a masterpiece that raises the bar of compositional skills from its already high position to an even higher one – AGE OF THE JOKER doesn't only ring in the fifths season almost three months earlier this year, but also heralds the start of a new era of musical high culture.