“Theater of Sorcery”

By Dr. Abner Mality

Most symphonic power metal operas are hard to digest….too sugary, too overproduced, too much everything. It takes a special touch to do it just right. AVALAND is a new symphonic power metal band that gets more right than wrong.

It’s mostly the creation of a musical prodigy named Adrien Gzagg, who sings lead, plays all keyboards and composes all songs here. But he’s hardly on his own, as he’s enlisted a lineup of heavy hitters to help him out….Ralf Scheepers from PRIMAL FEAR, Zak Stevens of SAVATAGE/TSO, Madie from NIGHTMARE and Zaher from MYRATH, to name a few. That’s an impressive list of voices and Gzagg is no slouch himself.

“Theater of Sorcery” tells some grand story I was never able to really figure out. A coherent story is not one of AVALAND’s fortes. What the band is good at is coming up with supremely catchy and well written power metal songs that have strong emphasis on heavy guitar. The crunchy riffs here are not drowned in a sea of keys and symphonic instruments, which is a failing of many similar bands. The songs flow well with great vocals and technical guitar shredding. The opening title track is a fine example of what AVALAND can accomplish and matches the best of similar acts like AVANTASIA and AYREON. (What is it with all the symphonic power bands starting with letter A, anyway?). 

The album gets a bit flabby in the middle when the melodies start to get a little sugary on “Never Let Me Walk Alone” and “Deja Vu”, but the beginning and end are very strong, with other highlights being “War of Minds” and “Storyteller”. And I have to say the female vocals of Heli Andrea are absolutely superb on the ballad “I’ll be Ready for Your Love”.

Is AVALAND over the top and on the pompous side? For sure! And this won’t win over anybody who dislikes power metal. But for those who like metal on the bombastic side, this is quite an impressive album.