Power metal splits the vote like few other genres. It’s either a Dungeons & Dragons‐fixated joke that’s long outstayed its welcome or a rallying call for the sort of musical fundamentalist who thinks that the world has been going to hell in a handcart ever since Helloween got rid of Michael Kiske.
If there’s anything approaching a middle ground, then Edguy mainman Tobias Sammett’s ‘other’ project Avantasia are carefully walking it. Their third album finds them setting the dial to ‘epic’ without ever overloading on the cheese. At its best, as on the Joe Lynn Turner-assisted The Watchmakers’ Dream, it locates the midpoint between Ritchie Blackmore and Richard Wagner, while Invoke The Machine even features some nifty E Street Band‐style piano runs amid the sturm und drang.
It’s not all perfect, though – the soggy What’s Left Of Me (featuring Mr Big’s Eric Martin) is about as indigestible as a bratwurst smoothie, and there’s a muddled concept in there too. But if nothing else, Avantasia have at least succeeded in bringing power metal one step in from the cold.