Avaland returns with their second album, The Legend of the Storyteller, that is filled with all the theatrical symphonic metal and epic arrangements one would want and actually serves as a prequel in the Avaland saga.
Back in 2018, Adrien G Gzagg started Avaland with their debut album Theater of Sorcery being released in 2021. Avaland is a symphonic fantasy metal opera developed and composed by Adrien Gzagg who has influences ranging from Alan Parsons Project to Deep Purple to Avantasia, Ayreon, and Savatage, all of which come through in the metal opera’s sound. For The Legend of the Storyteller, Gzagg has brought in a number of guest vocalists including: Zak Stevens (ex-Savatage/TSO), Madie (ex-Nightmare/Faith In Agony), Pierre “Cara” Carabalona (Eltharia), Ivan Castelli (Lionsoul), Angèle Macabiès, Jens Ludwig (Edguy) and Bruno Ramos (Sortilège/ex-Manigance). For Gzagg, one of the goals of Avaland is to evoke a similar epic feeling as watching Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings. For this release, drums & Vocals were recorded at Octavox Studio by Steven Rozier & Matthieu Budin, guitars and bass recorded by JP Francon, and mixing handled by Steven Rozier Master by Brett Caldas-Lima at Tower Studio Master Dolby Atmos by Ludovick Tartavel at Studio de La Grande Armée. Avaland is currently on tour through the end of April, supporting Rhapsody of Fire and Symphonity.
This being a fantasy, symphonic power metal album becomes quickly apparent in the opening track that is largely a narrator setting the stage with some orchestration supporting and it comes across a bit over the top. Thankfully the second track, “Crimson Tyranny” while starting off as a continuance of “The Vision” shifts gears into power metal supported by a great riff and solid vocals. This song serves as a good introduction to the band as well and the drumming from Léo Mouchonay stands out. Overall production is very clean and will mixed so all the instruments and choral parts come through clearly. The guest vocals work really well within the structure of the song and it does have that epic feel one would expect.
“Insurrection” opens up sounding a bit like a dance track and keeps some pop sensibilities even with the guitars coming in, making this an odd song and a bit unexpected given the previous track. Throughout the track though, one can’t help but hear the great bass work from Camille Souffron, which keeps the song interesting, even if it does seem a bit out of place. “To Be the King” veers a bit toward the heavier, although it does start out with a piano opening. Again here the combination of vocals and the choral vocals really add to the song.
“Secret Night” goes in a completely different direction with a multi-vocalist midieval ballad accompanied by flute and strings. Again, some very wise choices on the vocalists, but I’m not sure the song fits with the rest of the album…or maybe it does and I’m just missing the concept? The vocal performances are really strong, melody is catchy, and the arrangement is solid, so the song on its own is well-done.
“Kingslayer” starts out with brief narration which I can’t help but think of Operation:Mindcrime from Queensryche even if the music ends up a bit different. The more I think about it though, the more this song sounds similar to ones on that album, from the overall pacing to heavier guitars to the vocal phrasing, epic chorus, and bass guitar work. Strange connection, so maybe it’s just me? I do like it, either way.
“Out of the Fog” is another interesting concept track with multi-vocalists and a chorus that sounds as if it came from a Broadway production with everything backed by Trans-Siberian Orchestra . Meanwhile, “Betrayers” goes more for some straight ahead power metal and ends up being one of the heavier tracks on the album, much appreciated at this point in the listening experience.
The album closes with “Lies” an epic 10 minute track that seemingly covers all the different approaches to orchestration and song construction elsewhere on the album but in this case all combined into a single track, some of which work while others seem out of place.
Avaland have created an interesting prequel to their saga in The Legend of the Storyteller. For me, at least, the project may have been a bit too ambitious in blending the different genres as some work while others seem out of place. One thing is for certain, performances are exceptional and the choices made for the vocalists were a work of genius as they work together so well while remaining distinct. While maybe not for me, those looking for fantasy and symphonic metal owe it to themselves to give this a listen.
Written by John Jackson
- The Vision
- Crimson Tyranny
- To Be the King
- Secret Night
- The Gift
- Out of the Fog
- Madness of the Wise
- You’ll Be the Legend
Release Date: March 31st. 2023
Record Label: Rockshots Records
Adrien G. Gzagg : Lead Vocals
Jeff Kanji : Lead Vocals
Lucas Martinez : Guitars
Camille Souffron : Bass,
Léo Mouchonay : Drums
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Video for ‘Betrayers’
Video for ‘Kinglsayer’
Lyric video for ‘Crimson Tyranny‘