Sound — 7
Every song is quite epic with a large orchestrated sound and a tremendous chorus in almost every song. The guitar parts aren't all too technical, but it suits the style of music perfectly, besides which - if they were more technical then there may well be too much going on at one time with the keyboards and orchestrated sections. This is album is unsurprisingly the first part of potentially the cheesiest concept album in metal history, with elves, dwarves, alternate realities, witchcraft and everything else common in fantasy books. However, if it were less cheesy I honestly think it would be less interesting too. It's hard to describe in words how good the music is, but I will point out one colossal flaw within the writing of the album: how many songs can end with a repeated chorus before it's overdone? more than half of this album, so thank god the choruses are all incredibly magniloquent or I would rate this much lower.
Lyrics — 9
11 vocalists, the majority of which have at least a 3 octave range with Tobias Sammet, Michael Kiske, Ralf Zdiarstek showing this throughout the album. Most songs feature at least 2 different vocalists - and I think the perfect performance by every vocalist is the highlight of the album. The choruses usually feature a choir like collection of vocal parts arranged to really perfect the songs. Personally, I brought this album simply because it featured Michael Kiske, and whilst his parts are less frequent that I had hoped, they are all excellent and I discovered for myself Ralf Zdiarstek which helps compensate. Okay, there is one flaw - the fact that some of vocalists don't get to add their style to album, singing typical Tobias Sammet melodies. Particularly Kiske, (although this is perhaps because he is who I am most used to hearing) who rarely gets a line as technical as those in Helloweens Keeper Of The Seven Keys albums.
Overall Impression — 8
I think this album is easily one of my favourites in Power Metal, alongside Helloween's 'Keeper Of The Seven Keys' albums. The highlights in the album are probably Breaking Away, Avantasia and The Tower, although it is incredibly hard to just pick three out of the 13, it certainly would have been easier to pick the worst (I could have picked the prelude!). Compared to the second part of The Metal Opera, it is slightly brighter although the difference is negligible and the albums flow perfectly. If lost or stolen, this would immediately be pushed to the top of my list of albums that require purchasing.