Sunday, August 01, 2010

Surfing With Avantasia

We've surfed with Tobias Sammet before.  When last we sailed with him through the frothy white seas of Babylonian iniquity, he was singing lead for Edguy and raising towers of untold height.  Such hubris!  Well, the world hadn't seen nothing yet:  Sammet went on to form power metal's pre-eminent supergroup, AVANTASIA.  What's that?  You thought all power metal bands ALREADY sounded like supergroups, with everybody trying to outsing and outshred their fellow soul-patched lifers?  Just try listening to this with a straight face:

Think nothing of it, friends, that's just Jens Johansson of Stratovarius tickling the ivories at 3:20!

In Edguy's "Babylon," Sammet joyfully proclaimed that nobody could stop him from raising towers to Babylon, no matter how much the old ladies in town frowned upon such a practice.  It was an homage to hubris as happy as any song you're likely to hear.  (HACHOO!)  In "Angel of Babylon," Sammet contrasts Babylon with Paradise, a conception that's pretty common.  (Indeed, if I ever get around to editing and compiling all these ramblings, Babylon As Hell will get its own chapter.)  But the question remains:  how does our friend Tobias imagine his Hellish prison of despair?

1. Its entrance is marked by a "tower in the night, up to the sky."  This got me wondering, what would Freud say about such a tower...?

2. Babylon's relationship with Paradise is expressed in curiously intimate, and consistent, terms:  it exists on "the back side of light," it's "the snake in the backyard of heaven," and when you visit Babylon, "Venus" guides you "to the back door of love."

3. While peering at Babylon through the shadows, Tobias and his supersinger friend Jorn witness "iniquity galore."  Do they run away in terror and disgust?  Hardly!  "Been worth a detour and some more," they crow.

Well!  It kind of makes me wanna go to Babylon, how about you?  Tobias's Babylon sounds less like a Hellish gauntlet of fire, and more like a delightful, if not completely sanitary, bathhouse.  This may be an important wrinkle in the story--the symbolic oppositional society that dare not speak its name.  I wonder how that OTHER Tobias would read it...?

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