Keyboardist Jens Johansson (STRATOVARIUS, DIO, YNGWIE MALMSTEEN) has joined the list of guest musicians who will appear on the forthcoming release from EDGUY frontman Tobias Sammet's AVANTASIA project.
Commented Tobias: "I've known Jens for years now; there has always been a friendship between EDGUY and STRATOVARIUS. We became friends when Jens was playing in the solo band of Timo Kotipelto when they joined EDGUY for a tour of South America some years ago. We got shitfaced on several occasions and Jens always captured any possible embarrassment with his Powershot G5.
"He's a genius on his instrument — and beyond — and the stuff he played for me sounds amazing.
"A lot of people can shred and play fast, but unlike most of them, every note that Jens plays is tasteful and exactly where it belongs.
"I don't know if he is the fastest keyboarder in the world, but I'd like to think so. At least I have never heard a faster one."
So far Tobias has confirmed the following musicians to be part of the forthcoming AVANTASIA opus:
* Klaus Meine (SCORPIONS)
* Tim "Ripper" Owens (JUDAS PRIEST, YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, ICED EARTH)
* Eric Singer (KISS, ALICE COOPER)
* Michael Kiske (HELLOWEEN)
* Jorn Lande (MASTERPLAN, ARK, MILLENIUM)
* Bob Catley (MAGNUM)
* Sascha Paeth
* Felix Bohnke (EDGUY)
* Alex Holzwarth (RHAPSODY, SIEGES EVEN)
* Russell Allen (SYMPHONY X)
* Jens Johansson (STRATOVARIUS, DIO, YNGWIE MALMSTEEN)
AVANTASIA project will celebrate its comeback next year with a new epic masterpiece, to be released as two separate albums entitled "The Wicked Symphony" and "Angel Of Babylon".
Regarding his decision to release the next AVANTASIA chapter in two separate CDs, Tobias said, "I have always given my very best, but this new chapter in AVANTASIA's history is too much and too ambitious to be just a regular album. I have worked on it for years now, and it has become even more than two albums!
"I knew that story would be spread out over two albums back then when we started working on it in 2006, 'cause we had written a real rock opera of over 20 songs even back then. But since then, we kept composing, and out came even bigger and better material.
"Looking at the music industry today with all the CD burning and downloading, I guess in the near future many of us traditional rock and metal bands won't be able to spend such a production budget. I am afraid I won't be able to afford so many guests and such a big production with orchestration and a choir and all that. That's why this production takes so much time; it may be the last big epic I will be able to afford, and I want it to be the biggest piece I have worked on so far."
Kiske has appeared on every AVANTASIA album so far, including the first two full-length releases, "The Metal Opera" (2001) and "The Metal Opera Pt. II" (2002).
On the topic of the new AVANTASIA album's musical direction, Sammet recently stated, "We've got quite many songs, and it ranges from epic ballads to metal opera. From pop to hard rock to folk to speed metal. My best friend, who co-wrote the story of 'The Metal Opera' back then, just listened to some of the tracks and he said that it will blow people away and enchant AVANTASIA fans and it will surely piss people off . . . It's just enchanting music. And these days honest and good music is kind of offending to some, that's pretty sick, isn't it? But as long as I get goose bumps hearing majestic music, I do not really care if I am fashionable or not."
The most recent album from AVANTASIA, "The Scarecrow", was one of the 20 best-selling albums in whole Europe during the fourth week of January 2008, according to a press release.
"The Scarecrow" was released on January 25, 2008 as a standard CD as well as rare picture (double) vinyl. It features a long list of guest musicians, including Bob Catley, ex-MASTERPLAN frontman Jorn Lande, ex-HELLOWEEN singer Michael Kiske, Alice Cooper, KISS drummer Eric Singer, SCORPIONS guitarist Rudolf Schenker and GAMMA RAY's Kai Hansen. The album produced a Top 10 German hit single, "Lost In Space", and entered the national charts in 15 countries, with the CD landing in the Top 10 in four countries.