Album review: AVANTASIA – Moonglow

Nuclear Blast [Release date 15.02.19]

‘Moonglow’ is the eighth full-length album by Tobias Sammet’s metal opera project Avantasia. As with previous Avantasia’s albums he calls upon an impressive list of guest vocalists including returns for Magnum’s Bob Catley, former Queensryche and current Operation:Mindcrime singer Geoff Tate and Jorn Lande, along with debuts for Candice Night (Blackmore’s Night), Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian) and Mille Petrozza (Kreator).

There is a concept, as Tobias explains – “Each song is a chapter based upon a creature that is thrown into the world but fails to find its place. It cannot connect with that environment and turns instead to the dark in the hope of finding shelter there. The lyrics are very personal but wrapped up in a fantastic surrounding inspired by writers of dark romanticism, especially gothic novels of the Victorian era by the likes of Arthur Machen or Algernon Blackwood.”

Opener ‘Ghost In The Moon’ really encapsulates everything Avantasia are about musically – a mix of power metal, symphonic elements, pomp rock, a touch of theatre and an uncanny knack for penning catchy choruses. This one has an air of Meat Loaf about it, whilst ‘Book Of Shadows’ has riffs that could peel your wallpaper off!  Kreator’s Mille Petrozza adds his thrash vocals to the proceedings. At the other end of the melodic spectrum the title track is an immense piece of melodic metal, where Tobias is ably assisted by Candice Night.

Jorn and Blind Guardian’s Hansi Kürsch make a good vocal pairing on ‘The Raven Child’. The sort of song Jorn excels at, giving it plenty of emotion to a metal filled backing. Geoff Tate certainly sounds in good form on ‘Invincible’ and ‘Alchemy’, he should tap up Tobias for songwriting on the next Operation:Mindchrime album.

Something a little bit different is the cover of the 80′s pop classic ‘Maniac’, which sees Mr. Big’s Eric Martin take his turn at the mic stand. Actually an album of 80′s pop songs given the Tobias Sammet treatment sounds like a great idea!

Avantasia are a classic Marmite band, you will either love the pomp or run a mile. Personally I much prefer Avantasia having never really gelled with Tobias’s other band Edguy.

Tobias Sammet and his Avantasia have done it again, a masterclass in how to do symphonic metal that has a wide and lasting appeal.  ****1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie

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