Published on March 7th, 2019 | by Justin G.
Avantasia: Moonglow (Nuclear Blast, 2019)
Tobias Sammet and company are back with a new Avantasia album, and that’s a great way to start the year. The new album – the eighth Avantasia full-length – is titled Moonglow, and it features many of the same vocalists who made the previous album (and 2016 W&P Album of the Year) Ghostlights such a success. We get Hansi Kursch (Blind Guardian, Demons & Wizards) for the first time ever on an Avantasia album, Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids, Nordic Union), Jorn Lande (um, Jorn), Mille Petrozza (Kreator), Candice Night (Blackmore’s Night), Geoff Tate (ex-Queensryche), Eric Martin (Mr. Big), Bob Catley (Magnum) and Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween).
Following up such a massive album as Ghostlights was not going to be easy, but Sammet really recaptured a lot of that same songwriting magic here. Moonglow is another very theatrical offering that owes as much to Meat Loaf-style rock operas as it does to traditional power metal. Avantasia albums have been heading in that direction for a while now, but it’s even more obvious here. And it works. The 10-minute album opener “Ghost in the Moon” is full of pomp and grandeur and theatricality. It’s Sammet at his Meat Loafiest, and it’s a blast. And then you get the much more metallic “Book of Shallows” that not only pairs power metal vocal gods Jorn Lande and Hansi Kursch, but throws Ronnie Atkins and Mille Petrozza in for good measure. Candice Night duets with Tobias on the title track, which is both the shortest and catchiest song on Moonglow. Her unique vocal style is perfect for Avantasia. “The Raven Child” is the other epic on Moonglow, clocking in at 11 minutes and pairing Jorn and Hansi so powerfully you’ll wish these guys had a whole series of albums like Allen-Lande.
Elsewhere on the album we get fantastic performances from Ronnie Atkins (“Starlight”), Bob Catley (“Lavender”) and Michael Kiske (“Requiem For a Dream”), not to mention performances from Geoff Tate (on “Invincible” and “Alchemy”) that make you wish he’d only ever sing songs that Tobias writes for him. Tate still has the pipes; he just needs more songs like this to sing. “The Piper At the Gates of Dawn” is this album’s “Unchain the Light;” a big, rousing number that lets just about everyone participate. Moonglow closes with a cover of the ’80s soundtrack classic “Maniac.” It’s kind of silly and kind of fun, but it seems more appropriate to an Edguy album than an Avantasia album.
Moonglow is another gloriously overblown (in the best possible way), gloriously theatrical rock opera, and while it may take a few spins to really sink in, once it does it sinks deep. The vocal performances are absolutely legendary, the songs are as catchy as they are grand, and the musicianship and production – as usual – are first class all the way. This is a more than worthy follow-up to Ghostlights, and an early Album of the Year candidate.
Edition Notes: The digibook version of Moonglow includes the bonus track “Heart.” There’s also a deluxe “artbook” version that includes “Heart” as well as a second disc with instrumental versions of all the regular Moonglow songs.
Summary: Another grand rock opera from Tobias and his all-star cast of guests