Captain Tobias Sammet returns to the helm of sthe mothership Avantasia with Moonglow, his eighth comprhensive rock opera offering. The crew has been pared back to the immensely capable Sascha Paeth (Guitar, Bass & Keyboards), Michael Rodenberg (Orchestration & Keyboards) and Felix Bohnke (Drums) with a rotating cast of guest vocalists. Sammet explains
“the songs are interlinked. 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. Yes, it’s a concept album but don’t expect elves walking through the forest,”
Moonglow is more of a thematic concept without an overarching rock opera theme as delivered on previous releases. We instead follow a central lead character, in a Tim Burtonesque dreamscape and there are a few surprises in store on our voyage.
Opening with Ghost In The Moon, which unlike previous first Avantasia tracks is not an instrumental, in fact there are immediate vocals to the accompaniment of piano! Fear not, Sammet handles the vocals exceptionally and we are into the stratospheric heights of a staggering 80’s AOR influenced epic which is just shy of ten minutes long. It’s powerful, anthemic and a perfect starting point. How on earth can such an exhilarating piece be followed? By Book Of Shallows, possibly the heaviest Avantasia track yet. Powerful guitars accentuated with blast beats which immediately gallops. The striking vocals Hansi Kürsch,(Blind Guardian) Jørn Lande (Masterplan) and Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids). But, this is not enough, the tempo drops then picks up as Mille Petrozza (Kreator) aggressively steps to the mic! It is a truly inspired piece, the only downside being that this is Petrozza’s sole appearance but for sheer shock value and joy, it cannot be beaten. The title track and second single Moonglow follows, featuring the enchanting dulcet tones of Candice Night (Blackmore’s Night) in a beautifully uplifting ethereal song a little reminiscent of the Maggie Reilly powered Moonlight Shadow (Mike Oldfield). The Raven Child with its almost medieval court dance feel (it’s probably the harp!) featuring Lande and Kursch with Sammet it’s a prog rock masterpiece that transitions and undulates wonderfully. Starlight is as close to a straight up power metal track, with an upbeat 80’s feel and a Munsters influenced kick ass bass riff. Ronnie Atkins shines with Sammet in this feelgood tune. Next up is the power ballad and sadly the shortest track with the incredible vocals of the incomparable Geoff Tate (formerly Queensrÿche) with Invincible. Tate remains on board for the synth and string darkly melancholic and progressive Alchemy. Slightly disorienting with hints of the 70’s Waters steered Pink Floyd but heavier. This is a truly impressive track. Mind blowing in fact.
The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (no connection to Syd Barrett) incorporates the vocals of Eric Martin (Mr Big) and Bob Catley (Magnum) in bombastic power metal track which allows each singer the opportunity to demonstrate their skills without it becoming a pissing contest. There does not seem to be any rivalry, just some of the greatest singers united in creating great music. Catley takes the lead for the mid-tempo Lavender before handing over to Michael Kiske (Helloween) for his mandatory Avantasia contribution in Requiem For A Dream.
The final track is sung by Eric Martin and Sammet and nothing can prepare you for the jubilation of their combined effort on Maniac. As in the soundtrack to the 80’s blockbuster Flashdance. I’m not quite sure how this fits the initial vision of Sammet, but quite frankly I don’t care. Nor should you. Enjoy!
Moonglow is as expected an absolute delight. Settle down and immerse yourself, bask in the euphoric rock opera that is Avantasia.
„Moonglow“ – Tracklist:
- Ghost In The Moon
- Book Of Shallows
- The Raven Child
- The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
- Requiem For A Dream
Moonglow will be released February 15 and can be ordered here
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