Review by shadowdoom9 (Andi) for Avantasia - Moonglow (2019)
If you're a solid power metal fan like I used to be, you know that the ambitious project Avantasia by Tobias Sammet is filled with the magical fantasy of the genre. Through the project's long run, many talented and prominent rock/metal vocalists have collaborated together to enchant the power metal magic. It's so amazing! The musicians that are part of this metal opera band perform tremendously. While most of these contributors are already in previous releases, 3 new voices have appeared; Blind Guardian's Hansi Kürsch, Mille Petrozza of the legendary Kreator, and Candice Night from the project formed with her partner Ritchie Blackmore, Blackmore's Night.
First off, the artwork. It was love at first sight! A wonderful enigma whether you're a power metal fan or not. This meaningful Tim Burton-inspired art was made by Swedish painter Alexander Jansson. The blue-green-teal monochrome artwork seems to depict a silhouette of a girl lost in the woods at night (Maybe her name is Blackmore and that's her night! lol), yet there are more details to be found if observed more closely. There's colorful space within the dark tint. The colorful details might be based on the songs with starlight sky and purple lavenders. Beautiful! However, there are dark cryptic messages that the silhouette doesn't seem aware of. I could babble on about how magnificent this artwork, representing the colors, darkness, and atmosphere of the album in all its glory, but I gotta focus on the more important part...the music!
"Ghost in the Moon" goes straight into the vocals instead of just building up the instrumentation, unlike previous album openers. You immediately hear Tobi's singing over marvelous keyboards. Then the instrumental energy builds up and takes you on a rollercoaster through this monumental hymn of wonder, including a triumphant chorus with epic choir in the background, along with amazing solos and blazing riffs by Sascha Paeth. This 10-minute epic is never boring at all, whether you're an Avantasia fan or not. "Book of Shallows" is shorter but more diverse with a lot you could ask for. It's more progressive with atmosphere and virtuosity throughout these 5 minutes. This is one of the most epic entries in terms of vocals, with Sammet singing with Hansi Kursch, Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids), and Jorn Lande together in triumph. Then the song reaches its heavier peak in the second half with Kreator's Mille Petrozza barking like a beast. Perfect timing and energy! The title track is another song I love, Tobi in a duet with Candice Night. It is a mellow hard-rock-ish song that focuses on catchy beauty. It's simple yet one of the most memorable tracks here with chorus melodies from keyboards and guitars creating instant memories to remember.
The most golden track is the first single, "The Raven Child" that shines with the band's audacity of a releasing a long epic preview of the album. Throughout those 11 minutes holds sheer beauty in the song. The vocal exchange between Lande, Kursch, and Sammet continues again at its highest pinnacle with wonderful melodies from those 3 power metal gods. Hansi's singing in the intro is so smooth and calm. If you wanted to hear Ronnie Atkins sing again, don't worry, he's in the second-shortest song, the catchy "Starlight". The shortest song is the power ballad "Invincible" with Geoff Tate, former vocalist of Queensrÿche, with Tate's vocals marking a flashback to the ballads from his earlier albums with Queensrÿche. Despite the slow tempo, the song never seems out of place. The spirited duet fits well with the mellow keyboards. That song seems like a prelude to the faster progressive "Alchemy" because the latter also has Tate. The song is another one of the most memorable, especially in the killer riffing.
"The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" (the title being a possible tribute to Pink Floyd's debut) harkens back to the power metal of Edguy's Theater of Salvation, with the vocalists from the previous 4 tracks uniting together along with Eric Martin (Mr. Big) and Bob Catley (Magnum). "Lavender" is a rock showtune-like tune with groovy hooks and more of Catley's singing. Concluding the actual story is "Requiem for a Dream" (possible reference to the movie in which the soundtrack composition "Lux Aeterna" became a TSFH-like trailer music piece), an energetic track with Helloween's Michael Kiske whose amazing singing goes on without ever looking back. A strong monumental way to finish the story! However, there are two bonus tracks, with the first one being a cover of "Maniac" by Michael Sembello which actually fits well with the concept itself, with the "maniac on the floor" being a possible personality for the main character. It's the one weak point of the album without deducting the perfect score. Limited edition bonus track "Heart" should've ended the album as an epilogue track with the "Maniac" cover being a bonus track, but never mind, Moonglow is still perfect all the same.
Moonglow is probably Avantasia's most diversely detailed album yet. It's so surreal yet wonderful during these 66 minutes (not including the kinda weak "Maniac" cover). It's like an art gallery with accompanying music, and like I said, the album is magnificent in both the music and art. This painting from said art gallery is life-size and filled with different characters and natures through symbolic messages. This dark concept of wonders is just the beginning of yet another Avantasia saga!
Favorites: "Ghost in the Moon", "Book of Shallows", "Moonglow", "The Raven Child", "Alchemy", "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn", "Requiem for a Dream"