Review: Avantasia – Moonglow

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Tobias Sammet is one of my favorite figures in the metal world, both through Edguy and his ongoing collaborative rock and metal opera project Avantasia. After all these years I’m glad to say that he’s still got it, and the new Avantasia record, Moonglow, will please fans both old and new. Like the previous record, Moonglow is all tied together as a concept album, and like most other Avantasia records, it’s extremely ambitious and pulled off well.

The opening track, “Ghost in the Moon” grabs you from the get-go, and as always, Tobias’s cast of guest artists do an admirable job of bringing out the best parts of his songwriting. “Book of Shallows” features Hansi Kürsch of Blind Guardian fame, one of my other favorite figures in metal, among some other heavyweight names and just like the previous track, this one kicks ass.

The title track is a slightly more laid back ballad featuring Candice Night. While just the mention of a rock ballad can turn off many listeners, Sammet has a particular penchant for writing great ballads that don’t overstay their welcome, and this one still hits fairly hard with some heavier and proggy sections here and there.

“The Raven Child” again features Kürsch and Jørn Lande and it deservedly became the single to showcase the album. The song is incredible. The performances of Lande and Kürsch are oozing with musicality and the composition of this epic-length song is interesting and well-structured, with some great textures. To my own surprise, being a huge Blind Guardian fan, Lande is actually the guest performer who made this song for me. The push and pull in his singing mixed with his gravelly voice works so well for climactic points in the song, especially his first entrance.

Moonglow is a 66-minute-long record that feels like it’s half that length at best, and features an all-star cast of guest artists giving some of their best performances. It’s more than worth picking up a copy of this record for that reason alone, but if that doesn’t quite do it for you, you ought to know the album closes with a pretty fun cover of “Maniac,” with Sammet’s usual flair for the theatric.

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