In this stunning new release from Avantasia, we’re confronted with a hefty symphonic and metallic presence that feels very much like the operas that we’re familiar with, leaving us with an experience that is far less like that of standard power metal fare.
There’s still a fair amount of chunk and groove here, but this time, the performance is more about melody and atmosphere, feeling like a sort of whimsical dream in which many of heavy metal’s heavyweights have taken part. Hard-driving riffs still appear in the same breath as pulse-pounding solos, but hefty choruses win the day as everyone from Jorn Lande to Hansi Kursch and even Candice Night (along with rock legend Ritchie Blackmore) set the sky on fire with a number of dazzling performances.
Tobias Sammet has played with the best of them, and I still jam “The Toy Master” from 08’s The Scarecrow quite a bit, being a huge fan of Alice Cooper. His performance there was spellbinding, and the same can be said for that of Jorn Lande (a monolith in his own right), and the man who built the foundation for German power metal, Hansi Kursch. Kursch might not be as young as he used to be, but those familiar, bardic vocal harmonies that we recall from an epic like “Battlefield” or “Imaginations From The Other Side” are still very much intact and display beautifully within the pieces in which they are utilized.
Aside from a half-hearted attempt at Michael Sembello’s “Maniac” (Sorry guys, but Firewind did it better) the entire record comes off quite theatrical and carries a sort of dreamy bombast that continues on throughout the whole of the disc, which makes the “Maniac” cover seem even more strangely out of place. I’d even recommend that you just stop the record at the end of closer “Requiem For A Dream,” because it literally ruins the atmosphere, when what really should have been shelved for a cover album comes into play.
So, is it the best album that Avantasia have ever released? I wouldn’t feel right in saying that much, but I will agree that Moonglow is their best release in quite a while. I’m still very partial to many tracks from Scarecrow, but have been keeping up with them over the past couple of years to various hits and misses.
In that regard, this performance feels the most cohesive and truly carries the spirit of the band, or at least what I remember from them. Moonglow is an operatic and wholly theatrical heavy metal tour-de-force that I think fans will love and admire for a long time to come. I’ve enjoyed the couple of spins that I’ve given it and will say with full honesty that the whole thing would have been better if the “Maniac” cover had been left off. In fact, it should have been left with Flashdance.