Vera : We know the debonair Tobias Sammet as singer of Edguy and moving spirit of Avantasia, an ever changing collective with many guest vocalists which creates well crafted rock operas. Sammet is a busy man. When he is not working for Edguy, he focuses on Avantasia. However, for the first time in his career he needed a break. And guess what he did during this Sabbath period after the tour with Avantasia two years ago. Just writing songs. Out of this came the eighth Avantasia album Moonglow, yet with less pressure and deadlines than before. Now the songs had the time to mature and Sammet could use, together with his buddy Sascha Paeth, his brand new own studio to record. The core band furthermore exists as always of Michael Rodenberg for orchestration and keyboards and Edguy drummer Felix Bohnke.
Lyric-wise Moonglow happens to be a concept album which, just like its predecessor Ghostlights, deals with the big questions of life, although topics are rather dreamy this time. Every song is about a creature, thrown into this world, but it fails to find its place. The album kicks off with the long Ghost In The Moon (ten minutes) in which piano and the sensitive voice of Tobi are soon relished with choirs and orchestral arrangements. Sascha plays a fervent guitar solo, the general approach reminds me a bit of Meat Loaf. Towards the end choirs and piano are thoughtful. The parade of a wide range of guest singers begins in the fast-paced, tight Book Of Shallows. The symphonic power metal is regaled with the vocals of Hansi Kursch (Blind Guardian) and the very typical thrash throat of Mille Petrozza (Kreator). New as well is a contribution of Candice Night, the wife of Ritchie Blackmore. For her, Tobi has chosen a sensitive song (Moonglow) with a catchy, poppy chorus in the vein of Moonlight Shadow from Mike Oldfield.
For me the highlight of the album appears to be The Raven Child, an eleven minutes long stunner, starting with calm, slightly folky vocals of Hansi KÃ¼rsch. After an amazing wah-wah solo, it gets calm again with harp-like sounds. The passionate macho vocals of Jorn Lande give the song a virile power. Oliver Hartmann plays a magnificent guitar solo in it and then you know that Pink Floyd is not far away. A sturdy male choir looms up; after an acceleration it is Jorns turn again to create an energetic ending in the vein of Heaven & Hell from Black Sabbath. Grandiose! After the smooth, up-tempo Starlight with Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids), Geoff Tate (ex-Queensryche) enters the building to render the beautiful piano ballad Invincible. He stays for Alchemy, a longer track with dark cello additions, heavy riffs and ultimately catchy vocal lines. Mark the fervent guitar solo. Playful keyboards and a semblance of pop resound in The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (no, not a cover of Pink Floyds song) which is fast and fetching with many choirs. Bob Catley remains a familiar guest in the storytelling Lavender and finally Michael Kiske can prove that he is still a master in high-ranged vocals during the Helloween alike Requiem For A Dream, combining symphonic beginning with cheerful, melodic guitars. At the end we jump at the dance floor with a cover of Michael Sembellos Maniac from the movie Flashdance. Again Sammet managed to create a grand epic album with a wide range of guest appearances, a trademark of Avantasia! In March they will start the next world tour.