The bombastic operatic Metal of Avantasia continues apace with their eighth album Moonglow (Nuclear Blast), and just in case you were in any doubt it opens with a nigh on ten minute slice of pomp that would not sound out of place on Meatloaf’s Bat Out Of Hell 2 (MCA/Virgin). The conceptual nature and fantastical sound of previous album Ghostlights is expanded upon here, helped by the ample time Tobias Sammet was given when making it.
He really had the freedom to explore his musical whims and desires, roping in, as is the way of things in Avantasia-land, a host of famous musicians for the ride. Hansi Kursch of Blind Guardian and Jorn Lande of Masterplan sing on the lead single, the Celtic-tinged Metal of ‘The Raven Child’, a song equal parts Whitesnake and Dio that comes to a wonderfully frenetic conclusion; I mean who else could get away with an eleven minute long lead single!
Those two, as well as Ronnie Atkins and Mille Petrozza of Pretty Maids and Kreator respectively, are also onboard for another mighty fine moment – the brutal Thrash Metal and huge chorus of ‘Book Of Shallows’. Guest vocalist Geoff Tate returns to the fold in ‘Alchemy’, a serving of Prog-tinged Symphonic Metal of epic proportions tailor-made for the ex-Queensryche star.
Such a dense, full-on sound takes a few listens to properly gel if you’re new to the band and the unrelenting scale and ferocity does not help; over an hour of Meatloaf Metal leaves you feeling a bit weary after a while. A few of the songs lose their way amidst all the feverous pomp and circumstance, ‘Starlight’ and ‘The Piper at the Gates of Dawn’ chief amongst them.
There are a few moments of relative calm, though, the main one being ‘Moonglow’ where the metallic grandiloquence takes a back seat to melody and the sweet vocals of Blackmore’s Night singer Candace Night. The biggest surprise is left till last, an unexpectedly good cover of the massive 80s pop hit ‘Maniac’ by Michael Sembello.
A whirlwind of big riffs, fantastical lyrics, massive choruses, and operatic bombast of Jim Steinman-esque proportions that, despite the huge level of excess, left a smile on my face.
7 / 10