Hot off the heels of festival dates throughout Europe, Avantasia are back with a new album appropriately titled ‘’A Paranormal Evening with the Moonflower Society’’.
2019’s ‘’Moonglow’, was an absolute masterpiece of the genre and probably in my top 3 albums of the 2 decades, it’s that good. One of the very few bands that get better with time and each album surpasses the other, let’s see if this is still the case with this new opus.
Tobias Sammet’s Metal Opera is back with his usual special guests, this time he brought along Jorn Lande (Jorn), Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids), Eric Martin (Mr. Big), Geoff Tate (Queensryche), Bob Catley, Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear), Michael Kiske (Helloween) and the very lovely Floor Jansen (Nightwish). He goes with the heavy hitters and he absolutely knows how to utilize the forces of each and every singer on this album.
We know he was very influenced by Arjen Lucassen’s Ayreon project, you really cannot deny it at all. Yet, Tobias is able to maximize every song and even though it’s story-driven, there is something more organic than Ayreon. The last Ayreon album was very disappointing for me because the flow was just not efficient enough and I could not get into the story. I tried and tried and yet, could not for the life of me get interested in the album. As for Avantasia, you have the main theme that is fully developed. It feels more like a night at the theater, nothing too complicated yet engaging. That’s one of the main forces of this mastermind and he can transcend the Metal Opera genre and make it his own. This album has all the traits of its predecessor.
So instead of the calming angelic voice of Candice Night that we had on ‘’Moonglow’’, you have the powerful siren that is Floor Jansen. Look, I despise Nightwish, since the very beginning but I cannot deny Floor’s powerful voice. She was great in After Forever and Nightwish found a very capable replacement as lead singer. On this album, she shines like a beacon of light, showing unhinged emotion and range on ‘’Misplaced Among the Angels’’ and ‘’Kill the Pain Away’’. For me these are the two standout tracks of the new album, there are not to be missed.
You have the two Power Metal powerhouses in Ralf Scheepers and Michael Kiske. The two singers probably have the best range in the genre and can still go after more than 30 years in the business. They have not lost any of their power at all and Ralf does a magnificent job on ‘’The Wicked Rule the Night’’, this could have been on a Primal Fear album (their last one was pretty disappointing honestly). As for Master Kiske, well he shows off his skill set remarkably on ‘’The Inmost Light’’ and his duet with Jorn Lande on the epic ‘’Arabesque’’ is a sight to behold. Who would have thought to bring both Jorn Lande and Michael Kiske together, well props to Tobias for doing that. Jorn is probably the most underrated or underappreciated singer in the history of Metal and his work speaks for itself. He seems to have fun on this album and it shows, it sucks that he is never fully recognized for his awesome talent.
Geoff Tate marvels on ‘’Scars’’ showing he still got it. I know for a few years, before the 2003 Dream Theater tour, he had some serious vocal issues and his live work was horrendous. I remember vividly listening to some live recordings and it was awful. He really worked his tail off before that DT tour to come back and deliver those classic Queensryche songs and hats off to him. It’s only a four-minute song but he does a fine job, of pouring raw emotion into his voice, as no one can like him.
With this project launched by Edguy’s main man, we have witnessed several extremely talented and some of the most prominent rock and metal vocalists collaborate together and create enchanted pieces of music. We have heard different beautiful voices from different fields of music jam together in the form of power metal. With the company of equally talented musicians, he is able to take the reigns of the genre. Tobias Sammet will go where he wants to go in the future and the future of the genre is in great hands.
All in all, “A Paranormal Evening with the Moonflower Society’’ is a great album, yet the flow felt a bit uneven compared to its 2019 predecessor. It felt rushed at times and at only 50 minutes long, it’s a bit too short for my taste even though the last song clocks at over 10 minutes. It really lacks the structure and presence of ‘’Moonglow’’ and the songs feel more like a scattering of bits and pieces than something more homogenous. Each song is its own and yet could be perceived as interchangeable. The track listing lacks a bit of substance but you still have some powerful standout songs and performances by some amazing musicians and vocalists. A very good album, something that can be relistened at any time and you will discover something each time you listen to it.