Ah, countless calories galore. I just went to the fondue shop to get my fix of milk fat, garlic and loads of white wine. Together with two baguettes of course. You do need nice, crusty bread to go with this dish of molten cheese.
Well, in hindsight, this is not something I should have done. Because little did I know that I’d get started on Avantasia‘s Moonglow anytime soon.
Their 2019 record is so full of cheesy glory that – actually – there will be no need for future fondue excesses. Like for the next 250 years or so.
But did we expect anything else?
Not quite, and ever since Ghostlights hit the RockmusicRaider review pipe, there’s no illusion left. Not a single one. Even with The Wicked Trilogy now firmly out of the way, the RockmusicRaider deck crew actually expected an increase in flamboyance. So, with that in mind, everyone was all gung-ho about all these new things Tobias Sammet would bring to our turntable.
And – by Loki – Avantasia delivered.
As is custom with Avantasia, Moonglow again features a score of guest contributors. Yet contrary to Within Temptation, this is one of the main features of any of their albums. And a careful selection it is, with many known names and old hands of records past.
Jorn Lande and – no surprise there – Michael Kiske (Helloween) of course. Then Candice Night, wifey of Ritchie Blackmore (Rainbow), got active on Moonglow, the title track. Hansi Kürsch of Blind Guardian makes an appearance, too. And it shows. Ronnie Atkins of Pretty Maids also lends his definitely rocky voice to this endeavor. The list goes on and on.
And did you realize that hardly any of them is below 50 years of age? But never mind that. Old hands will deliver a pretty lively tune with savvy, and there’s no exception to this specific rule here.
Moonglow also sports much better visibility of one Tobias Sammet.
Ghostlights was plagued by a plethora of miscellaneous guests, but no Sammet far and wide. No doubt they lost the bid for the Eurovision Song Contest after Ghostlights released. You cannot win, when the audience is distracted, because nobody knows who’s manning the helm. And with a song that should belong to Meat Loaf to boot.
What sold me on Moonglow as well are the improved belting powers of da master himself. Gone are the somewhat strained lyrics of times past. And in comes a vocalist I am tempted to call relaxed this time, if that makes sense. I guess a voice coach got involved to fix that one. But hey, good stuff.
But the fucking swagger this guy displays when working on his Avantasia really takes the cake. You’ve got to have mighty careless guts to ponderously display a brand of Power Metal so far out on fondue lake that you hope they got a good compass. And not one made out of cheese, because it may melt, too. So far only the funny bones of Gloryhammer prance about space in a similar fashion, but they are not of the serious division.
Gone is the overcooked Power Metal stew of the last album.
Much to my surprise, Avantasia introduced some serious crunch this time, even if the Sascha Paeth schmooze for sure didn’t leave the building. A thoughtful inclusion of something resembling real metal, not this bouillon of stilted and melodramatic elements set on a mighty brick wall. Book of Shallows comes to mind with its Heavy Metal texture.
Not that Moonglow is without its sugary sweet moments.
The aforementioned title track darkly shines in all its syrupy splendor. Sometimes it comes off as so Nightwish, it could actually live on the latest disk of the latter. But the track does have a certain allure that wakes up the Goth in me. A mix of Gothic and Power Metal on a pop platter. Oh, so groovy, by Jove. But it is pretty cool nonetheless.
But the epic The Raven Child will probably qualify as da numba one track on Moonglow. At first the track trespasses on some sort of medieval folk theme. But by mid-point, folks disrobe and emerge metal-clad. A stellar transition that leads to a cocktail adorned with mighty metal cubes. Crunch that, you folk adepts!
The second half of the album – sadly – descends into this amalgam of déjà-vu, of tracks melting into each other, with stuff we somehow heard before. Some happy group chanting included on Lavender.
And with way too much focus on overly speedy Power Metal, which really does not give credit to the quality that was so prevalent before. So much so, that it almost kills Requiem for a Dream, the track with Michael Kiske. And what Michael Sembello’s Maniac of 1983 actually does on that track list will forever be beyond me.
Notwithstanding the above…
Moonglow serves you with a mighty platter of gothically tempered Power Metal. Clearly a step up from the former record, Avantasia famously demonstrate that no crazy antics are needed to craft a decent tune in this genre. And this, together with this urge to totally overdo everything, lather it in cheese, and still get away with it really is proof of the pudding.
If anything, Moonglow is one of the better pop-infused Power Metal albums that I had the pleasure (or displeasure) to review. Ain’t it Amaranthe?
So, in this light, this record definitely shines much brighter than its mighty predecessor. Not something we thought possible, though.
But – hey – here we stand corrected.