I’m fairly new to Avantasia in the grand scheme of things. Ghostlights was my first exposure and I loved it, so I dug into the back catalog. I googled Tobias (which the google suggestions filled in a question asking what his net worth was… really? People are googling that?) and looked into other things he has done. I’ve tried a couple of Edguy albums but haven’t been able to get into those much. So, Avantasia it is!
With this album, he brings back some of the same cast members from previous outings, all of whom do stellar work. You get Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian), Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids), Jørn Lande (Everywhere), Mille Petrozza (Kreator), Candice Night (Blackmore’s Night), Geoff Tate (Queensryche), Eric Martin (Mr. Big), Bob Catley (Magnum), and Michael Kiske (Helloween, Place Vendome). Pretty darn epic line-up there. Let’s see what this gets us…
Ghost in the Moon starts us off in the full on Avantasia, metal opera style (read: Meat Loaf at his most theatrical, except with power metal thrown in. Closest Meat Loaf has ever gotten to this is Bat Out of Hell 3). Very piano driven. Big sing-along chorus with a huge choir. This is starting things off on the right foot and honestly sounds like it should be a closing track. If it were any other artist, this WOULD be the epic finale. So it is pretty amazing to have this as the first song. But thankfully, things stay pretty awesome.
Book of Shallows is more of a rocker… well… let’s just say the pedal gets pushed to the floor here… and we get our first guest vocalists in Hansi, Ronnie, Jørn, and Mille. All delivering the goods. We get some thrashiness kicking in as well, giving the song some definite edge. Definitely one of the heavier songs on the album. Good track.
Moonglow is where our first ballad of the album comes in (using the pedal analogy, we back off from 100mph (last song) down to 30 before jumping up to 50 for a bit) with a chorus that sort of brings to mind Nightwish’s Amaranthe. This duet between Tobias and Candice is awesome. Tons of melody and harmony.
Up next, the first single released for this album, The Raven Child, is also the longest track. Found it odd to be the first single and I’m sure most of you have heard it by now but, if not, check it out below. It starts off slow with orchestration and vocals before kicking into a larger, full band sound. Also has one of the catchiest choruses on the album. And I really dig the chorus of Gregorian chant style vocals toward the end. Monster track. Hansi and Jørn (in his full on David Coverdale fashion) turn in another awesome performance, as well as Tobias.
Starlight with Ronnie, is another rocker with a great little riff to carry it along as well as another singalong chorus. Again, a staple of Avantasia songs.
Invincible and Alchemy… man… brace yourselves here. These next two tracks define epic. Together they are a perfect one two punch of what we have been missing from Queensryche for a long time (I do love the current incarnation with Todd but if you ever wondered what might have been, wonder no more. This is what I like to think Queensryche would be sounding like if they had stayed together and progressed in a better musical direction). Guess it goes without saying at this point, but this is our first taste of Geoff Tate and it is awesome. Invincible reminds me of Queensryche’s Someone Else, stylistically. Hearing Tate like this again brought a smile to my face. And it’s cool that it’s a duet with him and Tobias. They work well together. This segues nicely into Alchemy. The second song with Tate and it is a progressive rocker with a big chorus. Another fantastic track. I honestly got goosebumps with these two track together. I have played these into the ground.
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn jumps back into the power metal and not so much the theatrical nature here, so not one of my favorites but it is still a good song. Atkins, Lande, Eric, Bob, Tate, and Tobias. Great mixture.
Lavender is back to the theatrical power ballad with the big choir in the chorus. Bob back on this one again. Another good track.
Requiem For A Dream closes us out with another power metal extravaganza. Good song, but again, straight up power metal isn’t really in my wheelhouse. Michael shines here, though.
Ok. So that last track doesn’t close the album out. We get a cover of Maniac, which is good, but i found it an odd way to end the album. Really surprised this isn’t a bonus track. But there IS a bonus track called Heart on the deluxe version. So i am really not sure what is going on with these as I don’t have the booklet or story to see where they fit.
Regarding the bonus track, that wasn’t part of this review copy. So not sure about that one. I looked up the different editions on the Nuclear Blast site, and the regular edition is $10 and the digi-pack with the extra track is $22. So that’s basically $12 for a slightly less than 4 minute song. Seems a bit excessive. I’m a bit of a completest and will usually order the special edition to have all the tracks, but this one fell outside of my acceptable, self imposed, spending limit. But if you want it and can do it, go for it!
Upon my first listen, I initially thought this would have been an 8-8.5 for me. But the more I listened and the more it grew, I have settled on 9/10. It truly is a great album.
1. “Ghost in the Moon” 9:51
12. “Heart” (bonus track) 3:45
Release Date: February 15, 2019