Every few years for the past two decades, Edguy’s Tobias Sammet has gathered luminaries from the metal world to record a new Avantasia album. What was meant to be a one-off album has turned into an enduring symphonic power metal project. The group’s latest effort is A Paranormal Evening with the Moonflower Society, Avantasia’s ninth full-length studio album.
The core of the band includes Sammet (vocals, keyboards, bass) and Sascha Paeth (guitars, keyboards), who also co-produced the album. Nearly all of the guest vocalists this time have done previous Avantasia albums such as Jorn Lande, Bob Catley (Magnum), Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids), Eric Martin (Mr. Big), Geoff Tate (ex-Queensryche) and Michael Kiske (Helloween). Appearing for the first time on an Avantasia album are Nightwish’s Floor Jansen and Primal Fear’s Ralf Scheepers.
The formula for Avantasia has been pretty much the same from the beginning: rousing power metal songs with soaring choruses, bombastic arrangements and an uplifting vibe. They don’t stray from that at all here, which is fine, because that’s what their fans have come to expect, and it’s extremely well-executed.
Sammet is front and center on the opener “Welcome to the Shadows,” with backing choirs helping embed the earworm chorus into the listener’s brain. Scheepers makes his Avantasia debut on “The Wicked Rule the Night,” one of the record’s heavier numbers with Paeth delivering an excellent performance. Scheepers has been one of metal’s best vocalists for decades, and his range and power is evident on the song.
Tate shines on “Scars” as he utilizes both power and restraint with a diverse vocal display. The uptempo “The Inmost Light” is perfect for Kiske, who belts out the high notes with the best of them, meshing seamlessly with the intense symphonic arrangement.
The ballad “Misplaced Among the Angels” has vocals from Sammet and Jansen. It gets off to an understated start with emotional singing from Sammet before it kicks into full power ballad mode and he hands off vocals to Jansen. When they are singing together it’s the most memorable part of the song.
“Kill the Pain Away” also features vocals from Sammet and Jansen and is the better of the two tracks. There are catchy melodies and more dynamic vocals, making it one of the best songs on the album.
This is the eighth Avantasia album Lande has appeared on, and there’s a reason he keeps getting asked back. “I Tame The Storm” has yet another catchy chorus, a searing guitar solo, and a strong vocal performance. Catley guests for the ninth time on an Avantasia album, with the energetic “The Moonflower Society” featuring vocals from him and Sammet.
The songs on A Paranormal Evening with the Moonflower Society are relatively streamlined until the final track. “Arabesque” is a 10 minute opus featuring the trio of Sammet, Lande and Kiske. It has an extended intro with some folk elements that reappear late in the track. The song has ebbs and flows between symphonic bombast and more reserved sections, maintaining interest throughout.
Sammet and company have created another expertly orchestrated and arranged batch of songs that are also packed with hooks and memorable moments. I like 2019’s Moonglow a little bit more, but A Paranormal Evening with the Moonflower Society is a highly enjoyable Avantasia release that’s consistently good from start to finish.