December 1, 2022

Avantasia – A Paranormal Evening with the Moonflower Society review

Genre: Metal

Label: Nuclear Blast Records

Release date: October 21, 2022

Connections: https://avantasia.com/

List of tracks:

1. Welcome to the shadows
2. The Wicked Rule the Night (feat. Ralf Scheepers)
3. Kill the Pain Away (feat. Floor Jansen)
4. Intimate Light (feat. Michael Kiske)
5. Lost Among Angels
6. I Tame the Storm (feat. Jorn)
7. Paper Airplane (feat. Ronnie Atkins)
8. The Moonflower Society (with Bob Catley)
9. Rhyme and Reason (feat. Eric Martin)
10. Scars (feat. Geoff Tate)
11. Arabesque (feat. Jorn&Michael Kiske)

To all friends of rock epics and metal operas, I can just welcome “A Paranormal Evening with the Moonflower Society”…what a long title for an album. This is Tobias Sammet’s 9th studio album from Avantasia and the sequel to 2019’s hugely successful “Moonglow”. Sure, he had some great stuff to offer, but on the other hand, there were too many songs on it that I didn’t find accessible, and I had a hard time getting into those songs. So when the new album was announced, my expectations were a little lower than usual.

I’ve always loved the more melodic and anthemic side of Avantasia and I’m happy to say that “A Paranormal Evening with the Moonflower Society” delivers just that. One thing I noticed early on was that this record is much more catchy than the previous one so it was very easy to get into the songs. For those who like the heavier, more progressive side of Avantasia, this might be bad news, but overall I can say you’ll find something for everyone on this album.

“Welcome To The Shadows” sets a very atmospheric starting point for the record with its theatrical verses and a super catchy arena rock chorus. With “The Wicked Rule The Night” we already come to the album’s heaviest song with Primal Fear’s Ralf Scheepers on guest vocals. This song is a speed metal banger with a slice of early Avantasia and should make any fan who likes it heavy and fast happy. “Kill The Pain Away” is the first track with Floor Jansen on vocals and it’s a perfect complement to Tobias’ vocals. This one is another song with a killer chorus that you can sing for days.

With ‘The Inmost Light’ things ramp up again as it’s the typical Michael Kiske power metal song you’ve come to expect on every Avantasia record – so here it is. At this point, we notice that many of the songs are quite short, clocking in at around 3-4 minutes, which is a bit unusual for Avantasia standards.

The following song “Misplaced Among The Angels” is the first ballad and again features Nightwish’s Floor Jansen on guest vocals. It’s an incredible emotional song that gave me goosebumps, especially in the chorus where Floor and Tobi sing together. These two voices go together wonderfully. “I Tame The Storm” is next and is another short rocker with a standout performance from Jorn Lande. It’s always a pleasure to hear him on Avantasia and on this song he has some great catchy material to work with.

The hit potential increases even more on the next song “Paper Plane”, which is another ballad with an equally incredible chorus sung by Tobias and Ronnie Atkins of Pretty Maids. I’m a huge fan of his voice and he sounds fantastic as always. This song should be the next single because it’s just made for radio play – and I’m not saying that in a bad way. Commercial Avantasia is at its best!

“The Moonflower Society” kicks off with infectious touches and storytelling vocals from Magnum’s Bob Catley. This song fits him perfectly and is another very catchy track. In general, we can say that Tobias Sammet once again managed to give each singer on this record his moments of glory.

“Rhyme and Reason” features Mr. Big’s Eric Martin and is a bit faster than the stuff he’s known for. It’s cool to hear it on a rockier track instead of the usual ballads. A pretty good feel-good song indeed.

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“Scars” has a mysterious atmosphere, which is very well presented by Geoff Tate. Not my favorite track on this album but a nice addition to the other songs.

And here we have it: the huge finale in the form of a 10-minute epic. “Arabesque” is a typical long track that creates a lot of atmosphere and tension. It’s more on the progressive side of things and not as catchy as the other songs. Here we hear Jorn Lande and Michael Kiske again and both singers do what they can do best. Although I liked the older long tracks like “Ghost In The Moon”, “The Wicked Symphony” or “The Great Mystery” a lot more than this new one, it’s nice to have some variations here with the singers mentioned.

This brings us to the album’s biggest disappointment: aside from the last track and the opener, every song is just a duet with Tobias (the opener only features him on vocals). In the past, Avantasia experienced a lot of the dynamic between all these different singers and styles that came together in these songs. Here you don’t have that most of the time. How cool would it have been to hear a song with Atkins, Martin and Catley together? Why not put Scheepers and Kiske in one song and let the duel begin? What about Jorn with Floor? There was so much potential here, but unfortunately it wasn’t being used. I would have liked to hear at least 2 more songs where these singers come together like they did in the previous songs.

Another point of criticism for me is the overall choice of guest singers as there are no surprises here. Of course I love them all and I don’t want to miss Jorn, Kiske, Atkins & Co., but these singers were all very predictable and the only two new ones – Ralf Scheepers and Floor Jansen – have already been announced during the marketing campaign . I was hoping for a surprise, someone like Dee Snider, Klaus Meine or Alice Cooper – singers you just don’t initially associate with Avantasia. So this guest list is a pretty safe game.

But in the end, what matters most are the songs and here, Avantasia hits the mark. The songwriting, in general, is top notch, along with the powerful production and performances from all the musicians involved. I would even say that this album contains a collection of songs that belong to the best in recent Avantasia history, so I’m sure the band’s fans will love what they hear on this album. For me, it’s a huge improvement over the last album. Welcome back, Avantasia – this paranormal evening with the Moonflower Society was simply delicious!

Written by: Thomas Schwarzkopf

Rating: 9/10

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