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Avantasia - A Paranormal Evening With The Moonflower Society Award winner

A Paranormal Evening With The Moonflower Society
by Kevin Lewis at 02 December 2022, 12:34 AM

AVANTASIA is a Symphonic Metal project with three core members and a collection of elite guests that reads like a Who’s Who. Featuring nine lead singers and two backing vocalists, the voices are as epic as the music. The musicians are all world-class both as recording artists and producer/mixer, making this one of the most talented groups ever seen just in sheer volume of musical creation. Nuclear Blast released their latest effort on October 21, 2022, to worldwide fanfare. AVANTASIA does one thing, tell huge stories set to epic music. To do this, they build story up lyrically and musically, then get people from lots of other bands to help them see this vision become a reality. The music is always grandiose, epic, and stellar. The voices that sing the parts are equal to the music. The album opens with the only song that contains a solo lead vocalist, that being founder and creative mastermind, Tobias Sammet. It opens with piano and key, setting the stage for what is to come, building tension under the single voice.

Welcome To The Shadows” begins the story, setting up the rest of the album, much like the composition sets up the theme of the record. Here, the lone voice has backing vocals and the keys are aided by piano, the guitars are augmented by a bombastic rhythm, and the choir tops it all off. If you aren’t familiar with the work of Sascha Paeth, do yourself a favor and check out his Wikipedia page. As both musician and maestro behind the music, he is a god amongst men. The story continues with “The Wicked Rule The Night,” a fast-paced rocker with a killer drum piece and some excellent guitar work. With Sascha doing most of the guitar/bass/keyboard work, we can thank him for the rhythms and lead work. Felix Bohnke goes full beast mode on the drums where required, and sometimes just when it suits him. Whether he’s running melodic or full-on blast beat, he is incredibly accurate. Ralf Scheepers rounds out this song with his rough vocals, giving the track that “wicked” feel.

Two songs use the inimitable Floor Jansen, “Kill The Pain Away” and “Misplaced Among The Angels.” Is there anything Floor cannot make better? I think not. Her powerhouse vocal performance on these two tracks is nothing short of amazing. Maybe a little too close to NIGHTWISH in some places, but that’s also why her voice fits so well, it’s almost like home for her. “Misplaced Among The Angels” is a bit more of a power ballad, ebbing and flowing through some pretty serious tone changes, weaving so much texture into the story. For “The Inmost Light,” Michael Kiske steps in as the guest vocalist. Only Bob Catley has performed on as many AVANTASIA as Michael Kiske, with both being on 11 out of 12 releases. Here, the music is again upbeat and hopeful. The tones and tunings are higher, the vocals often belted out in a massive chest voice, though they do both get into their most excellent head voices. Those chugging rhythms are always so good, keeping pace and never veering into other than epic Power Metal greatness.

For the next two tracks, more iconic voices join. This is the pattern we’ve grown to expect from this band, characters voiced by incredibly talented voices in a song that is very compelling. “I Tame The Storm” has Jorn Lande and “Paper Planes” uses Ronnie Atkins, who have appeared in MASTERPLAN and PRETTY MAIDS respectively. The first voice gives beautiful grit, the other goes for astounding harmonies, both create epic tracks when paired with Tobias and the magical compositions. Bob Catley has his appearance in “The Moonflower Society,” the main theme of the record. The keyboard/guitar interplay is massive on this track. There are drops in the music, strings, choir vocalizations and uplifting melodies, all creating a sense of wonder and amazement. Then, Eric Martin comes along on “Rhyme And Reason” and rocks the house. This song just moves the soul. The pace, the rhythm, the tone, all of it is poetry in musical form.

One of the later additions to this supergroup on vocals is Geoff Tate, making his third appearance on an AVANTASIA album. Here, he performs on “Scars,” One of the darker songs on the disc. That iconic voice brings pain to the album as only Geoff can. The interplay of these voices is incredible. They both have such range and tone that it seems almost unfair that we cannot have this combo in more songs. Wrapping the story up is “Arabesque,” a 10-minute epic song with Middle Eastern tones and three voices. Here, Tobias, Jorn and Michael have one of the most intense “battles” on the entire record. The music on this track is beyond anything else on the rest of the record. With 10 minutes to go in multiple directions and take a few extra twists and turns, they crush the competition with massive guitar riffs and layers of music that are labyrinthine and complex and delicious. Add three amazing voices to this and you have a perfect ending to a great album.

AVANTASIA is no ordinary group. What could have died out as a side-project years ago somehow flourished and grew. Not many groups like this survive as they have to rely on musicians and vocalists allotting time to something that is not their primary focus. Even more amazing is that this band has toured the world! As for the story, I urge you to dig into the lyrics and let them take your mind where you want it to go. I did, and it helped me to visualize the “movie” in my head. Read the character development parts and then understand how each vocalist approaches their role. Doing that will make this album, like many of the previous discs, more personal to you. AVANTASIA deserves nothing less than your full attention while listening to their latest masterpiece.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Welcome to the Shadows
2. The Wicked Rule the Night (Ralf Scheepers)
3. Kill the Pain Away (Floor Jansen)
4. The Inmost Light (Michael Kiske)
5. Misplaced Among the Angels (Floor Jansen)
6. I Tame the Storm (Jorn Lande)
7. Paper Plane (Ronnie Adkins)
8. The Moonflower Society (Bob Catley)
9. Rhyme and Reason (Eric Martin)
10. Scars (Geoff Tate)
11. Arabesque (Jorn Lande, Michael Kiske)
Tobias Sammet – Vocals
Felix Bohnke – Drums
Sascha Paeth – Guitar/Bass/Mixing

Additional Musicians:

Michael Rodenberg – Keyboard/Orchestration on tracks 5, 11
Oliver Hartmann –Lead Guitar on track 4
Herbie Langhans, Ina Morgan – Backing Vocals on tracks 1, 3, 6, 7

Guest Vocalists:

Floor Jansen
Jørn Lande
Michael Kiske
Bob Catley
Ralf Scheepers
Geoff Tate
Ronnie Atkins
Eric Martin
Record Label: Nuclear Blast Records


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Edited 02 February 2023

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