Album Review. AVANTASIA “A Paranormal Evening with the Moonflower Society” (2022)


AVANTASIA is back with an album full of great songs, fantastic artists and an outstanding production that you will enjoy from beginning to end

AVANTASIA is coming out in these final months of 2022 with their new album “A Paranormal Evening with the Moonflower Society” of which we have already enjoyed some previews and which once again features a good collection of great musicians accompanying Tobias Sammet.

And who are we going to meet? The participants are mostly old acquaintances like a fantastic Bob Catley, Geoff Tate, Eric Martin in a more powerful version than usual and, of course, the enormous Jorn Lande. But also Michael Kiske returns to the line-up and Ralf Scheepers and Floor Jansen make their debut appearances.

This line-up together with Tobias Sammet’s expectations about the specialness of the album make us foresee that we are in for something big. If we also add to this a brutal production as usual, we should be talking about one of the best works of the year… We are going to play the album together to see if this is finally the case.

With an almost cinematographic start, the album opens with “Welcome to the Shadows”. Keyboards and a soft Tobias guide us towards one of those catchy choruses we are used to from this band, but this time it cuts off abruptly and leaves you with honey on your lips. Musically it doesn’t seem like the best choice to open the album, but what better way to open it than with “Welcome to the Darkness”.
“The Wicked Rule the Night” is the second cut and is a radical change from the previous one. Good metal from the hand of a brutal Scheepers in a song with two clear tendencies: a radical and radical one, tailor-made for Ralph, and another, much more melodic one that serves as a perfect link with the rest of the album.

Floor Jansen takes centre stage on the hard rocking “Kill the Pain Away”. At least for me, the combination of Jansen with Sammet has been a more than pleasant surprise. They sound very, very, very good and they really excel in the interpretation of this song.

From Hard Rock we move on to Power Metal, and of course, who better to steer the ship of this style than one of its references of always, the enormous Michael Kiske. Inmost Light” is a textbook German Power without any kind of excess or innovation. Maybe it doesn’t say too much to be listened to in the car, but it looks like it will be one of the fixed songs in the setlists of the next tours.

“Misplaced Among The Angels” is a ballad. A beautiful song that few know how to create as well as Sammet does. As if that wasn’t enough, we once again have Floor Jansen working in lower tones than we are used to, demonstrating that she is a true all-rounder. I listen to her again while writing these lines and I can’t stop my hair standing on end.

Come on, Maiden are coming. For a long time there have been rumours about the possibility of having Bruce Dickinson to collaborate on an AVANTASIA album. Well, this was a good opportunity. It’s just a feeling but what if something similar to what happened with “Mystery of The Blood Red Rose” and Meat Loaf happened? Well don’t get excited, we don’t have Bruce on “I Tame The Storm”, but instead we have a great Tobias and the immense Jorn Lande contrasting perfectly as always. I think it’s one of the most “different” AVANTASIA cuts we are going to find on the album and that’s probably why I’m going to keep it in my TOP 3.

Actually “Paper Plane” is also far away from the usual AVANTASIA orbit but in another sense. With an almost Eurovision sound we have a light, even tender creation in which we also have Ronnie Atkins. His collaboration on a new Avantasia album was not always certain due to the singer’s illness and maybe that’s why we are so pleased to hear the Danish singer.

Magnum’s Bob Catley masterfully leads ‘The Moonflower Society’ , a track that after some somewhat flat phases is reworked with great instrumental work.

“Rhyme and Reason” introduces us to Eric Martin (Mr. Big) who faces a more agitated style than what he usually offers us with AVANTASIA, but in which he moves like a fish in water. Heavy Metal from start to finish, with double bass drum, piercing solos, punchy chorus and killer backing vocals.

Geoff Tate does a great job on the dark “Scars”. I think it’s a complete success again for Tobias to have reserved this little gem for Tate. It’s a track that travels between mid-tempo, power moments and desperation-filled passages.

We close this ninth AVANTASIA release with one of those epic tracks that should always be part of any Sammet’s band’s album set. “Arabesque” goes on for more than 10 minutes, which is enough for everything. Bagpipes, oriental sounds, progressive elements, Lande, Kiske, backing vocals and again a trademark chorus. Undoubtedly a great closing for the album.

Having said that, it’s time to draw some conclusions. A Paranormal Evening with the Moonflower Society”, Sammet once again manages to put together a great collection of songs while staying true to Avantasia’s roots. But perhaps this is at the same time a problem.

Raising expectations is not usually a good thing, and from what I heard in interviews and social media from Tobias, I was expecting a more conceptual, and even more experimental album. In the end what we have are 11 very good songs, some wonderful with a 100% AVANTASIA style and this is a bad thing?

As I am unable to make up my mind I leave you two headlines to choose the one you like the most.

Option 1: “AVANTASIA is back with an album full of great songs, fantastic artists and an outstanding production that you will enjoy from beginning to end”.

Option 2: “‘A Paranormal Evening with the Moonflower Society’ comes as a good AVANTASIA work that will leave you with a good taste in your mouth but doesn’t add anything new to the band’s history”.

Review by Oscar Ricoy


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