The new Avantasia album is an entertaining release with some solid songs but it unfortunately ends up being one of the weakest albums in the project's discography. While there is plenty of variety covering symphonic rock, pop rock, power metal, heavy metal, AOR and ballads, the songwriting is not as captivating as it was in the past.
The instrumental portion of the album is handled as usual by Tobias Sammet on bass and lead vocals, Sascha Paeth (ex-Heaven's Gate) on guitars, Felix Bohnke (Edguy) on drums and Michael Rodenberg responsible for the orchestrations. The list of guest vocalists includes Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian), Jorn Lande (ex-Ark, ex-Masterplan), Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids), Michael Kiske (Helloween, Unisonic), Geoff Tate (ex-Queensryche), Bob Catley (Magnum), Candice Night (Blackmore's Night), Mille Petrozza (Kreator) and Eric Martin (Mr. Big).
“Book of Shallows” is the heaviest song on offer and one of the best ones as well. It is fast paced and includes some powerful and heavy guitar riffs, a catchy chorus and nice vocal transitions between Hansi Kürsch, Ronnie Atkins, Jorn Lande and Mille Petrozza.
“Alchemy” probably contains the best chorus on the album and is another highlight. It is an atmospheric mid tempo melodic metal song with a darker atmosphere and some welcome heavier riffs. Geoff Tate blends well with Tobias Sammet and offers some nice vocal work that harkens back to Queensryche.
“Requiem for a Dream” is a fast power metal song with a soaring chorus and a major highlight. This is the only song to feature Michael Kiske on vocals and as usual he provides a stunning performance showing off his power and upper range. Although it is a signature Avantasia song it just works great and provides a twist with its atmospheric church chant intro and the inclusion of a bass solo.
“The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” is not perfect but generally works well and is another standout song. It is one of the longest tracks and the only to feature that many singers sharing vocals. The song includes some irritating modern keyboards and its chorus is similar to the Avantasia song Another Angel Down, but it is bombastic, catchy and features one of the best guitar solos on the album. In addition, guest vocalists Atkins, Lande, Martin, Catley and Tate do an admirable job and make the track a little more memorable.
Moonglow’s biggest flaw is the absence of catchy choruses on several tracks and the feeling of déjà vu in several song passages. The epic “The Raven Child” is the perfect example as it includes a Blind Guardian inspired intro, Iron Maiden and Savatage influences, an ending section that is identical to the Avantasia song The Scarecrow and a rather unmemorable chorus. Despite some great vocal work by Jorn Lande the whole thing ends up sounding unoriginal, boring and long. Another drawback is the general absence of guitar solos in the album. The last negative aspect of Moonglow is the fact that Tobias Sammet sings on all songs and doesn’t leave much room for the guest vocalists to fully unveil their talents.
Moonglow is definitely weaker when compared to the previous album Ghostlights. It is not a bad album as it is inspired, bombastic and offers some memorable moments, but it is not great either. It will probably sound good and interesting for someone not familiar with Avantasia, but for older fans it has unfortunately little to offer.