The spooky season is here and autumn leaves are falling at high speed on the ground. While seasons come and go, there is hope in knowing that in between albums, German power metal vocalist Tobias Sammet is cooking up who he will invite next to join the AVANTASIA family. Thankfully, the end result of this album’s cycle is here with “A Paranormal Evening with the Moonflower Society,” out on October 21st, 2022, via Nuclear Blast Records.
Opener “Welcome to the Shadows” starts off with some eerie synthesizer sounds that will make you feel like you entered the spooky atmosphere of an ’80s horror movie. This feeling is also pursued in the vocals, where Tobias Sammet also often whispers in the verses and altogether gives the song a tense edge. The track’s chorus is quite the juxtaposition, as it sounds hopeful and less melancholic. Next up is the phenomenal “The Wicked Rule the Night,” one of my personal highlights featuring the powerful vocals of Ralf Scheepers [PRIMAL FEAR]; a track that is possibly one of the heaviest that Tobias Sammet has ever included in AVANTASIA. Their two voices also blend a lot better than anyone could have expected.
The metal extravaganza continues with a new guest (Floor Jansen) in “Kill the Pain Away.” The core of the song feels like a poppy ’80s rock track with an intense chorus that sounds like absolute fun and is so incredibly catchy. “The Inmost Light,” featuring Michael Kiske, is a perfect power metal track that goes back to the roots of AVANTASIA. Kiske does what he is best at and the chorus is a beautiful show-off between both vocalists trying to blend their vocals as much as possible. We then go back to Floor Jansen, who also sings on “Misplaced Among the Angels,” the ballad of the album. While that track started off rather slowly and maybe even slightly annoyingly – I really hate ballads – soon, the atmosphere turned around and in the end, it turned out to be a beautiful showcase of how Tobias Sammet‘s vocals sound absolutely phenomenal on this album. If you then pair them up with Floor Jansen‘s pipes, it definitely takes you places.
Title track “The Moonflower Society” is another highlight, featuring MAGNUM‘s Bob Catley. There are nice little details in the song, such as layers and layers of Tobias Sammet in the backing vocals (reminiscent of Freddie Mercury or what Hansi Kürsch also often does in BLIND GUARDIAN). “Rhyme and Reason” offers some surprising moments as well, specifically in the drum sections. There’s a nice interplay between vocals and drums throughout the whole song, in between moments where the main riff kicks in.
While the rest of the album has pretty much stayed under the 5-minute mark, the last track of the record, “Arabesque,” is an epic. With its 10-minute timeframe, it’s one of the more interesting tracks off the record and it mixes in different moods. In the beginning, you might be mistaken that there are some Celtic folk influences, but when it progresses, its Oriental influence becomes clear (hence “Arabesque”). This makes for a very different track than what we are used to from AVANTASIA and I’m simply loving it. The killer combo of Jørn Lande, Michael Kiske, and Tobias Sammet almost feels like they were trying to set up the holy trinity surrounded by angelic choir vocals – top-notch.
Altogether, “A Paranormal Evening with the Moonflower Society” feels like an inspired record. Sure, you sort of know what to expect when Tobias Sammet releases an album with AVANTASIA, however, there’s a reason why his recipe for these types of songs is such a success. That’s no different with this gem of an album. Yet, there are many surprises to be found in the record and altogether, the fact that Tobias Sammet mentioned that he enjoyed singing again for the first time in a while makes this album already much more worth the while for me; definitely an album to keep to spin a lot during the spooky season!
1. Welcome To The Shadows
2. The Wicked Rule The Night
3. Kill The Pain Away
4. The Inmost Light
5. Misplaced Among The Angels
6. I Tame The Storm
7. Paper Plane
8. The Moonflower Society
9. Rhyme And Reason