Tobias Sammet’s Avantasia – Moonglow (Nuclear Blast)

The multi-faceted voice of Edguy returns with his symphonic metal side project and it’s another all-consuming affair: this typically convoluted concept piece requires serious commitment.

Tobias Sammet sets out his stall from the off with nine minute-plus Ghost In The Moon but that’s not the longest song here. That honour goes to The Raven Child – more than 11 minutes of sprawling, sonic mastery that confirms the German singer songwriter’s status as a truly remarkable talent.

Whether you’re partial to Within Temptation, were schooled on Helloween, regularly make a date with Magnum or can’t go a week without a blast of classic Queensryche then this incredibly complex, yet instantly accessible, creative tour de force is quite astonishing.

And it’s no surprise that Geoff Tate and Bob Catley are just two of the progessive rock alumni to pop up on a star-studded collaboration that thrills from start to finish.

Candice Night dazzles on the relatively succinct yet deeply affecting title track and Catley joins forces with Eric Martin, Ronnie Atkins and Jørn Lande on The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn – a vocal tag team the likes of which has rarely been attempted.

Avantasia might be viewed as a pompous vanity project by some and it’s easy to imagine the volley of scorn coming Sammet’s way such is the scale of this wildly ambitious amalgam of rock and metal styles. But those in the know will recognise Moonglow for what it is – a richly authentic and rabidly defiant take on progressive music at its inspirational best.

Sammet should be lauded for his bold vision – and the fact that he can bring that vision to life alongside a whole host of A-list hired hands. 

Epic doesn’t quite do this album justice.