EDGUY – “AGE OF THE JOKER”
NUCLEAR BLAST (2011)
Even the most optimistic person in the world cannot deny that we are currently living through difficult times! The aftershocks of the recession, which are manifested in everything from job losses & debt-burdened families to failing economies is plenty of ‘material’ for a bleak Heavy Metal album, don’t you agree? Instead of creating albums that state the obvious and which prolong our stresses and anxieties, shouldn’t artists focus on creating music that is both uplifting and entertaining? The German Power/Hard Rock quintet Edguy certainly seems to think so as it is evident in their latest studio album “Age Of The Joker”.
Last time I had the pleasure of reviewing an Edguy album was back in 2006 when “Rocket Ride”, the band’s seventh studio release came out. Looking back on my notes for that review, I reminded myself how impressed I was by the fine balance that was achieved between Power Metal and Hard Rock elements in the compositions as well as by the band’s level of musicality. Five years later, these fine Germans have not only bettered themselves with regards both their individual and collective performances, but they are far more daring when it comes to incorporating new elements in their music. As a result, the eleven compositions on offer will appeal not only to fans ‘Europower’ and 80s sounding Hard Rock, but, at times, to those of you who are more than happy to have the guitars tuned to keys lower than the ones that the band’s genre is accustomed to.
The opening track of the album, the eight and a half minute “Robin Hood”, finds the band doing what they know best – indulging in catchy melodies that are influenced as much by Helloween as they are by Deep Purple and having great fun in the process. “Nobody’s Hero” is the band’s first flirtation with heavy Accept/Grave Digger sounding riffs while “Rock Of Cashel” is the first track that allows vocalist Tobias Sammet to employ his vast vocal range, especially during the song’s quite delightful refrain! A certain Country tone can be detected in the guitar melodies of the riff-orientated “Pandora’s Box” while the fairly simplistic Power Metal tunes of “Breathe” provide a welcoming break. “Two Out Of Seven” is based on a simple but dead catchy guitar/keyboard Van Halen riff and so won me over in no time and “Faces In The Darkness” is based on a riff that is so damn heavy that could easily have been featured on an Ozzy Osbourne album (Zakk Wylde era). Deep Purple sounding keyboard dominate the quite up-tempo “The Arcane Child”, while Tobias’ emotional vocal performances in the five and a half minute opus “Fire On The Downline” renders this 80s sounding Hard Rock anthem the absolute highlight of the album. While most albums would by now have revealed most of their charms, Edguy’s ninth studio effort continues to impress through the epic Kamelot-influenced melodies of the nine minute opus “Behind The Gates To Midnight World” and by the time the last few notes of the emotional 80s ballad “Every Night Without You” are performed you, my friends, will feel compelled to embark on the same interesting musical journey once more from the beginning.
Edguy have acquired a reputation over the years for not taking themselves too seriously – a reputation that will be further solidified as people are further exposed to some of the album’s lyrics and the band’s first video of the album for the track “Robin Hood”. If, however, you’ve made the mistake in believing that the band’s ‘let’s have fun’ approach to song writing is synonymous with a lack of musical skill, there are eleven well-crafted compositions that are ready to prove you wrong at any given opportunity. I am not naturally inclined to support bands whose musical orientation is similar to this band’s, but these five Germans are so good in what they do that I am left with no choice other than to pledge to them my full support. Another fine quality album by the Fulda-based quintet!
Rating: **** (4.0/5.0)
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Power Plays w/c 11 November (Mon-Fri)
MILES NIELSEN AND THE RUSTED HEARTS Hands Up (indie)
THE FARGO RAILROAD COMPANY Something In The Water (indie)
THE DARK ELEMENT If I Had A Heart (Frontiers)
LIBERTY LIES A Thousand People (indie)
DIRTY SHIRLEY Here Comes The King (Frontiers)
CARRY THE CROWN Runaway (indie)
Featured Albums w/c 11 November (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 WORK OF ART Exhibits (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 SIGN X Like A Fire (Pride & Joy Music)
14:00-16:00 JACK BROADBENT Moonshine Blue (Creature Records)
Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)
MAGNUM Sleepwalking (1992)
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