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Edguy are one of my long-time favorite bands, a fact which I will never deny, and when it comes to their discography, this is the album I find myself going back to again and again. Hellfire Club was the band's 6th effort, and it marked the band's change of direction; Tobias choosing to stray from his strictly Power Metal sound to a mixture of slightly darker, riff-heavy Traditional Metal with noticeable dashes of 70s/80s Hard Rock on the side.
This album seems to have the fans divided, with most of them citing Theater of Salvation and Mandrake as the best Edguy album to their ears, but I say this is their best, boasting a much more consistent songwriting base and several songs that are instant Edguy classics even after one listen - ironically also being their longest album ever at about 70 minutes. "Mysteria" blows open the gates with a 5 minute tour de force of Heavy Metal acrobatics, with a heavy, gritty guitar tone and a considerably darker vocal performance from Tobias. On most other Edguy albums, a song like this would've been the highlight of the album, but not here. "The Piper Never Dies" comes next, galloping on for 10 minutes with a commanding main riff and one of Tobias's most diverse and recognizable vocal performances yet, along with a rock organ (!) in the background that serves to remind of Deep Purple and other such bands of that era. It goes through several time shifts and refrains, finally ending in a virtual thunderstorm of heaviness and crushing dynamics. "We Don't Need a Hero" is a Happy Helloween-esque tune, but it's done so fucking well that you barely even notice, as it speeds by in a furious speed blast with rattling guitars and ultra-melodic solos, along with great lyrics and a catchy chorus. "Under the Moon" is an amazing song, and likely my favorite here, with a screaming, harmonized chorus that is quite dark for a band like Edguy, and a set of stomping riffs to boot, alongside a few celestial touches of slower melody in the middle. "Navigator" and "Children of Steel" are great as well, with more heavy riff attacks and Power Metal virtuosity, and even the radio friendly "King of Fools" is charming in its own way.
There is one aspect of Hellfire Club that will no doubt be a sticking point for some people, and it is the fact that Tobias and company drop out in the middle of the album for 3 silly songs in the form of "Lavatory Love Machine," "Rise of the Morning Glory" and "Lucifer In Love." "Lavatory Love Machine" has gotten the most attention for its blatant 80s rock referencing, but it's not a bad song at all, being catchy and fun, just unfitting of such an otherwise dark and mature piece of Metal. "Rise of the Morning Glory" is a better song, musically, being a speedy, uplifting Power Metal jaunt in the Helloween/Gamma Ray style, and with great vocal melodies to boot, but the lyrics are pretty retarded when you get past all the metaphors. "Lucifer in Love" is the only throwaway here, a useless 30 second instrumental of sexual moaning over the piano line from "Down to the Devil."
When you get down to brass tacks, this is the best album Edguy have written thus far, with strong, cohesive melodies, nimble, adept instrumental mastery, and a vocal performance that never fails to please. Go get it.
Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com