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Right, here's the deal: it'd be so much easier for me if I hated this album. I could rant on about Edguy fucked with their fans and then swiftly forget about it, occasionaly bitching on a forum about how they used to be great. Instead, they've insisted on messing with me in another way by making a frustratingly inconsistent album that teeters between something close to their old sound a some horribly poppish (or just plain moronic) trash.
I'll start by getting the brain-numbing bowel waste out of the way first: "Trinidad" is the worst song Edguy have ever written (worse than that daft bonus track on the King of Fools EP) and one of the most offensively idiotic tracks ever to appear on a Power Metal album. Its just unbelievable that Edguy used this piece of trash as anything other than a bonus track. Ok, I get it, they have a sense of humour and like doing silly things that you wouldn't normally hear on a Metal record, but there is a line. Complete with stupid sound effects, horribly poppish music and la-la-la backing vocals from depths of Hell, this goes way beyond a jokey song (something I can usually deal with).
The thing is, Edguy can sometimes do humour reasonably well. I think I'm one of the few that can listen to "Lavatory Love Machine" (from the Hellfire Club album) with a smile on my face. It's tongue-in-cheek, but the music is still good, and that, my dear audience, is the line. When your wacky humour starts compromising the music instead of just the lyrics, you have gone too far.
But, stupidity like "Trinidad" is not the only problem on this album. Some people cried "Pop bullshit" on the Superheroes EP, and I angrily defended it. On Rocket Ride, however, there are a couple of songs that fall right into this category. "Matrix" has lots of irritating electric noises, and crucially, very little Metal in it at all. The guitars and drums are very bland and unimaginative, and the song is mostly down to Tovby's voice and his irritating effects.
Similarly, the power ballad "Save Me" is something Poison could have written. Now, I love a bit of 80s rock (not Poison), but if I want to listen to it I'll go listen to Skid Row. When I want Power Metal, I should be able to listen to Edguy. Its not that this is a bad song, but its an inappropriate one, and I can't help but feel there's something a tad more cynical than a love of hair Metal behind the writing of this song.
Having said all this, Rocket Ride is not a bad album. The rest of the stuff on here is defintitely more straightforward and less grandiose than the Edguy of old (and a Helluva lot more 'zany') but for the most part is enjoyable straight-up Metal (with a touch of hard rock here and there).
Tracks like "Return To The Tribe" is more or less classic Edguy, big choruses, speedy as Hell and very uplifting. This song also has an example of silly humour that works - the "solo" is actually Sammet imitating a guitar with his voice run through a computer (apparently this is how he usually lets Jens Ludwig know how he wants a solo to sound). Its daft as hell, but it sounds ok and it does raise a smile (for more "humour that works," check out the rant at the nd of "Catch of the Century").
Proving that Edguy can still write like they used to, and that they can check the humour at the door when they want, there are two tracks on here that harken back to something not unlike the Theatre of Salvation album. The opening track, "Sacrifice" and the album's centrepiece, "The Asylum" are the two longest songs on the album, and probably the best. Epic, with more complex arrangements and time changes than the rest of the disc combined, these songs are at once fantastic listening and a kick in the teeth. Listening to "The Asylum," you could almost lose yourself and forget what album you were listening to. Then it finishes and reality is jabbed home when the opening notes of "Save Me" kick in.
"Superheroes" and "Wasted Time" are both mid tempo efforts with big (probably overproduced) choruses. Simple in structure and pretty toned down, but good stuff nonetheless, these two are something like a good example of what most of this album sounds like. Not the sort of thing I'd desperately want from Edguy, but I could accept them going in this direction. It may sound a little watered down, but it's still solid Metal that takes its self just seriously enough.
And that is the problem with this album: Edguy have either got to drop the stupid shit and get on with making serious music (complex or nay), or forget about being a serious band, start dressing up like The Darkness and alternate between "Trinidad" lunacy and "Matrix" style radio songs. Its just plain unfair to hit expectant people with an album that's half serious and half pisstake.
As I said at the top, if I hated this album I could eventually forget about it. As it is it pisses me off like nothing else that if I want to listen to it I have to do so with one finger resting on the skip button.
Top songs: The Asylum, Sacrifice, Return to the Tribe
Rating: 7/10 for the actual material, but 6/10 for integrity and inflicting "Trinidad" on the world.