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Of ringing ears and dragonflies. - 93%

Empyreal, November 17th, 2008

Picture Edguy's Tinnitus Sanctus as a piece of visual art. Where the band's previous effort Rocket Ride was a caricature of the band, with a big nose, floppy ears and drooping eyelids (Hell, just see the cover of the Superheroes EP to know what I'm talking about), and where Tobias's The Scarecrow was more along the lines of a sophisticated and invigorated painting of beauty and classy refinement, this new album is more like a gritty, real-life depiction of the state of the band at this point - and it's not a shabby affair at all, if I do say so myself.

Tinnitus Sanctus may have been a bit rushed after the calculated, pompous The Scarecrow back in January, but for those expecting an Astral Doors-esque flop will be delighted, as this is a great album on nearly every front. This is more down to Earth than Avantasia's latest outing, more serious than Rocket Ride and more compact than Hellfire Club, sitting right in the middle of all three of those albums with a defiant middle finger in the air, aimed right at conventional songwriting. Edguy have never been the strongest instrumentalists (being a sort of "sum is greater than the parts" situation), nor have they ever made a perfect album, but their strength lies, here more than ever, in creating unique, bombastic compositions and cramming them into this album to create quite the joyous listening experience for those looking for some variety in their Power Metal. Never strictly sticking to one genre, Tobias knows what he likes and continues to push the genre's boundaries with new innovations in every album he puts out, whether it be for Edguy or Avantasia. Tobias's vocals are excellent, getting better with every release as he adds bucket loads of charisma and nuance to his more coarse hard rock voice, and the instrumental section is improved, too; the guitars are more present here, with more solos, and even Eggi's bass has found its way to the front in "Sex Fire Religion" and "929."

Really, everything on here is good to some degree, and it will take several listens to digest fully. There are too many musical nuances on display here to focus on anything on the first listen, after all. I can't describe everything here in a few sentences, so here goes a track by track: "Ministry of Saints" is a hard n' heavy rocker with a driving chorus and a gravelly riff that will have your fist in the air by the first chorus, but then comes "Sex Fire Religion," with it's pounding industrial rhythms that still shock me with their heaviness, with Tobias yammering in an 80s hard rock fashion before the operatic chorus kicks in. The song has quite a palpable atmosphere, evoking images of dark, seductive, underground chambers, brimming with fire and clad in cold, hard stone - quite an original song; they've never done anything like it. There's even a tambourine in the background. "The Pride of Creation" is a more traditional Edguy song, although done up here with touches of zany hard rock, making for a bouncy, energized affair with choirs and screaming guitars to spare.

"Nine Lives," "Wake Up Dreaming Black" and "Dragonfly" are straight up ass-kicking hard rock, with the former two drilling themselves into your head with fierce conviction and loud, bombastic choruses, and the latter being a more mellow number with a huge, anthemic chorus and quite a strange tone and set of lyrics for this band. "Thorn Without a Rose" is the token ballad, and I like this one a lot; it's nice and very heartfelt, with some excellent lyrics here and there. I never known that dying embers could hurt more/Than the blazing fire we lit.... Fuck yeah. Then you get the charismatic, warmly emotional "929," in which Tobias pours his heart out into a bouncy, sticky love tune that might actually be one of the best on here, with its huge, mesmerizing chorus and dreamy bass lines. Not everything in rock has to be guitar-heavy to be good, and Tobias's more commercial songs - with this one as no exception - have always been excellently written.

"Speedhoven" is a surprise, with its plethora of Hammond keys and choirs, much like a more mature version of the band's EP-relegated "Judas at the Opera" from 2005, and it's quite a good song, one of the darker ones on here, with an excellent slow part in the middle. It also contains one of Tobias's best performances ever, up there with "Theater of Salvation," "The Piper Never Dies" and "The Scarecrow" for pure dramatic excellence. "Dead Or Rock" is a very straightforward and aggressive rock song, taking its cues from Saxon and Judas Priest, alongside a traditional barn-burning Edguy chorus to top it off, and then we get the goofy "Aren't You a Little Pervert Too?!" which is fun and definitely pretty witty in a way, but not particularly necessary. Still probably their best comedy song, I think; more of a message to this one than "Trinidad" for example.

This isn't perfect, as this was pretty rushed after the last Avantasia, as I mentioned. Sometimes you get a chorus that doesn't segue in properly from the bridge, and sometimes you get a song like "The Pride of Creation" which doesn't really even have a climax, but that's not why I listen to Edguy, and those flaws even make this album sound a little more down to Earth and comfortable. I like these guys because they play with a lot of pride and heart, and they play exactly what they like, be it metal or rock or pop or whatever. It is this that makes them such a stand-out band in our current Power Metal drought, and it's a damned shame not many others realize this. Nobody else sounds like Edguy, and Tinnitus Sanctus is an honest album from a band that has truly gotten better over the years, and I've never been prouder to be a fan. Get this one if you want your ears to be ringing this Christmas.