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Edguy is a quirky example in the world of power metal, going from 80's style power metal with the standard lyrics of fantasy, destiny, glory and whatnot. They also spoke of an individualistic disdain of society and it's "fools". They then moved to a more brash modern style of heavy/power metal that was in your face about individuality in a direct way rather than in a metaphorical way. Then with their EP "Rocket Ride" they (supposedly) ridiculed the fools they had spoke of by imitating them while they moved to a more hard rock sound.
Still, I had high hopes for this album and I had expected they would return to the style that they had sported on "Mandrake" and "Hellfire Club". But as the saying goes: imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and Edguy have turned their mocking of modern, groove influenced rock into a full blown heap of modern rock dogshit with only a few token flashes of their old style and energy.
The first thing that you will notice is that the keyboards are almost completely gone, now they only show up to accent the guitar like an orchestra hit or in the throwback to Edguy's old style “Speedhoven”. This would actually be a good thing if Edguy had beefed up the guitars and threw down some cool power/speed riffs, but this isn't the case.
In fact, the only time the guitar shows up and leads the band is in the beginning of a song like In "Sex Fire Religion” or “Ministry of Saints” where they give you at least a passable modern heavy metal/hard rock riff, or when you get a solo, which manages to seem out of place with the rest of the music. Why? The solos are actually imbued with energy in a traditional heavy metal style. This contrasts with the guitars in the rest of the album, which are sludgy and distorted in almost a mallcore way. They either plod along slowly in a “dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun" pattern or throw out a few random power chords that often don't even try to fit in with the vocal melody.
Speaking of the vocals, Tobias has obnoxiously taken up a habit of trying to inject 'attitude' by attempting to make his voice gruff, which falls on its feet miserably. All the songs revolve around the chorus, and it's always a race to get there and to let all the other instruments get the fuck out of the way. This includes the drums, which usually just use a standard rock offbeat. Actually, a race would be a poor term to describe the music. It's more like a wounded turtle jacked up on barbiturates that happens to find the ugly brick wall of the chorus.
The purpose of that analogy was this: the music excruciatingly chugs to the chorus with no speed or fury and when it gets there the choruses are complete crap. Structuring a song around a chorus is fine; Edguy did this throughout "Vain Glory Opera" and it worked fine, but there's a catch to doing it this way: THE CHORUSES HAVE TO BE GOOD! Are they here? FUCK NO! First of all, they all are backed by a little choir, which seems really out of place in an album of groove rock, almost like they decided to throw them in to be "epic" when the rest of the music doesn't warrant that kind of mood.
Second, they are repeated over and over again until it makes you sick, and all the other instruments duck out of the way to make room for the almighty chorus. Third, they, along with the wannabe tough guy 'in your face' rocker vocal dressing restrict and trample Tobias into not having the opportunity for his vocals to soar because he needs to repeat the chorus. He's a good vocalist, but the music and his own annoying "attitude" end up preventing him from really showing what he is capable of.
Fourth, the lyrics are complete crap. They manage to sing about standard rock and roll topics: sex, heartbreak, women, and whatnot. However, at the same time they are also trying to be pretentious about it, and it just ends up sounding stupid. I don't mind a band being pretentious with lyrics, but at least sing about pretentious topics and have the music to back it up in terms of complexity and content.
Here are a few poetic gems the album has to offer:”Sex fire religion visionary position Angel in your temple of pleasure, Sex fire religion I been granted admission, Angel to your temple of love”, “All my supplications gone unheard, Your head in my crotch has turned to a boot, But you won't hear a word”. None of it makes any sense, except you get the vague idea they're talking about sex and how much it hurts to be alone or something.
So, what are the standout tracks on this? Well, there’s "Dead or Rock", an enjoyable little hard rock number that actually lets the guitar shine some, it's not brilliant, but its at least decent and possesses some brevity and energy. "Thorn Without a Rose" I can remember only because its the terrible ballad that still doesn't let Tobias flex his vocal muscles. "Aren't You a Little Pervert Too" is a country sounding joke song that makes fun of Americans by using a redneck stereotype, but it manages to be just irritating rather than funny or profound.
As for the good tracks, "The Pride of Creation" is an odd religiously tinged song sounding a bit like a modernized version of older Edguy that while being incredibly cheesy, actually manages to be the second best song on the album. Then there's the best track on the album, "Speedhoven" which thankfully clocks in at 7:42, and sounds like it's off of "Vain Glory Opera" or "Savage Poetry", but unfortunately is broken up by modernized soft acoustic breaks that have a few annoying lines like:"You'll never get I'll never be the one that you want me to be " but for the most part its solid old-school Edguy.
Is the album worth buying? Well considering that there 3 songs that are any good out of 10, the final score of the album ends up being 30%; it’s not worth your money. Listen to the singles, then buy them if you like them, but the whole album isn’t worth it. If I really wanted to hear this stuff other than for the track "Speedhoven", I could just turn on any old modern rock radio station, and I would get the same thing without the pretentiousness or without knowing that the band is capable of so much more. It's official: Edguy have sold out. Excuse me while I listen to some Blind Guardian to wash my ears out.