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No magic has gone - 90%

LordAquila, March 8th, 2012

We left Edguy at the top of their game with Theater Of Salvation and nowhere on the follow-up Mandrake are there signs of slowing down. To show the world even more of what he was capable of, Tobias Sammet sandwiched this release in between his two Avantasia Metal Operas, the first one being a stone cold power metal classic, the second being not too shabby in its own right. Three records in little over a year, even Tommy Reinxeed would have to admit that’s just crazy.

There will undoubtedly be a time and a place to discuss Avantasia’s early triumphs, but we are here to look at Edguy. While Sammet’s hand is clear in the songwriting of both projects, because of the nature of Avantasia and the slew of guest singers the two are too clearly distinguishable to invite immediate comparison. Mandrake also continues down the lyrical path of previous works, while Avantasia tells a story of its own, albeit based on the same principles. More on that later.

Up to this point Edguy often hid their first real kicker behind a short opening track, but here they burst straight out of the gate with the stately keyboard intro of “Tears Of A Mandrake” which transforms into a steady riff, never betraying any of the overt bombast that so marked the opening of Vain Glory Opera. The verses build some gripping menace, slowing down for a pre-chorus that finally catapults the whole lot into a chorus for the ages. One so divine that countrymen Domain managed to get away with copying it years later on “Picture The Beauty” from The Chronicles Of Love, Hate & Sorrow. It’s a shame they don’t seem to play it that much live, because it easily deserves a place in the pantheon of greatest-ever Edguy tracks.

Double-kicking fury abounds in “Golden Dawn”, making another explicit reference to Aleister Crowley and boasting a refrain surely to stretch your vocal chords beyond repair. Take for example those final notes where Sammet goes for the Heiman-record of singing-way-too-high,. It falls short of “Highlander”-levels but amazes you all the same. From these two songs alone it’s clear Edguy has lost none of the melodic brilliance from Theater Of Salvation and are here to deliver another ass-whooping of a lifetime. Yet a new element makes an appearance, an element that would never leave Sammet’s compositions again: diversity. Theater Of Salvation, while being immensely satisfying, isn’t known for its variety, but Mandrake seeks to change this. “Jerusalem” opens with a folky intro (a source of inspiration Sammet hasn’t tapped enough in my opinion, making “Rock Of Cashel” from last year’s Age Of The Joker such a welcome treat) exploding into a full-blown epic about a journey to one of the religious centers of the world with a glorious instrumental middle section.

Adventure and wonder make room for bittersweet nostalgia with “All The Clowns”, perhaps the most radio-friendly song the band had written up to that point. It also debuted an essential part of the Edguy experience: the silly music video. Look out for the band members wearing red clown noses. This fairly standard tune fades out into a false sense of serenity with the crooning first minutes of “Nailed To The Wheel”, which slithers like a snake in waiting before releasing its bite and attacking with the unleashed snarl of the rhythm section. A song as tough as they have ever written, forcing Sammet’s voice to Virgin Steele’s David DeFeis’ levels of shrieking madness (the two would share the spotlight on Avantasia’s “The Final Sacrifice” not a year later). Already this feels like a band experimenting with the boundaries of their sound, and the magnum opus of the album hasn’t even hit yet.

While there is a lot of competition within their back catalogue, it wouldn’t be a crime to name “The Pharaoh” as one of Edguy’s best epics or even songs. The middle-eastern intro, the dark build-up, and another chorus worthy of a Nobel Prize for Catchiness flow collectively into the ever-changing bridge, including a fantastic overlay of vocal melodies they would later repeat on “The Piper Never Dies”. I also find that this may be a possible inspiration for similar uses throughout the discography of Theocracy. This is Edguy displaying the same level of talent and ambition that led to the “The Kingdom”, but this time executed with experience and knowhow. If “Theater Of Salvation” didn’t make clear they were some of the greatest writers of epics in the genre, then “The Pharaoh” should single-handedly seal the deal. So many bands strive to achieve this level of ten-minute long greatness, but few ever do.

The welcome quiet of intermezzo “Wash Away The Poison” manages what it sets out to do: provide a moment of calm before the storm is resumed. As ballads go, it’s not their most remarkable, but adequate and memorable all the same. Up next is a foreboding of what would come on Hellfire Club, and I think “Fallen Angels” set the tone for the incorporation of more heavy metal and hard rock elements on that album. It resembles the riffing of “Under The Moon”, while still bearing the melodic qualities developed on Vain Glory Opera and Theater Of Salvation. The actual single “Painting On The Wall” places us back in familiar territory, and I have always found this song to be quite tame. It definitely doesn’t set my heart on fire like the others do. Forsaking all pretense of seriousness is “Save Us Now”, the first fully realized Edguy comedy song about a race of alien drum bunnies trying to take over the planet. Resistance, as they claim, is futile. It’s a happy and silly tune in the vein of Keepers-era Helloween and closes the album on a light-hearted note, not counting the bonus track “The Devil & The Savant”, another track very reminiscent of the predecessor, though slightly darker in tone.

On Mandrake Tobias Sammet elaborates on the now familiar theme of individuality. “Tears Of A Mandrake” introduces a world where society is controlled by various factions that try to chain you down (“gun runners, priests, and clairvoyants”) and urges the listener to break free from the violence, corruption, and greed. A possible explanation of the title lies in the nature of the mandrake, a plant that when uprooted cries you to death. The capacities of the mandrake are a superstition. We are taught to fear to dig it up, or it will kill us. The song urges us to do so anyway (like the jester on the cover), forsake the magical symbolism, and ironically “drown in the tears of the mandrake”, which of course we won’t. The mandrake is every lie and every deception society uses to keep us under its thumb. “Golden Dawn”, the name of the order Aleister Crowley belonged to, introduces a man disillusioned with such a world and in search of something new to believe in, as do the socially outcast travelers on their way to “Jerusalem”. “Nailed To The Wheel” sticks to this theme as well and talks about the corruption of innocence by outside parties offering power and riches.

“The Pharaoh” is the most challenging song to analyze and I believe it presents a worldview where religion no longer matters, but rather where man becomes his own god. The “wise man in the noble chamber” represents the old religion of the gods, but he is merely “a parrot” now, “a jester”. When he dies, “the red one” reigns (interpretable as bloodlust), scheming to put “a billion parrots in a big cage” (in other words to bring everyone under his control). Humanity has abandoned the gods and governs itself now, greed and power being chief among their values. This ties in neatly to the world of “Tears Of A Mandrake” where the protagonists in “Golden Dawn” and “Jerusalem” try to move away from. We then return to those who dare to think differently with “Fallen Angels”, who liberate a young woman from the lies she’s been told. “Painting On The Wall” also urges the listener to think outside box, thus tying a neat bow around the album.

Mandrake states that man has lost his core values and traded a belief in gods for a belief in man, resulting in a loss of morality. People who think outside the domains of financial gain, mass deception, or personal power are discredited or persecuted. The album urges to set yourself free from these forces, to fight for individuality and step away from the crowd. Wake up from the illusion, see the world for what it is, and find something for yourself to believe in and to fight for. Tobias Sammet of course sees himself as the personification of individuality, creativity, and artistic integrity, even though he himself has flirted with commercialism (see the Lost In Space-EPs). He is very ardent in his criticism of music reviewers who slam him for not doing what they deem appropriate, so at least he’s being partially true to his own ideals. I really want to interview this guy at length at some point.

Not all songs adhere to the main concept. “All The Clowns” zooms in on the theme of the rat race, where life hurries along so quickly we often wonder where our dreams, our laughter, and our innocence has gone. It’s a theme that would return on Age Of The Joker’s “Breathe”, and could in the larger scope of the album be seen as an attack upon the gathering of material wealth instead of true happiness.

As you can tell from my inhumanly long-winded musical and lyrical analysis, Mandrake is Edguy at their most creative and intellectual level, using the foundation of Theater Of Salvation to craft a more versatile album, both in musical and lyrical content. The first half thunders, while the second half slowly fizzles out, but nonetheless Mandrake more than solidified Edguy’s reputation as one of the premier power metal bands of their time. Soon they would start to gamble with that reputation on the turning point of their career, the illustrious Hellfire Club. But first: joke time!

Best silly joke: “This is alien drum bunnies’ revenge. Resistance is FUTIIIIILE!” Enough said, I think.

Originally written for www.blackwindmetal.com.

My black sheep of their discography - 64%

kluseba, April 25th, 2011

As a long time fan of Edguy, this album has always somewhat been my personal black sheep in their discography. Maybe because it is stuck between my absolute favourite Edguy album, the very powerful and matured "Theatre of salvation" as well as the diversified and emotional "Hellfire club" that has a very important personal meaning to me and accompanied me through difficult and beautiful times six or seven years ago. Maybe it's because there is a truly outstanding and unforgettable song missing on this record. Maybe it's because this is a transitional record between the more serious works of the past and the rather humorous albums that followed later. Maybe it's because of many filler songs that are on this record like the power pop boredom of "All the clowns" or the usual high speed power metal tracks like "Fallen angels". But to be honest and objective, this is record is not such a bad album as it may now seem to you. It's an average record with many different songs and styles to discover.

"Tears of a mandrake" is one of the best opening tracks the band has ever done. It continues the epic metal opera vein of the previous records and adds some courageous and highly interesting electronic elements to the sound. The atmosphere is dark and gripping and the track has a hell of a great chorus. The band presents the best song right in the beginning. The slightly folk driven "Jerusalem" is a song that grows more and more and adds a new experimental touch to the band's sound. This second great track of the album proves that they are open minded and more diversified than the other European power metal bands that all emerged around the beginning of the new millennium.

The epic conceptual track "Pharaoh" and also the well done ballad "Wash away the poison" are very good songs but sadly nothing that we haven't heard in a better version before. Concerning the epic, I slightly prefer "The kingdom" and "Theatre of salvation" while the ballad can't reach out for the high quality of "Land of the miracle" or the forthcoming "Forever".

The insane high speed stand up comedy track "Save us now" gives us a hint of what Edguy would do on the future albums and the band tried for the first time a serious attempt to mix comedy with metal music if we ignore the early German party track "Das Reh" from their second demo. The lyrics are indeed funny, the melodies work well and the drumming is outstanding but compared to the later attempts, this song is only an interesting introduction and nothing truly memorable or outstanding. Those who don't like the new humorous style of the band may surely see this record here as the end of a era.

In the end, this album offers something for everyone. You can easily discover solid high speed power metal, atmospheric epic tracks, humorous experiments, cheesy ballads and a few candidates for a single or video shooting with pop melodies and a softer approach. The problem I tend to see in here is not the diversity or the entertainment, it's the quality as we have heard better attempts in the past and will hear better attempts in the near future. That's why this album is my black sheep of the band's discography even if the quality is at least enjoyably good from an objective point of view without comparing this to the other works of the band. But if I compare this album to the other ones of the band, this record is probably amongst the weakest stuff they have put out even I it still beats by far most of the stuff similar bands of the genre tend to release. Honestly said, I would only recommend this record to fans of both old and new Edguy records and collectors.

Not so great Edguy album - 38%

linkavitch, March 20th, 2009

I’m not going to lie to you, I don’t like this album. Edguy has a few good albums out, even though they’re and extremely overrated band, like most German power metal bands are for some reason.

All the keyboard work on this album isn’t use that well. They have some techno sound to it like in the first track “Tears of a Mandrake” and the final track “The Devil and the Savants”. They also use the keyboard in a more classical style, and the result is a very slow paced and annoying track that is “Wash Away the Poison”. Don’t forget the organ that opens about half the songs on the album. Its like every song opens with some sort of piano part then it all becomes some power pop song.

The lyrics are about as cheesy as you would expect for power metal and Edguy for that matter. I mean they have a song about clowns for one thing, and in “Wash Away the Poison” Tobias sings about dancing in the rain. The vocals make up for some of the cheesy lyrics though. Tobias is a pretty good vocalist, his voice can get very high, but he doesn’t hit any low notes on this album. Still he’s one of the better aspects to this band. The few problems with the vocals are mostly to the chorus parts on the songs. Tobias’s voice gets layered out by the backing vocals a lot especially towards the end of the song “The Pharaoh” where the chorus almost completely blocks off Tobias’s part.

This is a fairly slow album also. The majority of the songs (if not all) are played in about an 8th tempo or lower. Most of the songs have a keyboard part that is over played with annoying organ or techno sounding keys, creating a very slow and dull pop like song for the listener. If you like power pop, you might like this album.

This was a little bit overproduced for me to enjoy. It’s mostly in the vocal parts with the overdone choruses, but all the songs open with these keyboards and techno like sounds to suck the listener into the music, but they didn’t work for me. The guitars have a pretty decent tone for power metal, light and fluffy. I wish the bass was more audible, “Jerusalem” opens up with some sort of groovy bass part, and the downfall is that this is one of the only songs where you can completely hear the bass. The other song where you can hear the bass well would be “The Devil and the Savants”, but there’s and annoying keyboard part in this song that made the song hard to listen to.

This album was a disappointment for me. Edguy has released better albums that this. There are also much greater power metal bands out there anyways, so this isn’t really an album I would recommend you go out and buy unless you’re a massive Edguy fan.

The full power metal package, but I need more - 85%

BarkievonSchnauser, December 31st, 2007

My introduction to Edguy came from Itunes, from buying Helloween songs and looking at the "listeners also bought" section of the Itunes store. Of course, unless it is a real good sample, 30 seconds of a song doesn't really do much to persuade a potential customer really quick. So I decided to go and watch some of their videos on youtube. The first video I saw of them, King Of Fools, did not sway me too much (I questioned how it was even metal to begin with), but then I watched their video for their song All The Clowns, which got me hooked. I had to get the rest of the album that song was on, so with my hard earned itunes gift card in hand, I bought a copy of Mandrake.

This album is worth the buy, without question. Mandrake has the full power metal package here. Keyboard layered numbers, once thought dead power/speed metal songs, melodic power metal tracks, sappy ballads, and even material that is (for power metal) heavy enough to give Iced Earth a run for their money as the heaviest power metal band ever to exist (I do not consider Children Of Bodom power metal) and pay a very nice homage to thrash metal, the genre that power metal was conceived from. All in all though, the album retains it's consistency without sounding messed up or drab (a very hard thing to come by today). All from the mind of a little German guy named Tobias Sammett. Still, there seems to be something wrong. Probably because at their core Edguy is a joke band, they let the humor get in the way of having a truly great band. The music here is great, but the band itself it what seems to grind my gears at their massive mediocrity. But unlike other Edguy releases that I have had the pleasure (or displeasure when it came to Hellfire Club) to listening to, Mandrake definitely covers up the band better then any other album before or since put out by these Fulda natives, and is hands down their magnum opus.

As I just stated, all these songs are written by Tobias primarily. Obviously there is input from his band mates to an extent (I don't think Tobi came up with the drum parts or some of these guitar solos), but he did do a very good job here. As I stated before, he gives a full view at the realm of power metal. You get melodic, keyboard layered numbers such as the opening cut on Tears Of A Mandrake, Painting On The Wall and (if you were fortunate to get the limited edition like I have) The Devil And The Savant (a bonus track on the limited edition), ballads of The Pharaoh and Wash Away The Poison, melodic numbers like Jerusalem and All The Clowns, songs that utilize the once thought long gone approach of power/speed metal on Fallen Angels and Save Us Now, and downright heavy almost thrash metal like work on Nailed To The Wheel (hmmm, Nailed To The Cross anyone? See the Destruction influence?). No track is the same as the exact one before it or after, so in between the melodic numbers you get a ballad. In between the speedy numbers you get a keyboard layered one, and in between the keyboard layered tracks you get Nailed To The Wheel with it's power/thrash work. Amazing songwriting job on Tobias's part.

Of course, Tobias is also the reason why Edguy is off the ground. His vocal talents are interesting, as he has a voice that sounds like it mixes Andi Derris Of Helloween with Bruce Dickinson. He also possesses a pretty nice range (for a power metal vocalist). This guy could certainly be a thrash metal vocalist if he wanted to, as his midrange/tenor work that he shows on songs like Nailed To The Wheel is positively great. The high register is where Sammett is at his best, and there his unquiness shines. I also admire his lyrical work, how he makes things catchy and humorous with a very uplifiting message while not repeating the same thing over and over again. Your lyrics here are hard to make out, but they typical of Edguy. We get conformity, following your dreams, love, morality, sorrow, basically all your typical uplifiting power metal themes with a tad of fantasy. Of course Tobias brings up the humor, which is best seen on the song All The Clowns, but compared to other past Edguy's work, Mandrake's humor level is rather low. However, despite being Edguy's greatest assett, Tobias has also proven to me again (as he has on every Edguy release) on Mandrake that he is Edguy's greatest liability. I think because everyone in the band knows that they would be nowhere without Tobias, they seem to compromise themselves and hold back on their abilities just to make room for him. Now I am not sure if Sammett has them do this on purpose or they choose to, but it needs to stop. It gets in the way of writing truly good music, and if Edguy are to truly achieve a beloved status in my mind they need to focus less on pronouncing Tobias's prescence and show that there is a full band backing him up.

Despite making room for him, Tobias's bandmates are hardly slouches. Key to this is one man, lead guitarist Jens Ludwig. I do know that this guy has some influence on the song writing and has written every single Edguy guitar solo in the band's history, so obviously he had quite a bit of influence on Mandrake, probably more then he ever has on an Edguy album. This album is very guitar oriented for a power metal album at the time it came out. There are not a lot of keyboards here, and Jens (along with rhythm guitarist Dirk Sauer) prove that bands without full time keyboardists who use guitars more in power metal are just as prominent now as they were in the 1980s and early 90s. I appreciate this greatly, because too many a power metal band in this day and age are relying not on Iron Maiden esque guitar harmonies but keyboards and synthesisers to add the epic feel to their music. Jens is particulary strong in the solo department on the opening track, Jerusalem, Fallen Angels, Nailed To The Wheel, and Golden Dawn. His lead guitar is loaded with choppy and flashy displays of neo classical work with teuntonic thrash esque tremolo picking coupled with whailing harmonics and whammy bar use during solos, and positively great use of string bends for harmonies during rhythms. His best harmony work is hands down on All The Clowns, utilizing a harmony that makes me think of aerial combat during The Battle Of Britian during WWII. Combined with Tobias's minor use of keyboards, Ludwig is another intergral part of Edguy that makes Mandrake so great and epic.

Rhythm guitarist Dirk Sauer and bassist Tobias Exxel need work however. Though these two prove they can fill the gap between Jens' guitar parts, Tobias's vocals, and the drums, these two have to get their game together. Dirk's riffs are mediocre to adequate at best, lame at worst. I know power metal isn't supposed to be riff heavy, but come on as a rhythm guitarist you can at least show you are good at what you do. Likewise for Exxel, who's bass lines are often picking three notes in different patterns that completely follow along with the rhythm guitars. No Steve Harris esque sixteenth note gallops, no tapping, none of it. Not that Edguy fans really care about this, but I do. I prefer the musical side to the metal genre, and the least these two could do would be to try and make some decent riffs or bass lines.

But the one providing the time, our favorite alien drum bunny known as Felix Bohnke is really something else. What Bohnke lacks in speed and innovativness in fills he makes up for in keeping the time. This guy is a real time piece. He is about as good as the Energizer bunny when he has his batteries (hence the nickname alien drum bunny). However, I can tell Felix has more to offer then Edguy will allow. His double bass speed can be pretty nice, and some of the fills he makes are pretty cool to. But this guy definitely can be more faster and more technical then he shows on Edguy albums, and I only wish he could show it. Curse you Tobias and the fact that you make Edguy!

The production here is very light but very clear in terms of metal production. The riffs are not very gritty but very clear, and the leads are very well pronounced, but everything can be heard. The bass can be heard in more then just simple pulses, but actually in real vibrations of the strings. The drums sound totally real and not like pieces of plastic, and the bass drums are not even heavily triggered and have a very nice feel to them. Sammett's vocals are the primary reason for this production method, because they can be heard great. I mean no problems hearing them at all. The only one you really cannot make out well is Dirk, but then again who really cares? Dirk is a rhythm guitarist, and one who can hardly make up a good riff if his life depended on it (maybe this guy needs to take some rhythm guitar lessons from James Hetfield or Scott Ian). All in all, the production is certainly fitting for Mandrake, and definitely does help out the album a lot.

Tobias may be Edguy's biggest flaw, but he is also Edguy's greatest assett. For once, Edguy manages prove that they are more then just Sammett, but need to do this more often. It is a pitty they did not act on Mandrake's success as a power metal album on releases that came after it, because this is truly Edguy's magnum opus. But if you want one of the most diverse albums in a metal genre that is starting to sound all too the same, Edguy's album Mandrake is definitely worth the buy.

High speed alien drum bunny! - 88%

Empyreal, December 24th, 2007

And thus the story continues; in my increasing wait for Avantasia's new album, I go back to review one of Edguy's stronger efforts; the tight, memorable, hyper-melodic Mandrake. This was written right in the crossfire of the creative epiphany that was at the time spawning Tobias's two part epic "Avantasia" concept side project albums, and it's even better than those two albums, to be blunt.

While the previous album had a few absolutely brilliant songs amongst solid filler material, this album is right in the middle of those two polar opposites - providing a set of speedy, glorious power metal crackers, none of which are truly brilliant, but none of which could be considered filler either. The band stays true to their melodic Helloween/Stratovarius blend of power metal, a mixture which can only be called the signature Edguy sound at this point, as the band had come into their own after five albums of perfecting their style, and this is just about the zenith of that style, the furthest they could take it in terms of songwriting power and melodic sensibility.

Kicking off with the stirring epic "Tears of a Mandrake," it's clear that Edguy have not changed their style from Theater of Salvation, but simply refined it a bit, patched up a few loose ends and polished up their inconsistencies which were so glaring on that album. The production is fuller and thicker, lending to the more mature sound present here, and the music has been dropped down a notch, bellowing forth with a darker atmosphere than was usual for Edguy, who had always played a happy Helloween sort of style in the past. But the musicianship remains on par, with Tobias's banshee howls - more refined than they ever were before - over furiously intricate guitar lines and bouncy, frivolous drum beats, along with a healthy layer of keys dancing over the whole package.

There are really no bad songs here, as I mentioned, from the aforementioned opener through the blazing speed assault of "Golden Dawn," the rocking anthem "All The Clowns," the vicious, bloodthirsty "Nailed to the Wheel," the poignant, sorrowful balladry of "Wash Away the Poison," and the 80s arena rock-ish "Painting on the Wall." "Save Us Now" is a unique song, being one of the first of many silly, jokey songs from Edguy, a high speed cooker with goofy lyrics involving the band's drummer, and it's highly enjoyable, although the novelty wears off after a few listens. The album's epic is "The Pharaoh," and while it isn't nearly as good as the title track of Theater of Salvation, it's a dazzling, mature anthem that won't fail to please.

This is pretty much the last anyone ever saw of Edguy before they shifted gears into the more hard rock/Heavy Metal territory, and for fans of the more straightforward Power Metal sound, Mandrake is a fantastic album to round off this portion of Edguy's career. Recommended to Power Metal fans.

Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com

Darker and Borderline Thrash At Times - 95%

darkreif, June 6th, 2007

Edguy have the most potential in the modern power metal scene. As time goes on though - they have moved further from an epic power metal sound towards one that is more reminiscent of Van Halen...or as my brother so put it, "Power Halen."

So as Edguy moves further away I found myself revisiting their back catalog more and more. When I came back to relisten to Mandrake, I realized how amazing this album really is. This album is often disregarded due to is transitional sound. Edguy had moved further away from their orchestrated sound (and with it much of the keyboards that were present on their earlier albums). They have moved towards a slightly darker tone on the album with a hint of aggression and a more general power metal sound.

The guitar work is still an amazing part of the work. The riffs are slightly more aggressive this time around and the power chords are a little more sparse. The chords are usually incorporated during melodic passages with a ton of leads or during choruses for decent headbanging results. The leads and solos are particularly enduring on Mandrake as they are both catchy and technical in their aspect and once they repeat its east to get them stuck in your head. The solos in particular are still heartfelt - although quite a bit darker than some of their previous releases. The acoustic and melodic sections are well incorporated to give a good deal of variety.

The piano sections (particularly in "Wash Away the Poison") are well written and one would almost swear this was a modern rock ballad rather than a power metal epic at times. It helps when a heavy guitar riff overlays the piano giving the song a massive range. The keys used on the last song have a good deal of synth feel to them too. Thusly, there is variety in the use of keys.

The drums and bass are well written and don't always follow the guitar parts (THANK GOD). There is a very cool bass and drum into to the song "Fallen Angels" that I was hoping would be a tactic used throughout the album but wasn't. Not that it's disappointing because the bass and drum work are well mixed with the rest of the melody and the bass has interesting licks that pop every once in a while. The drums have some very good tom use intermixed with the usual double bass and snare combo.

The vocals are something to be praised. Sammet used to do a very good Bruce Dickinson impression but with each release he finds his own voice more and more. On Mandrake, he adds a bit of aggression to the vocals and at times has a good thrash metal sound. He soaring notes are mixed with a lower pitch singing that lets us hear his amazing range vocally. Not quite a falsetto at times he has some vocal chords that could shatter glass if he so wanted to.

The lyrics are something that many people overlook. At times, Edguy approach subtle and humorous works and tongue-in-cheek moments as they write and sing about fantastical items such as angels and demons...and clowns. Most of their themes are metaphorical and allows the listener to throw in their two cents to interpret the lyrics. This is to the benefit of the album because it gives it a long life and great replay value.

Overall, one of Edguy's darker moments that at times borderlines thrash (see "Fallen Angels" and "Jerusalem") this is still to this day a power metal masterpiece. The band is really coming to their own on this album and it's a shame to see them leave this era so soon after its conception.

Songs to check out: Tears of the Mandrake, Jerusalem, Fallen Angels.

Edguy's Magnum Opus. - 97%

hells_unicorn, October 17th, 2006

Many often refer to "Theatre of Salvation" as being the greatest work by this band, and I was one to agree with them until I heard this album. The primary thing that pushes this release beyond the reach of it's predecessor's is the superior production. The dimensions of this album are fit together perfectly, giving it a dark and surreal feel that is the perfect musical reflection of the rather strange album cover.

Tobias Sammet is at his peak both as a songwriter, keyboardist and a singer on this album, which is quite a feat considering that it was written and recorded in the short time span between the 2 Avantasia albums. My favorite tracks on here for keyboard and vocal work include the title track, "Wash Away the Poison" and "Painting on the Wall".

The guitar riffs on here are also up a notch from previous efforts. Although Edguy draws it's strength primarily from Sammet's commanding vocal prescence, we get some tracks on here with some solid guitar work. Standout tracks that feature great rhythmic riffs include "All the Clowns", "Fallen Angels", and the acoustic/electric heavy track "Nailed to the Wheel". But the greatest solo work on here courtesy of lead guitarist Jens Ludwig is the mulitple sections on the title track.

We've got a huge collection of faster tracks on here, be it the lyrically comical "Save Us Now", the melodic and lyrically uplifting "Golden Dawn" and the bass heavy cooker "Fallen Angels". Even more epic tracks such as "The Pharaoh" and the title track have some rather fast sections. If I had to pick a favorite track for faster drum work I think I'd probably take "Golden Dawn", mostly for the nice little meter changes that pop in and out of the instrumental sections.

Some tracks on here that get a rather unfair shake by most critics include the gloomy ballad "Wash away the Poison" and the melodic single "Painting on the Wall". The former features a powerful vocal performance, and the overall song reminds me alot of some of the ballads that Bruce Dickinson's solo band produced in the late 90s. The latter is very catchy, and what it lacks in guitar riffs it makes up for with lyrical storytelling and atmosphere. I'm a lead guitarist in a metal band, and I can tell you first hand that shredding up a storm on every song gets old fast.

The bonus track on here "The Devil and the Savant" is very catchy and mid-tempo oriented, and might well have made an even better single that "Painting on the Wall" did. It features an instantly memorable synth lead on top of a solid arrangements.

Although all of the songs are so good that skipping tracks did not immediately occur to me as an option, I found myself later skipping to listen to "The Pharaoh" quite a bit. One thing that I've found about Edguy is that, like Iron Maiden, their greatest songs are often their long-winded epics. There is a good number of changes on here, and some elements of the ingenius songwriting that was also found on Avantasia. For those of you who only know Edguy through their latest releases, this song is "The Piper Never Dies" with better production, some more eastern influences, and a greater vocal performance by Tobias Sammet.

In conclusion, this album is a must have for fans of fast and melodic power metal. It bears some similarities to Helloween, as many bands often do in this genre, but they are not carbon copies by any standard. The lyrics are deeper and more intelligent sounding, the guitar soloing is not quite as long-winded and complex, and the keyboard prescence is alot stronger. Tobias Sammet also sounds almost exactly like Geoff Tate at times, where as Michael Kiske's voice is a little easier to distinquish from his. They have their own take on Power Metal, and they deserve the success that they have achieved.

Good ... but over-rated as a classic. - 79%

LifeInAFireBox, January 13th, 2005

This was my first listen to Edguy, I'd heard a lot about them and decided to pick this CD up. At first, I was pleased. But, when the CD had finished, I wasn't sure it was so great. Giving it another listen, I found that there were some weak songs on the album. My third listen told me that even though some songs were weak, there were actually some classics here. The classics being Tears of A Mandrake - a chorus so catchy, if you only listen to it once, you'll be singing it for a week. Nailed to the Wheel, a song with a great transition, and an awesome heavy metal/old school thrash chorus. Save Us Now, classic comedic power metal, with a chorus so hooky, you'll feel like a fish, and excellent riffage.

The Pharoah is a pretty good song, though, it's 10:37 why? It's a pretty much failed attempt at an epic, though it has it's moments. But, the songs between it, and Save Us Now? Pretty much worthless. Normally, I don't feel this way at all about an album, but it's like they gave it their all on some songs, and decided to make a half-assed ballad something-or-other on the other tracks. Wash Away the Poison is a sub-par, totally cliche power metal ballad - when it got to this song the first time through, was when I started to have doubts about this album being all it was made out to be. Fallen Angels and Painting on the Wall are absolutely nothing special.

Though, I do love Tobias' vocals, and I think he does a very good job. The complaint I have here, is basically the same complaint I have with the overly simplisitic works of later Stratovarius and bands like Hammerfall. Over simplisitic music doesn't cut it for me ... the one note bass line, with exited guitar, and eighth note high-hat, with quarter note snare; later filled with a somewhat simple melody line - how much more simple can you get? It ruins any chance of this CD actually being classic - but again, it certainly has it's classic songs - though, they are not all on that level.

Their bassist does nothing for the band but ... 90% of the time, not much else can be said about a bassist in a metal band - but for some reason that I can't pinpoint, he angers me. And again, being a drummer myself - I'd have a thing or two to say to their drummer, because he's just not cutting it for me. The guitar and vocal effort are great though ... but, people talk about this being a classic? No - Gamma Ray's Land of the Free - that's fucking classic, Lost Horizon's Flame to the Ground Beneath, that's fucking classic, Rhapsody's Legendary Tales, Blind Guardian's Imaginations from the Otherside, Helloween's Keeper of the Seven Keys Part2 - all true classics ... I'm sorry, but this falls far short of those CDs.

But all together, this CD has some sweet moments on it, and if you're way into power metal (which I pretty much am) then you should check it out ... otherwise, you should probably check out on of the CDs listed above.

Oh. Hells. Yeah. - 96%

OSheaman, August 18th, 2003

This is Edguy the motherfucking way Edguy should be done! Fast, furious, and powerful metal in the take-no-bullshit, offer-no-apologies European Power Metal style that kicks ass and takes names by the bucketful.

What Edguy really gets right here is that they stop trying to be Blind Guardian or something else that they're NOT and instead focus on being the European Power Metal gods that they ARE. The guitars are incredible, with fast-as-a-hungry-stripper riffs and solos that rip the pants right off your legs. It's that fucking good. The drums are playing beats that go with the music, and the result is an overall sounds that can be headbanged to for all eternity. Even Tobis Sammet doesn't suck all that much here--it seems like he got his shit together and actually TRIED to hit the notes, as opposed to the almost depressingly poor intonation of earlier albums.

Highlights: Golden Dawn. Best Edguy song ever, and one of OSheaman's Top Ten Power Metal Songs of All Time. It's fast as hell, it has incredible riffs and a great solo section, and the chorus is catchy as all hell. This is the way Power Metal should be played. Fast, furious and unapologetic--thank you, drive through. All the Clowns--did somebody order up a serving of Gamma Ray? It's complete worship here, and for once Sammet's excellent vocal work carries the song through--along with the incredible riffage, of course (see 0:20 for more information). The Pharaoh--y'know, it's that damn Egyptian riff again, and for once I just don't give a fuck, because Edguy managed to make a 10 1/2 minute-long epic that NEVER gets boring! Fallen Angels--it's almost as good as Golden Dawn; the riffs pick you up and they don't let you down while the chorus line is bitchslapping you around mercilessly.

Savage Poetry was good, but this album is the only reason that Edguy is the phenomenon that it has become. Tobias Sammet can go fuck around with Avantasia or whatever the hell else he feels like doing, because he earned it with this baby. A motherfucking classic of Power Metal.