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Baby steps - 70%

LordAquila, November 12th, 2011

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome the freakshow!” No words are better suited to kick off a rewind of the entire discography of German power metal jesters Edguy. Once accused of being “another gay metal band from Sweden”, front man and leopard-skin-pants-enthusiast Tobias Sammet responded that they were in fact “another straight band playing gay metal from Germany”. Judging by that statement, they are quite the freak show indeed, if only for having their band named after a teacher from high school. Sammet, his lead axeman Jens Ludwig and rhythm guitarist Dirk Sauer have been at this since 1992, when they were only fourteen. It was a simpler time, when children of that age rocked out in garages and didn’t spend most of their time sniffing coke or impregnating each other. They were truly the “Children Of Steel”.

Which brings me almost seamlessly to my first point. For strategic reasons (read: laziness) I will not include the first demos Evil Minded and Children Of Steel in this rewind and stick to full-lengths and the occasional EP. Guess I shouldn’t have called it an “entire” rewind then, eh? Ah well. So, we start with Edguy’s first full, and self-financed (probably by selling lots of cookies), 1995 release Savage Poetry, more famously known as The Savage Poetry, a re-recording from 2000 which I will get to in due time. The reason to separate these two are many: the material may be the same, but the running order, performance, and production are different, plus the position they both have in Edguy’s back catalogue is significantly different and the cover is less shit. Truthfully though, I just want to make more jokes.

For an independent release, the production on Savage Poetry is fairly decent. There is a minimum of echo unlike most of these things recorded in abandoned containers or drippy dungeons. The guitars have a warm sound to them and the interplay between Ludwig and Sauer is just as good as it is anno 2011. The drums are solid if a little uninspired, and Edguy’s only ex-member (!) Dominic Storch certainly isn’t as big a talent behind the drum kit as his later replacement Felix Bohnke. Tobias’ bass isn’t terribly audible, which he makes up for with his screechy voice. Considering he was only in his teens, I wonder how much of his voice was already affected by the foils of puberty. Not quite as tonally stable as he would prove to be, this is a good starting point for one of power metal’s finest vocalists. Yet it is unfamiliarly raspy and the re-recording of 2000 definitely serves the melodies better.

And some melodies they are. These days we are often spoiled by stellar debuts from bands like Sinbreed or Morton, but they have an entire genre to build upon. Back in 1995 there were only a handful of bands already active in the power metal scene. Helloween just got out of their weird phase with the return-to-form Master Of The Rings, Gamma Ray released the classic Land Of The Free and Blind Guardian conquered the world with Imaginations From The Other Side. Germany was the birthplace of power metal and the foursome from Fulda somehow were swept along with the first wave despite not being of a legal drinking age. In that regard, Savage Poetry is a truly impressive achievement even if the band would top it with almost every subsequent release.

The material here is mostly in the speedy power metal-mould, influenced by Iron Maiden’s trademark galloping riffs and Helloween’s bouncy sense of melody. If anything sets them apart it’s the sheer joy that emanates from the compositions, be it more brooding ones like opener “Key To My Fate” or the upbeat sensitivities of “Frozen Candle”, which is enjoyable albeit inferior to its 2000-version. Add to that a pervasive epic atmosphere and you have a band that successfully incorporates inspiration into innovation. We are miles away from the splendor of Theater Of Salvation, but there is a penchant for the grandiose here, not in the least noticeable on the eight-minute long “Eyes Of The Tyrant”. Another key element of their music is introduced with the two cheesy ballads “Sands Of Time” and “Roses To No One”. The rose-motif would return with “Scarlet Rose” and “Thorn Without A Rose”, to the point where I figure Sammet is just a little girl who wants a nice bouquet of flowers for a change. “Sands” edges it out being the more epic of the two with “Roses” being quite sentimental, something that to this day marks Sammet’s lyricism. “Every Night Without You”, anyone?

Speaking of lyrics, I’ve always considered Sammet to be one of the very best wordsmiths in the dragon-infested niche that is power metal. He has the ability to turn a phrase and invest it with meaningful symbolism, and the idea behind a song is often difficult to figure out. Some themes on Savage Poetry seem to be fueled by teenage angst and that’s not just counting the whiny balladry. “Misguiding Your Life” lashes out against a life under the thumb of society and in “Hallowed” an anti-Catholic seed is sown which would later grow into Sammet’s Avantasia-metal operas. The rest of the album deals with various notions of sin, perversion and individualism, the latter being a recurring subject throughout Edguy’s discography (see e.g. “The Headless Game” and “King Of Fools”). Mostly the lyrics are quite undecipherable, but the contrast of “Sacred Hell” and “burning like a Frozen Candle” shows the capabilities of Sammet as a writer, which would later be elaborated on. And really, in a genre mostly known at that point for its science fiction- or fantasy-flavored material, this was quite the welcome exception.

Savage Poetry may not be a landmark debut like Walls Of Jericho or Heading For Tomorrow, but it got the attention of AFM Records, who would release Edguy’s first official full-length Kingdom Of Madness two years later. Aside from that it is still a very agreeable power metal album, even though the re-recording is undoubtedly superior. More on that later. For now we celebrate the advent of Edguy to the scene, of the band that would take gay metal to a whole new place and inject an (over)dose of humor into the proceedings. That’s why I will include a feature called “best silly joke” in every review and this is the first one.

Best silly joke: Before the last chorus of “Power & Majesty” Sammet menacingly whispers: “”Hey baby, I wanna excuse me for my bad habits. Close your eyes, I’ve got a present for you.” Given the references to intercourse earlier in the song, I was expecting pants being unzipped, but it turns out to be a chainsaw. Not up there with the funniest moments in Sammet-history, but I had to mention something and that made me grin a little.

Originally written for: www.blackwindmetal.com

Edguy, Edguy, Edguy… - 62%

OzzyApu, November 1st, 2009

Tobias Sammet can pretty much be described as heavy metal’s Hamlet. Edguy happens to be one of those bands that fall right in the asscrack of fandom, for some reason. They’re definitely a mixed bag to most, but to others the heart of the core yearns for discovery. With a crummy name and pretty stock album covers, I wasn’t exactly too keen on going into this one. First off, this album alone is split between a demo and a debut album, but no one wants to claim which one because they don’t want to be called out for bullshit from the opposing side.

When I first heard this, things went very ugly, very fast. My biggest issue: the vocals. Sammet sounds like a chipmunk! We’re not talking Alvin and the Chipmunks here, no I’m talking about a chipmunk… or mouse / rat / rodent of some damn kind that feasts on cheese and crumbs. I understand the guy was in his teens when this was recorded and released, but he’s completely off pitch and sounds so stern. You kind of get used to them, but they’re still the worst aspect about the music, by far. Drumming capitalizes all around with a weird sounding drum bass. The snares have a booming echo, bringing you back to the ‘80s and steering clear of the modern production values. The double bass, while used effectively in a galloping fashion, sound like knobs hitting pillows. No, they aren’t drowned out much, but Storch sounds like he’s kicking pillows rather than a bass drum.

The rest of the music I’m actually pretty surprised about. Our two guitarists manage to pick Sammet up from his undermining performance and steer the group to victory with their compelling riffs and leadwork. When it comes to early Edguy, these guys sure make the songs. Sammet himself would mature and so would these two, but even from the start they had their shit down. The riffs are pretty rough, as the production holds out on the theatrics and opts for a more ballsy, vintage style. There’s very little room for prominent keys, crisp instruments, and whatever else money can buy. Therefore, the tone is raw and doesn’t enact a modern style; as such, the album retains a certain charm before the contemporary production job (basically the one found on the 2000 re-recording).

The leads work with the keys, charging with incredibly melodic and harmonious tunes relishing in Maiden’s glory. They’re always in the proper places, build-up to something, allow interludes to flow, or they maintain the climaxes themselves. The second half of the album (though beginning with “Key To My Fate”) kick off the best of the solos and / or bridges that make this album what it is. Bass duties by Sammet himself are especially booming; rhythmic grumbles back the riffs, which themselves surge like thunder. If a song begins to sound too boring or uneventful (which they usually do), then the solos and bridges surrounding them more than make up for the damage.

I’m very unsure about keeping this album; I heard the re-recording, and while it does sound much better overall, this “debut” has a personality that I know I’ll miss if I do away with it. Most of the songs survive off of the solos (as captivating as they are), but that’s no way to run an album. The re-recording mastered that, offered improved vocals, and better arrangements. “Eyes Of The Tyrant” I love not for Sammet’s vocals or general power, but for the solemn lead break after 4:25 that captures the very essence of power metal. It’s so heartwarming, and this moment isn’t as striking when heard on the re-recording; neither is the harmonious riff gallop thereafter. “Sands Of Time” on the re-recording is a majestic, keyboard driven ballad like no other. But on this album the song is deeper, more melancholic, and is backed by chilling atmosphere, which is very hard to choose against.

If I were you, I’d give these both a shot. You may like the re-recording over this one do to all the enhancements, but there’s some charm here that you won’t want to dismiss until you’ve heard it and decide for yourself.

What a Debut! - 93%

Crimson_Guitarist, October 16th, 2004

A few years ago when i was searchin around for some good metal bands i found a song called Hallowed by a band i had never heard of before. I listened and what hit my ears was one of the catchiest choruses I've ever heard. 3 years later i finally bought the cd, it's fairly hard to find and insted of going to best buy (where i got King of Fools) I found a little record store called The Exclusive company that had it.

Back to the music which is an amazing debut that any band woould be proud of and the first track 'Hallowed' is one of Edguy's best songs, The chorus is very catchy and the verses and solos are executed flawlessly. The only slight problem is the chorus is repeated a bit too much at the end. It is good the first 50 times but then it kinda gets annoying

'Misguiding Your Life' is a thrashier tune with some good riffs and some odd lyrics. Nevertheless the choruses are catchy as hell but the true triuphance of this track is one of the catchiest melodies ever. After a repetitive solo the guitar harmony rings in and youll have to listen to is over a lot. Another great thing is the presence of the bass wich can be heard throughout the song. And also, the great singer, Tobias Sammet (my personal favorite although a lot don't agree) plays bass and definately is very good at it.

The next track 'Key to My Fate' is has an odd effect on Tobi's vocals on the verses but the chorus is amazing and very catchy and the guitars sound very powerful. The Bass and guitar in the pre solo are awesome and another one of those catchy guitar mellodies. The solo is very good and features tapping and and old school ending. Very good song.

'Sands of Time' is Edguy's weakest ballad and has an okay melody throughout the song but its probly the one ssing that prevented this from being a solid 100% release.

'Sacred Hell' starts off with an awesome guitar intro and goes nto an awesome verse into another very catchy chorus. In this song there is an egyptian sounding guitar melody that is also very catchy. The solo, again is solid.

And now, for the thing Edguy does best, the epic, accept this is probably their weakest one and nevertheless its is an awesome song. It starts out with a piano and then goes into an aweomse opening riff. Around 3;00 there is an awesome sweeping guitar break and that is the first solo. Then, it gets acoustic with the drums beating hard in the background. The guitar melody is great. An then the chorus which is very catchy. Then the bass solo which is very good then the guitar harmonies come in with the great orchestrations done on Tobias Sammet's keyboard. Then the final solo at the end into a little acoustic outro. Great song.

'Frozen Candle' isn't an epic but a longer song with an awesome break in the middle. It starts off sounding a lot like the material on Hellfire Club, very heavy. The chorus is catchy but one of the weakier ones on the album. Then, the acoustic break. Mid way throught the acoustic break the do something like opeth with an electrified guitar solo, back to acoustic the acoustic then electric back and forth riffing and the acoustic continues with the distorted guitar and then theres anothers small solo. And then a great guitar harmony with a good snare part.

'Roses to No One' is the second ballad although it is electified. In the faint background there is a bluesy guitar but it is fairly hard to hear but it sounds great and is very different and adds more depth to the song. Overall this isn't the greatesty ballad but it does earn some respect for its catchy chorus.

And then... 'Power and Majesy"! YOu really ought to check out the lyrics to this song because they are funny as hell. The gallopin "Maiden Style" riff is great. The chorus is siple but effective and the solo is great. Theres some weird sound effects also in this song that Helloween would have and this song does seem llike a tribute to all of Edguy's idols.

The four 1995 version tracks are awesome, it sounds raw and mre like thrash at some points that power metal, they are very good and good for rareities.

If you see this one at your record store go ahead and buy it, you won't be dissapointed at all.

Definitive Edguy - 91%

OSheaman, August 16th, 2003

Yeah, it's a dumb shit of a band name (I think Tobias Sammet himself admitted it at one point), but it's a great band. It's classic European Power Metal, and that means success, despite having a cool band name like Cock Sucking Quadruplets or Impaled Northern Moon Forest.

Edguy is typical cheesy Power Metal (though not quite as cheesy as Rhapsody or Avantasia, Sammet's side project) and thus has similar high and low points as most other European Power Metal bands. The guitars are incredible, with catchy riffs and unbelievably virtuosic solos. The drums play fast and loud for choruses but know to back off in slower parts of songs, and the bass is present but not too overwhelming. The one fault here is Sammet, who I find to be more than a little bit annoying, even by cheesy power standards. His voice is just not as pure as others who are in similar bands (like Timo Kotipelto or Tony Kakko), and its faltering nature really shows up in Edguy's subpar ballads. Overall, however, this is a very solid band with very little to complain about.

Highlights. Hallowed is an awesome song that uses the old trick of playing the melody very softly in the background and having it so distorted that it soudns like it's coming out of a Tickle Me Elmo doll, then suddenly exploding with all the instruments playing the melody together. When pulled off correctly, the trick works really well, and here it is done just right. Misguiding Your Life starts off with a very cool opening riffset that explodes into what I believe is the highest note I've ever heard sung by a human male in my life. Sacred Hell fades in with a cool opening number and then immediately hits you with an awesome chorus with excellent harmonies. Finally, Power and Majesty uses the galloping rhythm first designed by Iron Maiden with great success.

This is a fantastic debut album from one of the most well-known, if not always the most well-respected, bands in the Power Metal business. Any fans of the genre would do well to pick up a copy.