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Edguy decides to stop screwing around, sort of. - 73%

hells_unicorn, June 5th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Nuclear Blast

The deeds of Edguy, or antics depending on one's sense of taste, are perhaps a bit too well documented. At the beginning, it was definitely geared more towards the former for those who enjoyed a power metal experience, though it was definitely high derivative of the established paradigm set by Helloween during the late 80s. But somewhere in the mid 2000s these mad Germans decided to get goofy in a way not even explored by their fore-bearers at their most buffoonish on "Pink Bubbles Go Ape" and "Chameleon", starting with a lackluster yet still largely metallic "Hellfire Club". From there on in, largely at the direction of front man Tobias Sammet, the same outfit the delivered a few fits of genius in "Theater Of Salvation" and "Mandrake" took a massive downward plunge on this end of things, to speak nothing for some of the utterly tepid pop/rock fluff put out on his Avantasia project that couldn't be saved by a veritable laundry list of star power.

To be fair, not all of this can be laid on Tobi's head, as producer Sascha Paeth approved of and probably helped shape the final product, particularly the limp guitar sound. A fold lives and dies by the collective efforts of its various moving parts, though Mr. Sammet definitely goes out of his way to be the chief attraction. In keeping with this, it's a foregone conclusion that this outfit never really forgot how to play solid power metal, but elected to experiment a bit and play to the sensibilities of a crowd that was going for a more AOR infused sound. Consequently, things have gotten back on the right track with the recent release of "Space Police - Defenders Of The Crown", a lyrically campy affair with plenty of slapstick lyrics and awkward titles, but at least something that reminisces a bit more closely to a better time in the early 2000s, namely a tighter arrangement, better production, and some better songwriting.

At first glance, this album seems to want to channel a fair amount of the band's early sound while still staying within the confines of the "Hellfire Club" paradigm. It's better produced than the aforementioned hit of miss affair, and it showcases a vocal performance that's a bit leaner, meaner, and mercifully much cleaner. The riff work ranges from simplified rock anthem chugs as on the fun yet goofy single "Love Tyger" and the longer yet still mid-paced "Space Police", the latter of which sounds like a better version of "King Of Fools", to some fancier work on "Defenders Of The Crown" and "Shadow Eaters", each one seeming to channel the speeding battery of "Mandrake" while not quite getting dark enough and falling somewhere between said 2001 masterpiece and their 2004 shift "Hellfire Club". All the while, the songwriting proves to be simple verse/chorus with the occasional solo fair, barring the closing epic "The Eternal Wayfarer" which channels the slower rocking character of "The Piper Never Dies" minus the Hammond organ and plus a smattering of Mid-east influences, a keyboard theme mildly in the mold of Avantasia's "Sign Of The Cross" and a slightly heavier guitar stomp.

Though a much needed and welcome return to form, this album does come up a bit short in a few key areas, namely the ongoing insistence on playing to popular culture a bit too much and avoiding an outright metallic character as heard on their pre-2003 material. Likewise, the balladry of "Alone In Myself" and the frolicking mid-tempo buffoonery of "Love Me Like A Caveman" doesn't quite hit the intended mark and come off as contrived. The mold of power metal at work here is supposed to have a feel good quality to it, but the execution is still a little too close to the annoying "Lavatory Love Machine" and "Fucking With Fire" nonsense to really resurrect the old magic. It's clear that Tobi and company were looking at mending some old bridges with older fans, but it doesn't quite go that extra needed mile. It's a fun album, no doubt about it, but these space cops need to push a little harder to get out of the solar system.