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Rise to fame - 80%

LordAquila, November 13th, 2011

Anyone who has ever had the good fortune to see Edguy live (and liked it) can imagine the chill running down your spine when a certain intro comes blasting through the speakers. The triumphant trumpets heralding the arrival of a song you have been waiting for all evening (hint: it’s not “Trinidad”). A choir of oohs emerges from the crowd and takes up the irresistible melody while slowly forming the words: “We live to fight the hand of doom. We got the pride to strike a fool. Vain glory be my wicked guide.” Guitars, drums and metal kick in, the opera begins. That song, sopranos and tenors, comes off this very album, this very wicked album called Vain Glory Opera.

Kingdom Of Madness was the last Edguy-album before their ascendance into power metal heaven. Building on a very solid basis of cheerful and meaningful power metal this is their breakthrough rise among the ranks of their genre peers. It’s no coincidence they had some assistance from said colleagues with Stratovarius’ Timo Tolkki on production duties and guest guitar and Blind Guardian’s Hansi Kürsch lending his pipes to the likes of “Out Of Control” and the title track. What better embrace into the hall of glory can one wish for, I wonder? Speaking of guests, at this point drummer Dominic Storch had left the band and replacement Felix Bohnke missed the recording sessions (or the bus to them, I’m not sure) so the percussion on this album is courtesy of stand-in Frank Lindenthal, a friend of the band.

The songwriting on Vain Glory Opera is not a long way removed from their first two outings, but for the first time everything is tight and focused. Each song is to the point, the ballads are endearing and there is no misjudged overlong epic. On top of that the songs seem to be connected and the album feels more as a whole not in the least because of the unified lyrical content (see below). What problems were present on Kingdom Of Madness have not fully disappeared though. The drums are still a little too loud and Tobias isn’t always as stable, but the sheer quality of the material makes those qualms seem immaterial. Additional keyboards (by Sammet) and vocal harmonies also play a part in doing the music justice.

Pompousness abound in the “Overture” whose upbeat orchestral hits segue nicely into the melodic fury of “Until We Rise Again”. For a similar combo see Gamma Ray’s “Induction”/”Dethrone Tyranny” from No World Order. Both are very effective ways to open a rampaging power metal romp. “Until We Rise Again” is a peculiar Edguy-song. It may be the fastest one they’ve ever written and the chorus has an unusual feel and structure yet it’s as addictive as watching cats trying to wash that one spot they can’t reach. More traditionally mid-tempo is the heartwarmingly happy “How Many Miles” which boasts some impressive guitar and organ work. As a whole this is the most operatic Edguy-album and in that regard it is no wonder I’m reminded often of the first two Avantasia-records. Maybe this specific opera is not up to par with those two classics yet, but “How Many Miles” is a strong move in that direction.

First of two ballads is “Scarlet Rose”, combining atmospheric keys with sensitive acoustics into a successfully mellow breaking point. Strings continue to set the mood in “Out Of Control” until Timo Tolkki’s tasteful lead guitar takes over with a delicate solo. Slow-burning verses and a calm pre-chorus pay off nicely with the strong chorus where Hansi Kürsch adds his typically epic flavor to the proceedings. Of all the songs this one harkens back the most to the previous two albums and it fits the least into the lyrical concept. This might have been a leftover, us mortals will never know. Unless someone asks them of course.

My opening paragraph already addressed the brilliance of the title track so let’s move on to “Vain glory be my wicked guide!” Sorry, one last twitch. More speediness coming up with “Fairytale”, a bouncy tune worthy of Freedom Call. Not that it doesn’t sound like Edguy, but they are mostly not that concerned with fairies and such matters. “Walk On Fighting” slows down once again and it almost feels like a marching song which only amplifies the uplifting content. The second ballad “Tomorrow” brings the album to a full halt with a guitar-free, keyboard-driven and quite beautiful hymn. On occasion Edguy is known to rock out and “No More Foolin’” is a fine example of them letting the guitars do the talking. Straightforward and catchy it’s less substantial but equally worth hearing. The closing cover of Ultravox’s “Hymn” is definitely a welcome addition. It goes well with the rest of the album and is a nice showcase for Tobias vocal chords. The Japanese bonus track “But Here I Am” is an agreeable Helloween-esque song with high-pitched voices randomly shouting things and Tobias sounding eerily like Michael Kiske at times. A nice tribute to the pumpkin kings.

The main theme on Vain Glory Opera seems to be the dichotomy between dream and reality. We aspire to become someone or gain something but in the end we either never achieve our goals or lose what we have won. Reality always catches up with dreams, and all we ever grasp is vain glory in the opera of life. It sounds depressing but recurring throughout the songs is a fighting spirit, an appeal for inner strength which would be the lead motif of successor “Theater of Salvation”. It is my belief Tobias Sammet is partially influenced by the teachings of occultist Aleister Crowley (who gets a mention in “Out Of Control” and also returns in other forms on other albums) about individualism and finding the truth within yourself. Not to paint Edguy as a Satanist band, but the references are not random. The most important lyrical concept of Edguy’s future discography found its seed on Vain Glory Opera and I will make numerous returns to it in further reviews.

Edguy rises again with the overture of a successful career with still many miles to go. Vain Glory Opera is an album by a band in full control, not living in fairytales but walking on fighting. No more fooling, tomorrow awaits. And now I alluded to all the song titles except “Scarlet Rose”. Ha, did it! What a hymn. But here I am ignoring the most fun thing about these super-lengthy reviews: the jokes!

Best silly joke: On “Fairytale” there is a brief appearance by what the booklet names the “Choir of the damned Smurfs of death”. They sing to us the wonderful words “Lolalalolalalolalolalalolalalola” and I think we can all learn something from that. If only not to hire Smurfs for your damned choir of death.

Originally written for www.blackwindmetal.com.

Uneven but showing signs of great potential. - 80%

Empyreal, July 10th, 2011

It’s time again to take a look at some Edguy albums, this time reaching waaaaaay back to their energetic conception with their second album Vain Glory Opera (as Savage Poetry was just an inflated demo at first). This is one of the classic Edguy albums that people still tout to this day. The sound quality is pretty weak and Tobias’s vocals are still in their fledgling stages, but there are still some really good songs on here.

The basic sound is sort of a rough demo-version of the European power metal sound that would take off only a few years after this album’s release. It’s a little heavier, like an 80s metal album, but relies on a ton of epic choirs and midpaced sections that definitely make it stand out from the more traditional bands that hadn’t been extinguished in the mid-90s. Think Helloween if they were a little slower and more somber. And this album is quite somber compared to some of Edguy’s later efforts, with some of the melodies being a bit more dark and melancholy and less soaring and happy-sounding. It makes for a very unique sounding album that nobody has ever really tried to imitate since. It’s just a shame that there aren’t more real corkers on this album.

The inconsistency is really what does Vain Glory Opera in – the awesome songs are some of Edguy’s all time classics, but then the rest of the songs just kind of drag. Nothing here is bad, but as a collection of songs and as a whole album, this isn’t their best. The title track is a huge majestic epic with one of Tobias’s early smash-hit choruses (always a standout feature on any Edguy album), and it’s followed up with the awesome speedster “Fairytale.” The opening duo “Until We Rise Again” and “How Many Miles” is also good, and “Scarlet Rose” is decent, too. But then you get clunkers like “Out of Control,” which is a fan favorite for reasons I will never understand, and the weak “No More Foolin’,” which is just plain awkward. They really had not mastered the art of writing more traditional metal-oriented songs on this album yet.

This is worth a listen for the amazing title track alone, but people really overlook how unique this is in comparison to a lot of stuff. You get the expected double-bass and trilling guitars, but the rawer sound of the guitars and the rather smothered-sounding vocals lend to a very interesting feel and atmosphere. The songwriting is a pinch darker than what we’d hear from Edguy in coming years, and overall Vain Glory Opera is a fairly ambitious album. But it only has the budding seeds of what these guys would go on to do, and the sound is one of a band that hasn’t quite found itself yet. Definitely worth a listen, and there is some quality material here, but it isn’t the band’s best.

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

Amazing hymns and surprises pardon for mediocrity - 81%

kluseba, May 16th, 2011

This early record of "Edguy" was the beginning of their future rise to fame and I think that those youngsters really worked hard for it and merited the success after this outstanding album. "Vain glory opera" unites anything a strong power metal album needs and the only thing one could criticize in here is that the band is not yet unique enough and is clearly influenced by the metal and hard rock universe of the late eighties with bands such as "Helloween", "Europe" and "Scorpions". Maybe that's the reason why the genre giants Timo Tolkki from "Stratovarius" and Hansi Kürsch from "Blind Guardian" made amongst others a guest apparition on this strong album to support and lead the young musicians into the right lane. But one can already hear the high technical and creative potential of singer Tobias Sammet and in my opinion it's better to get some great inspirations from other bands instead of starting creatings its own style in a hurry.

One of the strongest points of this record is the catchiness of the songs. Once you have heard the charismatic "Out of control" where Sammet and Kürsch sing brilliantly together or the hard rock opera orientated title track "Vain Glory Opera" with its unique keyboard introduction, those songs will never let you go and be saved on your mind eternally. Until today one couldn't imagine a concert from those guys without those amazing hits. Compared to those two masterpieces, the other songs can't keep up with them but that doesn't mean that they are still very good. The catchy "How many miles" that almost reaches the high quality of the mentioned two songs, the epic and somewhat melancholic "Fairytale" and the cheesy but effective ballad "Scarlet Rose" are all well done and give a good hint concerning the future direction of the band. With the surprisingly hard, thrashing and quite diversified "No more fooling" we have got at least one surprise on the record. That's what I call a special song and a hidden gem for insiders.

If you like cheesy power metal and hard rock from the eighties adapted in a fresh and diversified way, this album is made for you. It is not yet as outstanding and unique as later releases by Edguy but anybody that likes the band will appreciate this record and it's interesting to take a look at their roots and first steps. Some lyrics are still cheesy and some songs are rather predictable and mediocre, especially the three ballads, but the very strong killers "Vain glory opera", "Out of control" as well as "How many miles" and the surprising "No more fooling" are worth purchasing this record and pardon for some mediocrity in the rest of the record. The clear thing is that those guys learned on this album how to write catchy songs and be more precise in their song structures.

Power Metal. Yeah, that's about it. - 81%

PowerDaso, November 2nd, 2010

We've all heard about power metal. Standard riffs, power chords, lots of cymbals and double bass drums, keyboards in the back setting the atmosphere up with strings or a well-programmed choir, a loud bass, catchy choruses and, essentially, a powerful performance on the vocals. Now, this is referring to a good power metal, not some hungry and weak one. There are several bands that have come to the point of doing a decent or perfect album in the genre, look at the pioneers of the genre, for example. Anyway, that's not the point. Edguy on its very beginning was a band that created pure and raw power metal, no modifications like adding x or y progressive element, just the way it has to be: epic.

"Vain Glory Opera" is nothing of an innovating album. It has everything that a power metal album must have. There are the riffs, often being power chords with some interesting progressions or maybe playing a gallop in some places. The bass goes along with the drums most of the time, as well as it may settle the rhythm or fit the parameters of the signature on the basic pace. Drum playing is nothing huge at this point on Edguy's career. It may be a bit unusual on the intro of certain songs, just like in the case of "Fairytale", but not more than that. They are mostly bound to stick to the same rhythm along the whole song and do some fills when entering/ending the choruses, entering a new verse or to the solo. Sammet's voice is good. Back in the '98 when this album was released he didn't have as much vocal training as the one he has now, but it did well for a basic power metal album. He knew how to keep it interesting and whenever he did well it sounded great instead. Unlike other Edguy albums, the presence of the keyboards is bigger in here. There are more backing keys (or at least they are volumed higher) and they take the weight of some intros, like in the title track. No keyboard solos or something that big, though.

The song structure and composition is, again, just the natural ones for power metal songs. Some fanfares and strings are used, or maybe a clean guitar, possibly the song's main riff. A couple of songs in the album are set slower than others, most likely to chill down the listener or not to sound repetitive or too cheesy, I'm refering to those like "Walk on Fighting". The solos are nothing big, either. Most of them use lots of tapping, bends or apply wah-wah to sound deeper. At times they also show off some arpeggios (again, most of them sound made by tapping). In case of the ballads, they do deliver some feelings, but it really depends on what your mood is. "Tomorrow" is, in my opinion, a really emotional and beautiful song, but if you are an extreme blackened death metal all-day person you will surely think it's just pure shit. "Scarlet Rose" is a rather good ballad, but it might seem a bit too cheesy at times.

The album has a huge amount of guest musicians (preamble for Avantasia, by chance?). Edguy had no drummer at the time, so they had as a guest Frank Lindenhall. Collaborating (and producing) with them was none other than the infamous Timo Tolkki (who wasn't so infamous back then since he had not devastated Stratovarius yet, but the worse was to come). The production, I must say, could have been a lot better. Maybe it is one of the things that made the album sound like average power metal so much. They also had a shitload of people helping them in the choirs and Hansi Kürsch doing some (just a bit) of lead vocals.

"Vain Glory Opera" is pretty much of an standard power metal album, basically. It has nothing that makes it stand out too much. This said, I consider it is the perfect introductory album for someone who has never heard power metal before, as it has everything a power metal album must have and nothing more than that. It sets pretty much a base (but not a top) for power metal songs. I would recommend it if this was the first time you listen to Edguy as well, since it works for the first albums when they had not made outstanding stuff.

What power metal should sound like - 90%

SirMichaelJ, July 12th, 2007

This is what I wish Edguy could have made time after time.

Sure it's been done, but not done better by many. This is what power metal is based on. This release and Theater of Salvation are the two best Edguy power metal albums to date. Strictly because they have the most power metal influence. Both early works to an extent, and obviously more recent works all have a heavy 80's rock influence. Vain Glory Opera is the best mix of their rock influence and power metal calling.

The lyrics are all cheese, the keyboards scream power metal, the lyrics inspirational slabs of kings, wizards, distant lands and such. But it's power metal, you get exactly what's expected, you shouldn't be looking for anything else.

Out of Control is my favorite track on the cd for three reasons. 1) I find it to provide the most melodies that harmonize with Tobias's vocals. 2) Hansi Kursh makes an appearance. 3) An actual chorus that is powerful. And I quote the Hansi Kursh cameo " My life is a chamber of tears, fear and hate!." Not only are lines like that uncommon in power metal, it somehow greets the melodies perfectly whether they sound happy or even a bit dark. This song is a great midtrack song on any album, it captures the listener after an awful ballad (which Ill get to later), and has the best solo on the album. Not to mention the last minute or so when Hansi gets a few more lines not involving the chorus. Again great work here.

Fairytale is my other standout track if I had to pick two. It starts after the title track which would be my third favorite song on the cd. The intro get you from the get go. It feels like a classic, bouncy and happy power metal track. The lyrics are complete cheese but the music is so powerful you can ignore them if you do not like those type of lyrics. Everything about this song is catchy. Verses, choruses, riffs, bass, to put it simply it's a very addicting song. Midway through the song you get a nice break to take you away from the strong power metal feeling, only to be revived by a fantastic solo. The solo even has a bit of 80's rock influence which I dug because it showed versatility with-in a song.

Now why did this get a 90? Those awful ballads. Tobias has a voice meant for fast paced heavy metal music, not for slow enchanting ballads. I have no problem with ballads when the right set of vocals can do them, but Tobias is much better suited the aforementioned songs.

Again, fantastic album. If you're a power metal fan and have not listened to this for whatever reason, do it immediately.