Review Summary: Although it certainly isn't Theater of Salvation or Rocket Ride, Kingdom of Madness is a worthwhile experience from young prodigies.
It's always interesting to listen to power metal, and to see how much everything else has started to degrade. There are some really big people in various genres. When it comes to the god awful torpid genre that is Pop, people usually think of Justin Bieber. When people think of classics, they think of The Beatles, or Frank Sinatra. When it comes to Rap, Snoop Dogg and Eminem reign supreme. Alternative, people think of Rush, R.E.M, or 30 Seconds To Mars. Hell, even Radiohead's somewhere in there.
The metal genre seems to be easily debatable. There's a lot of good bands out there, and a lot of terrible bands out there. When people think of thrash metal, some of the first thoughts are Trivium, Metallica, or Megadeth. When it comes to speed metal, Judas Priest is a champion as well. But power metal seems to be a really questionable genre. Bands like Gamma Ray have helped prove that an otherwise mediocre genre can be improved with a little hard work. Then there's Edguy.
I'll spit this out right now: Edguy is one of the only reasons I still listen to the genre. Their later albums, like Mandrake, Theater of Salvation, and Rocket Ride are some of the greatest pieces I've actually heard from the genre. Their albums are able to hold a great amount of focus of original lyrics, powerful guitar work, and actually sending out a message sometimes in their songs, rather than the usual metal genre that focuses on long journeys and overly long time limits.
Kingdom of Madness, although many fans underrate it criminally, is both Edguy's most important album to date, because they realized they had the talent to continue forth at such a young age, and one of their most thought-provoking albums, because it makes you think, "It's amazing how a couple of 16-year old teenagers would grow to become some of the biggest power metal artists to date." But I will state this, right here, right now: Kingdom of Madness is far from great.
There is nothing truly addicting or hooking about the album. At their age, it obviously won't be up to the works of The Scorpions, Iron Maiden, or Sonata Arctica. And yet, it's amazing what they ARE able to accomplish at their young age. The guitar riffs are fast-paced and catchy. The drum work is focused and maintains a decent flow and some really good beats. And yet, the most undeniably impressive thing about the album is how mature the vocalist is.
Tobias Sammet (who would later go on to create the phenomenal metal opera band Avantasia
) has a very good voice, which is up to the standards of Rob Halford from Judas Priest, or Klaus Meine from The Scorpions. His voice is actually much more original than the usual metal albums, and is incredible from a viewpoint.
Production-wise, though, the album greatly suffers. For example, it will sound either too muffled or too loud. The bass is almost unintelligible on half of the tracks. It seems as though this album was made in a couple of weeks, and unlike Metallica's Kill 'Em All (which was made in 2 weeks, but is still a great album), for an example, a very quick 'making of' was the last thing this album needed. Even if it took them a long time, it seems there was little or no care put into producing, mixing, and mastering the entire album.
Lyrically, Kingdom of Madness shines. The lyrics are actually more original, more thought-provoking, more emotionally outstanding, for the young age, and in the genre period. 'When A Hero Cries' is in particular a superbly written song. Listen to the chorus: "When a Hero Cries, Emotions Arise / The tears in my face seem to be a trace of life / When a Hero Cries / It felt like heaven to me, but it was nothing for you / You said that I should forget but it ran me through / And I still can't deny, that you still make me cry." I mean, just.. wow.
Besides the mangled production, and not to mention the occasional below-mediocre track (Steel Church needs some serious editing), Kingdom of Madness is a decent album that's definitely worth a look if you're an Edguy addict. Recommended.
I'd have to say the 18-minute epic The Kingdom represents the album the best, and it's got a great guitar solo. Two other songs, though, Deadmaker and When A Hero Cries, also shine.