Many people don’t picture the Germans as a funny bunch. Call to mind, if you will, the stereotypical German: mustachioed, drunk, beefy, and rambling in the mother tongue that’s very harsh. Regardless, the Germans have managed to produce quite a few different bands over the years with varying degrees of success, from industrial legends Rammstein to power metal bands Galloglass and Edguy.
Edguy got their start around 1995, and have not slowed down since. Releasing album after album, they never got immensely successful, but they are still touring, writing, and causing general mayhem of all forms to this very day. Their latest album, Rocket Ride, came out just this year to much acclaim.
However, this review takes us back a few years, to one of Edguy’s legendary album releases: Mandrake.
Edguy - Mandrake
November 27th, 2001on AFM Records
Tobias Sammet - Vocals
Jesn Ludwig - Guitars
Dirk Sauer - Guitars
Tobias “Eggi” Exxel - Bass
Felix Bohnke - Drums
Edguy is a power metal band at heart, but they aren’t the traditional kind. They manage to use more than just straight 16th notes. They call to mind almost a form of early era Helloween, with some rock music mixed in. There are some keyboards in this release, but they are kept to a minimum. Most of the music focuses on the 5 members.
Sammet is really the only member that stands out. He has a voice that you’ve heard thousands of times over if you listen to power metal, yet his voice has that factor that makes it instantly recognizeable as well. He writes very catchy vocal lines that you will have stuck in your head for days on end. With a mid to high ranged voice and great delivery, he is the heart and soul of the band as well, writing all of the music and lyrics on this album with occasional help.
And the rest of the band? Safe to say they won’t win “technical musician of the year” awards, but they are excellent. They work around their technical limitations and craft some excellent, catchy music with just enough interesting stuff going on to keep you hooked and not bored, which is not often the case with catchy music. There are a fair few solos in here, again, not extremely technical but still quite good.
One of the things I like about Edguy, though, is their ability to have some fun. I certainly know a fair few bands that can take a cue from them. They can have fun without seeming stupid or like a party band. For example, the song Save Us Now. It’s a catchy, fun song that you may not take as silly or funny. However, if you bother to analyze the lyrics, they’re all about someone named the “Highspeed Alien Drum Bunny” and his kidnapping of people to experiment on them with his drums and magic carrot.
Really, there is no way you can comment on that.
Now, out of the releases I’ve heard by Edguy, I do believe Mandrake is the best album they’ve released so far. It balances that perfect line between originality, catchiness, and fun, while still being serious. They include everything in here: some soft numbers, some heavy numbers, a 10 minute epic, and some shorter catchy songs. The band is at its peak here, with their style of fun and catchy yet still sort of complicated riffs, and Sammet’s voice keeps you hooked.
This is also a rather long album, with many of the songs being closer to or surpassing 5 minutes in length. I’ve always said, if you can write long songs while still managing to keep the listener hooked, it is a sign of a good writer.
Tears Of A Mandrake:
The album opener, it’s a mini epic: over 7 minutes in length, showcasing some epic riffage and some interesting keyboard effects. Basically, this is what Edguy is all about.
Picking up the pace a bit, this one has some pounding double bass work and power metal trademark extra high vocals. Still, though, they keep it interesting and original throughout the 6 minutes.
All The Clowns:
An upbeat, fun song, this one focuses more on catchiness than talent, but it’s still pretty cool. Extra props to Sammet for managing to include the phrase “Mr. Scary Face” in it. This was the single, if I’m not mistaken, and there’s a video for it somewhere.
Nailed To The Wheel:
One of my personal favorites, it starts off very mellow. Some acoustic guitar, Sammet’s vocals, and not much else. About a minute in, the distortion kicks in, drums speed up, and we are launched headfirst into one of the heaviest songs Edguy has ever done. With some of the best solos on the album, lots of wah pedal, and chorus riffage that would make Jon Schaffer of Iced Earth proud, it is a force to be reckoned with. Don’t miss it.
I’ve noticed a trend in quite a few power metal bands; there is usually a song that carries two things with it: Egyptian lyrics and musical focus, and a long length, usually over 10 minutes. Edguy does not disappoint here, with a massive epic that will keep you entertained.
Save Us Now:
Cheesy as all hell, with nonsensical lyrics and synths that could have come straight out of a porno movie, comic relief is to be had here. Eerily enough, the song is quite good. It’s quite catchy, there is some interesting guitar work, and the chorus has some really cool harmonized vocal lines.
If what you need is good, catchy, fun power metal, look no further than this release. It’s not completely original, or completely technical, but Edguy have hit a sweet spot, and you will find some of their more memorable tunes stuck in your head for a while.
Final Rating: 8.5/10