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Sunday, April 19, 2009

CD Review: Edguy - The Singles and Tinnitus Sanctus

Edguy - The Singles and Tinnitus Sanctus
2009 Nuclear Blast
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Of all the back-to-the-metal-future bands who deserve to step into a time tunnel and root themselves snugly in the frontier of the original movement, Germany's Edguy is perhaps the likeliest. Whether or not you dig what they have to offer in the way of their throwback power rock and Saxon and Helloween-kissed thunder metal, you have to at least give them a hand for their persnikkety sense of humor and devotion to recreating arena-worthy live standards, much less outrageously jacked and commercially-teased music to back it up.

At times Edguy has their tongues wedged so firmly beneath their mischievous teeth they're enjoyably lewd. At others they incorporate smarmy operatic backup vocals behind frontman Tobias Sammet they're something goofily tainted between Helloween and Queen.

Take a song like "Judas in the Opera" from Edguy's 2005 Superheroes EP, one reissued as part of a new (well, kinda new) 14 track collection entitled The Singles. The fact former Helloween vocalist Michael Kiske lends a hand on "Judas in the Opera" is a brother-in-arms German metal facet. However, the song's inherent strength comes courtesy of blind speed reminiscent of Helloween, gloriously replicated on its mosh-minded face, yet the pressure-cooked lyrics about snobbish aristocracy is Edguy's true calling.

Fans of this group are no strangers to the fact Edguy are confirmed knuckleheads beneath their highly-polished old school veneer. Come on, you have to laugh at their chutzpah for releasing a three-minute soft piano ballad under the guise of "Superheroes (Epic Version)." It almost makes you forgive them for covering Warrant's "I'll Cry For You" on their Lavatory Love Machine EP, also corraled on The Singles. Then again, you can figure there's a cheeky subtlety to Edguy's motivations for taking on Warrant, particularly aligned with the pep 'n pop rock silliness of the two apposite versions of "Lavatory Love Machine." There's a deliberate cheesiness to the "stripped" version of "Lavatory" which sets up a similarly-toned take on the Warrant cover. Coincidence? You be the judge, but this is Edguy, after all...

Keep your mind in the same oblong frame as The Singles moves into the King of Fools EP selections. As proficient as Edguy are at their instruments and particularly at pulling off every avenue of eighties heavy metal from spectrums ranging from the poof to the iron, you find yourself occasionally at odds wondering when these guys are serious, if it all.

Well, if you're talking about the "rain is falling, pouring down on me" from "Holy Water," you can insinuate a smart-assed anti-religion gibe, not to mention the following cut "New Age Messiah," which rings stoutly like a mid-tempo Helloween tune with devilish thoughts of giving Christ a hotfoot. On the flipside, the blatant and curse-laden goofiness of "Life and Times of a Modern Track" is undermined by a deadly earnest tirade against bootlegging and pirating music.

However, backpedal to the Spinal Tap-ish "Spooks in the Attic" and if you're not busting a gut over the title, try keeping a straight face as the song bobs with cute and effervescent choruses and dancy synthesizers as Tobias Sammet delivers lines such as "I'm a family kind of man I've lately started number ten..." and "heading for the grail across the sea of lubrication..."

Too much.

If the bleeding ears of the marble Jesus on the cover of the chuckly-named Tinnitus Sanctus doesn't harden Edguy's mastery of roasting heavy metal's ingrained pomposity (particularly of the eighties major label variety), then you're simply missing out on the joke.

As "Ministry of Saints" pumps agreeably like a lost and refurbished Krokus tune (hell, even Sammet digs just a little deeper to pull off a convincing Marc Storace), Edguy reaffirms their qualms with organized worship, which spills into the next track "Sex Fire Religion." Knowing this is Edguy and hearing the slinky groping tempo of "Sex Fire Religion," count on it being a spit in the face towards hypocrisy and covered-up sins throughout the global church. In fact, its existence is reminiscent of the Jerry Fallwell crucifixions metal groups of the eighties were randomly known for.

Edguy steps on the amplifiers just a bit more on Tinnitus Sanctus and both Jens Ludwig and Dirk Sauer wail out slightly restained but far more bombastic riffs and solos; you have to wonder who wanted to get the upper hand between Ludwig, Sauer and the group's planted keyboardist while recording the louder 'n hell opening bars of "Nine Lives." Nonetheless, Edguy dips their wicks into the oils of what gives them life on the thrash-meets-Slaughter-meets-Queen nuttiness of "Pride of Creation," which can be read as the parable of Frankenstein's folly, yet it chimes closer to an indictment against God.

Regardless, Tinnitus Sanctus plays its hand at a medium pace throughout, particularly on the Dokken and Dio-peppered "Dragonfly." Quite an oxymoron on the front, but there's something kindred with Edguy's verses on "Dragonfly" to Ronnie James Dio's all-star project Hear 'n Aid and their towering charity cut "Stars," even if Edguy goes more orchestral on their song's choruses.

How can you not appreciate the blatant swipe at Mr. Rock of Love with Edguy's "Thorn Without a Rose?" Darkly sensual in the opening minute, Edguy not only attacks Poison in their ticklish demeanor, but also every cock rocker of the late eighties/early nineties. Take your pick who fits this tune best; this writer will go with Firehouse.

As "9-2-9" deliberately rings like a plunged rock cut in an estranged eighties action flick and "Speedhoven" amps up with a Helloween-fused metal hallejuiah, expect Edguy to finish in zany fashion with the anti-poser strike of "Dead Or Rock" and a hilarious hoedown ode to masturbation, "Aren't You a Little Pervert Too."

The bottom line to Edguy is they're not for all audiences, albeit in Europe they've long been quite the rage since their inception in the late nineties. The fact they gestated in a period where metal was flourishing except in North America is the instigating factor to this band. Everything they do is attuned with German and British power metal flanked with the glitzy glamour of American douche rock. This has been Edguy's sustenance and goddamn would they have been the toast of the town in 1988...

Rating: ****

1 comment:

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This CD isn't that bad, after all it's a very underrated band.