on 13 September 2011
I liked Tinnitus Sanctus a lot more than some "fans" of the band, but I had one chief complaint: the guitar work was rather flat: despite the fact that I loved the vocal melodies and insanely catchy tunes heald within, the guitarwork was basic, only seeming to serve as a rather flat percussion: how Pleased I was to hear this latest one: the same variety, catchy, power meets hard rock sound of tinnitus, but with much more relevant, prominent guitarwork and bounce to it: it's obvious that the vocals and in some places the keyboards are the most important aspect to it all, but the guitarwork is good in places: to me it has a slightly mysteria like crunch in places, which to these ears sounds like a cool little callback to their earlier style on that album.
Further comparing to Tinnitus, this sounds SLIGHTLY staler in places, despite the heavier, bouncier sound: whilst each song on Tinnitus sounded different, and had a memorable quality or vocal, something recognisable to associate with it, Age of the Joker is in a sense, not quite as instantly memorable: it has a more unified sound and whilst good in a sense, some of the songs don't leave quite the same initial impression of classic Edguy, but seriously, let these songs bed in a wee bit: after a few more listens especially, they will start to reveal themselves properly: All that being said, this is still a great album, with a good deal of variety still in place, and a very catchy, bouncy overall sound, with Tobias's vocals as recognisable and effective as ever: so, if you are an edguy fan, obviously get this album, it has everything that has made the last couple of installments such succesfull melodic rock/metal opuses, and once the songs have bedded in, you may end up finding this to be the band's most consistent sounding one in a while. Unified, yes, but this album takes some very interestin twists and turns, sometimes in small segments, that also make it somewhat more interesting at the same time. AT times, like I said, it does feel a mite more typical than Tinnitus, despite the twists and turns it takes, maybe there ISNT as many stand out Edguy classics in the long run, but that never stops it from being a hugely enjoyable ride at any point. It could have been a classic if the songs had been more defined on occasion.
Robin Hood - 08/10 - Great epic opener - it does go on a bit longer than it should, and the melodies feel slightly like standard Edguy, but it IS undeniably a hugely enjoyable, bouncy way to start the album
Nobody's Hero - 09/10 - a very typical Edguy hard rockin mid-tempo stomper with an upbeat chorus, this is a cracker: a comfortable, familiar sound, that still manages to be massively enjoyable and catchy: punchy, dramatic chorus followed by a nice crunchy guitar.
Rock of Cashel - 10/10 - Love this song - begins with a really neat bit of melodic guitarwork that picks up pace: and whilst the vocal becomes quite typical at first, the bridge and chorus are fantastic: again quite mid paced leading into punchy and dramatic, but instantly memorable and likeable - also dig the medieval feel to the guitarwork sometimes - gives it a slightly proggy sound I feel - something that is heightened when the song breaks into a brief little proggy, keyboardy sort of section. one of my fave edguy songs, probably: just very catchy, with a memorable old fashioned feel to it: like Theater of salvation crossed with rocket ride.
Pandora's Box - 08/10 - begins with a cool, subtle bit of guitarwork, before picking up pace and turning into another mid-tempo number: but it is prevented from sounding like a typical number of that style by introducing a more hard rock vocal, and reintroducing the guitar style from the "intro", from the start of the song: if the first three songs were more melodic metal, this is more straight forward hard rock, with the more stylised vocals - this one also has a really neat chorus: maybe not a classic vocal/chorus overall, but some neat guitarwork, and some more interesting twists and turns in the sound - Edguys first country rock section (you know what bit I mean!) - still make it another cracker.
Breathe - 09/10 - beginning with a bouncy section, very catchy guitar and keyboard going hand in hand: what follows feels like a typical quasi ballad vocal that soon picks up pace along with the instrumentation, but once again, the band trumps expectations: what could have just been a typical, unmemorable number becomes as enjoyable as the rest, mainly down to a stand out chorus: highly melodic and catchy: emotional and dramatic, soon followed by that memorable little keyboard/guitar section: so not a classic verse, maybe, but the instrumentation and chorus make sure that is never really that obvious or bothersome.
Two out of Seven - 07/10 - Very similar in structure and sound to Breathe, albeit not quite as memorable: both the verse and chorus are not the greatest: not exactly something you will skip when its time comes, just standard: still enjoyable mind, with another catchy bit of keyboard action going on occasionally.
Faces in the Darkness - 08/10 - Opening with a slightly melancholy sounding balladic moment, it soon develops into a heavy, grooving monster: very anthemic, mid tempo stuff with a catchy rytmn going on - when the vocals first come, it continues that slightly sinister, darker, perhaps slightly melancholy tone: neither the verse nor chorus is the most memorable vocal melody the band has ever came up with, but the overall quality of it, and the sheer enjoyability makes up for it: a crackin song, then, just not one that's destined to be a classic.
The Arcane Guild - 08/10 - a more upbeat, melodic kind of song, reminded me of mandrake era stuff a bit, and like some of the other songs, the "standard" edguy sound is there: the song is very catchy, very well done and enjoyable at all times, but it aint a classic - it's not defined enough or stand alone enough to be considered a band classic. Must mention the guitarwork here, though: once again, the interplay with the keyboards makes for a really neat sound.
Fire on the Downline - 06/10 - slightly boring ballad: despite good vocal, the verse is pretty bog standard metal/rock ballad, and even when it picks up with a nice bouncy keyboard/guitar bit, it's all distinctly meh: not really much to say about this one: whislt still OKAY, its only that: its quite unmemorable.
Behind the gates to the midnight world - 10/10 - an epic that is truly epic - unlike a lot of other songs on this album, it transcends being a very good edguy song and manages to be just a very good song overall: picking up pace in a typical fashion, all leads to a magical, epic chorus and some genuinely cool, crunchy guitarwork and atmospheric moments: goes through numerous tempos, executes all of them sucesfully: great song, this.
Every night without you - 08/10 - not as strong a finish as midnight world might have been - in esscence a fairly standard, tacked on ballad, but like so many of the songs on this, it transcends what is mostly fairly typical execution and a feeling that it isn't as memorable as it could have been, and actually manages to be enjoyable and foot-tapping against the odds
So, yeah, sorry for the length: was bored. Very enjoyable album, especially if you are a massive edguy fan, id imagine: has absolutely everything you love about the band, especially lately, but with a heavier, more dynamic sound than Tinnitus, alhough it does not particulaly have the consistently memorable songs of that record - in fact, it does sometime suffer the sense of fatigue and less defined songs that I feel plagues the latest two avantasia albums. But whatever - just after an enjoyable hard rock/melodic metal album? dont hesitate, buy this.