|Review: Edguy - Mandrake|
Label: AFM Records
Year released: 2001
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: January 4, 2008
Reviewed by: Larry Griffin
Rated 4.25/5 (85%) (28 Votes)
And thus the story continues; in my increasing wait for Avantasia's new album, I go back to review one of Edguy's stronger efforts; the tight, memorable, hyper-melodic Mandrake. This was written right in the crossfire of the creative epiphany that was at the time spawning Tobias's two part epic "Avantasia" concept side project albums, and it's even better than those two albums, to be blunt.
While the previous album had a few absolutely brilliant songs amongst solid filler material, this album is right in the middle of those two polar opposites - providing a set of speedy, glorious Power Metal crackers, none of which are truly brilliant, but none of which could be considered filler either. The band stays true to their melodic Helloween/Stratovarius blend of Power Metal, a mixture which can only be called the signature Edguy sound at this point, as the band had come into their own after five albums of perfecting their style, and this is just about the zenith of that style, the furthest they could take it in terms of songwriting power and melodic sensibility.
Kicking off with the stirring epic "Tears of a Mandrake," it's clear that Edguy have not changed their style from Theater of Salvation, but simply refined it a bit, patched up a few loose ends and polished up their inconsistencies which were so glaring on that album. The production is fuller and thicker, lending to the more mature sound present here, and the music has been dropped down a notch, bellowing forth with a darker atmosphere than was usual for Edguy, who had always played a happy Helloween sort of style in the past. But the musicianship remains on par, with Tobias's banshee howls - more refined than they ever were before - over furiously intricate guitar lines and bouncy, frivolous drum beats, along with a healthy layer of keys dancing over the whole package.
There are really no bad songs here, as I mentioned, from the aforementioned opener through the blazing speed assault of "Golden Dawn," the rocking anthem "All The Clowns," the vicious, bloodthirsty "Nailed to the Wheel," the poignant, sorrowful balladry of "Wash Away the Poison," and the 80s arena rock-ish "Painting on the Wall." "Save Us Now" is a unique song, being one of the first of many silly, jokey songs from Edguy, a high speed cooker with goofy lyrics involving the band's drummer, and it's highly enjoyable, although the novelty wears off after a few listens. The album's epic is "The Pharaoh," and while it isn't nearly as good as the title track of Theater of Salvation, it's a dazzling, mature anthem that won't fail to please.
This is pretty much the last anyone ever saw of Edguy before they shifted gears into the more hard rock/Heavy Metal territory, and for fans of the more straightforward Power Metal sound, Mandrake is a fantastic album to round off this portion of Edguy's career. Recommended to Power Metal fans.
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