|Review: Edguy - Age of the Joker|
|Age of the Joker|
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Year released: 2011
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: November 12, 2011
Reviewed by: Larry Griffin
for:Age of the Joker
I have been waiting so long for this; damn Edguy for releasing the info so early and making me wait so long, salivating as I was, for my pre-order. But Age of the Joker is here, and it is an excellent collection of some of the band's strongest songs yet.
I really think people who think this is noticeably worse than the band's old stuff are looking at albums like Mandrake and Theater of Salvation with rose-tinted glasses. Yes they were good albums, but what's the fundamental difference between them and Age of the Joker? From a purely objective standpoint, they all have the same big choruses, variety between fast and mid-paced songs (with a few pop songs and humorous ones in the mix every time, even back then) and the same attention to big, grandiose epics. The only real differences are aesthetic ones like Tobias's gruffer, deeper vocal tones on the new stuff and sometimes more stripped down arrangements. Like the old stuff better if you want, not gonna tell anyone what to enjoy, but for me Age of the Joker is where it's at in 2011.
This isn't quite as consistent as Tinnitus Sanctus, but the best songs here are better than the best on Tinnitus, so I do have to come down on the side of this one as the band's strongest effort yet. This is a colorful album with songs about lots of different things, tied together with an excellent production job, booming performances and Tobias's mighty, attitude-filled vocal heroics to top it off. Check out epics like "Robin Hood," the hypnotic, creepy stomp of "Behind the Gates to Midnight World" and Edguy's best song ever in "Pandora's Box," with its huge chorus and off-kilter, seedy Western blues for the rather proggy verses. This is clearly the song Edguy worked the hardest on here, and I love it. Listen to the eerie verses building up to that spine-chilling chorus – "Ride across the OCEEEEAAAAANNNN..." Excellent, emotional crest. If you can listen to this and not be swept up in the passion and singular, strange power of it, you are dead inside.
Or check stylish, attitude-filled snarkers like "Two Out of Seven," the jovial and sweeping folk-isms of "Rock of Cashel," "Nobody's Hero" with its mean, Accept-like riffing and the excellently textured, mature "Breathe," which is one of their best songs in that old-school power metal style. It's a deceptively simple song, with colorful, bright melodies that unravel quite a masterful cascade of power and might. It's a song about the daily grind, having little to no time to take a breath in life's various tidings of work and business. I can relate to that and I bet we all can, and it's matched brilliantly by the music, with an anxious, breathless set of vocal lines and fluttering riffing and melodies. This kind of creative matching of lyrics and music is a big reason why I love Age of the Joker. Every song fits incredibly well with its themes and presentation.
And more than that, these songs are unforgettable and instantly memorable. Edguy is an awesome band and this album has every reason why: the off-the-wall humor when you least expect it, Tobias's huge vocal presence and spotless attention to melodic detail, unique songs that never take the turn you expect, that streetwise, balls-to-the-wall attitude and just straight-up honest music from the a band that can do damn near anything. The sky's the limits. I will not stop listening to this one any time soon. This is the Age of the Joker, gentlemen, and it is fruitful and glorious.
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