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Review: Edguy - Age of the Joker
Age of the Joker

Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Year released: 2011
Duration: 65:22
Tracks: 11
Genre: Power Metal


Review online: October 1, 2011
Reviewed by: Bruce Dragonchaser
Readers' Rating
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Rated 3.77/5 (75.32%) (47 Votes)

Germany's Edguy, led by Avantasia frontman Tobias Sammet, are one of most successful acts in the melodic metal scene, and with their latest slab of genius, the varied and intricate Age Of The Joker, their position on the top of the scale remains unthreatened. Eschewing most of the Hard Rock inflections that bled throughout 2008's Tinnitus Sanctus, the band's ninth collection harks back to their glory days, with many sections bringing to mind the kind of frivolous insanity of Mandrake and arguably their most famous effort, Hellfire Club. That's not to say Age Of The Joker sounds like their old work; in fact, there's something unique and idiosyncratic about this release, making it an anomaly in their discography. For a start, the production is cleaner and more polished than their last couple, while at the same time the material goes for an epic feel that has more in common with the metal giants of old than anything that has emerged in the last twenty years.

There are still strong moments of unabashed Power Metal artistry, particularly the keyboard-led "Breathe" or the insane double kicker "The Arcane Guild", a catchy throwback to their Theater Of Salvation days. Elsewhere, we have the Van Halen-esque "Two Out Of Seven" (the album's only real humorous moment), the long, winding opener "Robin Hood", which wouldn't have been out of place on the last pair of Avantasia records, and of course, "Nobody's Hero'" which is destined to become a fist-in-the-air live favorite. Tobi himself sounds stronger and less-strained than on the last album, his performance bringing to mind the sunny climes of Rocket Ride, and the instrumentation from Jens Ludwig and co is richly layered (just check out the folk-inspired joviality that takes over during "Rock Of Cashel").

As usual, there are a few oddball numbers that take getting used to: "Pandora's Box" is a bluesy attempt that is redeemed by a choir-laced chorus, and "Behind The Gates To Midnight World" is an overblown epic that is sadly rather forgettable. Despite this, Edguy have created a hearty album of melodic, sensitive, and down right enjoyable music that will please as many fans as it will gain. It is truly the sound of a band on form.

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