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I've had a love/hate relationship with Edguy over the years. My first encounter with the band was at UK's Bloodstock festival in 2003 when they were a last minute replacement for Hammerfall. There, they delivered the goods - an entertainingly energetic, unpretentious dose of trad-metal fun. However, I've since developed a sense of disdain for their aesthetic when it oversteps the fun mark and descends into self-parody and inanity, the pinnacle of which must've been the ludicrously themed, thoroughly ridiculous 'Lavatory Love Machine'. It's at that point I lost respect for the band as, at least in my perception, they'd strayed too far into Spinal Tap territory. Here we have a brand new studio album, 'Age of the Joker', from the German quintet so perhaps it's time to reassess my opinion of the band and rediscover them afresh. First up is opener 'Robin Hood'. Oh dear! A song about Robin Hood?! Does the world really need an eight and a half minute metal song about the Sherwood Forest outlaw? This is really doing nothing to change my perception of Edguy. Fortunately, the music is a rather good, infectiously catchy slab of trad-metal with some neat synth work by Eddy Wrapiprou so at least that has garnered my attention. And if anyone can get away with singing about Robin Hood in the context of metal in the twenty first century then it's got to be Edguy but I still can't escape Spinal Tap as a reference point. Difference is that Spinal Tap was intentional parody by a bunch of actors whereas Edguy are an actual band that have become parody. If the actual compositions weren't so great on 'Age of the Joker', albeit largely a pastiche of trad-metal/rock idioms borrowed from Maiden et al, then I would still have no time for Edguy. Moments of immaturity creep into proceedings such as on the final instance of chorus in 'Two Out of Seven' where the lyrics are changed to: "What the fuck, suck my cock, I'm only a seven out of twelve. When I wank, at the bank, I'm ten out of ten my friend". Just who they think such inane attempts at humour appeals to is anyone's guess but, having said that, I can envisage a festival field full of inebriated metallers singing along en masse to the track if ever aired live, and probably those words would be sung throughout the entire song. It's not the first time Edguy have changed their lyrics, of course, as I recall a version of 'Save Me' introduced as an anti-pubic hair song called 'Shave Me' a few years back. So maybe Edguy's humour works in a particular context - while drunk, at a party, in a pub, at a metal fest? While stone cold sober though, sitting here listening to talk of cocks and wanking, it's all a bit redundant. Fellow countrymen Helloween have always balanced comedy with metal so well when they've gone down that route, even though they've bordered on the ridiculous themselves at times ('Heavy Metal Hamsters' and 'Dr Stein' are examples that spring to mind), but it seems so misplaced in Edguy's music. Fortunately, these moments are few and I ultimately have to admit that 'Age of the Joker' is a fine retro-metal/melodic rock album. In fact, I stopped paying so much attention to the lyrics after 'Two Out of Seven' and enjoyed the music purely for what it is. So, imbecilic humour and ridiculous lyrics aside, 'Age of the Joker' is musically and vocally a very strong release.
Nuclear Blast
Review by Mark Holmes
26th August 2011
1) Robin Hood
2) Nobody's Hero
3) Rock of Cashel
4) Pandora's Box
5) Breathe
6) Two Out Of Seven
7) Faces In The Darkness
8) The Arcane Guild
9) Fire On The Downline
10) Behind The Gates To Midnight World
11) Every Night Without You
"...imbecilic humour and ridiculous lyrics aside, 'Age of the Joker' is musically and vocally a very strong release."