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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Edguy: Kingdom of Madness - Review

Title: Kingdom of Madness
Genre: Metal / Hard Rock
Label: AFM Records
Number of Tracks: Nine
Release: 1997

List Prices:

$17.29 [Buy at Amazon]

£15.89 [Buy at Amazon UNITED KINGDOM]

$10.99 [Buy at iTunes]

$32.97 [Buy at Import CDs]

$23.83 [Buy at Ebay UK]

I think the first time I ever heard of Edguy was at the Great Britain AFM Festival. I had decided to attend for the hell of it, it was sometime in autumn of 2000. A couple of weeks before the festival, I was searching around their now-defunct website (not the records website, the festival website), and somewhere at the front page is what I saw, right to the left of a Theater of Tragedy poster: GET YOUR SIGNED COPY OF THEATER OF SALVATION! GET IT QUICK!

I was looking for some good music back then. Which was quite ironic, due to the fact that I was accompanied by albums from bands like Judas Priest, Metallica, and Rhapsody of Fire. It seemed really, really interesting, so I decided to pay the $25.

Here's a picture of the poster I saw:

When I got the album, I was blown away.

Now that several years have passed, and I've been introduced to the further Edguy albums (including the really good Rocket Ride, the slightly more tolerable Mandrake, and the slightly LESS tolerable Hellfire Club),
all that's left is their debut album, KINGDOM OF MADNESS.

Here's a little history: Tobias Sammet is a German singer (and former bassist / keyboardist of this band), who is the vocalist for Edguy and also the metal opera Avantasia (more on that later). He had formed this band when he was sixteen or seventeen, with similarly young friends Jens Ludwig, Dirk Sauer, and Dominik Storch. Storch played drums, Ludwig played lead guitar, and Sauer played rhythm guitar / backing vocals. They first released an EP in 1994 called "Children of Steel", which was not very popular. They achieved acclaim with the release of "Vain Glory Opera", and later on progressed to release the hit albums "Theater of Salvation", "The Savage Poetry", and "Mandrake".
So now we're here at the start. Quite honestly, this album, in terms of all their releases (EPs and demos included) is in-the-middle, when comparing them to their epics Theater of Salvation and Mandrake, the questionable Tinnitus Sanctus, and the ever-infamous Rocket Ride.

First of all, a good deal of these songs I like - I really do. The vocalist has a mature, focused voice, and is up to the standards to the powerful Tony Kakko of Sonata Arctica, or Johnny Gioeli of the little-known (yet far superior) Crush 40. The guitar work is actually really good for a first time, and it follows a decent rhythm, with expert playing.

And a lot of the tracks on here are significant and are actually vital to the respect this young band deserves. "Paradise" has a great, yet brief guitar solo, followed by great drum work and decent vocal range. The songs are also very easy to listen to, the writing is quite good. "When A Hero Cries" has an expertly timed piano intro, though the lyrics could use some editing.

The standout tracks in this album is "The Kingdom", a whopping 18-minute epic, containing some epic guitar riffs / licks, great vocals, and bass work isn't too shabby either. The guitar solo is quite possibly one of the greatest I've ever heard. Also "Heart of Twilight" has great guitar and drum work, and "Angel Rebellion" has a good intro and solo, with some decent vocal range.

You can tell when the tracks are good. Let's be honest: despite their young age, everyone is very talented. Even though this album is over a decade old, and Edguy fanatics probably laugh about it, it's a mature, very well executed album. The title track is bound to be an outright classic.

The production, however, is absolutely gimped. It seems like the drumwork is highly suffering from being WAY too loud, and the guitar work (at times) sounds more like an engine from a car. It seemed like a half-assed, forced crapshoot of production. Another sore point of the album, is that Edguy was still searching for their hot spot, something to kick them off like it did in later albums.

And there's still some sore tracks. Some of the negative spots include "Steel Church", which, to be honest, is only bearable once. "Deadmaker" is its slightly more tolerable companion, and while it does have some great guitar work, there are times when it seems to exceed its listening time a little too far.

But I'm beginning to sound like a broken record now: Edguy is one of the definitions of power metal, alongside bands like Gamma Ray, Dragonforce, Sonata Arctica, etc.

This is Tobias Sammet we're talking about here. The man who created the metal opera Avantasia, and released multiple-award winning albums and hit singles around the fucking world. The creativity of Edguy IS, granted, still present here, even after their newer albums. This is actually a very enjoyable album, with a good amount of songs here that fans of Edguy should definitely listen to, despite the abysmal production.

And I do know I'm several years late reviewing this, but, hey! You can't help it!

Standout song: The Kingdom

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