Power metal is a tricky genre at best. To be sure, it has always housed gifted musicians but the less than mature content matter makes it hard to take it seriously. Another strong concern, perhaps linked to the lack of substance, is a strong derivative strain that seems intrinsic to the style: most casual listeners wouldn’t be able to tell apart tracks by different bands, not to mention dress styles or album art. All that being said, the 90’s featured many excellent bands like Blind Guardian and, indeed, Edguy. Several classic albums were recorded back then, setting genre standards higher and maturer than ever before. Edguy themselves are in charge of some of the most moving and evocative creations in the field, like Hellfire Club or Mandrake. The question begs itself: after several sub-par albums, are Edguy still relevant to the genre and can they produce something worthwhile of their earlier success?
Space Police – Defenders of the Crown is a resounding affirmative to that question. The album goes fast, epic and powerful, reaching levels of accomplishment definitely reminiscent of their earlier records. Certainly, no innovation of the genre will be found here. The bass lines, heavily influenced by Iron Maiden, one of the foundations of the genre, are robust and monotone, galloping away behind the arrangement. The guitars riff fast, erupting in sporadic solos that sear ears and fingers both. Once again, as in all points in their career, the main weight is carried by the incandescent Tobias Sammet, whose resplendent voice is among the best in the genre and, indeed, in the entire metal community. Taking his staple role head on, Tobias has never sounded better: his high pitched shrieks are deadly accurate and his signature lower voice outside of the choruses is evocative and clear. All of these strong points can be clearly heard on the last and longest track of the record, ‘The Eternal Wayfarer’. This 9 minute long epic is established on well known power metal foundations and presents Edguy at their absolute best.
If all songs were like ‘The Eternal Wayfarer’, or perhaps like the excellent ‘The Realms of Baba Yaga’, this album would have been a contemporary masterpiece of power metal. These two songs, and most other on the record, are not ashamed of their power metal heritage but instead embrace it and perform it with masterful skill. However, another part of the album, one that has been present through out the sketchy Edguy discography as of late, prevents this. Edguy have an almost obsessive need to incorporate humor in all their albums, in the style of Motley Crue or Steel Panther. That obsession is not missing here: tracks like ‘Love Tyger‘ and ‘Rock Me Amadeus’ feature novelty lyrics extolling sexual conquests, down right silly riffs and synthesizer use and other such embellishments. To be frank, these songs are simply useless. The album could have done without them and been the better for it.
At the end of the day though, Edguy still have the keys to the power enthusiasts’ heart: they effortlessly paint extravagant landscapes and populate them with epic heroics and touching tales of fear and danger. Sammet, undoubtedly the core of the band, is truly one of the best vocalists modern metal has and the album exploits his skills without a second thought. Space Police is all you could ask for in an Edguy release: honest, epic and executed to a tee.
Edguy’s Space Police – Defenders of the Crown gets…