Sunday, April 7, 2013

Edguy - Vain Glory Opera (1999)

So, it's probably time I took the opportunity to spin some Edguy. They were a fresh, young German metal band that formed in 1992, as what would probably be called the NWOEPM (New Wave of European Power Metal). Tobias Sammet, the vocalist, is one of the most admirable people in music - for not only does he have a damned fine voice but he also has a good, solid entrepreneurial sense. This is their second album, and it is something of a metal masterpiece.

In 1992, Tobias Sammet (who was born the same year as me) was merely 14 years old, and the fact that the entire band have endured, with only one member leaving them, is admirable. The band are, amusingly, named after their Maths teacher (according to wikipedia, knower of all things). They recorded demo tapes, sent them to record labels, and received many rejections saying that they were not going to endure in the long run.

Well, WIN to Edguy!

It is probably hard to be taken seriously when you are only 16 and trying to establish yourself in the music industry. Undetered by this, they self produced their first album - Savage Poetry, which was later re-mastered and released in 2000.

In 1998 (or 99 according to my cd pressing) they released this album, which brought them much wider acclaim and support from fellow power metallers. At this point, Tobias and his friends would have been over 20, and thus more likely to be taken seriously.

I already admired Tobias, but now that has just doubled. To find your dream at 14, and follow through with it - how many metalheads can claim that? He is also the primary song writer. Indeed, I think if there was one metal musician I could meet, it would be him.

The cover features an vaguely medieval looking seal - depicting two gryphons above a fleur de lies. Oh, and they're so young and fresh faced inside, clad in their medieval attire. Imagine if they'd been at our local Rockquest - I would have nearly died of glee! There's also the lyrics, of course, in a nice booklet.

In the style of old school power metal albums, this one opens with a classical instrumental, "Overture", but we also have Sammet "welcoming" us. His voice is powerful, both melodic and with a slight twisted snarl to it that he can put on when he wants to.

It them pounds in to "Until We Rise Again" with soaring, passionate vocals and inspiring, invigorating rhythms. Anthemic choruses. It is easy to see the Helloween ("Keeper") influence here, but Edguy are not mere imitators, they are a force to be reckoned with.  Pounding drums, complicated guitar structures.

More inspiring guitar, huge chords with intricate fingering entwining with them, ushers us in to "How Many Miles", where the keyboards now take flight. Another piece of soaring melodies, complex harmonies, diverse vocal styles and anthemic choruses.

"Scarlet Rose" is the first ballad, in which Sammet reveals his softer side. Delicate, romantic and beautiful, rising in power and passion. Evocative, stirring. Beautiful.

Stirring symphonies lead into the dramatic "Out of Control".

"Vain Glory Opera" is filled with power and light. Complete with triumphant keyboards and more intricate guitaring.
"We live to fight the hand of doom,we got the pride to strike the fool.
Vain glory be my wicked guide"
"Fairytale" charges in a fast pace with pounding drums and raging guitars. The chorus is splendid and anthemic, however.

"Walking on Fighting" begins with strumming guitar. Building, building, before the wall of of sound moves in. The vocals are lower, rising. I love the way Sammet sometimes rolls his Rrrs.

Another stirring ballad piece, "Tomorrow" starts with haunting keyboards and Sammet's "sweet" voice. Melodic, haunting and almost hymnal - by which I mean battle hymns, not the church kind!

This is followed by the rather more aggressive "No More Foolin'" proving that Sammet can switch from heart-breakingly longing to somewhat angry and taunting. Nice chorus though. Reminds me a bit of Judas Priest, actually.

Ad what better way to end then with a "Hymn"; anthemic, inspirational, powerful. It stirs the senses and awakens the warrior within. The keyboards help with their pompous bellows and Sammet's soaring vocals. This is a cover song, originally by Ultravox. Despite them being an electronic pop band, Edguy are not the only metal band to cover this song. Lunatica, who are symphonic with a female vocalist, do it as well.
Here's the original band (Remastered) singing "Hymn".
Here's Lunatica.
And Edguy.
I think we shall all agree that this works better as a Power Metal Song than 80s electronic pop. It is magnificant.

So, how to rate Edguy - a mix of creative genius and undeniable skill levels, passion and dedication. For an early album this is a polished and impressive album and clearly shows that Edguy DO have what it takes to endure and suceed. Tobias Sammet, I take my hat off* to you and your friends.


* Well, I would if I were wearing one.

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