Edguy - _Mandrake_
(AFM Records / The End, 2001)
by: Aaron McKay (8.5 out of 10)
I won't lie to you; this is my very first encounter with the German operatic power outfit Edguy, and I am duly impressed. Despite five other albums by my count, I am just now being exposed to this band due in no small part to The End's distribution of _Mandrake_ here in the States. Eleven songs of metal driven by unmitigated will and forcefulness thrust _Makedrake_ forward. I am a sucker of a good opening track, and Edguy hands one over with a great track called "Tears of the Mandrake". Undertaking this strong effort with such an inspired song is exhilarating. Working itself from a quasi-techno feel, "Tears of the Mandrake" congeals around a distinguished bass sequence (a la Tobias "Eggi" Exxel) to accompany a dynamically moving guitar solo right near the 4 minute 10 second mark; viciously effective. Vocals are complements of Tobias Sammet and, at times, would stir up Morgana Lefay reflections or thoughts of Blind Guardian's vocalist Hansi Kursch. It goes without saying, Tobias has an impeccable range. "Jerusalem" is chalked full of nice passages and, as it turns out, very relevant currently. Nice guitar acoustics precede "Nailed to the Wheel"'s campaign of sheer forcefulness and stunning guitar work. "The Pharaoh" is the very next cut off of _Mandrake_ to more-or-less transfix this reviewer. It accounts for 10 minutes and 37 seconds of this disc, so you know beyond a doubt Edguy had something profound to say with this ancient feeling song. I heard it loud and clear! The eleventh track on _Mandrake_ is entitled "The Devil & the Savant". It is a limited edition bonus tack. Bonus is absolutely correct in every sense of the word; a fantastic cut. It reminded me of a highly energized Iron Maiden song off of _Seventh Son of a Seventh Son_. "Wash Away the Poison", the album's ballad, is a very weak spot, however. While doctored up with meaningful lyrics, the infirmity of the song is nowhere near concentrated or potent enough to detract from this effort's spiritual birthright. Unearth this, until now, buried, magical prize -- if not for yourself, then for the sake of potency itself.

[Alvin Wee: "Certainly a surprise after the letdown of 1999's _ToS_, bringing back the simplistic melodies of _Vain Glory Opera_ in a comfortingly mature package, reeking of Maiden at times. Complex enough not to be chucked into the HammerFall camp, _Mandrake_ still retains the gloriously sing-along choruses that made their early work so endearing. More engaging than Avantasia and easier to swallow than Taraxacum: simply a must for anyone even remotely involved in the genre."]

(article published 1/14/2002)


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