Edguy – Kingdom Of Madness
Number two from the guys of Ed and contrary to what that description may imply it’s not a piece of shit. This is their first official release, meaning that they didn’t have to pull all their allowances together again to install microphones in the dumpster where they recorded Savage Poetry. Granted they were nineteen at this point, I will stop the age-related jokes, (Babies) right about now. Kingdom Of Madness is not to be confused with a recent Freedom Call-tune, but does relate to a 1978 Magnum-album of the same name. World champion of wearing pants with silver stars on them, Tobias Sammet outed himself as a Magnum-fan multiple times and not only did Edguy record a cover of their song “The Spirit”, but front man Bob Catley himself has held a guest spot on Avantasia’s last three albums. Still, lazy title, especially since they would record another one called The Savage Poetry. How creative are these guys?
Despite being signed by AFM Records and having a professional budget and guidance, Kingdom Of Madness isn’t that well-produced. The drums are obnoxiously everywhere and the guitar sound doesn’t have the crunch to make the riffs really punch. For a comparison, see the re-recorded version of “Wings Of A Dream” from the Painting On The Wall-single, among others . That’s how you do a good song justice. Overall, the mix is too poor to make the often strong material shimmer, and this feels like a somewhat lost opportunity. Someone in the recording room must have taken the title too seriously and set his elbows on fire during the post-production.
We open with “Paradise”, which is easily the weakest starting shot on any Edguy-record. Some nice acoustics set the mood for what is regretfully an overlong, slow-burning, and particularly unmemorable song. As an avid Edguy fan I can bring the chorus of every opening song to mind in an instant except for this one. I bet you the word “paradise” is in it, though-let me just put on my clever-hat. “Wings Of A Dream” picks up the pace and it’s no wonder they picked this one for a makeover, since the melodies are catchy as an eel soaked in butter and soap isn’t. Alas “Heart Of Twilight” puts on the breaks again, and while it has a better refrain, it’s also a tad too lengthy. An interlude with the menacing moniker “Dark Symphony” is a fun but unnecessary lead-in to the second half of the album.
The next three up-tempo songs “Deadmaker” ,”Angel Rebellion”, and “Steel Church” are fairly in the same range, the latter probably being my favorite on this whole release. It has an exciting chorus that’ll stick with you like dog crap on the soles of your shoes. This would be a nice run of speedy power metal tunes were it not that the sappy “When A Hero Cries” has to break it up. Of all the whininess Tobi has written over his long career, (his later ballads would be a lot better than this though) this is the worst. So it’s stinted and uneven that we reach the final song, the monumental “The Kingdom”, and Edguy’s first attempt at an epic. With its whopping eighteen minutes it is their most voluminous track, and it’s understandable that Tobias has never aimed to outdo it in length.
You see, as epics often go it’s a string of decent and less successful ideas strung together by uniform lyrics. Somewhere in here is a shorter and frankly better song without ponderous instrumental breaks and (unintentionally?) hilarious spoken words (see further). At one point Grave Digger’s Chris Boltendahl shows up as an inquisitor and does some evil laughing. It’s ludicrous on tape but if you picture the man doing it, (who looks more like the grim reaper than Grave Digger’s keyboardist who is wearing an actual reaper-costume) it’s secretly terrifying. In any case, not a great album closer.
Aside from the production, Tobi’s voice wears the album down. He’s at a stage here where he has no exact idea how to sing, so he just mixes several styles. One moment he’s belting out clean dual harmonies with an overdose of vibrato, and the next he’s shrieking like a stroke victim hooked to a car battery. He’s quite a marvelous vocalist today, but here you sense that he is still searching for that perfect pitch.
Attentive listeners shouldn’t be surprised that the main theme of Kingdom Of Madness is insanity. I’m barking mad myself, so I only got if after I chased the green rhinoceros with the lovely soprano voice out of my living room. On “Wings Of A Dream” and “Heart Of Twilight”, that lunacy leads to death, both songs being told from the perspective of a dying person. “Paradise” and “Deadmaker” introduce characters hell-bent on destruction, while “Angel Rebellion” and “Steel Church” continue the religious themes from “Savage Poetry” without losing the focus on the deteriorated mental health of the narrator. Of course, there’s also room for some witticism like this one from “Wings Of A Dream”: “Sometimes it’s good to be schizophrenic, cause when I’m close to the end I’ve got always a friend.” People stare at you clutching their umbrellas like makeshift weapons when you sing that out loud on the bus, speaking from experience.
In conclusion, Kingdom Of Madness is Edguy’s low point, but not without some merit from several agreeable tracks. The execution is far from ideal and maybe a re-recording for this one is also called for. The building blocks for future glory are here and this is the last “okay” one before things got really amazing with Vain Glory Opera. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Time for everyone’s favorite segment:
Best silly joke: Tobi questioning himself as both relentless inquisitor and evil sorcerer/sorceress in “The Kingdom” is ridiculous. He would later do it right on Avantasia’s “Malleus Maleficarum” with an equal amount of torturous screaming, this time from Ralf Zdiarstek and an unspecified female. Somewhere in his house, beneath all those dressing rooms filled with Lady Gaga-defying wardrobes, there must be a dungeon where witches rattle their chains and bounce their last mortifying wale off the dark stone walls.
Arno Callens’ Rating: 3.0 out of 5
Savage Poetry (1995)
Vain Glory Opera (1998)