Edguy – Rocket Ride
So here we are: The odd one out; the fish out of water; the one with that bizarre cartoonish cover. Superheroes may have presented us with “Edguy Light”, but I don’t think anyone could have ever have predicted how over-the-top-bonkers the full album would turn out to be. Rocket Ride is still recognizably Edguy, but while on previous releases the jester was just lurking around the corner, he’s on full display now, throwing burning cats and obscenely-shaped balloons in every direction. Welcome to the freak show: round two.
Edguy’s flirtation with hard rock that began on Hellfire Club comes full circle here, and with the exception of the nostalgic “Return To The Tribe” there is little in the way of classic power metal on Rocket Ride. “Sacrifice” starts its eight minute run slowly with a tender piano melody and steadily builds to a grand chorus deluxe, but it doesn’t pack the same punch as “Babylon”, “Tears Of A Mandrake” or “Mysteria”. It’s meandering and contemplative instead of melodic and furious, with a decidedly softer guitar tone than on Hellfire Club. The title track is very unconventional, an almost deliberate conversion of expectations, and instead of the anticipated fast power metal fest, it’s a twisting hard rock song with an almost sickeningly upbeat sense of melody.
“Wasted Time” knows a similar buildup to “Sacrifice”, and showcases another standout refrain with very poignant lyrics. With “Matrix”, we settle into a groovy tune which once again seems out of place, but has Tobias Exxel’s bass in a well-deserved prominent position. The modern keyboards and vocal effects are new to Edguy, and it almost feels like Tobias Sammet’s Dreamquest is happening here. “Return To The Tribe” temporarily makes us think that this album will tread back to familiar waters with its fast-paced rhythm and terrific solo (the one that is NOT vocalized by Sammet, which is just funny). The pompous “The Asylum” sounds like a hybrid of “The Piper Never Dies” and “Judas At The Opera” in terms of lengthy songwriting. It’s a driving mini-epic and one of the heavier tracks on offer with another unforgettable chorus. “Save Me” preludes the pop-rock tendencies of Avantasia’s “Lost In Space” and “Carry Me Over”, but is nevertheless one of my favorite Edguy ballads with its lifelike lyrics and tender melodies.
Silliness takes full control now with the outrageously hilarious “Catch Of The Century” (featuring the infamous helicopter speech) and the obligatory cry for individualism “Out Of Vogue”, which is ironically poppy for a song slamming pop culture. We already know “Superheroes” is as mainstream as metal singles get, but in the context of the full album it takes on a sadder meaning. “Trinidad” is a straightforward comedy song about Sammet moving to the eponymous island to avoid an ex-girlfriend, while “Fucking With Fire” tells you all you need to know with its title.
Thematically, Rocket Ride seems to mostly deal with people stuck in unfortunate situations, looking back on what went wrong, and lost in disappointment or disillusion. Outside of “Rocket Ride” and “Out Of Vogue”, the typical call for breaking free of the masses is largely absent, and of course in the comedy pieces there is no room for such a message. With the exception of the latter, the material seems a little deeper and less formulaic, (after all, the individuality-theme was a bit worn out by now) and Sammet would get even more personal on the follow-up Tinnitus Sanctus. Just as most of the traditional power metal sound has gone, so has most of the traditional power metal subject matter.
I rather liked Rocket Ride upon release and it has grown on me over the years, striking me as a very personal album (however strange that may sound). It’s certainly an adjustment from the power metal pinnacle of Hellfire Club, and I can understand why it would turn some people off. But even at their most unusual and absurd, Edguy can still provide a jolly good time if only you are willing to stand amplified amounts of hard rock influences, Hawaiian chants, and sexual innuendo. It’s far from their best abilities and a definite transition piece for the band who would continue their identity crisis for a little while longer. But more on that later.
Best silly joke: Where to start? The lyrics to “Trinidad” are a non-stop snort and “Fucking With Fire” has more bad pick-up lines than a drunken college student. But the cherry on top of the insanity pie is Sammet’s rant at the end of “Catch Of The Century” where he scolds an ex for leaving him and brags about all the success he is going to have and stuff he is going to own. Including a HELICOPTER!
Arno Callens’ Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Tinnitus Sanctus (2008)