Edguy – Space Police – Defenders Of The Crown
Reviewed by Arno Callens
What is to be done with Edguy? The greater part of the power metal world hasn’t taken this band seriously since Rocket Ride (the other part of the larger metal world never has), and I’m not even sure the band takes itself seriously. Tobias Sammet and his alien drum bunnies used to strike a nifty balance between a spirited power metal vibe screaming for individualism, and a (to some) groan-inducing sense of humor. Nowadays, who’s to say who’s in on the joke and who’s not, and where the joke even begins and ends. Space Police – Defenders Of The Crown sure as hell won’t make it easier. The cover art is Rocket Ride all over again, and some of the song titles (“Do Me Like A Caveman” in particular) and cover choices are stupendously bananas. Once you go the Falco-way and do a cover of “Rock Me Amadeus”, you’re pretty much throwing the chance to be taken seriously to the wolves.
And yet, it’s Sammet who’s always close to petulantly on the barricades about being taken seriously: doing what he wants, whenever he wants, and damn the journalists for telling him otherwise (see “Judas At The Opera” and “Two Out Of Seven” for some not-so-subtle subtext regarding said issue). Press reactions for Space Police have been overwhelming, if the Nuclear Blast marketing machine is to be believed (which by now is code for “the catering at the pre-listening session was outstanding” or “the label pays too much for adverts and we as a struggling magazine would rather not see such revenue go”), which makes you wonder if Sammet isn’t in fact a petulant child crying for attention. At the same time, his strong sense of idiosyncrasy has led to some truly unique albums in Tinnitus Sanctus and Age Of The Joker which lie off the beaten power metal path, drawing influences from seventies rock, eighties heavy metal, and nineties power. An excellent example would be Avantasia’s The Mystery Of Time from last year.
All this to say I don’t get what Edguy wants anymore, and Space Police isn’t helping. Sure there’s the title track, which is a fun twist on the individualism drum the five from Fulda have been banging since their teenage days, and has just the right amount of spacey sound effects to be slightly silly, but not ludicrous. Much like “Robin Hood” on Age Of The Joker. Then there are riff-driven power/heavy metal hybrids like “The Realms Of Baba Yaga”, “Shadow Eaters”, and rousing closer “The Eternal Wayfarer”, which resemble the meat of the last album’s second half. A tad more confusing (yet still not out of place) are the opening stadium-heavy-metal-anthem of “Sabre & Torch” (“Out of the dark, into the fire be-low!”) and the Hammerfall-esque “Defenders Of The Crown”, boasting a simple chorus-repeating but surprisingly effective refrain. So far so good, modern Edguy at its best.
Cue the aforementioned oddballs at this time, like the what-is-this-doing-here “Do Me Like A Caveman”, a decent enough song in its own right, but one whose lyrical content just drags the whole thing sideways, if not down. It and “Rock Me Amadeus” would have been better off as bonus tracks on the bonus disc (the two actual bonus tracks are originals, and I’m curious to hear if they will add anything like Age Of The Joker‘s “God Fallen Silent”, or just be dead space). The latter is an earworm for sure, but we can’t credit Edguy for that, now can we? Because no Edguy album is complete without some gratuitous sexual references, we get “Love Tyger” to remind us that glam rock was fun to hum along to as it went along, but faded just as rapidly as tiger print pants went out of fashion. “Alone In Myself”, to conclude, is one of those “Carry Me Over”/”Lost In Space”/”Sleepwalking”-things that only Tobi himself seems to enjoy. Radio-friendly ballad crap, and a good workout for the skip button or an occasion for a toilet break during live shows.
In the end, Space Police – Defenders Of The Crown is not just an egregious use of subtitles akin to modern day Hollywood and blatant Human Fortress-plagiarism, but an at times wonderful, at times mediocre, and altogether uneven and frustrating experience. I enjoy the thing all the way through – even the lesser songs being fairly harmless in the larger composition of the tracks – but when it’s over, I’m only drawn back to it for the great cuts, not for the merely okay ones. The Mystery Of Time had its “Sleepwalking”, but that was one song. This is like the King Of Fools– or Superheroes-EP with too many tunes crammed on it to make it a full-length. I love Edguy and always will, but this is its Angel Of Babylon. You may not see it reflected in my rating, but when I give Edguy a score below four out of five, that’s like a two out of seven for any other band.
3.25 // 5