Edguy – Tinnitus Sanctus
If Rocket Ride wasn’t already enough of a plain statement that Edguy wasn’t going to care about anyone’s expectations anymore, then Tinnitus Sanctus definitely sealed the deal. Not that their eight album is a logical continuation from the seventh, but it is even more individualistic and hard to categorize than its predecessor. If anything, the power metal influences are even more absent here, and there is little of the jolliness that pervaded Rocket Ride, but rather more of an introspective touch. Of course, not without the occasional comedic beat.
Take opener “Ministry Of Saints”: as atypical a starting shot as Edguy has ever come up with. A groovy mid-tempo hard rock anthem lacking any sort of melodic fury despite boasting a chorus for the ages. With “Sex Fire Religion”, the metal slips even further away and we are close to obscene stadium rock, if that is a thing. The stylistic changes bring out the best in Tobias Sammet’s voice and I daresay this album features one of his finest vocal performances to date. Fans of the first hour can breathe easily when “The Pride Of Creation” kicks in, proving that Edguy can still write a Queen-ish power metal song à la “Judas At The Opera”. This time, Toby is mocking not the press but the idea of creationism and the wonderful creature known as the aardvark.
Yet, “Nine Lives” snaps you out of the illusion power metal is coming back and is once again a mid-tempo stomper now dealing with heartbreak in a “Catch Of The Century”-fashion. “Your head in my crotch has turned to a boot” has to be one of the less subtle but more apt descriptions of how a break-up feels like, and the lyrics are further miraculously poignant and uplifting. More traditional is the lead melody of “Wake Up Dreaming Black” and with its angelic imagery it couldn’t be anything but an Edguy-tune. Still it’s a far cry from “Theater Of Salvation” and any naïve hopes of former glory are crushed once again with the fish-out-of-water “Dragonfly”. The refrain has all the bombast and choirs you can expect from your power metal, but the verses are bluesy and esoteric, making for an odd but satisfying blend of genres. Balladry sweeter than sugar arrives with “Thorn Without A Rose”, a touching moment of quiet before the album’s final rocking stage.
“9-2-9” is an emotional rock ‘n’ rollercoaster into nostalgia and I wonder if Sammet has ever let us peek this deep inside his soul. From clown to poet, who would’ve guessed? But then the outstanding epic “Speedhoven” tramples the moment, rehashes some themes from “Judas At The Opera” and could be seen as the album’s manifest of independence from prejudice. “Dead Or Rock” is one of those live sing-along songs like “Lavatory Love Machine” destined for the stage and “Aren’t You A Little Pervert Too?” is the unsurprising crass closing comedy track, country style.
Thematically, this album is more diffuse, a trend that would continue on Age Of The Joker. I like to think I’ve had a pretty good grasp on the underlying meaning of Sammet’s lyricism so far, but matters get much harder when the songs are no longer adhering to a unifying idea like individualism and are more written from personal experience or – to use a horrifying cliché – the heart. I know “Dragonfly” is about drug abuse, for example, but only from press releases and such and to some of the songs (notably “Sex Fire Religion” and “Wake Up Dreaming Black”) I can still only make vague assumptions. My guess is as good as yours and I’m sure this album is open for a wild variety of interpretations. Sometimes that’s even better than when the message is overtly clear, even though that sounds like a lazy conclusion on my account. Take from that what you want.
Above all, Tinnitus Sanctus is ambitious. As a songwriter always trying to evolve, it should come to no one’s surprise anymore that Sammet made something that sounds like nothing Edguy has ever done before and still very much like Edguy. Paradoxical as that may seem, it makes sense when you look at the greater picture starting with Hellfire Club, where Sammet began to mix up his power metal with heavy metal and hard rock to come to the point where one is indistinguishable from the other, with the exception of a few tracks. It’s not a perfect combo: it sure as hell alienated a lot of their fans and the balance would be improved on Age Of The Joker. But at the end of the day, Tinnitus Sanctus is a bold step forward for a band refusing to be labeled forever as “that German power metal band with the jesters”. If you are like me and you like your music innovative and challenging, you might appreciate this for the splendid genre experiment it is. If you are not, well, there are still enough catchy choruses on here to liven up your showers.
This concludes my Edguy-rewind, since I reviewed Age Of The Joker last summer. I hope you enjoyed these reviews and if Sammet ever gets his ass back in the studio I’ll be here to cover the results, provided I’m alive. Next up is Avantasia, so there is more crazy German stuff where this came from. For now, I leave you with my last “best silly joke”-award.
Best silly joke: The lyrics to “Aren’t You A Little Pervert Too?” are a golden shower of sexual innuendo, but my preference goes to “You’re the socket for the rocket in my pocket”, because it shows a skill of raucousness and rhyme unmatched in modern power metal. Or you’d have to count Dreamtale’s wildly inappropriate “Secret Door”. Yikes.
Arno Callens’ Rating: 4.25 out of 5
Rocket Ride (2006)
Age Of The Joker (2011)