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Edguy
Mandrake
October 2001
Released: 2001, AFM Records
Rating: 5.0/5
Reviewer: Michael De Los Muertos

It’s ironic, but perhaps not surprising, that the only album that can challenge AVANTASIA, THE METAL OPERA as best metal album of 2001 is another album mostly written and performed by the same guy: Tobias Sammet. Edguy’s MANDRAKE is that album, and the race for the top spot of ’01 just got a lot harder.



I won’t even bother describing Edguy, who they are, or what kind of metal they play. You already know all about them. What you want to know is this: is MANDRAKE the best Edguy album so far? While it’s a close call, I think the answer is yes. Just last month I reviewed the jaw-dropping THEATER OF SALVATION as a “Hidden Gem” review. If you want a solid sense of how good MANDRAKE is, read that review first, then come back to this one.



This is pure Edguy all the way. Like THEATER OF SALVATION, every track on this album is a winner. The first, “Tears of a Mandrake,” gallops along in the crystal-clear power metal fashion we’ve come to expect from Sammet et. al. “Golden Dawn” gets things going with some faster stuff, and the hits just keep on spinning, erupting geysers of sing-along choruses, double-bass beats, and all-around amazing metal. Edguy experiments with some different sounds here. Past albums have had their share of synth stuff and classical overtones, but MANDRAKE offers even more. However, I think the use of synth parts is more controlled and focused than on any previous Edguy album (the track “The Pharoah” presents good use of such parts, intermixed as they are with heavy guitar stuff). It’s hard to tell where the real fist-in-the-air triumph is on this album because the tracks are all so good. I could easily see “Fallen Angels” being a show-closer when (not “if” – WHEN!) Edguy headlines Wacken, but there are plenty of candidates to choose from here.



One of the proofs positive that Edguy is better than most (if not all) other power metal bands is that they pass with flying colors the most feared, hated and difficult test in metaldom: the ballad. “Wash Away The Poison” is emotional, even sentimental, without being sappy or “CHEESY” in even the slightest way. If anyone realizes how difficult that is for a metal band to pull off, the fact that Edguy does it well should make you want to buy this album! Here’s yet another piece of incontrovertible evidence to win over the most hard-hearted cynics out there: on this album Edguy sings a song about clowns, and the song is great. Clowns! I kid you not! And it kicks ass! Seriously! CLOWNS! Is it even legal – much less morally permissible – for a metal band to sing about clowns and get away with it?



MANDRAKE is a thundering triumph in every sense of the words. It may not quite approach the apotheosis that is AVANTASIA, but unless Manowar, Blind Guardian or Iron Maiden release albums in the next 90 days, I can pretty much guarantee you nothing else will come as close.

Next review: » Edguy - Mandrake
Previous review: » Edguy - King Of Fools E.P.

Edguy
Mandrake
October 2001
Released: 2001, AFM Records
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: CrashTest

I should start this review by admitting that this album was one of the year’s half dozen or so albums that I could hardly wait for. I mean, I’ve been itching to get my hands on this one for weeks. I’ve followed Edguy ever since the Kingdom of Madness days and at one point owned all of their releases. While I wouldn’t call myself a diehard fan of the band, I have recognized from the beginning that these guys have some talent and much potential. Hell, this band was making pretty technical power metal in their teens ... who wouldn’t admire that? My anticipation for this release was based on the growth the guys had shown on each new album, combined with the strength of Theater of Salvation and the sheer godliness of Avantasia.



Well, if it isn’t obvious from the rating I gave this album, my disappointment will be obvious from here on out. Following on the heels of the afore-mentioned albums, Mandrake is a bit of let-down. Yes, the album showcases the undeniable talents of the players, but it lacks real creative fire in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, there are some strong tracks like Tears of a Mandrake, All the Clowns and Painting on the Wall, but for every song that shows something new, such as the heaviness of Nailed to the Wheel, there is a cookie-cutter song like Golden Dawn or Save Us Now. It’s at moments like these that the band most sounds like just another Helloween clone, a label they have been trying to shake from the beginning. In fairness though, these guys have loads more talent than the other Hellowannabes and that’s what sets them apart. On a more positive note, I was glad to see that Edguy have matured lyrically since the last album.



In the end, this album leaves me wondering whether Tobias Sammet really had his heart into the project. It just feels like whatever inspiration he could have brought to the table is being held back for the next Avantasia album, whether intentionally or not I can’t say. The growth here is minimal, but the album is enjoyable and will probably bring the band new fans.



Offical website: http://www.edguy.nu/

Next review: » Edguy - Mandrake
Previous review: » Edguy - King Of Fools E.P.

Edguy
Mandrake
October 2001
Released: 2001, AFM Records
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Arto Lehtinen

The German power metal sensation Edguy processed Mandrake here in Finland at the famous Finnvox Studio where for example the domestic power metal bands like Nightwish and Stratovarius have managed to capture the magnificent sound qualities on their killer outputs. As far as I can remember Edguy’s predecessors were also carried out at Finnvox. Mandrake doesn’t bring any unexpected surprises for any listeners having gotten used to the earlier Edguy albums. Edguy follow the same paved path of the power metal genre by having all these traditional double bass drum and crystal clear vocals by the mastermind of the band Tobias Sammett. Basically, Mandrake is a typical Edguy album but even though Mandrake is a well produced power metal output and the sound quality and other manners have been done and carried perfectly, but occasionally I found the material boring in the long run due to the incredible 64 minute running time and the music itself ain’t that special that would bring them to the top ten with other power metal bands like Gamma Ray or Stratovarius. The band repeats all the same power metal clichés throughout the whole album, as stated above double drums, high and loud vocals. I wouldn’t like to crush the whole album, cos it definitely has a few great tunes anyway. As to the title of the album being the English expression for the German Alraune with the root of the poisonous solanum. The figure has the shape of a human being and the root has been considered magic since the ancient times. Tobias has managed to get a few very impressive visitors on the album for example Bob Rock and a few local guests Markus Schmidt and Ralf Zdiarstek. Power metal freaks will love this album…

Next review: » Edguy - Mandrake
Previous review: » Edguy - King Of Fools E.P.

Edguy
Mandrake
October 2001
Released: 2001, AFM Records
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: El Cid

Well I’ll be damned. I really thought no power metal album would come even close to Avantasia until Feb 2002 when Blind Guardian will release its new album and here come 5 Germans to change my mind. This album had very high expectations to fulfill since Tobias Sammet, the mastermind behind Avantasia, was working here too and it hasn’t fallen short of my hopes. I would go as far as to say that this is the absolute best EDGUY album to date (yes, even better that Theatre of Salvation).



It was quite easy at the beginning of EDGUY’s carreer, to assume that they would be a clone with flying dragons and legendary glory power metal. Well I would say that this is the very last chance you’ll have to realize that this is not even close to the truth, if you can’t see the brilliance of MANDRAKE you really must be DEAF! Doing a small rundown of the songs on this album I must say that it is not only brilliantly written but the songs are also very well ordered in the CD. The opener “Tears of a Mandrake” is by itself a mosaic of all the facets of power metal, it is a great album opener because it gets you in the mood immediately and just barely prepares you for what is to come. From here forth you’ll run across a multitude of double-bass based songs that all have a brilliance of their while maintain the flow of the album.



It is my opinion that the hardest thing for a metal band to do is between writing a long and majestic song and writing ballads, Blind Guardian for example master both these things, and this is what sets the great bands apart from the rest of the stock. Track number 6 on MANDRAKE is called “The Pharaoh” and it runs for 10 minutes of constant changes, it is extremely varied musically, that is proof enough that they have a matured a lot, but then you come across a classy ballad in “Wash away the Poison” and you have to acknowledge the fact that you’ve encountered one of the great bands of the new century.

Next review: » Edguy - Rocket Ride
Previous review: » Edguy - King Of Fools E.P.





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