Album Review: Edguy – “Space Police: Defenders Of The Crown”
How do you pen a 21st century metal masterpiece? According to Edguy singer, songwriter and Iron Maiden fanboy Tobias Sammet, “You throw in a lot of Metal, heavy guitars, fast drums, catchy melodies, an Austrian Falco cover version, some flamboyant Glam elements, write 9-minute Zeppelinesque epics about the immortality of the soul and then muse over the love-drive of cave-people, you stir it up, record it and put an Evel-Knievel-hotshot-Space-Cop on the cover. Et voilà!”
I’m not usually one to cut and paste from a press release, but that’s quite a mission brief. Whether you fall for the charms of Germany’s “most different” will depend largely on how far you embrace the zanier elements Tobias and company apply to a traditional heavy metal blueprint.
In truth there are two competing faces of Edguy on show here. For arguments sake we’ll draw the dividing line as before and after the band signed to Nuclear Blast in 2004. Metal aficionados will favour the early incarnation of Edguy, the power metal act, all fire and brimstone, Slavic symphony, heavy and aggressive. The latter day, more sugar-coated mass market product favours the machismo and showmanship of pop-metal, albeit with Spinal Tap humour. At times, Tobias’s tongue is shoved so far in cheek, he’s basically a one-man human centipede.
Space Police: Defenders Of The Crown attempts to maintain a foot in each camp, and therefore provides a good summary of the band’s 22 year long career to date. The golden ticket arrives when Edguy marries these dual identities together with good, honest, hard rock. Do Me Like a Caveman may sound like a cock-rock staple, but a simple somber keyboard line helps elevates it into something more spirited. Similarly, Space Police, the first of two title tracks, couples kooky lyrics to anthemic metal overdrive. The “bird’s eye view of the universe” lyric is appropriately expressed by a soaring supernova sized chorus.
If you pick up this record, and you really should, be sure to grab the double CD edition. Hidden on the second disc are some fabulous eccentricities. If Defenders Of The Crown subtly positioned Edguy’s claim as standard-bearers for the finest traditions of British heavy metal, then England is a hilarious drunken toast, an epic piano-led ballad overflowing with references to this green and pleasant land. Def Leppard are given equal billing to Shakespeare, there’s name-checks for Birmingham New Street, Magnum’s Bob Catley, Mr Bean and even a spin on Basil Fawlty’s most famous one liner. The world’s truly gone topsy-turvy when a German football fan is advising us “Penalty shoot-outs were always overrated”.
Perhaps in the past the band have felt a little undervalued on these shores, never truly worshipped or even recognised by the likes of Classic Rock. It’s time that changed. Space Police: Defenders Of The Crown is a gem of heavy metal, hard rock, symphony, singalong choruses and beer swigging majesty.