God bless EDGUY. Not everyone buys into what they offer with their strict dedication to melodic power metal and sci-fi/comic book themes, but they've always stuck to their guns and they're almost always entertaining. Following 2011's "Age of the Joker", EDGUY trails their own scripts, heavies up in some spots and delivers a fun ride (minus a throwaway cover of FALCO's "Rock Me Amadeus") for their tenth studio album, "Space Police – Defenders of the Crown".
To quote the band themselves in advance press for the new album, "Not giving a shit and getting away with it: THAT is metal!" Take it as you will, but EDGUY aren't changing for anyone and if you're already a fan, there's no reason you won't take to "Space Police – Defenders of the Crown". It's often silly, occasionally over-the-top, but hey, that's EDGUY for you. Their diehards would feel cheated otherwise.
It's been since 2000 when we've last had a "Heavy Metal" animated movie, but every album EDGUY has done since seems like their audition to score a potential third installment. "Space Police – Defenders of the Crown" feels like it should be its own animated space romp in title and in sound, though where we'd have room for a Taarakian avenger within "Space Police"'s twisted microcosm remains to be seen. Someone get a hold of Julie Strain's agent and put her on standby.
Just about every metal band pushing new product is going to declare their current work as their heaviest, and EDGUY is no different. While hardly up to "Theater of Salvation" in the heaviness department, there is a bit of a push on this album to beef up while retaining their harmonious keys, circular rhythms, uplifted hooks and charismatic vocals from Tobias Sammet. Always remember this is EDGUY, however. While the opening number "Sabre and Torche" boasts some of the meatiest riffs and trippiest synths in their arsenal, expect some nuttiness to dictate as the album progresses.
Moving past their faithful but pointless cover of "Rock Me Amadeus", EDGUY offers the insanely catchy "Do Me Like a Caveman" and some hilarious amplified kitty purring to open the pop rock mocks of "Love Tyger". Before all that, however, you'll hear Tobias Sammet dish up some ultra-weird vocal shakes before the final stanza of "Space Police", a song that's goofy in theme and goofier in delivery, but nonetheless pleasurable. "Space Police" has some gnarly chugging riffs from Jens Ludwig and Dirk Sauer that breathe action into the album's titular galaxy enforcers, while the random appearances of equally nutty lunar synths hoists the track straight back to the intergalactic-obsessed late Seventies.
Keeping "Defenders of the Crown" relegated strictly to the Eighties, from which EDGUY lives vicariously, their stepped-up marches on the heels of Felix Bohnke's double kicks and Tobias "Eggi" Exxel's panting bass lines lead to glory-filled choruses and a crazy call and refrain segment between Tobias Sammet and a mostly-baritone choral section. Both "Defenders of the Crown" and "Space Police" turn to the Yngwie Malmsteen school of neoclassical metal without drowning them in arpeggios. The solo of "Defenders of the Crown" gets in and gets out, opting to let the song's substantial rolls speak on its behalf. Later, "The Realms of Baba Yaga" takes a hard ride with gusty strums, galloping bass drums and soaring choruses. All the ingredients for the perfect heavy metal jam, "The Realms of Baba Yaga" is a genuine ass-kicker.
Wrapping the album with an 8:49 SCORPIONS-meets-ZEPPELIN-meets-WHITESNAKE ballad, "The Eternal Wayfayer", "Space Police – Defenders of the Crown" concludes with this vocal-layered happy pill, always reminding that a mounting epic ballad as a finale is never out-of-fashion, especially in EDGUY's world. That world may be often tongue-in-cheek, and it's not always obvious when they're having a rip or simply ripping away for the sake of heavy metal purity. At least EDGUY does whatever the hell they want on "Space Police – Defenders of the Crown" and they sell it, alienating only perhaps their figurative interplanetary cops in the process.