Lately, it seems like the genre called progressive power metal has really gotten stale, with many bands vying to see who can stand out from the pack. Germany's Edguy has for a few years been one of those bands that seems ready to take their place in the upper tier of prog-metal bands. Judging by this strong new release I think that time is now.
While Edguy are not the most original band on the planet (they owe a great deal to bands like Helloween, Iron Maiden, and Angra) they consistently churn out well written, expertly played, and sharply produced product. Bandleader, singer-songwriter, keyboard player Tobias Sammet has a voice that just gets better with each release. I find his style somewhere in between Bruce Dickinson and Michael Kiske, with a little Geoff Tate thrown in for good measure. If you are not familiar with Edguy, you can expect a ferocious twin guitar attack, lots of double bass drums, symphonic keyboards, and tons of melodic hooks. It's really these hooks that make this band in my opinion. Checking out songs like "Wash Away the Poison" and "The Devil and the Savant" I was left singing along after only two listens. One of the heaviest tunes I have ever heard from the band, titled "Nailed to the Wheel" is included here, and is a total 80's headbanger featuring crunchy guitars and anthem-like vocals.
With Mandrake, Edguy is poised to be on par with bands such as Symphony X, Stratovarius, Iced Earth, Rhapsody, and Blind Guardian. One could easily call this the bands crowning achievement, and one of the years best prog-metal albums as well.