Germany's Edguy are really starting to create a path for themselves, and the new live release Burning Down the Opera is a testament to the hard work they have put in over the last 5 years. Playing a furious mix of power metal and prog-metal, Edguy combine influences from Iron Maiden, Helloween, Stratovarius, and Angra, for a classy and intelligent brand of stylistic metal. Comprised of 2 CD's, this new release covers 15 songs, all recorded on the Mandrake tour of 2001/2002, and to say that the live performances are outstanding is a severe understatement.
The band certainly can slay the audience with rapid-fire power metal anthems like "Fallen Angels", but when they slow things up a tad like on the furiously heavy and catchy "Tears of a Mandrake", or the brutal metal stomp of "The Pharaoh" (all 15-minutes of it!), that's when this band really shines. I mean, so many bands are doing the Stratovarius thing (check out the double bass drum/quick guitar riffs of "Babylon"), that its nice to hear a metal band do something different. Singer Tobias Sammet is one of the better frontmen in metal, and his Geoff Tate-meets-Bruce Dickinson vocals are the star attraction, performing at max capacity here in a live setting. Guitarists' Jens Ludwig and Dirk Sauer hit you with a barrage of heavy riffs, catchy solos, and intricate passages, while the rhythm team of bassist Tobias Exxel and drummer Felix Bohnke groove like men possessed. All members seem to be having a blast on the melodic "Painting on the Wall", with the audience singing along at the top of their lungs.
Other classics covered here include the symphonic "Vain Glory Opera" (one of this writer's favorite Edguy tunes), featuring an onslaught of heavy riffs and keyboards over which Tobias soars, "Save Us Now", the rampaging "Out of Control", and the sledgehammer metal of "How Many Miles." The band even plays two mellow tunes, the lovely acoustic sing-along "Inside" and the tender piano ballad "Land of the Miracle", as well as "Avantasia", the title track of the Tobias Sammet project.
The CD booklet is chock-full of tour photos, tour schedule, full lyrics, and essays, and is a real quility package. Add in great sound, killer performances, and you have one of the best live metal albums of the year.