Impressively, this album was only written in March/April 2011, which is a fantastic turnaround by any standards these days. Edguy are a band that don’t fuck around. Well, they do. But they don’t. If you see what I mean. Anyway. Age Of The Joker is the ninth full length effort and many people would love to see a return to the former power metal glory days of Mandrake and Theater of Salvation.

To be quite honest, it’s not far off. There’s a huge Avantasia sound running through the album, the choruses in particular. The opener and first single Robin Hood brings the bombastic choirs in force, but as a mid tempo opener it does fall slightly flat. It’s only when Nobody’s Hero kicks in that it’s clear Edguy are back and are finished with the (albeit successful) rock phase of the late 2000’s. The raging rhythm riffing (oooh, alliteration) takes you right back to some of the very early Edguy records. Rock Of Cashel could’ve been lifted straight off Mandrake with a soaring lead line and the ever-favourite clunky bass verse before a big shout out chorus with the hooks that made us fall in love with the band in the first place.

Pandora’s Box for some reason decides to throw us down a country interlude, and this where Age Of The Joker falls down. As far as over indulgence goes, it takes the piss and then some. Thankfully, it’s swiftly made up by Breathe and Two Out Of Seven, the latter having the best Van Halen-esque keyboards this side of a lawsuit and a mind bogglingly juvenile ending.

The Arcane Guild brings things back to a familiar power metal madness, although by this point it’s clear that the previous gang vocals have been replaced with the ladies of Avantasia (Amanda Somerville and Cloudy Yang) and to be fair, work excellently on the ethereal pseudo-prog of Faces In The Darkness.

Age Of The Joker would be getting a higher score if Pandora’s Box and Behind The Gates To Midnight World weren’t on here (and to some extent, Robin Hood), as they both drag down the album’s overall quality. Despite that,  the magnificent power ballad closer Every Night Without You tops off what is essentially a damn fine power metal record with one or two blemishes. Age Of The Joker is like all Edguy recordings, poisonously hook ridden and damn good fun.

7/10

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