In a genre filled with tales of dragons and fey beings, Edguy have really had to pull out all the stops to gain their reputation of being even less serious than their contemporaries. Age Of The Joker combines power metal with a hard rock swagger, but it has neither the charisma nor the pure melodic strength to effectively pull this off.
My main problem with Age Of The Joker is that it is absolutely saturated with generally uninspired power ballads – pretty much the Jagerbombs of power metal. If you have one or two they’re a bit too sweet, but you still end up having a good time. When you have eight of them, you start to feel a little sick. There are a couple of really good ones though; ‘Fire On The Downline’ is pretty catchy, and gives Tobias Sammet a chance to show off his seriously good voice. However, there is nothing on the level of ‘Dragonfly’ from the band’s previous album or live favourite ‘Superheroes’. The great bulk of mid-tempo tracks make the album seem to limp along at times: ‘Rock of Cashel’ starts well, but it outstays its welcome, and ‘Two Out Of Seven’ doesn’t even manage this – it just drags itself slowly along, and has one of the least lively choruses I’ve heard in a long time.
The faster songs give a chance for the band to show off the endless energy that their live shows are famed for, and as a result they come off much better; ‘Nobody’s Hero’ has a serious amount of power behind it, meaning that it just eclipses most of the slower songs. It’s a massive shame that there isn’t much more like it on the album.
In general I’ve been pretty negative, but Age Of The Joker is definitely not a complete failure. Tobias still has a fantastic set of pipes on him and the music is fine, but it just isn’t what I was hoping for. Maybe it’s a matter of the band getting older and their musical tastes mellowing before mine do, but the liveliness and genuine fun that attracted me to Tinnitus Sanctus and their live performance just seem to be missing, replaced with plodding guitars and sub-Mel Brooks one-liners.