Like most Power Metal bands these zany Germans probably deserve most of the criticisms levelled at them, but one thing was always sure when popping in an EDGUY disc: it will be fun – that virtue most Metal bands have seemingly forgotten about as the years roll by. It’s always been something I appreciated a lot about them, so I’m quite miffed by the fact that “Tinnitus Sanctus” sees the band in an uncharacteristically pensive mood.
Let me get one thing straight right away – “Tinnitus Sanctus” is not a bad album by any means, but when compared to its predecessors it comes off as an unnecessarily lumbering and po-faced affair, and one that finds the band practically purging themselves of any last remaining Power Metal, nay, Metal, elements once and for all. This is essentially an all-out Hard Rock/AOR affair, full of decent riffs and the always reliable vocals of Tobias Sammet, but one which is low on energy and any real stand-out moments. Not all is bad though - with the exception of three truly horrible tracks (“Wake Up Dreaming Black”, “Dead Or Rock” and the rockabilly abomination “Aren’t You A Little Pervert Too?”), the album is very solid in its own right, and the choruses to the crunchy opener “Ministry Of Saints”, the “Theatre Of Salvation”-esque “Pride Of Creation” and “Speedhoven” are really good. There’s not a whole lot of speed to be found here (I can’t really recall hearing even one double-bass part...) but the songs rock out nicely (albeit restrained in many instances), with Sammet delivering the lines in perfect fashion.
What they play isn’t the issue I have with this album, it’s how they play it. The frequent speedy flourishes, keyboard embellishments, and quirkiness of prior albums are all but gone, the band adopting a very straightforward and overly clinical approach to proceedings, something that robs this particular album of many of the facets that initially drew me to them. It simply doesn’t sound like they had fun recording this album and the general emphasis on mid-paced semi-ballads ensures that this album grows boring quickly.
“Tinnitus Sanctus” is perfectly serviceable when you’re listening to it but naming any specific stand-out moments afterwards could present a bit of a challenge. It’s simply too middle-of-the-road for its own good and all the solid choruses, vocals, and tight riffing fail to make up for its worrying lack of vibrancy. It may all be chalked down to the possibility that AVANTASIA’s recent album caused this album to be a bit of a rush job, but one thing is sure – Sammet and co. need to rediscover the flame, and soon.
(Online December 22, 2008)