The five youngsters from German Fulda really get more and more uncanny. After getting better and better from album to album and even hitting the charts with their last two efforts, Tobi Sammet topped things off with the brilliant AVANTASIA-album, most probably the best Power Metal of German origin for years. So the expectations were damn high for the fifth EDGUY-album "Mandrake" and what should I say, they managed to get even better than "Theatre Of Salvation"!
Who had thought at the beginning of their career that EDGUY would be just yet another band surfacing after the success of HAMMERFALL, well "Mandrake" is your very last chance to finally admit that this band is among the best that this genre ever has seen, the song-writing without exception is excellent to brilliant, varied as hell, the arrangements leave nothing to be desired, the songs all are super-catchy, but never even remotely flat, quite the contrary!
Just take the opener "Tears Of A Mandrake" alone. It contains all facets of the genre, multi-layered and varied, with a brilliant arrangement, igniting at first listen, but still developing from listen to listen, that is how Power Metal anno 2001 has to sound! But after that they still deal out highlight after highlight, speedy double-bass-crackers like "Golden Dawn" or "Fallen Angels", the super-catchy "All The Clowns" and "Painting On The Wall", "Nailed To The Wheel", that starts out relatively calm, but then, when finally unleashed, turns into one of the heaviest EDGUY-songs ever, and the equally great ballad "Wash Away The Poison"...
Besides the opener I still have to especially mention three other songs, "Jerusalem", so majestic, almost putting you into a time long past, with a great arrangement, then the straight "Save Us Now", which's pre-chorus I couldn't get out of my head for days and finally, of course, the monumental epos "The Pharaoh", more than ten minutes long, immensely varied, lyrically as well as musically very widely arranged, maybe the best that EDGUY ever have created, respect!!
So why do I still regard the AVANTASIA-album as one slight little notch better than "Mandrake"? Because of the incredible agenda of vocalists, but still, who likes heavy, melodic and varied music just cannot pass by "Mandrake", no contradiction!! Oh, and "only" 9,5 points, because I need some space for the next album!