Edguy must really be said to be immediately impressive and no matter if they move you or not their high quality metal prowess is something that's very hard, not to say impossible, to dispute. The band has really grown and matured away from their original "just another Helloween clone" status and each album previous to this new Rocket Ride threw out something old and introduced something new.
Their music is nowadays more a hybrid of the better elements from power metal, heavy metal and plain melodic hard rock. And this development continues here on Rocket Ride that even further sidesteps the power metal approach and bombastic double bass drums songs with instead a much more concentrated AOR/hard rock side in focus. The agressivness and heavier sound from the previous Hellfire Club has been allowed to stay on board though and you can still of course recognize Tobias Sammet being the brainchild behind the compositions but otherwise this album is really different, but not totally radically changed, in comparison to what the band usually delivers.
The particularly epic natured Sacrifice has been set as the album opener, morphed to fit different tempos during the eight minute duration of the song. It reminds a whole lot of Tears of a Mandrake and with the heavy crunchy riffing, great orchestrations, piano passages and anthemic melodies, it's truly a grand composition that signals that a good continuation is to follow. Starting up with a very Van Halen-esque riff the title track then showcases that Edguy still know how to punch out a great fast power metal song, but this time with a very strong eighties flare.
Wasted Time takes us down the mid tempo lanes with some hard rock oriented riffing and traditional elements in a Scorpions inspired package. Matrix meets Rammstein and Edguy in the melting pot and presents a futuristic groove and a catchy sing along chorus while the untiring Helloween/Euro Power Metal connoisseur then gets more than a mouthful on Return to the Tribe and Catch of the Century. Good lead harmonies and traditional soaring vocals by Sammet mark some more typical Edguy faster anthems.
The Asylum is the second epic of the release, again churned out in the mid tempo and groovy rhythmic fashion. A bit different song coming from the Edguy campsite with some tendenices of Dio mysticism. The presence of the mandatory cheesy ballad Save Me in the Bon Jovi concept is luckily compensated by the aggressive attitude of Out of Vogue's quite infectious overall drive and lush keyboard settings. The title track of the EP, Superheroes, is once again a hard rock founded number that together with Save Me are mostly qualified as succesful commercial radio hits.
And there we also have the brilliant production of Sascha Paeth. That man just can't fail! This time he even built another studio right next to his old one and from now on it seems all his productions will also be mixed and mastered on his own grounds in this studio number two. Edguy's Rocket Ride became the first product of that concept and as a result therefore got the best sonical output so far in the band's now seven album long catalogue.
And now when almost a year has past since this album was fresh and new though, I must admit that originally it really blew me away but when this initial shock and awe now has settled I really have to reconsider and repent those sins a little. On the downside here the otherwise so brilliant guitar duo Sauer and Ludwig are performing in quite pale fashion and the amount of brilliant solos and mind blowing finger fretting are surprisingly few.
Tobias Sammet's vocal delivery has also seen better days even though he of course is far from bad, and the same fate meets the hearty menu of versatilitiy among the track material. These new ideas of a more hard rock inspired flag waving and such inspiration gathered from bands like Magnum, Kiss, Sciorpions and Def Leppard surely introduces a wider song spectrum and more diverse formula but I just have the opinion that the band could have made a much larger inprint and pushed the envelope even further with these musical ideas they brought to life.
Since it therefore feels that the band still by far haven't tapped the vastness of their potential I'm quite surprised that the highlights and glimmers of hope marking another true masterpiece are so few. Some tracks are even dangerously close to the filler boundaries and that's something not even an outstanding production and a world wide renommé can save.
So to conclude I just can't go as far as calling Rocket Ride neither breathtaking or essential and certainly not better than Hellfire Club's pure magic for that matter. Nevertheless, Edguy are still competent and continue to deliver the albums only great bands are capable of despite that it was only "good" this time. Doubtlessly they will return with more vibrant and clinically precise material on coming releases.