Edguy has always been a power metal band that I have had tremendous amount of respect for. They've been able to stay squarely within the confines that define said genre, but have always done it in such a way that was more unique than the straightforward double-time bass drum patterns and cliche falsetto vocals, bringing a sense of catchiness and attitude to an oft-flamboyant style. Tobias Sammet has had some of the most talented pipes in metal of recent years, largely eschewing the archetypical bravado of many of his contemporaries for a more varied, hard rock-inspired confidence to his delivery.
Yet, as with most good things, they must come to an end at some point. There seems to be a trend going on right now with European power metal-based bands to streamline their sound, presumably for easier consumption by American audiences who have been turned on to a supposedly "new" form of heavy metal thanks, at least in part, to the surprise success of Dragonforce. One need not look further than the latest offerings from Pagan's Mind, Nocturnal Rites, Human Fortress, and Sonata Arctica to see the dumbing-down of a genre that once prided itself on superior song craftsmanship and chops in an effort to become "heavier." Like many other artists who I thought could never do any wrong, Edguy has fully succumbed, like many others of their ilk, to commercialism.
If one looks back, the progression towards this sound has been coming for some time. Though one of my favorite Edguy albums, Hellfire Club saw stylistic departure from previously epic records like Theater of Salvation and Mandrake, with a somewhat more carefree approach, though it was still undeniably power metal. Their previous release, Rocket Ride, fully cemented a decidedly more 80's hard rock approach to their music, adding more techno-sounding synth effects, lyrical content that the "average guy" could relate to, and less emphasis on the riff. The songwriting on Rocket Ride was at least largely catchy and somewhat interesting, even if it was not purely the power metal sound the band had made their trademark. Tinnitus Sanctus follows even further in its predecessor's footsteps, and reflects many of the stylistic decisions Tobias had decided upon while creating the latest Avantasia record as well.
This record has few redeeming qualities to it. The songs are played competently enough, but are little more than arena rock anthems trying to emulate the formula and success of 80's glam and pop metal acts. Power metal or not, it would be one thing if the songs were instantly classic like the timeless acts, such as The Scorpions, they seem to be trying to emulate here, but as it stands, they are flat out boring, lacking any kind of real fire at all. The choruses have their moments that will leave a few of them stuck in your head, but the rest of the surrounding song is by-and-large little more than a vehicle to get to the chorus. Even when the band tries to get heavier in the vein of previous songs like "Nailed to the Wheel," they simply end up sounding like a poor imitation of Black Label Society (see opening riff on "Ministry of Saints"). The pentatonic, blues-based riffs and solos may work for other hard rock acts, but not for a band that has such an epic delivery as Edguy.
There is of course the now-obligatory goofy song (or three). While the tongue-and-cheek "Lavatory Love Machine" on Hellfire Club was both amusing and a catchy song in its own right, and even the music-industry-mocking "Life and Times of a Bonus Track" was worth it for the initial listen, we are given a gem titled "Aren't You a Little Pervert Too!?" Little more than a pseduo-live, boogey shuffle trying to emulate the laid back swagger of some American southern rock band, this song is a complete throw away.
Despite its cover art that would have the listener believe it harks back to the epic delivery of past efforts, Tinnitus Sanctus is anything but. The shallow lyrics and simple, hard rock arrangements are an obvious attempt to cash in on what Eguy must think the American audience wants to hear, or at the very least, what will pad their sales figures. If you're looking for quality, melodic power metal, skip the generic hard rock affair that is Tinnitus Sanctus.