After completing his side project Avantasia's ambitious Wicked Trilogy, Tobias Sammet returns to his main role as frontman of German power metal outfit Edguy for their ninth studio album, Age of the Joker. As its title and front cover (featuring a rather sinister court jester) suggest, his extracurricular rock opera activities haven't resulted in any delusions of grandeur, with the humorous theatrics of eight-minute Iron Maiden-esque opener "Robin Hood" and the medieval jig middle-eight on the chugging glam rock of "Rock of Cashel" proving that the bandmembers still don't take themselves too seriously. It's a good thing too, as it's pretty hard for anyone to keep a straight face on the overblown flamenco-tinged power ballad "Every Night Without You" and the poppy Eurovision leanings of "Two Out of Seven," both of which could have been lifted from a Spinal Tap record. But while these unashamedly corny offerings are likely to leave most metalheads reaching for the sick bucket, there are still a few traces of the heavier sound they pursued on their late-'90s efforts, whether it's the grungy basslines and Led Zeppelin-inspired riffs of "Faces in the Darkness," the '70s-style fusion of Hammond organs and frenetic rhythms of "The Arcane Guild," or the crunching epic metal of "Behind the Gates to Midnight World," even if most of these tracks eventually succumb to the usual glossy poodle-haired rock choruses. Age of the Joker makes little concession to anything remotely close to the 21st century, but it's difficult to dislike a record that both wears its retro intentions so boldly on its sleeve and displays a sense of humor that's lacking in many of their fellow over-earnest hair metal revivalists.
AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien