25 years of EDGUY – a silver anniversary that demands celebration! This doesn’t mean that the ultra-fashionable Tobias Sammet will be sorting through his wardrobe of stage gear on this occasion. No, it means something else – something much better: This autumn, Sammet and original members Dirk Sauer (guitar) and guitarist Jens Ludwig (guitar), as well as his groovy rhythm section of more than 20 years, Tobias Exxel (bass) and Felix Bohnke (drums), will present their greatest hits on the The Best Of The Best tour. As a prelude to this, the upcoming double CD/DVD package Monuments will be released on July 14th, 2017. It will feature not only 22 carefully selected highlights from the band’s catalog, ut also five (!) brand-new tracks, which showcase EDGUY at their best! The collection will be completed by the previously unreleased ‘Reborn In The Waste’, which dates back to 1995 as part of the Savage Poetry recordings.
Not only that but EDGUY will come alive in your house as Monuments also includes a DVD, which contains a complete concert filmed in Sao Paulo on the legendary Hellfire Club tour from 2004 as well as all the German quintet’s promo videos. The limited edition will further include an extensive coffee-table book containing material covering the entire history of EDGUY! These 160 pages show countless unpublished photos from the private archive of the band members and their friends. Frontman Tobias Sammet explains: „Whilst collecting all of this picture material together we were once again made aware of how proud we are of what we have created. There are probably not many musicians who are lucky enough to be able to look back on a 25-year-old band history at the end of their thirties. And especially without any line-up changes in the last 20 years! This is even more incredible considering that we’re not from Birmingham, New York or a German metropolis but from a small town called Fulda, a place where you normally only know about the insights of the music business by hearsay. I mean, as kids we started to play EDGUY shows even before we had visited concerts as fans ourselves! Then we started to play shows outside our home town, then outside Germany and all of a sudden we found ourselves touring in Asia, America, and Australia on a regular basis because apparently there were people who liked our music. And they became more and more. For us, this always felt quite normal, the next step was all that mattered. We didn’t think about what happened while things were happening…”
But if you look back now, you realise how lucky we were! It’s now time to celebrate our anniversary with our fans. We’ll celebrate our quarter century with the release of Monuments and LIVE in some selected cities! We’ll perform a best-of set list, a journey throughout our past, with a lot of fuss and at full throttle! The first quarter century is over and we want to honour these years with our fans! To the next 25 years!”
The story began in February 1992, when four students from Fulda formed a band. Fuelled by an abundance of teenage passion, the quartet of 14-year olds (Tobias Sammet, Jens Ludwig, Dirk Sauer, and drummer Dominik Storch) named their band after their physics teacher’s nickname – EDGUY was born! They first started by playing songs by BON JOVI, AC/DC or KISS but recorded their first demo cassettes with their own songs only two years later. In 1995, they recorded their debut album Savage Poetry at their own expense, which ultimately led to the long-awaited record deal. On Kingdom Of Madness (1997) you can already feel a clear progression and convinced a veteran of the German metal scene, GRAVE DIGGER frontman Chris Boltendahl, to make a guest appearance on the epic ›The Kingdom‹.
Although at this time the traditional heavy metal was deemed to be dead by many media, the EDGUY members risked everything. Besides civilian service and half-hearted studies (where Sammet visited the canteen more often than his lectures), the musicians invested everything into the band. “When you’re young you have the big advantage of being in a positive way naive enough to fight for your dream,” Sammet reflects. After the release of Vain Glory Opera in 1998, it was clear that the effort was all worth it. With the title song, in which BLIND GUARDIAN’s Hansi Kürsch guests, EDGUY created their first classic. Today, this track is still played at nearly every show the band performs! Throughout these recordings, Sammet had also contributed the bass lines beside his vocals. After that, Tobias Exxel and drummer Felix Bohnke, who replaced Storch, joined the band and EDGUY got a new rhythm section. This line-up, which has never changed since celebrated its birth on a European tour with IRON SAVIOR and debuted at the Wacken Open Air. The five musicians didn’t have a spacious touring bus – they drove across the continent in a caravan. “You could not even play cards at the same time while someone else slept,” recalls Sammet. “The table has yet to be converted to the bed.”
With »Theater Of Salvation, EDGUY hit the German album charts in 1999 and gained more fans on a European tour with HAMMERFALL. As Tobias Sammet was working on his first AVANTASIA release, EDGUY released a new recording of The Savage Poetry, before achieving a new level of success in 2001 with the groundbreaking »Mandrake. As a headliner, the quintet traveled around the world, appearing in Japan, Brazil, Mexico, USA and Australia, slowly escaping the label of being just a “promising newcomer”. But with the rising success, so did the number critics. Most of them made fun of Sammet’s appearance on stage and his outfits, but all of them left him unimpressed. “Bon Scott, Blackie Lawless, or Dee Snider were my idols. I always wanted to be like them – to not have a boss who snubs you at work in the morning but to make Rock’n’Roll, go on stage, entertain people, and do whatever you want to do. And suddenly I had to deal with people who would like to determine a dress code for heavy metal concerts. I could not understand those people at all. In my opinion, Rock’n’Roll and metal stand for freedom. You do not have to be conspicuous at any price, but you should also not be afraid of it”.
After signing to Nuclear Blast, the band’s career sped up. The »King Of Fools« EP and the »Hellfire Club« album set new standards in 2004. For four songs, EDGUY worked together with the renowned film orchestra from Babelsberg. But one does not, as Sammet explains, “take off your shoes, make yourself a ponytail and bravely ask whether you can play with the big ones.” For Sammet, it is important that the classical musicians can enrich their metal record, rather than compose a “great symphony”. Once again EDGUY traveled around the world and completed an extensive US tour. But there’s no sweet without sweat: Already in autumn 2005, the band released their Superheroes EP, shortly afterward followed by the next long player Rocket Ride. But as Sammet explains, this was no stress at all for the band: “We don’t do anything else than relaxing and playing a few hundred concerts every now and then. Other musicians have to go to the factory every day and have to take their annual vacation to be able to go to the studio and to play a few shows. That’s why we will never beef to not have the time to write new songs.” The band recorded their new material under the watchful eyes of producer Sascha Paeth. The organic live feeling made the record rock harder and their typical humor can be found in tracks such as ‘Superheroes’, ‘Fucking With Fire (Hairforce One)’ and ‘Trinidad’. Besides a South American tour, their first gig in Beijing is one of the highlights of the successful career of the band, who have long since become kind of global cultural ambassadors. EDGUY also deliver in front of huge amounts of people, as they not only prove at several summer festivals but also as support to the SCORPIONS and AEROSMITH.
Although Sammet is currently concentrating more and more on AVANTASIA, bringing the former studio project back on stage, again and again, EDGUY release Tinnitus Sanctus in 2008. With »Age Of The Joker« from 2011, which was once again more heavy and progressive, EDGUY offers a noticeable contrast. Thanks to the Hammond organ sound and analog equipment this album sounded “retro” before the trend had ever started, and also showed its humor with the video clip for ‘Robin Hood’, in which metalheads in tights and cult comedian Bernhard Hoëcker as Lady Marian provided the hilarity. The normally partisan audience of hard rock legends DEEP PURPLE were also won over by the band’s cheeky stage banter and the Irish influenced track ‘Rock Of Cashel’.
In 2014, EDGUY finally released their tenth studio album entitled Space Police – Defenders Of The Crown. “I think that we present ourselves on this record just as EDGUY should be. This is a tribute to our past as well as to our future. Songs such as ‘Space Police’, ‘Sabre & Torch’, or ‘Defenders Of The Crown’ have the fire and the heaviness of our old stuff, but at the same time they are much more mangy, contemporary and adult.” The cover of ‘Rock Me Amadeus’ from Falco was no surprise at all as Sammet is a huge fan of this exceptional Viennese artist. Same with the motorcycle effects of an Evel Knievel in ‘Love Tyger’. The front man summarizes the work ethic of the band: “We can always say with clear conscience that we have delivered the best that we could afford. And the people feel it and honor it. If you betray yourself as a musician in not giving everything, you will also betray your fans.”
Not only thanks to this attitude, the band has built a huge and loyal fan base all over the world. In the 25 years that EDGUY have been in business, they have formed their own, immediately recognizable style without letting themselves get stuck in a rigid pattern. They have played countless concerts in over 40 countries and stormed the charts with their albums. The Germans have achieved a lot and still plan more – but first, they are going to celebrate their jubilee with Monuments and the accompanying tour!
BLACK STAR RIDERS – HEAVY FIRE
Release: Feb 03, 2017
℗ 2017 Nuclear Blast Entertainment
I can feel it. Much like the feeling one experiences pre-show when a wall of Marshall amps are being wound up to ten and the hair stands up on the back of your neck. I can somehow sense it as I open the third album from Black Star Riders. Could it possibly be true? The first album review of the year and already a contender for 2017’s finest?
Perhaps this feeling is simply the result of personal eager anticipation. We have, after all, already experienced the sensational first album from Black Star Riders in All Hell Breaks Loose, proving that none of the bands heritage had been shed in the name of a new existence. That the groups strengths were intact and nothing had been lost to time. The Killer Instinct provided proof that the former was no coincidence and this is not Thin Lizzy, but none of the appeal of that heritage had been left to the annals of musical history. Or was it’s just me? Perhaps all my self-inflicted and repeated exposure to the first two albums has caused an unnecessary and unjustifiable excitement and it is a mistake to attempt an impartial review. No. After a little time taken to consider and tease myself with repeated nudging of the Play button, I am convinced that a band capable of producing this much excitement with their collective experience, knowledge, and commitment to a cause are deserving of unbridled glee at the other end. We are talking about Ricky Warwick, Scott Gorham, Damon Johnson, Jimmy DeGrasso and Robbie Crane. We are also listening to the second collaboration with producer Nick Raskulinecz and considering his body of work, what could possibly go wrong. Well, nothing. And am I listening to a 2017 years’ finest contender? Well, in a word…Yes! This is something very special indeed. Black Star Riders take things to a whole new level of sensational. This is heavy rock at its finest. Diverse, thrilling and spectacular. This is Black Star Riders setting the bar somewhere in the stratosphere.
If it is possible for me to attempt to enthusiasm to one side, the sequencing was the most outstanding consideration on first listening. This album took me on a thorough journey akin to a concert experience. Black Star Riders brought me into the journey brilliantly with the title track. That amazing feeling of satisfaction that this is indeed the Black Star Riders sound, complete and concise. Then When The Night Comes In takes your breath for a moment and fills you nostalgic delight coupled with the excitement that this is indeed the current sound, but with the band legacy firmly entwined. I honestly could not resist the temptation to play this fantastic track over and over, visualizing an opportunity to see Black Star Riders performing this live. Every element is simply superb and so astonishing in its appeal. I remember on first listening, feeling fearful that a downside would follow the tremendously excited high resulting from the musical, lyrical and vocal appeal of When The Night Comes In. That downside never arrived. What did arrive was a realisation that this is an album of tremendous depth and a genuinely superb collection. Three albums in and we get this? Following on from All Hell Breaks Loose and The Killer Instinct, I freely admit to expecting something very special, but I was genuinely taken aback by the obvious careful development and genuine care the group have put into this work. It is almost as though the metaphorical shackles of prior labeling have been shaken loose and through recording and performing, Black Star Riders are charging forward as their own identity. I have repeatedly considered while writing and listening, omitting all references to Thin Lizzy. Although a significant element in the groups genealogy, Black Star Riders are free to enhance and refine their tremendous skills as the separate entity and genuine article. Consider the tremendous sound of Dancing With The Wrong Girl. My own thoughts aside, I cannot ignore a comment made by my fourteen-year-old son who visits me briefly to remark “I love this track. Black Star Riders have such a distinct quality’. That comment caused careful consideration regarding the bands direction and what they are in the process of creating. With genuine rock and roll of this magnitude, quality and widespread appeal, the appetite of their ever growing and already, heaving mass of fans is going to become insatiable. I mean really? When you listen to Who Rides The Tiger and Ticket To Rise I’m sure you will agree this is pure, precise and perfect heavy rock we are experiencing. The contribution of the backing singers give the latter an additional and tremendously soulful dimension. In my opinion, Cold War Love, Testify Or Say Goodbye and a little later, True Blue Kid were perfectly sequenced and demonstrative of what amazing artists make up Black Star Riders and what diversity is possible within an established signature sound.
Letting Go Of Me brings this collection to a superb finale, leaving the listener so very hungry for more. Like a sensational live show, you just don’t want it to end. To my delight and I’m sure the satisfaction to great music lovers across the globe, we don’t have to go home or kiss tomorrow goodbye. We simply restart this monumentally brilliant album and enjoy again and again.
I don’t know if there was ever need for Black Star Riders to shuffle off a Thin Lizzy branding. Maybe nobody knows, even the band members themselves. What I do know is that this is Black Star Riders and this is their third album. I do know I loved the first, revered the second and was, quite appropriately, blown away with Heavy Fire. This is truly a thrilling rollercoaster of a ride with ‘definitive yardstick’ stamped all over it.