I was late to the Edguy party. I didn’t enter the Theater of Salvation until about 12 years after that album was released and as I was seeking out their albums, I stumbled upon this set which features “The Savage Poetry”, “Mandrake”, and some bonus material featuring live songs and b-sides. Besides the music, the set comes in the form of an old tome with the inside containing golden discs (hence golden edition), full lyrics, and comments from the band on the songs from the two full-lengths.
“Mandrake” is the definite superior album with the operatic bombast of “Tears of a Mandrake”, the epic ode to the great Egyptian kings with “The Pharaoh”, and the acoustic campfire storytelling of “Jerusalem.” The “Mandrake” disc contains two live bonus tracks in the aforementioned “Tears of a Mandrake” and “Painting on the Wall.” The former retains the grand atmosphere in the live setting and “Painting on the Wall” makes for a nice listen as it manages to remind me of “Super Mario 64” because Mario jumps into paintings to start levels.
It would have been a better call putting “Theatre of Salvation” as the first disc because then the best of Edguy would have been featured in this set, but AFM Records decided to go with “The Savage Poetry.” This is the full re-recording of the first album that came out in new millennium and has two versions of songs that were originally recorded in 1995 with “Key to my Fate” and “Hallowed.”
The bonus content has some hits and misses. I don’t understand the need to include single edits of songs as extra content. The edit of “Painting on the Wall” and “Tears of a Mandrake” are unnecessary. The listener already knows they will not be superior versions, so it’s just a waste of space. The normal version of “Painting on the Wall” is on the third disc too for whatever reason.
On the other hand, there are some cool b-sides to discover. “For a Trace of Life” is ballad and it’s a little depressing with the lyrics and melancholic acoustic guitar line. “But Here I Am” sounds like it was recorded in a garage and is silly with how many times the chorus is repeated. The final one is “La Marche Des Gendarmes” which is a goofy song combining an Irish beer party with Motown. To round off the bonus, a flat, live version of “Walk on Fighting” is included as well as “Wake up the King” live. This live rendition is much more energetic.
If you already own “The Savage Poetry” and “Mandrake” than there is no need to buy this edition unless you are a big fan and want to read the linear notes and stare at pictures. For the new entries into the Hellfire Club, this is a great introduction to the band. I would have preferred the inclusion of “Theatre of Salvation” over “The Savage Poetry”, but as they say beggars can’t be choosers.