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I "discovered" Eden's Curse today, due to the fact that James LaBrie of Dream Theater did some guest vocals on a track from their most recent album. I must admit, I was also intrigued by some of the comments on a couple of their videos on YouTube, asking whether this was a Christian band. Apparently, they are not, but they are one of those bands that has a vaguely Christian feel to their lyrics and song titles. The band's name, which is presumably a play on lead singer Michael Eden's surname, has an obvious reference to the Biblical garden. And song titles like "Angels & Demons" and "Just Like Judas" and "Man Against the World" seem to indicate at least a mild interest in spiritual/Biblical themes. And of course, there are a couple album titles that indicate the same theme, The Second Coming and Trinity being good examples.
But what about the music? Well, it's pretty solid, enjoyable melodic metal. The listener is reminded of Symphony X, both in lyrical content and songwriting style. The music is a little more straghtforward hard rock/metal, not as prog-oriented as Symphony X. Michael Eden is a capable lead singer: not the best one you'll ever hear, but neither is he the worst. There is some layering of background vocals, similar to more mainstream hard rock groups. The keyboards are solid without being cheesy, and the rhythm and lead guitar work is quite good. One of the standout tracks on the record is the song "Angels & Demons," which features the marvelous Pamela Moore (of Operation: MINDCRIME fame) on guest vocals.
"Man Against the World," which starts out a little too power-ballad-ish for my tastes, quickly becomes one of the more interesting tracks, as the piano takes a surprisingly jazzy turn in the middle of the track. What begins like a stereotypically light metal track actually becomes a fun unique track. It's sometimes refreshing when a band embraces their soft side. Lord knows, Judas Priest and other classic metal bands have done so from time to time.
Backing up to the beginning of the album for a second, I was immediately intrigued by the atmosphere established by the keyboards and sound effects right off the bat. A little pseudo-classical carousel-type motif (that wouldn't be out of place on a King Diamond record) breaks down into chaos as we hear screams, as if some violent crime has just been perpetrated in the middle of a carnival. This leads us into another standout track, "Masquerade Ball." This tune has some really excellent forward momentum, good vocal arrangements, and some terrific soloing by the lead guitarist and keyboardist (the keyboard solo being somewhat reminiscent of Jon Lord's work in Deep Purple).
"Games People Play" is another marvelous track, and one in which I finally hear enough of the bass. I know it's not atypical for bass to be too far down in the mix in a lot of heavy metal, so it's always nice to get a little more bass, especially when it's played competently, as it is here. There's also plenty of headlong momentum in this tune, with its triplet based rhythm. Some sweet guitar soloing and layered vocals round out the track.
The final track on the album ("Ride the Storm") is a good finale, especially since Michael Eden's vocals have a little grittier edge to them on this track. The tune has a somewhat anthemic quality to it on the refrain, and the guitar work is nice and punchy. The style is reminiscent of another band, but I can't quite place who. (Maybe it's Queen in a few spots?) Still, it's a killer track to wrap up the record: a little shredding, solid vocals, quality rhythm work. Really, I based my rating of 90% on my sense that this band is still on the way up. This record is a fine entry in the world of melodic metal, and one that I will listen to often.