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In the past, I had written off the first batch of releases by Edenbridge as little more than jumpers on the Nightwish train, but after revisiting them recently, I've come to the conclusion that my accusations were essentially dubious. They took the blueprint laid out for them and added their own unique spin on the burgeoning genre and composed some pretty classy material. In fact, I often find myself reaching for these early efforts by the band more so than the most seminal works of Nightwish, not because they are necessarily of a higher plain of craftsmanship (which they aren't really), but simply due to the fact that they feel more pleasing to my ears when I'm in the mood for this sort of thing.
As a sophomore release, Arcana differs from their debut by increasing the pace with more of a power metal influence and also aiming straight for this "celestial" sort of vibe. What I'm getting at is that the entire album has this running theme of flying across the stratosphere under the stars, both lyrically and musically. There's a sort of gravity-defying lightness to the sound, where even the speediest double bass battering tunes evoke an ethereal sense thanks to the combination of soaring melodies, Sabine's crystalline voice and a production that softens the guitars somewhat to mingle with the already spacey keyboards. The result is an atmospheric trip, with the drums providing most of the energy and drive during the heavier numbers. Combine this overall sonic display with lyrics that continuously bring up "flying", "stardust", and "moonlight" to almost absurd levels, and the celestial package is complete.
The instrumentation is technically sound, particularly regarding the guitar pyrotechnics which are intricate but not a full-on display of showboating. The obvious highlight pertaining to this act though is Sabine, a siren who is neither brazenly operatic nor pop-inflected. Her delivery is damn gorgeous though and really shines during the faster numbers, adding a wistful quality to them. When I hear "Starlight Reverie", maybe due to an unfettered horniness while approaching a mid-life crisis combined with past indulgences of hallucinogenics and role playing games in my youth, I can't help but envision a Sabine-voiced winged beauty leading a flock of female pixies to that location pictured on the album's cover sleeve where they can twirl around the pillars and skinny-dip to their heart's content. Yeah, I have problems.
Diversity between tracks mainly consists of variances of tempo. There are the airy yet propulsive power metal numbers, the mid-paced and often progressive-tinged cuts and a few power ballads. Otherwise, the running concept concerning the lyrics is also emphasized by similarities musically. Some of the melodies, though not regurgitated from track to track, feel familiar in an almost deja-vu sense once the latter portion of the album is reached. In fact, the first time I listened to Arcana, I was digging it yet I found the relative sameness of sound and purpose eventually lull me into dreamland, which probably involved naked chicks with dragonfly wings.
Luckily, persistence gradually paid off, since I actually paid for this thing and wasn't ready to smack myself for wasting yet more money on something that could have gone towards a couple of pitchers of decent beer. With more listens, certain tracks stood out, particularly the bonus cuts, strangely placed within the middle of my version of the CD. One of those, "The Whisper Of The Ages" really hooked me during my second round of listening, brandishing some exotic flair with the melodies and the usage of what sounds like a sitar, as well as some tricky time signatures leading up to the glorious chorus. I didn't doze off during that endeavor, as I had adjusted to the spirited passages and progressions each song had to offer while becoming accustomed to Arcana's overall seraphic resonance.
Only recently though did it strike me that this is probably one of my favorite albums by the band. The motherfucker just clicked when I popped it in after a lengthy hiatus. Maybe it's the free-flying energy combined with my aforementioned issues, but it's the sort of positive reinforcement crack I need once in a while. For someone new to the band, this might not be the best place to start (Shine would probably be my recommendation for newbies), but if you're looking for music to accompany nighttime by the waterfront under a cloudless sky for some odd reason, and possibly consider the notion of flying about with spritely hotties kind of groovy, well, here you go.
It is hard to write a review about an album when it has been surpassed already by latest recordings. In the case of ‘Arcana’ it so happens to be the second female fronted album I purchased after Oceanborn by Nightwish. I became a sucker for this style and I was amazed by Sabine’s vocal skills and the good mood of the album.
Since I have a more objective opinion about these bands nowadays it is easier to relate to the good things of this album and unfortunately, to the bad things as well. The album has an awesome flow an atmosphere, which will be ever improved subsequently. Throughout the album you get this ethereal feeling that you are traveling through space. The nice mood makes you think positively. The guitar solos never bore you. Lanvall is a very good song-writer and he does show off here. The vocal melodies fit Sabine’s voice perfectly. She doesn’t have to reach ultra high pitched vocals, neither has she sung in this operatic style that sometimes (depending on the music and singer) can get to your nerves.
In regards to the bad things there are, indeed some problems: the rhythm parts can become quite repetitive. The album is too extensive, and being this monotonous tone it can become really boring. The rhythm guitar is too in the back ground, too light, so you cannot fully appreciate the punch (later improved in My Earth Dream). The lyrics are so fantasy-space focused that, being the light soft punch of the music, could become somewhat ridiculous. The keyboards in here are overused so again, it overpowers the guitar parts. The drums are still too in the background. They should be more upfront.
In the end my friends, I definitely recommend the album. It has good songs and bad moments, but if you want to taste what the band is all about this is a good place to start. Personally, on ‘Shine’ and ‘My Earth Dream’ the band have reached excellence but it all started around this album (second one so far) where they finally found the niche they were up to. Kudos! Because with this album you captured my attention and I still believe you are one of the best bands of this style!
Edenbridge is, IMO, what nightwish would be if it were in a dream. Edenbridge is extremely melodic, with just the right amount of heavyness.
This album can, without a doubt, contend with the band that has so obviously influenced this band (nightwish, in case you didn't catch that).
Arcana is apriviledged to such gems as "Fly on a Rainbow Dream", "Starlight Reverie", and "Color My Sky", as well as "Susperia" and the title track "Arcana". Never before have i ever heard anything so melodic in my life. The guitars are so mellow and flowing, i did not know what to make of it at first. Sabine's vocals are simply amazing. Her ability to go from a low, semi-operatic note to that siren's high pitch is mind boggling. Andreas also demonstrates a great amount of ability on this album, with basic melodies which fool the listener by becoming complex in a matter of seconds. So good, i can barely even review it.
This album has very little wrong with it, other than a slight hint of repetitivity. For fans of bands such as Power Symphony, Sinergy(Maybe), Nightwish, and Xandria, this band is for you.
Also, i might add, that for those of you who are fans of this band, we should push for Tarja (Of Nightwish) and Sabine to do a duet or something to that effect.