without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
By 2004 the saturation of female fronted symphonic and gothic metal bands was in full swing, with an untold number of groups being signed based on how well their lead vocalist looked in a leather corset. Edenbridge already had three albums of Nightwish worship under their belt and seriously needed to take the next step in order to remain relevant in an ever growing genre. Thus they came out of the studio with Shine, and as far as I’m concerned, they outdid themselves here, catapulting themselves to the forefront of the symphonic pack with a formidable and ‘shiny’ offering. Yes, their image doesn’t really veer from the norm, which includes a photo within the sleeve of someone who looks like your typical Salem Massachusetts woman (but not as fat) backed by three upset bodyguards with their arms crossed, but that shouldn’t be a deterrent to Shine’s content.
The improvements to their music and sound are multiple and equally important as statements to the band’s elevation in quality. The first aspect one hears that stimulates this impression is the vastly superior production quality. Not that their previous material suffered from murkiness by any means, but Shine is as crystalline and polished as anything I’ve heard from a metal band, which is definitely favorable for this kind of music. Sabine’s vocals, in particular, are so sharp and clear that a “ch” or “ts” sound from her lips cut like a diamond on glass. Her vocals don’t dominate the instrumentation though, as everything here is mixed well with emphasis also on the drums and guitars, letting the keyboards fade to the back a bit to provide atmosphere rather than overwhelm the more traditional instruments that define metal.
Another important aspect is the musical compositions themselves leaning more towards a progressive approach rather than a straightforward power metal vision like their previous album, or a gothic pop metal style like so many of the newcomers were dishing out. The lengthier tracks, in particular, possess some pretty adventurous sections that focus primarily on instrumental flair and time signature changes that aren’t all that common in a field where the music and riffs (if there are any) are more of an afterthought in comparison to the vocal melodies. And The Road Goes On, in particular, is an excellent example, starting with a plodding but gorgeous Egyptian melody for its verses before an almost space rock interlude that somehow shifts seamlessly into galloping power metal during the song’s latter portion. That’s some innovative shit going on right there, and I appreciate the creativity involved.
The talent embodied here is exceptional, with smooth and professional guitar solos and melodies that coast over well crafted soundscapes, and the guitar riffs have a nice bit of crunch to them, most apparent on the heavier tracks such as the double bass powered October Sky. Sabine is superb on this record, with a fantastic range and a vibrato that soothes rather than grates. Not operatic, but theatrical and passionate nonetheless, with her accent adding a peculiar charm to boot, she soars over these tracks with the ease of a longtime pro, seducing me to enjoy a pure ballad like Elsewhere, not something I would normally gravitate towards.
I do have an issue though, which mainly involves the theme or lack thereof concerning the overall experience of listening to this for the first time. After the first couple of tracks, with Move Along Home being key, my mind had settled in to absorb Shine as a progressive symphonic album with an Eastern ethnic vibe to it, but by the time Wild Chase unfolds its Riverdance metal melody, I had to recalculate my initial expectations and go with the Lonely Planet guide to metal flow. I wouldn’t have been surprised if the following tune began with a Philippine nose flute solo before launching into calypso metal. This is not to say that Wild Chase is a bad song; I just wasn’t in the mood for that sort of thing as the album progressed. Luckily, these ethnic excursions don’t dominate the proceedings, and the latter half of the album avoids much of these exotic dressings.
Proclaiming such strong, varied and interesting tracks such as The Canterville Ghost with its tasteful guitar solos near the song’s climax, the epic title track and my favorite, the aforementioned And The Road Goes On, Shine easily succeeds in giving Edenbridge a sound of their own in a rather maligned branch of metal rife with copycats and watered down musical talent to sell records. If you can dig this whole symphonic metal deal and appreciate fantastic female vocals, then you simply need this in your collection.
Ahh Edenbridge! comforting thoughts come to mind! Is there a band in my cd collection that can evoke such emotions, such pleasant thoughts when it comes to enjoy an album? Hardly, I would dare to say Falkenbach does that on me, Ayreon, Lacrimosa, etc. I am not saying their entire catalogue is good, but most of it and that I totally enjoy their albums and I get especially anxious when I know a new one is coming out. With this is mind, when I purchased ‘Arcana’ a few years ago I was blown away for this musical orgasm and I definitely felt in love for the band. Up to today they are without a doubt one of my favorites and ‘Shine’ certainly shines in my cd collection.
Opening with the title track is nothing new, but that IT is an almost 9minutes epic masterpiece, can be considered RISKY. It can actually make you fall for the album or drive you away. In this case they totally manage to get you interested. It is not fast and they focused on the epic vibe and atmosphere (magic and ethereal) that the band is known for. The vocal lines are absolutely killer and it does get overdubbed of the orchestral arrangements, but more on the rhythm department, although I am not particularly bound to the voices on the chorus. Sabine uses a lot of textures on her voice and the soloing is, as well, very good and fits perfectly the already magical flow of this song. The piano accompanying the song throughout is used exactly the way it is supposed to be and when the middle rhythm part comes up
‘Move along home’ has some amazing Arabic influences and melodies which give the song a very different sound to what they have been doing. I think this is a really cool song, especially because it is a mid tempo and it switches to fast tempo with double bass drums and the riffing part is again very strong. ‘Centennial Legend’ is the first ballad and it is a common power ballad from this band. That is not a bad point because I love the vocal lines but the solo…that is just from around this world for a ballad!
The Arabic melodies are again heard on ‘Wild Chase’ and although it is a sort of slow song it has a powerful mood. They did manage two things on this recording: 1.This is not as extensive and repetitive as ‘Arcana’. Due to the different styles (hard rock, progressive, power metal, and power ballads) it does not bother you as ‘Arcana’ (although I love that recording) it could become sort of monotonous. 2. They diversified the sound including many influences, some even folky, so all the songs sound different and that is what makes it so enjoyable. When you get to the other epic track ‘And the Road goes on’ you have gone through a journey of pure ecstasy, pure entertainment and pure high level musical skills. Of course this song is again a masterpiece, not up to the title track but equally good, and this I believe is because ‘Shine’ is catchier. I am not going to detail all the songs except that ‘October Sky’ is the fastest track with cool drumming and the guitar solo is excellence itself. Thus, do you want more details on the songs? Those described above should give you a pretty good idea of what this album is all about: excellent production, excellent ballads, epic tracks, progressive flavored songs, and amazing vocal skills not in an operatic way but totally angelic and cool guitar solos.
For the record, this album is almost perfect. The only reason I am taking 6 points out of it is because the guitars should have, IMO, more punch, which is exactly what they did on ‘My EarthDream’ but they definitely improved tons and pounds from past albums and were in the right direction. But for any female fronted symphonic metal fan, Edenbridge are a dream came true…on this Earth Dream that Shines with their own light! You will not regret what you will hear and if you are a sucker for these bands like me, welcome to the club!