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It sort of surprises me that I'd never heard of Edenbridge up until "The Bonding," album number eight for these Austrian symphonic soldiers. They're not only compared to Nightwish and other female-fronted cohorts, but their following is considerably large, and seeing that I enjoy (some) Nightwish and bands like Whyzdom, I figured this would tickle my fancy. "The Bonding" feels like a group at half-capacity. Mired, anticlimactic symphonic power metal lasting for nearly an hour is the name of the game throughout "The Bonding," despite a handful of hit songs and memorable occasions. While their antics are appropriate, Edenbridge is often too safe and stagnant, making most of their elongated anthems tiring and desired golden moments far out of reach.
Sabine Edelsbacher and guitarist Lanvall have long been the core of Edenbridge since the band's forlorn beginnings to its rise to success as the years fell behind them. They're both world-class performers: Sabine a powerhouse vocalist whose voice is elegant and mythical, and Lanvall an incredibly virtuosic and charming guitar player. Throughout "The Bonding," it seems like Edenbridge is tiptoeing and very afraid of cutting its feet: Lanvall's riffs are seldom bold or adventurous, the symphonic elements are merely backdrops to the faction's material, and there's an insanely heavy focus on sappy, easy ballads, and the like. Not to throw tomatoes at the whole album, because it definitely has its moments, but yeah, most of this should've come with a snooze button.
While anyone could spend copious amounts of time praising Edelsbacher’s glorious voice and the guitar wizardry, what remains is the remarkably dull songwriting. Edenbridge sleepwalks through a number of cheesy, uneventful duds like "Far Out of Reach" and "The Invisible Force," which manage to pack in and serve nothing of interest. Other tunes like "Star-Crossed Dreamer" and "Death is Not the End" should receive awards for how boring they are; they're merely typical symphonic-based ballads cut out and milked by millions of clones. Most of the remaining tunes are actually quite eventful, though. "Mystic River" is a powerful opener with Sabine leading the charge in prime form, and "Shadows of my Memory" ignites the record back into the land of the conscious with harsh vocals and decent riffing. "Alight a New Tomorrow" has a well-cooked chorus, thankfully an honest Edenbridge anthem that isn't mucked up by the usual inconsistencies within "The Bonding."
The fifteen-minute title track? Well, it's the fifteen-minute title track—that's really all there is to be said. The song features guest vocals from Erik Mårtensson, who's appeared on a cornucopia of CDs as a session member, but he sounds completely powerless next to Sabine's voice; the dude isn't even in the same ballpark. Then again, the story of the title track is an eerie reflection of the whole experience, with bits and pieces of acceptable material emerging from the sea of sameness while a huge chunk of the album drowns. Edenbridge, no stranger to their brand of symphonic power metal, acts like a deer in the headlights here, almost clueless and certainly not living up to the experience of a group with seven opuses behind it. They could've done better.
This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com