without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Roger Staffelbach obviously some sort of well-known and affluent man in the power metal scene has put together several highly talented musicians for a project named with his name in the front as “Angel of Eden”. Member’s range from Bruce Dickinson to Evidence One, where both bands sound nothing like this; this is raging power metal as flashy, epic and boisterous as it gets. It seems he’s almost trying to top Tobi and his Avantasia project but while he’s obviously got the talent required, Roger and Angel of Eden seem to stay out of the spotlight and aren’t well known and I only have one thing to say about that and that’s a damn shame.
Angel of Eden are power metal with flowing keyboards a la Rhaposdy, epic orchestrations and structures like the ones found in Avantasia or Edguy all mixed with stereotypical power metal elements that make it what I love about the genre. Roger Staffelbach plays the guitars and does a great job here, plenty of shredding and plenty of awesome leads that work absolutely perfect with the excellent keyboard compositions. It’s great to find the few bands that have a great power metal sound complimented with awesome neo-classical keyboards and don’t overuse it or abuse it – here it works in great harmony creating a sound that is superior than many power metal/neo-classical bands out there. Staffelbach’s guitar tone is nice and clear, semi-crunchy but the production here is very crisp which I think is needed for epic power metal. The drumming is to be expected of power metal, nonstop barrage of double bass and such with much variation as to how keep tempo and things in ballads, mid tempo and slower parts etc. Into the Black displays his talent the best with hyper fast double bass as well as a sweet intro!
The highlight other than the Staffelbach and his lead guitar presence is Carsten Schulz handling vocals; this guy is the quintessential power metal singer, very powerful range and takes it a step more adding much emotion and care hitting each high note like Tobias Sammet or belting out rapid passages like Rick Altzi. Having a similar effect as Blind Guardian or other famous bands with having layered vocals works here but isn’t overdone, especially with the choirs and backup vocals making this great power metal sound.
The first three songs are awesome power metal; the choruses are so catchy and addictive with the sweet guitar solos and keyboards reminding me of mixtures of bands like At Vance, Adagio, Blind Guardian and Rhapsody. I dare you to resist not singing along with the chorus in The End of Never! Once Return of the Pharaoh (Part I) rolls up it takes a progressive turn and reminds me of something Symphony X would do; it’s an instrumental that reminds me of The Death of Balance/Lacrymosa with epic orchestrations overlapping some wicked fast guitar playing. The Battle of 1386 continues with a semi-proggy epic opening and guitar opening and turns out to be one of the most epic songs on here.
Giving Rhapsody and Fairyland a run for its money Angel of Eden accomplishes what I think few others can do; create epic and flashy power metal with much orchestration and highly symphonic in nature and still be interesting. Bands like Freedom Call, Vision Divine and a few others lack this and become second tier and bland while Angel of Eden deserves to be recognized with this top tier performance. The End of Never is full of awesome power metal with some progressive and neo-classical influences that make for something that I think is quite unique. Better than your average power metal band, Roger Staffelbach shines with impressive lead guitar work and solos that shred your ears to pieces as well as fancy keyboard segments and background parts that are more than just there; they create an atmosphere of a sort of Baroque or Medieval atmosphere that left me wanting more. Highly contagious and addictive power metal is exactly what The End of Never is with an awesome display of influence that deserves to be much more recognized. There is not a single downer on this album; every song is entertaining and enjoyable with no filler. For fans of Avantasia, Epidemia, Rhapsosdy, Fairyland and anyone enjoying awesome epic, symphonic, speed, ballsy power/neo-classical/progressive metal!
Power Metal can be a very touchy genre. When it's executed properly (eg Manowar, Sonata Arctica, Jag Panzer) it totally owns, and when it's done poorly it just stinks really hard. Most power metal walks a very fine line somewhere between awesome triumphantness and terrible cheesiness, and epic imagery and po-faced pretentiousness. Luckily, Angel of Eden approach the whole power metal thing from a very laid back, down to earth angle, and as a result this is a very enjoyable album.
Indeed, this album is really good to listen too. It's sweet enough to make your eyes roll back in your head but it's more addictive then crack, and it will keep you coming back. 'Return of the Pharoah Pt.1' is a great example on how to do excellent power metal instrumentals- it's just really epic and even quite atmospheric in its' delivery, with some excellent solos. Solos abound in this album- there's plenty of keyboard and guitar shredding for everyone- and while it's the usual neo classical shredding style it's still melodic and intensely enjoyable. The keys are an excellent feature of this album- there's the usual synths in the background, but often the keys take a much more active role and it's a great thing.
Personally, I think the instruments dominate throughout the album, from the aforementioned 'Return' to the excellent shredfest that is 'You don't Remember...' (is that a Yngwie cover? It sounds like one) to the more straightforward power riffing that's 'Into the Black', and even the sickeningly sweet melody of 'Keys to Avalon' sounds great. While most power metal reviewers would concentrate on the guitars and keys (which is valid, as they're really excellent), the drums need a definite mention, as there's lots of surprising, unconventional beats here and there, and instead of the usual faceless power metal drumming there's plenty of personality within the beats, which is always a good thing.
Of course, one make or break thing in Power Metal is the vocals. Blind Guardian's 'Nightfall in Middle-Earth' is a good example of terrible vocals ruining an album, and the genre is littered with bands that are ruined by terrible vocalists. Luckily for us Carsten Schulz can deliver the vox with a lot of power and authority. He may only be like 4 feet tall but damn, this guy has a great voice. It's powerful and epic, but not too high pitched, it's emotional without way too much vibrato, and he's one of those rare vocalists who can overdub their singing without sounding really freaking cheesy. His performance is excellent in most songs, particularly in the epic 'Battle of 1386' and perhaps the title track.
It's funny, as I put this album on while I wrote this, the review just got more and more positive as it went on- this album is definitely a grower, no doubt. If there were any criticisms it would be that some of the lyrics are really cheesy, but that's basically about it. This is high quality stuff, and while the vocals might seem a bit cliched and the guitars a bit wanky at first glance, more listens reveal that this is just a really good album, with plenty of epicness but still lots of huge rocking out sections.
(originally written for metal-observer.com)