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Fanciful and furious - 85%

doomknocker, August 23rd, 2011

With the once-mighty Nightwish now sitting pretty upon their golden throne of mediocrity, the stage is set for the next good symphonic femmetal group to come forth and dazzle. Now, granted, there have been a number of decent-to-great lady-fronted metal acts that’ve come our way in the past number of years, some of whom also tackle the strings-and-brass sound very well, but for as well-meaning and skillful as they are, they didn’t have the means necessary to get to the top of their particular food chain. And so, vacant it remains, and unfulfilled some of us continue to be, wondering if it will end up being conquered in the end.

But with that said, another band comes at as from the very country that gave us a reason to wish for the night, which begs us to wonder; does Amberian Dawn have what it takes to be such a group?

From the get-go, you can tell these guys (and gal) don’t fuck around; from the powerful opening choirs to the overall crushing appeal of the band itself, there’s plenty to take in and, thankfully, just as much to enjoy. What makes “End of Eden” different from their other musical contemporaries, colleagues, and other descriptive, personable nouns beginning with “C” is that its strength lays firmly within its songwriting, which takes the now-potent combination of melody and intensity into cognizant and capable hands and ears. Rather than a modern-like approach that leaves a slightly sour taste in one’s mouth, the synthetics, vocals, and guitar leads follow a more olden-timey, forest-dwelling feel that’s pretty hard to explain; it’s in its very atmosphere, the ambience that flows from CD to headphones (or speakers depending on your persuasion) that lends itself into a fine example of escapist music meant to be taken very seriously.

A good sense of drama is in play with this particular disc; far from being merely heavy or symphonic, the feel of “End of Eden” is a gripping affair, requiring more than one listen to take in properly. Taking many cues from the previously-good Nightwish, Amberian Dawn combine their raging metal riffs, speedy-yet-tasteful leads/solos, neoclassically-twinged synth lines and strong opera vocals into tightly packaged odes to ages-old fantasy that does its job, does it well, and leaves before their welcome is potentially worn out. But the way they do it drips with utmost professionalism, both in composition and performance, and coming at us at a time in which metal music as a whole needs such a thing the most, and all throughout their latest I was pretty spellbound, not giving attention to anything outside the album itself. Such is one of the best ways for an album to maintain staying power with me, as the potency of tracks like “Come Now Follow”, “Ghostly Echoes” and “Sampo” are able to do with the greatest of ease.

So at the end of the day, Amberian Dawn give us a great example of properly done Finnish sympho-femmetal (…”symphemmetal”?) that has the capacity to overtake the previously mentioned vacant throne that so many Euro-ladies are clambering over themselves to leap upon. As they’re still a relatively young band, they still have the time needed to evolve properly, if they are able to not stray from their current path. In short? Good for what ails ya musically. Get it, and enjoy.

Originally written for The Offering

Still not realizing their potential - 73%

Emerald_Sword, December 30th, 2010

Third album for this Finnish band. Amberian Dawn showed some promise on their first two albums, playing incredibly generic but inspired Finnish power metal of the Stratovarius/Sonata Arctica school. End of Eden is another good album, but it’s just good, and Amberian Dawn is still just a promising band.

Little has changed since 2008’s The Clouds of Northland Thunder, despite several lineup changes (guitarist Kimmo Korhonen, bassist Jukka Koskinen and drummer Heikki Saari are new to the band). Amberian Dawn still play lightweight power metal with thick wintry melodies and an abundance of keyboards and note-dense, Malmsteen-influenced solos. I’m quite sure that the band has slowed down slightly on this album; there is less double-bass drumming and more proggish rhythms. That’s a shame, since some of my favorite Amberian Dawn songs are very fast (Fate of the Maiden and Shallow Waters, for example). I’m also quite sure that Heidi Parviainens vocals are even more operatic and soaring than before. She’s a great vocalist, the kind of talent that could take the metal world by storm if she had better vocal lines to sing and a more inspired band backing her up.

Amberian Dawn’s problem is that they tend to play a bit too safe. If they want to make a name for themselves in this overcrowded genre they’ll need to throw in more eye-opening stuff like the surprisingly complex chorus of Arctica or the fierce instrumental section at the end of Blackbird. They do, however, show some ambition on the last track. Clocking in at over seven minutes, War in Heaven is the band’s longest song yet. It starts out with a big, lumbering doom metal riff and contains enough time changes to keep the listener interested. It’s not a great song, but it’s good and shows that Amberian Dawn can step out of ther comfort zone without falling flat. The other standout track is one of the most baffling things I’ve ever heard on a metal album. Virvatulen Laulu is – and I’m not making this up – a opera duet between Parviainen and a male vocalist with no metal elements whatsoever. It’s definitely not very enjoyable – I have only listened to it twice – but it’s certainly a first; I’ve never heard anything like that on a metal album before.

Despite being a good album, End of Eden still left me somewhat disappointed. Amberian Dawn is an immeasurably talented band; they could be one of the big names in the female-fronted power metal scene, but they still have a long way to go. Fourth time’s a charm, maybe?