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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?