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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