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A debut that shows immense potential - 86%

Emerald_Sword, March 10th, 2008

A stairway leading over a dark forest, through the nightsky and straight to heaven awaits those who wants to embrace austrian guitar virtuoso Lanvall and his band Edenbridge. A former instrumental prog rock guitarist, Lanvall put his girlfriend Sabine Edelsbacher in front of the microphone and decided to apply his old style to metal. The result is a sound that instead of making you bang your head off aims to take you to that place on the album cover. And well, it won’t win the fband any extra points, but I would be damned if that isn’t one of the greatest album cover arts I’ve ever seen!

Comparisons to Nightwish are pretty much inevitable for every female fronted melodic metal band that released their debut after 2000. Guitarist/primary songwriter Lanvall has stated more than once that he hates that comparison, and after listening to “Sunrise in Eden” it’s not hard to understand why. Edenbridge does play the same kind of incredibly melodic, heavy-as-a-feather kind of metal, but they are more progressive than Nightwish has ever been, and the japanese or chinese-sounding folk melodies and sound effects that are used quite frequently throughout this album doesn’t only separate them from Nightwish, but from every other female-fronted metal band I’ve heard so far.

Edenbridge’s music is carried by the slightly neo-classical guitar work of Lanvall and the angelic vocals of Sabine Edelsbacher, with the rhythm section relegated to keeping the songs going. I know “angelic” is an adjective that has been used to describe pretty much every clean female metal vocalist, but I think it suits Sabine better than everyone else. Her sugary sweet voice will probably turn off as many people as Tarja Turunen’s vibrato, but I find it absolutely adorable. When she’s holding high notes she sounds a bit like Sharon den Adel of Within Temptation, but her voice is highly unique. Not only is she an excellent vocalist, her vocal lines are simply enchanting. I can honestly say that Lanvall writes the best vocal lines in metal. “Flow” is the word here, as Sabine’s vocals always flow incredibly well with the music. Speaking of Lanvall, what a musician that man is! Every time he lets go with his six-string, the album literally takes you to that end of the stairs on the album cover. “Sunrise in Eden” is filled to the brim with long, complex shredding solos and flowing, tasteful leads that will please even the most demanding guitar enthusiast. Lanvall’s masterpiece can be found on the somber, beautiful ballad “Forever Shine On” where he rips out an absolutely stunning, note-for-note PERFECT guitar solo that can stand tall with the best solos I’ve ever heard.

The album is not without its flaws, however. The production could definitely have been better. The guitar tone is absolutely heavenly when Lanvall is playing a lead or a solo, but the riffs are quite rough, which clashes with the overall sound on here, and when they are really fast, such as on the opener “Cheyenne Spirit” they sound quite fuzzy. The riffs aren’t anything special either, it’s quite obvious that Lanvall spent 90% of his time coming up with leads and solos and the remaining 10% to come up with riffs to get the verses going. And as good as Sabine is, her voice doesn’t have to be THAT high in the mix.

The songwriting on here is incrediby solid for a debut, but picking out standouts aren’t that difficult. After the first three songs Edenbridge has already proved that they can do both standard power metal, ballads and long epics. Opener “Cheyenne Spirit” showcases some of the production flaws, but makes up for it with a huge epic intro, a soaring chorus and a healthy dose of guitar wizardry. “Forever Shine On” is simply a wonderful ballad highlighted by the aforementioned solo. And finally, every Edenbridge album has a killer title track, but as good as “Shine” and especially “Arcana” is, nothing touches this. Everything comes together for Edenbridge on “Sunrise in Eden”, a completely unique-sounding 8-minute epic with a lot of asian melodies, enough lead guitar wizardry to fill an entire album, soaring vocal melodies and a completely unexpected, 40 second flute solo in the middle that has my jaw on the floor every time. A masterpiece!

The album has pretty much shot its load after the 4rd song “Holy Fire”, but the quality never drops below good, and as my frequent use of superlatives indicate, the best parts of this album are nothing short of godly. Edenbridge is a criminally underrated band and if Nightwish can sell out venues the world over then these guys should at least be able to afford a full-scale european tour! “Sunrise in Eden” is the best debut by a female-fronted band metal I’ve heard so far, and as long as you can stand metal that favours melody over heaviness you should be able to pick it up without hesitation.