Monday 25 November 2019

Edenbridge - Dynamind (2019)

Country: Austria
Style: Symphonic Power Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date:
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This is the tenth studio album for Edenbridge, who have been consistent and reliable since they issued their debut, Sunrise in Eden, as the millennium turned. They're still consistent and reliable here, sometimes a little much so because this is so effortlessly good that we sometimes relax too far and realise that we've drifted away from it.

It certainly took a while to grab me. The first few songs seemed completely fine but I needed time to get to know them. It was four tracks in when they made me pay attention, courtesy of the overtly Celtic intro to the overtly Celtic On the Other Side. It's a folky piece with dance in its blood and it would be difficult not to move to it, whether you're a dancer or not. It's also the first overt departure from the traditional sort of symphonic power metal that Edenbridge play.

There are actually quite a few departures here, just as there's quite a lot of variety, but the band are insanely good at making them fit comfortably within their particular sound. It's like they happily open the doors of the Edenbridge castle to welcome whatever other elements want in, only to make them feel so at home that they all become part of the family.

For instance, there are faster songs here, such as Where Oceans Collide, and heavier ones, like What Dreams May Come, but they remain inherently melodic and fit well with everything else. There's also a notably progressive track in The Last of His Kind. It runs a full twelve minutes but never seems long because a five minute song flows right into a progressive section, not only because it has time available for keyboard solos, which segues right into a second regular five minute song. Those songs have a prog feel too, reminding of a calmer Dream Theater, but they never forget that they're still melodic symphonic power metal.

The band I need to bring up here, not because they're a good comparison but because they're doing what Edenbridge only appear to do, and that's Sonata Arctica. This album feels very light to me, but it's deceptively so. Sonata Arctica have really lightened up, while Edenbridge only seem to have done. I think it's partly because it seems so effortless, always smooth whatever the band are doing, and partly because of the vocals of Sabine Edelsbacher, which are so clean, so patient and so well intonated that the elegance takes over and we don't realise that she's doing anything flash.

In other words, I can't see Edenbridge being recommended to voice coaches to react to on YouTube the way that, say, Nightwish's Ghost Love Score is every day of the week. However, if any of them do take on an Edenbridge song, like maybe the title track here, for all that it's a coda rather than a complete song, and they'll shower her with compliments. She sounds fantastic and her control is magnificent. I actually like that she's not showing off, singing along with the orchestration rather than setting up contrasts with it.

This is a very difficult album to dislike. It would take a listener utterly antithetical to the concept of symphonic metal to be left dry. However, it's so smooth and easy on the ears that we have to pay attention to realise just how good these guys are. They've certainly had time to find their groove, as Edelsbacher and main musician Lanvall are founder members with over a couple of decades with the band now. Here, with their tenth album, they deliver once again what their fans expect in a way that may land them some more.

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