Release DetailsLABEL Napalm Records
RELEASED ON 1/30/2007
The Grand Design
posted on 4/2007 By:
Taking a complex but ultimately positive lyrical approach to life's Grand Design, Austria's uber-symphonic power metal foursome Edenbridge adhere to a strict concept throughout but the music itself serves as the album's greatest narrative tool.
"Welcome home, welcome life
So unknown, when you arrive
The fire, so cut the wire
Your eyes, your small eyes
Your eyes, your hopeful eyes."
And so begins Edenbridge's fourth full-length, The Grand Design, an epic if I ever heard one. Obviously these guys (and gal) aren't afraid of biting off more than they can chew, because most musicians would fall flat on their collective asses, go back to their day jobs and shrug off their artistic careers. Risk be damned, this is Edenbridge we're talking about! Who can blame them for setting their sights so high when they have the enchanting vocals of Sabine Edelsbacher to work with? And enchant she does. Just listen to the lush atmosphere of the all-too-short "Evermore." You might not always follow the lyrics word for word, because sometimes they tend to sound more like poetic sap than substance, but it hardly matters when Edelsbacher's seductive tone takes center stage.
Not every song is as strong as "Evermore," resulting in a solid but not skip-free listen. The best songs are those where guitarist Arne Stockhammer is given the most freedom. When the band moves more toward a synth-dominated, super-symphonic sound, they come off as far too one-dimensional for their own good (see "The Most Beautiful Place" and "Taken Away"). Sure, the vocals are great, but some of these songs lack grit and genuine emotion. One doesn't necessarily need great riffs to make a great symphonic power metal song, but one does need at least one instrumental element to make a compelling argument for its existence. The weak keys aren't going to cut it.
A lot of effort has gone into producing an ethereal, uplifting atmosphere to reflect the album's grandiose title. I can say with certainty that none of that effort was wasted, because The Grand Design sounds as grandiose as its title promises. The band's ability to incorporate so many influences, most clearly heard on the title track, where they incorporate a dizzyingly diverse array of folk music, is impressive enough to make the album a must listen for symphonic metal fans. I personally would have liked to hear a stronger guitar presence, but it seems like an issue of taste rather than objective criticism. I recommend without reservation to fans of Sonata Arctica, Nightwish and Fairyland.
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