Garden Of Eden

The label says 'Symphonic Metal', the singer is a raven-haired temptress, there is a lot of Ooohs and Aaaahs amongst the overly used orchestration. Many metal fans are already calling pseudo goth fodder and they'd be right up to a point, but this would be unfair to Edenbridge. The band has been chocking out female fronted symphonic metal for almost a decade and have five other albums to back up 'My Earth Dream'. Because of this, any cries of bandwagon jumping, trend following and 'oh god, not another one of these bands, where do they all come from?' would be extremely misplaced.

The band is the brain child of guitar/keyboard player Lanvall. He is also the chief song-writer and overall driving force of the band. Apart from vocalist Sabine Edelsbacher, the rest of the band is somewhat expendable because Lanvall and Sabine are the heart of the group. Not that there's anything wrong with this method, quite the opposite, because such bands have a strong sense of focus and direction. Edenbridge have slowly progressed over the years adding darker guitar lines and production along with 64-piece choirs. They are a band that will try new ideas and push the boundaries of their own sound without alienating their fanbase. Once again Edenbridge progress a little further by including the Czech Film Orchestra with this release. The result is a lush and sweeping epic of an album that can compete with the best of the genre.

The tag 'symphonic metal' is a little misleading. If you're partial to the likes of Nightwish, Visions Of Atlantis and Epica and Edenbridge are alien to you then I suggest you invest a little time in exploring this Austrian based band. There is a little, but not devoid, of male growling ala After Forever and it certainly doesn't have any of the retro nu-metal rubbish of Lacuna Coil. What the album does have is the guitars pushed up nice and high allowing the metal to cut through. That's not to say the album is guitar heavy, but with so much going on sometimes the guitars suffer, but on the whole the mix is fairly guitar friendly.

Sabine does an admiral job with her voice, although she's part of the pack along side Sharon Den Adel and Simone Simons but behind Floor Jansen. She's likable without being truly mesmerising, but add her to the down-tuned guitars and impressive orchestra and you've got an album that is greater than the sum of its parts. 'Shadowplay' and 'Paramount' stand out in the first half of the album, whereas 'Whale Rider' is the obligatory vocals and piano song all of these band seem the need to record. The highlight however, is the twelve-minute title track. It's a six-part epic that shows off Edenbridge at their best. Powerful, progressive, gritty and bombastic, the song is a triumph and shows the potential of this genre when it's well written and performed.

If Nightwish gives you shudders then you probably won't find much to like here. If they make you gush, and the success of Nightwish would suggest there are many of you out there, then 'My Earth Dream' will be worth your mail order. Although not pushing the boundaries of symphonic/goth metal, the band have pushed themselves and the result is excellent.