Edenbridge – The Great Momentum

Symphonic/Power metal band Edenbridge have been around for nearly twenty years, their debut album Sunrise in Eden being released back in 2000. Despite such longevity, and being one of the best bands in the scene, with Lanvall’s melodic and virtuoso guitar playing and the rich, melodious voice of Sabine Edelsbacher,  they’ve unfortunately never reached the fame of other bands in the scene, they’ve always remained underground compared to the likes of Nightwish. With gorgeous album covers and a melodic brand of metal, often enthused with oriental folk instruments, every aspect of their sound was beautiful, and in the early days their music had a celestial, heavenly sound to it, and from 2008’s MyEarthDream onward their power metal has had an extra dimension to it, since then their albums have been recorded with an orchestra, the music more powerful and dramatic, a slight but noticeable change from their earlier beginnings as the aural equivalent to ambrosia, the food of the gods. Despite not having made it huge, they have enough fans for their ninth full length album The Great Momentum to have benefited from a successful crowd funding campaign.

One can say there is pretty much the same formula to every Edenbridge album, with the exception perhaps being the more experimental and oriental sounding of them all in Shine. Most of the album is made up of roughly five minute powerful and melodic metal tracks driven by Sabine’s fantastic voice, one or two ballads and one ten minute long epic to close the album. It’s a formula that’s worked well for them, and they’ve used once more here, but with more exuberant song writing The Great Momentum is certainly an improvement over the previous album The Bonding where the latter half of the album was somewhat unmemorable. The four year gap from that album is actually the longest they’ve had since they have started, and they feel revitalised here, the album is a step in the right direction, a return to form.

They go straight into the best song on the album with the opener Shiantara, a powerful song with a great chorus and excellent use of dramatic orchestration.A fantastic classic metal riff opens up carried along by brass and string instruments to add an epic touch, before Sabine’s entry. Her vocal style has remained unchanged from the start of their career, her instantly recognisable voice with it’s slight Germanic accent has a wide range, not just in pitch but also between soft and angelic and powerfully self-assured.   Unlike other singers in the genre there’s no operatic leanings, even with the band having gone in a more symphonic direction on the last few albums. Even the lesser songs in the Edenbridge catalogue are redeemed through her fantastic voice, and it once again is the driving force on the first song here, where she sounds stunning amidst great riffs and stirring orchestration. The chorus is magnificent, catchy through the riff and vocals but imbued with power from the orchestration, which is never overbearing throughout the album but gels incredibly well with the music, something which a lot of symphonic metal bands can’t get a good balance with. When Lanvall comes in with that incredible solo it’s sealed as a fantastic track that even though it comes first stays in your head once the album ends.

The Die is Not Cast is more dramatic with a lot more focus on symphonic orchestration, but it’s a track that sounds so varied it’s hard to believe they fit it into just over five minutes, with great harmonised vocals, guitar solos, heavy riffs, and even breaks for acoustic guitar and piano it’s one of the more adventurous song writing efforts since 2004’s Shine. The Moment is Now is a classic of modern Edenbridge style, a shorter vocal centric uplifting track with catchy riffs, a rousing chorus and simple riffs to nod along to. The harmonised backing vocals to Sabine’s voice are used to great effect here, and all the track is missing is a classic melodic Lanvall solo – with one of those it would be one of the best tracks they’d ever done.

Until the End of Time and Only a Whiff of Life provide the album’s two obligatory ballads, Sabine sounding fantastic in the re-working of the Voiciano track, Lanvall and Sabine’s acoustic side project. A piano and acoustic guitar piece, it’s a duet with great powerful singing from male vocalist Erik Mårtensson , and when they add distorted guitar towards the end they improve on the original track by adding this extra power. The latter of the others is another classic Edenbridge vocal and piano ballad, Sabine lending her melodious voice to a basic piano piece that would sound generic without her heavenly talents. The epic closer The Greatest Gift of All feels nowhere close to it’s twelve minute length it’s so engaging, from the melodic guitar solo that opens the track, to the heavenly vocal and acoustic  intro, through the rousing chorus, heavier dramatic metal riffage and orchestral bridges. Lanvall showcases that he’s one of the best guitarists in this melodic metal style and Sabine one of the best vocalists, the combination of the two is a match made in heaven.

Overall The Great Momentum is a fantastic effort, a return to form after the somewhat underwhelming The Bonding. More focused song writing makes the album more memorable and enjoyable, it’s more expansive than the preceding release, hearkening back a little to Shine when they expanded their sound, but continuing with the symphonic direction from the last few albums. It’s possibly not quite as good as Shine, MyEarthDream or Sunrise in Eden, but it’s the best of the rest. I can’t fathom how they’re such an underrated and virtually unknown band in the scene at large when they’re one of the best, it always bemuses me. Their music is majestic and celestial, it sounds like they should be playing at the gates of heaven itself. A return to form and there’s no stopping Edenbridge’s momentum as one of the best melodic metal bands of the last two decades.

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