Being a huge Amberian Dawn fan, I was highly anticipating the release of their third CD, End of Eden. I have no idea when the North American release is coming out and it isn't as yet available on Canada's iTunes store. I hope we get it sooner or later! I hate it when we get stuff so much later than the rest of the planet!
Around the time End of Eden came out and the first video from the new album was available for viewing, Amberian Dawn announced some significant changes in their line-up. Gone are bassist Tommi Kuri, who has been replaced by Jukka Koskinen; Emil Tobias Pohjalainen, who played guitar, has been replaced by Kimmo Korhonen; and drummer Joonas Pykälä-aho has been replaced by Heikki Saari.
The other big news around this album is the guest appearance by Stratovarius keyboardist Jens Johansson for a much-touted keyboard "battle" between Jens and AD keyboardist and main man Tuomas Seppälä. Additionally, Finnish male opera singer Markus Nieminen also makes an appearance.
My first impression of this CD was that I didn't think it lived up to it's hype. However, after listening to it several more times, I have amended that opinion. While I think there are some songs on here that seem like the same old AD we've been used to for a while now, there are some impressive aspsects going on that took a much more concerted listen to fully appreciate.
This is a faster album with a more complex sound to it than River of Tuoni and Clouds of Northland Thunder. Heidi's voice remains perfect, but it also seems to have grown in range, too. There are more symphonic elements present in End of Eden, including some nice choir arrangements that add atmosphere. There is a much darker, Gothic kind of feel to this CD than I perceived were on the previous two albums, yet this is still symphonic power metal through and through. I think the compositions are also more complex, showing some growth on the part of the songwriters.
Definitely the highlights on this release are the entirely classical piece, where Markus Nieminen guests, "Virvatulen Laulu", and the Jens Johanssen track, "War in Heaven." "Virvatulen Laulu" is pure beauty & classical bliss; Heidi sounds her best here for sure and the composition is amazing even though I don't understand what is going on in the song because of the language barrier. "War in Heaven" is AD's longest and most epic song to date, and the keyboard battle is certainly nice to listen to. I'm very glad to see an epicly long song from AD at last; I've always thought they were epic-sounding but I have yearned for them to produce a long, epic song to show off their epicness. They do it here.
Another highlight is the song that was released as the CD's first single, and the first video to come from the album, "Arctica." Fast, intricate, and a treat to the ears.
My only real criticism gets back to song length. Again, apart from "War in Heaven", the songs are all comparatively short, and though well-composed, there is a touch of "Amberian Dawn formula" here. They seem to have a safety zone for themselves, and I found myself wishing they'd break out of that a bit with End of Eden. While I certainly do hear growth, I'm not sure I'm preceiving any big risks being taken, or any move towards more of an evolution of the band's overall sound.
Still, definitely a horns up from me, because this is a great album to listen to, and shit, I'd listen to Heidi sing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and other annoying nursery songs over and over again because she is just so delightful to my ears!
Here is "Arctica" for you to listen to. Enjoy!