2007 is shaping up to be a banner year for Symphonic Metal. The new year was kicked off with the release of THERION’s superb “Gothic Kabbalah”, which, according to cduniverse.com’s bestsellers list, many fans snapped up quite readily. Less than a month later, the United States and Canada are treated to their own release of genre-definers EDENBRIDGE’s fifth album, “The Grand Design”. Fans in Europe have had their paws on this album since last year, but to make up for it, North American followers are treated to a special version of the album containing an exclusive bonus track. Not that it’s really needed, as the rest of the album is stunning enough by itself.
“The Grand Design” is an amazingly epic album, and this is expressed through both the symphonic melodies as well as the length of some of the songs themselves. Bombastic choirs are omnipresent on seven-plus minute songs like “Terra Nova” and the title track. Guitarist and band leader Lanvall’s songwriting is excellent; he’s got an ear for that hard-to-find balance between crushing Metal heaviness and soaring epic melody. EDENBRIDGE manage to find that line and straddle it throughout the nearly sixty-minute set, much to the delight of my eardrums.
Once again, vocalist Sadine Edelsbacher is in top form here, with her smooth singing style forming the backbone of songs like “Flame Of Passion”. While often compared to ex-NIGHTWISH singer Tarja Turunen, Edelsbacher has a less operatic voice than her Finnish counterpart, thus giving the music less of a Gothic feel. Songs like “Evermore” and “The Most Beautiful Place” further reaffirm the sense that these songs are rather bright and positive indeed.
The title track is truly an exercise in creative songwriting. Lanvall inserts little “oohs” and “ahhs” at certain points to great effect, adding an almost QUEEN-like feel to the mix. The song goes through a number of different stages during its ten-minute span, but they all have one thing in common: pure bombast. This is a song that’s intricate, epic, catchy, and heavy, all in one.
While Europe’s version of “The Grand Design” also included “Empire Of The Sun”, North American fans also receive the band’s cover of the classic James Bond song “For Your Eyes Only”. Originally released as a single, the song perfectly suits Edelsbacher’s voice; in fact, on my second listen through the album, all I could think about was how much she sounds like a Bond Girl. Anyway, now that this album’s available to Symphonic Metal fans in the States and Canada, run to your nearest record store and pick up “The Grand Design” immediately! It’s an uplifting and diverse album that will certainly not let down fans of the band in any way. Another excellent album from the Austrian masters of the genre!
(Online April 29, 2007)