Amberian Dawn – The Clouds of Northland Thunder (2009)

Though an incredible jump from their 2008 debut River of Tuoni, The Clouds of Northland Thunder is still somewhat lost in the early days of the symphonic power metal act that is Amberian Dawn.

Amberian Dawn makes good, unique power metal with symphonic influences in a genre that nowadays is all too dominated by Nightwish wannabees making it difficult to find the actual good bands, and for that reason alone AD has somehow been lost in the maelström. And on first listen, the keyboard-dominated melodic tunes with soaring soprano vocals by Heidi Parviainen may sound like just another copy, but on further listens one realises the work that has been placed into every note, with exceptional work done by all members. What differentates this band from the rest is the technicality of the instruments (especially guitar and keyboard) that follow the progressive, neo-classical elements made famous by acts such as Yngwie Malmsteen in the 1980’s, and the relentless speed of most songs, with the only exceptions of ”Willow of Tears” and ”Birth of the Harp”, the two ballads on the album.

But in spite of the technicality of the musicians, the beautiful vocals and lyrics by Parviainen, the band falls into the same problem as they did on ”River of Tuoni”. The songs all too often end up in the exact same, traditional verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus pattern of 3-4 minutes, making the music overall sadly predictable. And with the exception of ”Incubus”, the band proves for the first time that they can make tempo-differing, epic tracks above the five-minute mark. And with exceptional, prolonged instrumental sections on before-mentioned track and others such as ”Lost Soul” and ”Saga”, they prove they could easily pull off pure marathons of neo-classical wonder. Somehow, though, it gets lost in the hope of making a well-played radio hit (I will not claim they don’t succeed – songs like ”He Sleeps in a Grove”, ”Kokko – Eagle of Fire” and ”Shallow Waters” are scarily catchy, fast and heavy).

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