This review was first published on the official Amberian Dawn forum on October 21, 2010.
So I just downloaded the new Amberian Dawn album End of Eden (yes, I have preordered it, but it hasn’t come yet so I hope the band won’t mind me not waiting any longer), and I’m about to get my very first listen… And so I got the idea to record my primary listen experience in this thread, updating it as the album goes along. I’m currently just about to get a cup of coffee before finally pressing the play button on Talisman… so, wish me luck, and please comment!
Remember that this is my first listen, so don’t blame me all that much if I have the ”wrong” opinion all from the start. Some of the best albums out there (Kamelot’s ”Poetry For the Poisoned”, Epica’s ”Design Your Universe”, My Dying Bride’s ”34.788 %… Complete”, Tiamat’s ”Wildhoney”) are growers I didn’t like one bit on first listen.
Observe that I really don’t pay any attention to the lyrics on first listen, but I focus on the music (not to mention that they’re hard to distinguish in Heidi’s operatic vocals, and I don’t have them before me).
1. Talisman (3:41)
Kicks off with an awesome intro – not really blast-off at all as on previous albums but slow and ghostly keyboards. It then moves into a nice verse and a chorus I really didn’t feel much from on first listen, but it grows on me on the second chorus. This track has some awesome guitar-keyboard play, especially the solo/instrumental before the last chorus, and it has an awesome neo-classical feel to it, as do the keyboard orchestrations in the chorus and the end of the track.
2. Come Now Follow (3:47)
An intro with piano-guitar work reminding me of Nightwish’ ”Gethsemane” (from 1998’s Oceanborn) with atmospheric vocals by Heidi. Moves into a really cool chorus that reminds a little of ”He Sleeps in a Grove” (in a good way). I’m a little disappointed with the solo leading directly into third chorus with no real bridge, as well as the outro not being longer – it builds up to an awesome riff there.
3. Arctica (4:59)
Ofcourse I’ve heard this track a million times before, seeing as it was released almost two months prior to the album, as its lead single. It has some awesome instrumental sections and Heidi sounds wonderful in the chorus. A great track with a wonderfully arctic feel – and I suppose that’s what they’re going for.
One third in…
Seeing as there’s little to comment on Arctica I’m taking a little break to talk on my thoughts so far. I’m actually a little disappointed to see that both Talisman and Come Now Follow are real ”hits” with nothing extremely interesting to bring. Sure, every album needs a few pure rock songs, but I still feel too many AD tracks miss that little extra spark, that awesome solo or wonderful bridge – instead, most solos are pretty ”ordinary” and most tracks have no bridge whatsoever. Arctica do have a wonderful instrumental section before the last chorus though, and so almost makes up for the lack of this in the previous two tracks. Those I look the most forward to next are Ghostly Echoes, Virvatulen Laulu.
4. Ghostly Echoes (5:43)
This song has a really awesome 40-second intro of partly those ghostly echoes promised, and partly some extraordinary heavy metal riffing. Moves into a nice verse moving into an epic chorus, very much relying on background keyboard moves and some up front guitar riffing. Reminds me of Incubus in its strange atmosphere. This would have made for a great music video, I feel two minutes in out of almost six…
This was one of the songs I was really looking forward to, partly for its length (I’m a sucker for epics) and partly for its title. Three minutes in I’m already satisfied, and now it’s moving into a cool post-chorus instrumental, followed by a ripping guitar solo followed by some face-melting keyboard battling and background choral movements (ghostly echoes!) – this… is… awesomeness. A vocal movement follows leading up to the final chorus. This track is somewhat gothy, with its slow, heavy guitars and its background keyboards and choirs, and what sounds like church organ by the end. In short, an awesome track.
5. Sampo (3:12)
Kicks off with a nice but not extraordinary intro, and leads into a pleasant vocal-lead chorus – probably the perfect semi-joyful, melodic track after a heavier one like Ghostly Echoes. I notice the use of background choir in both this one and Ghostly Echoes and realise I really enjoy it. …at 2:02 I stand in shock before the awesome instrumental – my complaint on lack of bridges, forget about it! This is great, and that for a song that’s just a little beyond three minutes in length… wow! Nice idea with such a sudden and great instrumental. I’m using ”great” a little too much, huh?
7. Field of Serpents (3:39)
There’s something awesome about this album and its varying atmospheres. This one starts out like the big escape theme in a Hollywood thriller, and goes on through a stressful verse into a scream-out chorus, with varying crazy keyboard and ripping guitar riffs. I can’t imagine anything but running through a Field of Serpents in this awesome chorus. The bass-drums increase works perfectly and brings on just the right feel.
Moving into a nice instrumental section (proved wrong again, what is this?! ) I realise this is one of the tracks with keyboard battle. Awesome!
Two thirds in…
As the last keyboard notes of Field of Serpents echo out I take another break for commenting on my thoughts so far. In the last one I were complaining about the lack of surprise and the lack of bridges, that the two new tracks so far had been nice ”hits” but weren’t really that original. That definititely changed now, with the awesome epic Ghostly Echoes and the speedy-as-hell-what-is-going-on Field of Serpents, as well as the next ”hit” Sampo which turned out to have quite a wonderful instrumental bridge.
The next three tracks all seem very exciting. City of Destruction (I recalled it to be ”corruption”, I have to do a quick Google search) has a very interesting name indeed, and I recall it to be the second one with a feature from Jens Johansson? Virvatulen Laulu is the classical piece with an opera singer, and seeing as I am a sucker for both classical music and opera it doesn’t take that many geniuses to calculate that I probably will love it (not to mention that mr Seppälä has only done great classical compositions so far). War in Heaven is 7:24 and I guess it is in this one we’ll see a reappearance by our dear friend James Goodman, that’s appeared on both previous albums as well. Put that together with its wonderful title and well, I think I’m sold before it begins. edit: After a Google search I realise that the title was indeed ”City of Corruption”, not Destruction. Damned be that torrent file.
8. City of Corruption (4:19)
Starts off real epic and moves into an even more epic neo-classical movement before the vocals start after a minute. The vocal lines are really beautifully done, and already the verse is stuck in my mind. The chorus is purely enchanting as well, even though I had assumed this song to be a ”rocker” judging by its title. Amberian Dawn is definitely moving into a more neo-classical direction as previously hinted on tracks likeIncubus, and I definitely enjoy this.
The song moves into a keyboard battle that rocks my brains out – as I had recalled, this was the one. The guitar riff featured in the intro as well is really wonderful as well.
9. Virvatulen Laulu (3:45)
I immediately notice that while this song starts out really nice, it definitely doesn’t suite well straight after City of Corruption. That aside, it’s really pleasant, with nice voices by both Nieminen and Heidi, and some extraordinary orchestration in the background. A style that immediately reminds me of the old classics. Moves into a wonderful piano-keyboard outro. Tuomas is really doing a lot of work in this one! A track I won’t really think is coming live, but it would be awesome if it did. Though this one didn’t strike me to be that amazing first run, it wouldn’t surprise me to be a grower.
10. War in Heaven (7:24)
Pure epic right from the start, with nice choir and guitar-drum-bass work, and background keyboard notes. Heidi’s voice sounds wonderfully tormented (am I sadistic? yes I am) and moves into a beautiful chorus (?) with a wonderful rhythm I really need them to play live.
[2:16] Moving into a doomish guitar section with James Goodman’s beautiful screaming voice and some chaotic background keyboards… wow that’s hot. They should do more of this. [2:46] Back to Heidi’s calm, tormented verse. Slow drums and calm keyboards… moving into a chorus section again. ”God and his angel…”! Wonderful. Back to Goodman and the doom, moving into even cooler choral works and then slowing it down with some harpsichord moving into a scarily great keyboard-heavy instrumental leading into a guitar solo. [6:22] Goodman returns his part and repeats it with increasing drum action speeding up the tempo… background orchestration and keyboard sections returns and it all echoes out with a hauntingly epic harpsichord and church organ finishing it off… a perfect ending to this amazing album.
edit: I realised just now that 6. Blackbird wasn’t included among the files I downloaded… I fixed another download though, and I have to hurry now but I’ll comment on it later.