Rating:
7.5
Amberian Dawn - End Of Eden
20 October 2010


01. Talisman
02. Come Now Follow
03. Arctica
04. Ghostly Echoes
05. Sampo
06. Blackbird
07. Field Of Serpents
08. City Of Corruption
09. Virvatulen Laulu
10. War In Heaven
11. Sampo [extended solo version] [Japanese bonus]
12. The Clouds Of Northland Thunder [Japanese bonus]


Amberian Dawn is among the best and most outstanding acts in symphonic metal. With their debut album, the talented Finns presented us their lively sound and bursting energy, followed by the speedy songs off The Clouds Of Northland Thunder. Last year, the band finally got back with its highly-anticipated new record End Of Eden.

The opening track of the album, "Talisman," starts with a choir part and later on reminds you a lot of older songs by the band. Song structures on this record are similar to Amberian Dawn's typical ones but on the other hand, one can sense a slight musical improvement. There are to be heard more and trickier keyboard parts which make the sound richer and extremely colourful. Previously, keyboards seemed only to be heard in the background. The guitarists' mastery has improved and Heidi's voice sounds as enchanting and clear as usual. Orchestrations and choir parts appear more often and create an overall epic sound. In addition, quick changes of musical themes are present, providing composer Tuomas Seppälä the great opportunity to write pieces of larger variety. These kinds of compositions could develop the band's sound in a totally different way throughout their future career and make them explore new creative depths.

Amongst the best songs on the album are "Arctica," "Ghostly Echoes," and "War In Heaven." No wonder the band's management chose "Arctica" as the first single and thus, representative for the whole record. It is perfectly deployed and definitely your typical Amberian Dawn track. The other two compositions both show a new, fresh and different view of the band's sound which has become a bit heavier. Guitar chords are harsher and the overall duration of these songs is longer. Besides, the band has, thankfully, given up the idea of using growls and replaced them with powerful and clean male vocals.

However, Amberian Dawn's weak side are definitely ballads. Therefore, their mid-tempo songs and dynamic ones could be considered better. A good example for that is "Virvatulen Laulu" - the idea of featuring operatic male vocals, especially in a song that is written in the group's native language, is definitely a good one. The song itself is quite tiresome, though and it simply does not manage to capture this listener's interest.

Most tracks on End Of Eden are melodic and catchy but also a bit repetitive at times. Lyrically speaking, the release is quite a big disappointment. If you still expected deeply emotional and sophisticated lyrics, you would perhaps want to try another band. This time, lyrical themes are mainly issues more similar to ecology than metal, as well as your cliché, worn-out Finnish saga… all that mixed up with The Creation of The World.

In conclusion, I could state that Amberian Dawn has once again come up with a good release. End Of Eden is neither something entirely new nor a huge surprise but it still is an album worth the listening. Apart from its small flaws, it still does represent the band in an appropriate way.

Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 6
Production: 8


Band profile: Amberian Dawn
Album: End Of Eden


 


written by Elodie Artour | 20.01.2011


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.



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mariano - 21.01.2011 at 14:53  
Great album, although I have to say I was hopping they improved the vocals a little bit. Even though I think Heidi's voice is amazing she sings with the same pitch range and energy in the entire album. She uses the same stress in each phrase... after a couple of songs it gets a little bit monotonous.
Elodie Artour - 21.01.2011 at 15:16  
Written by mariano on 21.01.2011 at 14:53

She uses the same stress in each phrase... after a couple of songs it gets a little bit monotonous.

I get what you mean, man. Honestly, I have never thought of that before but you do have right...

Heidi should experiment (more) with her voice!
Susan - 23.01.2011 at 05:55  
This is the only album of theirs that I've really listened to in its entirely and I can understand what mariano means about the vocals. She's clearly talented, so it must be frustrating to hear her do the same stuff over and over. It's nonetheless effective, and I did like this album, but it seems to be one of the things that keeps them from being a GREAT band (instead of just a good one). Perhaps they'll all branch out a bit next time.
Elodie Artour - 23.01.2011 at 16:26  
I truly hope so...

@Lyrinan: It's just like Floor Jansen singing undemonstrative on ReVamp's first record. Same thing.
Susan - 24.01.2011 at 06:13  
Written by Elodie Artour on 23.01.2011 at 16:26

I truly hope so...

@Lyrinan: It's just like Floor Jansen singing undemonstrative on ReVamp's first record. Same thing.


Boo, disagree big time! Floor slays on most of the ReVamp songs and this Heidi chick just kinda sings pleasantly, like a thousand other mediocre pretty girls in the genre. Silly to compare though since these two bands have little in common.
Elodie Artour - 24.01.2011 at 16:06  
It's not silly, not at all. Heidi Parviainen kicks asses. I mean, she's pretty good, way better than most operatic singers in the genre. (Excluding incredibly talented artists such as Floor and Tarja.) What's so bad about that comparison of mine? Both AD and ReVamp play Symphonic metal, after all.
Susan - 25.01.2011 at 01:05  
Heidi is way better than most, very true, but that's not saying much given that it's a genre permeated with bad and mediocre singing at every turn. She has some nice talent but in the grand scheme of things she's nothing really special to me.

As I said I enjoyed this album well enough. It's nice and I'll probably listen from time to time. I'm not trying to put it down by saying it's not similar to ReVamp. It's just not that similar Both bands' versions of symphonic metal are rooted in some very different musical styles (and vocal styles, too). It's a big genre with a lot of contributing elements, and these two bands just embrace different elements.
Elodie Artour - 25.01.2011 at 01:52  
Written by Susan on 25.01.2011 at 01:05

Both bands' versions of symphonic metal are rooted in some very different musical styles (and vocal styles, too). It's a big genre with a lot of contributing elements, and these two bands just embrace different elements.

Sure, I should agree with you on that one. It seems like we've had some kind of misunderstanding, though. My point was just that Floor could've used her voice on ReVamp's first record much better, as well as in totally different ways. Heidi's case on "End Of Eden" is similar - she sounds all the same throughout the whole album.

Of course, I couldn't say the same about Floor but being the unique and incredibly talented singer she is, she should be demanding much more of herself. Anyways.
Almagest - 11.02.2011 at 20:17  
This is a strange review. It starts out with so much praise and ends so negatively. The rating is unexpectedly low, as well.

Now I'm not blind to the downsides of the music of Amberian Dawn. They obviously put a lot of work into their solos and other compositional details, which is great, but the macrostructures of the compositions could be more unpredictable and epic. However, End of Eden is a definite step into the right direction, featuring some more unexpected material.

The lyrics may not be the greatest strength of this album, and the general problem is that the stories feel cut short and overly terse, but stylistically, they are definitely sophisticated (although my initial impression of the lyrics was not as good as in the older albums). I don't get how ecology is shallow or otherwise worse than cliché metal subjects? To me, Amberian Dawn's lyrical subjects are quite refreshing; very different to your typical "gothic" female-fronted metal lyrics, trying to be all dark and depressive, but instead just whining about how much everything sucks.

Also, where exactly do they use growls? They've always had the same male guest vocalist, Peter James Goodman (apart from Markus Nieminen, the operatic tenor heard on "Virvatulen laulu"), and he doesn't growl.

As for Heidi's vocals, I beg to differ. In fact, they sound more varied here than ever. I'm totally serious. Obviously, Heidi's approach is not for the faint of heart. She uses pure operatic vocals with an uncompromising orthodoxy that makes even Tarja on Oceanborn sound diluted (not to mention Floor, who doesn't even sing with a classical technique), and Heidi doesn't mess around with a "listener-friendly" lower range, either. But criticising that is like criticising Barnes for never using clean vocals. I'm used to classical singing, and to me, Heidi sounds fine and not at all emotionless or monotonous or whatever. Consistently operatic vocals only seem monotonous if you're not used to them.

I really enjoy "Virvatulen laulu", too. It's not really a ballad even though it can be said to take the place of the obligatory power ballad, but obviously there are no guitars or drums at all. It's a purely classical song, sounding just like an operatic aria. It's great. And while you may not find it particularly exciting or catchy or whatever, remember that this, too, is a matter of getting used to a genre of music. I find that it captures the melodic sense of Finnish classical music (what little I do know of it) amazingly well. Tuomas Seppälä obviously knows his classical music.

Amberian Dawn's music is very melodic, but their neo-classical metal influenced brand of power metal is relatively technical compared to other female-fronted symphonic metal bands and will never be quite as accessible as their music.

But then, Bruce Dickinson and Jens Johansson (who is also the guest musician on here) don't seem to think of those criticisms as that important, so they may be nitpicking anyway.
Susan - 12.02.2011 at 03:30  
Written by Almagest on 11.02.2011 at 20:17
She uses pure operatic vocals with an uncompromising orthodoxy that makes even Tarja on Oceanborn sound diluted


I'm really taken aback by this statement. I wonder if you've listened to much actual opera (not metal singers but actual recordings of opera productions)? Heidi does NOT sing like an opera singer. This is not an insult, she just uses a different technique. She sings in a classical sense and has a lovely voice but it's NOT an opera voice by any means.

There are many metal singers beautifully utilizing classical singing elements in metal. These are NOT opera singers. Opera singers sing opera. We use a special technique to be head over a large orchestra, in a large theatre, without a mic. Metal singers use mics, and therefore don't use breath in the same way or need to properly adduct their cords to be heard over an orchestra. It's just different.
Elodie Artour - 12.02.2011 at 18:03  
It's good that you have your own opinion on this whole subject, Almagest. However, for me you're being totally wrong.

1. Just like Barry's ratings on his reviews, mine do not necessarily represent my views. For instance, production may either lower or heighten the overall rating.

2. "End Of Eden" simply isn't as good as "The Clouds Of Northland Thunder." Fact. (Read my review of it and you'll hopefully get what I mean.)

3. Ecology isn't shallow at all by any stretch of the imagination. I was simply being sarcastic. And, yes - AD's lyrics are indeed quite cliché.

4. You can hear growls on the band's debut album for sure. (I cannot really remember if the second one features such vocals, as well.)

5. I am personally a huge appreciator of opera and classical music on the whole. That Finnish song is boring and mostly unoriginal. It has nothing to do with pieces of art such as "Ave Maria" and whatnot other classical material.

6. Comparing Heidi Parviainen to both Tarja Turunen and Floor Jansen is reasonable and definitely not wrong. However, Heidi will have to practice a lot harder in order to achieve the same things both other ladies already have.

7. I totally agree with Susan about Heidi not being your typical operatic vocal. If you want to listen to some real opera stuff sung by a metal vocalist, just listen to a TRUE classical piece performed by Tarja Turunen.
Anex - 14.02.2011 at 21:27  
Written by Susan on 12.02.2011 at 03:30

Written by Almagest on 11.02.2011 at 20:17
She uses pure operatic vocals with an uncompromising orthodoxy that makes even Tarja on Oceanborn sound diluted


I'm really taken aback by this statement. I wonder if you've listened to much actual opera (not metal singers but actual recordings of opera productions)? Heidi does NOT sing like an opera singer. This is not an insult, she just uses a different technique. She sings in a classical sense and has a lovely voice but it's NOT an opera voice by any means.

There are many metal singers beautifully utilizing classical singing elements in metal. These are NOT opera singers. Opera singers sing opera. We use a special technique to be head over a large orchestra, in a large theatre, without a mic. Metal singers use mics, and therefore don't use breath in the same way or need to properly adduct their cords to be heard over an orchestra. It's just different.


Well this statement is all kinds of uninformed..

As someone who has taken lyrical singing lessons for a while, listened to opera (on several occasions) and owns every single AD album along with having discussed Heidi's singing with my lyrical singing teacher (who is also an active participant/singer in operas) I can't agree at all with what you have just said.

Heidi's voice is brighter, lighter and quicker than the main character opera star roles. On her site she claims she is a soubrette however my teacher does disagree (after having listened for a while) that she is a soubrette and feels her voice is quite strong to be considered as such (most singers' voice grow out of soubrette). This doesn't mean that she doesn't sing in an operatic fashion.

By the way what do you think is that "special technique" that is used to be heard over an orchestra? A twitch to the head or something that changes entirely what your voice sounds like? The only difference is a strong connection with your diaphragm and projecting your voice properly. Nothing special to it really.. it just takes lots of work (which honestly Heidi has some GREAT breathing work to be able to maintain that vocal height and speed for a long time before breathing, I can't even come close before I wimp out) and definite practice/exercise a long with knowing your body while utilizing the potential of your own resonance.

Mind you from personal experience singing in full lyrical voice (if you want to be picky about it, let's use the proper term ok?) will record like utter CRAP on a usual mic because the voice is extremely powerful and does INDEED project over an orchestra. But just because she may not sing to her full projection on recordings (which actually we can't know unless we hear her in the dry environment) doesn't mean that she doesn't have a voice of such quality. They don't use mics because they HAVE to. Tarja indeed can sing over an orchestra yet she uses a mic in many of her shows (including her more classical ones) and I truly believe Heidi could as well.

As for the other post here:

"End Of Eden" simply isn't as good as "The Clouds Of Northland Thunder." Fact. (Read my review of it and you'll hopefully get what I mean.)

FALSE.. opinions are opinions and NOT facts, and honestly from the way you speak as if you were full of infinite knowledge I find that your review would probably be a pretentious article at best.

"5. I am personally a huge appreciator of opera and classical music on the whole. That Finnish song is boring and mostly unoriginal. It has nothing to do with pieces of art such as "Ave Maria" and whatnot other classical material."

One man's trash is another's treasure. I feel this statement works in both directions.
Almagest - 15.02.2011 at 01:35  
* Operatic singing is not the same as singing opera. That should be self-evident. Obviously, the music of Amberian Dawn does not form part of a classical opera performance. That's exactly why I used the word "operatic".

* However, that does not mean that there is a difference between the singing in an opera and other classical singing. All classical singing uses essentially the same technique, and you need not be specialised in opera, or have special opera training, to be able to overpower an orchestra. The whole point (or at least one essential point) of the classical singing technique is to allow a singer's voice to carry far and be good to hear without amplification and despite the presence of accompanying (acoustic, unamplified) instruments, even as far as the last row in a theater. The way this is effected is through the so-called "vocal ring" or, technically, "Singer's Formant" in male singers, and so-called "formant tuning" in sopranos (google the terms to learn more). The difference between an opera singer and, say, a chamber singer is not a difference in technique or vocal power but in repertoire studied. That there is no essential difference technique-wise between opera singers and other trained classical singers is evidenced by the fact that not only opera singers sing arias from operas, and opera singers do not sing only opera but also, for example, art songs. Also, regardless of what you may believe, singing opera is not more difficult than singing other classical pieces, for example art songs. Both is demanding and difficult, just in different ways.

* Just in case you weren't aware of this, Tarja has never been an opera singer (or an opera singer in training). She has never pursued specialised opera training or studies. Her specialisation is chamber music, specifically art song. However, as she has recently hinted in an interview, she's never completed her studies because of her busy career and therefore, doesn't have a formal degree (such as Master of Music). But she keeps working with Maria Blanco, an opera singer from Buenos Aires, who is now her teacher.

* Heidi has been pursuing classical singing studies no less seriously than Tarja. Under http://www.mikseri.net/artists/weepingwillow.57058.php you can find a recording of "Ombra mai fu" sung by Heidi in 2006. Heidi is currently continuing her qualification and pursuing a formal degree.

* Tarja has never sung in a "purely" classical style when interpreting popular material at all. With NW, she has always sung semi-operatically at best, and she acknowledged that herself, pointing out that she never uses her full voice when singing metal, and to hear her full voice, you need to hear her sing classical pieces. From Century Child on, she used her lower range more, and toned her vibrato down, to sound even more "pop", more accessible, easier to listen to and appreciate, even though she's always retained the same basic technique. But it's definitely a compromise - a kind of "popera/musical" style she's used since then, varying in degree between the extremes, of course. If Tarja sounds operatic singing "Nemo", so does Madonna singing "Don't Cry for Me Argentina".

* There's nothing particularly shallow about retelling mythological stories ("Snowmaiden" is based on the plot of Rimsky-Korsakov's opera "The Snow Maiden").

* "Ave Maria"? I suppose you mean Schubert's "Ellens dritter Gesang". That's not a particularly great example. After all, it's one of the most popular pieces of classical music. But often enough, composers did not hold their most recognised works in particularly high esteem, as they tended to overshadow the remainder of their work. Their "hit singles" are popular because they are catchy and accessible, even trivial in comparison (the easily recognised main theme in Smetana's "Moldau" for example, based on the C-major scale), but unlike pop music, classical music is not about being catchy! Therefore, singling out such a popular - and inevitably, overrated - piece as the standard of good and original classical music (or even "Ellens dritter Gesang" as Schubert's supposed masterpiece and the height of his creativity) is severely misguided. For otherwise, it's a no-brainer that everything that the composers have written apart from their "hits" will appear boring. (This the more complex they are in their construction and innovative in their tonal language.) But just because a piece is more demanding for the listener to appreciate (such as Schubert's late symphonies) doesn't mean it's boring at all. So the argument presented here is fallacious.

I'm surprised that I have to explain the following two points at all, given how basic they are for discussions.

* Boasting about your experience, expertise, credentials, titles or position in an attempt to lend more weight to your arguments is futile - especially in an online discussion - and will only impressive the naive. There is no easy way to verify your identity and your credentials online. You cannot expect people to just take your word for it. Nobody knows if you really are who or what you claim to be. Crucially, however, your reasoning and the points you make speak for themselves. Either they are convincing, or they are not. Even the best expertise does not exempt you from making mistakes, presenting flawed reasoning, or committing fallacies. To err is human.

I may not have (formally) studied music or be a practicing musician, but I was already able to poke holes into your arguments. I may not be a dedicated opera aficionado but I have listened to classical and opera singers more than a few times in my life, and I know a thing or two about classical singing. So you call yourself connoisseurs of classical music and opera? See how little it can matter. Even professional vocal teachers do not know everything about their field, and often aren't up to date with the state of the art, just as medical doctors aren't. Singing, like every field of expertise, is very difficult and complex the deeper you penetrate it and as you learn more about it, you become less confident and ever humbler, as you realise how little you actually know and understand.

* Declaring your opinion to be fact does not make it so. Again, this is a classic thought-terminating cliché - a rhetorical trick that's very easy to see through.
Elodie Artour - 16.02.2011 at 19:44  
@Anex: Lemme make some things clear to you...

First of all, music reviews (especially on this site) are usually written by amateurs and/or journalists, not real musicians. However, this does not mean that reviews, made by appreciators, suck. Therefore, I'd suggest you read ALL of my reviews, as well as a few ones made by eliters and staffers. (In my opinion, Metal Storm has got some excellent reviewers. ) This review of mine here is not a pretentious article at all. It IS a true review, like it or not. In addition, given you haven't written a single review for this webzine, you don't get to judge me about my work. EVER. (At lest, I contribute to MS.)

Oh, should I mention that all of my reviews are objective and liked by quite many people already?

Secondly, if you want to have a discussion on classical and operatic singing for real, please feel free to contact Susan a.k.a. Lyrinan instead of me. I'm just an amateurish singer who is definitely aware of writing good reviews and I'm not an operatic vocal, either. On the other hand, Susan is a REAL opera singer, so I definitely respect her opinion on that whole "operatic singing" subject.

As for "End Of Eden" not being as good as "The Clouds Of Northland Thunder," I was speaking generally. Surprisingly, I don't only rate albums according to vocal melodies and similar stuff.

Besides, I chose "Ave Maria" as an example just because it was the first classical piece which came to my mind. Not that I haven't listened to anything else.


@Almagest: Thanks for the long and detailed post, dude! It was quite interesting and entertaining (in a good way) for me to read it. In fact, I wasn't really aware of Heidi's education but I did know about Tarja's chamber music/singing studies.

Once again, I would like to point out I had never stated (or found) the lyrics to the songs on "End Of Eden" shallow. That's how you misinterpreted (and most probably misunderstood, as well) my words.

I don't really claim that my own opinion is a fact. I've only made quite in-depth-reasonings in order to come to the conclusion that "The Clouds Of Northland Thunder" is actually better than "End Of Eden." Not to mention I've discussed it with musicians.

In conclusion, I would like to thank you all for taking your time to read my review of "End Of Eden" and comment on topics, related to it, so passionately. However, I would like to ask you to stop spamming this thread with hateful and/or controversial messages. Thanks in advance.

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