Edenbridge – Shangri-La Review

In the symphonic metal scene, one of the most consistent and longest-running bands is Austrian band Edenbridge, who have been around since the late '90s, putting out quality albums...

Released By: AFM Records

Release Date: September 16th, 2022

Genre: Symphonic Metal

Links: https://www.edenbridge.org/

 

Line Up:

Sabine Edelsbacher – Vocals

Lanvall – Guitars, Keyboards

Dominik Sebastian – Guitars

Steven Hall – Bass

Johannes Jungreithmeir – Drums

 

Tracklist:

1. At First Light

2. The Call of Eden

3. Hall of Shame

4. Savage Land

5. Somewhere Else But Here

6. Freedom Is A Roof Made of Stars

7. Arcadia (The Great Escape)

8. The Road to Shangri-La

9. The Bonding (Part 2)

 

 

In the symphonic metal scene, one of the most consistent and longest-running bands is Austrian band Edenbridge, who have been around since the late ’90s, putting out quality albums every 2-3 years regularly. The band has had a somewhat similar career trajectory as Nightwish (though not on as large a scale), starting with a classic symphonic power metal sound, before slowly moving away from that and into more of an epic, cinematic symphonic metal style, with the 2008 release MyEarthDream arguably being their big turning point. Unlike the aforementioned band, though, Edenbridge’s songwriting tends to be a bit more catchy and radio-friendly, neither as ambitious nor experimental, instead going for a more melodic symphonic metal sound, while still having a good balance between heaviness and orchestral elements. Coming off a string of solid, yet ultimately unremarkable albums, the band’s previous release Dynamind felt like a nice step forward (as well as somewhat of a return to classic form), and their recently released 11th full-length album, Shangri-La keeps the momentum going, standing as possibly their best release in 14 years!

I’ll admit, while I’ve always enjoyed Edenbridge, and have been a fan of their music since around the time MyEarthDream was released, I started losing interest in them a bit following the back-to-back releases of The Bonding and The Great Momentum, as each new album seemed to be moving further away from their power metal roots and into a softer, more ballad-heavy sound I wasn’t as fond of. I hadn’t even heard Dynamind in full until after I released a promo for this album, enjoyed it, and decided to go back and revisit that release to see if I was missing something, or if the band had indeed rejuvenated themselves since the last time I listened to them. It turns out, that the band is indeed back in fine form, with both this and their previous album bringing back a bit of their power metal sound, as well as dialing up the heaviness just a bit, while still maintaining their softer side, as well as being as epic and symphonic as ever.

As always, two members form the core of the band’s sound, just as it’s been since their debut, Sunrise in Eden. The first of these is the main songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Lanvall, whose lead guitar work, keys, and songwriting help lay the groundwork for everything else. His guitar work is as strong as ever, with a nice amount of heaviness to add some extra punch to some of the tracks, especially in the first half of the album, while he also does some excellent more melodic playing at times, to help enhance the catchier, lighter tracks. The keys and symphonic elements are also excellent, at times being epic and bombastic, while at times being more restrained, but always very melodic and beautiful. The other centerpiece of the band is of course vocalist Sabine Edelsbacher, who has a somewhat lower tone to her voice than most others in the genre, but it’s also a very soothing voice, that especially shines during the chorus, though she can also add in a bit of extra power to help enhance heavier tracks. She’s in excellent form throughout the album and sounds as great as ever.

The one area where I found the band had gone off track a bit on more recent albums was the songwriting. The thing is, I don’t think they’ve ever written any songs I would call outright bad, but albums like Solitaire and The Great Momentum felt like they were somewhat coasting along a bit, playing things a bit safe and not doing anything to elevate themselves the way they did on their earlier albums. Dynamind felt like a nice return to form in that regard, with some of their best tracks in a long time, and Shangri-La continues that, with no less than solid tracks, and a few, in particular, stand out as being among my favorites by the band.

Opening the album is “At First Light”, which briefly kicks off with some bombastic symphonic arrangements, before the guitars kick in and the pace picks up, settling into a fairly up-tempo symphonic power metal sound, which remains throughout most of the track. There are some pretty heavy riffs here, to go along with some nice melodies, a strong chorus, and some very big symphonic arrangements, which especially stand out during the instrumental portion in the middle of the track, before things calm down a bit, leading to a very beautiful ending sequence. It’s an excellent track overall and gets the album off to a flying start. I find all of their albums since MyEarthDream has had at least one light, a catchy mid-paced single that feels like it would fit in well on the radio, and this time around that track is “The Call of Eden”, which has some excellent melodic lead guitar work, as well as a fantastic chorus, sung brilliantly by Edelsbacher. It’s a rather light track, with the guitar work being rather restrained, but still nicely done, and it has some excellent melodies, as well as being extremely fun and catchy. I’d say it’s among the band’s better tracks in this style, for sure.

Perhaps the heaviest track on the album is “Hall of Shame”, which gives off some Stratovarius vibes with its heavy main riff and flashy keyboards, to go along with the usual epic symphonic arrangements, excellent melodies, and of course strong vocals. Verses are fast and furious, while the chorus only slows down the pace slightly, going for a more melodic approach, while still having touches of heaviness. It’s the most powerful metal-centered track on the album, and that helps make it a personal favorite.

There are two ballads here, the first of those being “Savage Lands”. As much as I enjoy Edelsbacher’s vocals, for some reason I often find Edenbridge’s ballads to be a bit lacking, and that is sadly the case with this one. It’s a decent track, nothing overly offensive or anything, but I find it lacks any particularly strong melodies or vocal hooks, instead just kind of droning along throughout most of its running time, slightly picking up towards the end with some nice folk melodies. Thankfully, though, things quickly pick up again with “Somewhere Else But Here”, another mid-paced track, somewhat along the lines of “The Call of Eden”, though it has a slightly heavier main riff, and has a bit more energy to it, while still being very melodic and having an excellent chorus, as well as a great guitar solo in the second half. Another highlight comes next, with the rather awkwardly named “Freedom Is A Roof Made of Stars”, a song that alternates nicely between heavy, fast-paced power metal instrumental sections, mid-paced verses, and a rather slow-paced, but still very beautiful chorus. There’s quite a bit going on here, with different moods throughout the track, alternating between dark and heavy to light and melodic, but the band pulls everything off perfectly, with both their stars being given an equal amount of room to shine.

Next comes the second ballad of the album, “Arcadia (The Great Escape)”. It’s another acoustic guitar-driven ballad, similar to “Savage Land”, but unlike that track, I find the melodies a bit more enjoyable throughout, with the chorus, in particular, being excellent, while the instrument work is also more interesting throughout. It’s not one of my favorites on the album, but it’s a great track overall and by far the better of the two ballads. Following that is the title track, a family upbeat track that never quite reaches power metal territory, but it moves at a nice pace throughout and has some heavy riffs, to go along with a very melodic, very catchy chorus. It’s another excellent track, overall.

Closing out the album is the 16-minute epic “The Bonding (Part 2)”, which is made up of 5 parts (though my promo copy has it all in one track, which is how I prefer my epics.) Following a nice extended intro, along with a soft vocal section, the track quickly picks up the pace, with heavy verses where the vocals alternate between Edelsbacher and Eclipse vocalist Erik Mårtensson, who adds some extra grit and power to his parts, while the chorus goes into full-on speedy power metal mode, but with some epic symphonic backing and excellent vocal melodies, to help make it one of the biggest highlights of the entire album. Following that stretch is a nice, bombastic instrumental passage, with some of the heaviest guitar work on the album, as well as some nice solo sections. Once that part ends, the rest of the track is fairly calm and soft, alternating between some rather somber, atmospheric instrumental passages, and some epic and beautiful vocal passages, which are quite excellent, with the ending of the song, in particular, being a perfect way to end the album. Overall, it’s a fantastic track, and quite possibly my favorite epic the band has ever done.

For a few years, I wasn’t paying much attention to Edenbridge, thinking that while they were still a solid band, a lot of their later works weren’t keeping me fully invested. That changed with Dynamind, which felt like somewhat of a return to form, bringing back some of their heaviness and power metal elements, while still maintaining everything they’ve developed over the years. Shangri-La continues with this, delivering some of the band’s best tracks in the past decade and a half, and I’m sure any fan of the band will find a lot to love here, while newcomers looking for a great symphonic metal album with some power metal elements would do well to give the album a listen.

 

Ratings: 8/10

Written by: Travis Green

My Global Mind – Staff Writer

Travis Green is a Canadian based writer for My Global Mind, with a particular passion for power metal, as well as an interest metal in all its forms.

 

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