edenCards on the table – I’ve never really been a particular fan of Eden’s Curse. There’s just so many albums to hear every year that I was of the opinion I’d investigated their first two but the just weren’t my thing – a little too keyboard reliant, too quick to get to an overly commercial chorus etc. Then recently a friend of mine mentioned that just before their last album they had a bit of a line-up shuffle and if I got the chance I should re-visit them. That chance has now presented itself in the form of reviewing their new album. But then, I think you’d worked that out already…

Now, as I said earlier I haven’t heard them for a while…and yes, it turns out on further investigation that it was their second album back in 2008 where we parted ways, so I hope that helps to define my comparisons. I had them pegged back then as basically just good quality Melodic Hard Rock/Metal, but Eden’s Curse have since grown a pair…”Power” and “Epic”, being that pair (not sure what you thought I meant…) and from opening track ‘Prophets Of Doom’ onwards this proves to be a heavier and much more dynamic Eden’s Curse. Plenty of double-kick drums littered throughout the tracks – that’s one way to my heart and I can’t complain on that score, but then it needs backing up with energetic bass and guitar rhythms – another tick there!

The band have spent years building a solid fan base so they have taken care not to totally forsake their earlier style, just heavy it up a bit gradually whilst keeping their trade-mark melody and memorability. It’s possible long-term fans probably haven’t noticed much of a shift, but if you miss the last two albums out like yours truly did, it seems more apparent. One big difference and massive positive for me is vocalist Nikola Mijik, who is rather fabulous! He handles the catchy more commercial tracks with the same expertise as the heavier, faster ones and comes across every time like a top class Metal vocalist. There are so many elements to his voice – David Readman springs to mind many times, especially on the Pink Cream 69 flavoured tracks, but he also has the versatility and vocal maturity of say Jorn Lande, Russell Allen and Ian Parry. The music slips effortlessly from the aforementioned Pink Cream 69, through shades of Royal Hunt, Voodoo Circle, Seven Wishes…just so many great Melodic Metal bands past and present, with some healthy progressive touches, good doses of power and occasional symphonic leanings.

But no band in particular spring to mind all the time as Eden’s Curse have really crafted their own identity here – always familiar, but never too apparent, which in a time when originality is difficult it’s a great place to be. Their strengths lie in having a commercial track like ‘Find My Way’, which could be from any top class Melodic Rock band from Magnum to Jovi, but sandwiched between a pounding full-on classic power metal track like ‘Messiah Complex’ and a groove-laden Tesla-type song like ‘Kingdom Of Solitude’. Though they differ greatly in style when separated, they fit together perfectly when played by Eden’s Curse. By the way, ‘Unconditional’ is a duet with none other than Liv Kristine, using the opportunity to remind listeners that Leaves’ Eyes was just one aspect to her voice – another great song.

OK, there are a couple of tracks that still aren’t my bag, but I’m going to be in the minority there as the huge and varied amount of fans the band are surely going to retain and gain with this release is what matters. So what more can I say – In a field that’s up against stiff competition this is looking like being one of my favourite Melodic Metal albums of the year! Great songs, expertly delivered with just enough power and sensitivity. Not bad for a band I had decided I had no interest in eh? Well done Eden’s Curse – put me nicely in my place – and thank you sincerely for doing just that!

(8/10 Andy Barker)