The symphonic female fronted genre is beyond saturation with new bands seeming to appear on a daily basis, and for many of these bands it seems that as long as there is a female warbler at the helm, then nothing else is needed. Unfortunately that leads to many releases that are at best mediocre. Austria’s Edenbridge are not in this category and should be considered as one of the forefathers (and mother!) of this genre, having been around since 1998 and with this being their 9th studio album.
Over the course of their previous eight albums, Edenbridge have taken us on a journey of styles, all under the umbrella of symphonic metal, and I was curious to see where the journey would take us on their ninth album ‘The Great Momentum’. Opening track ‘Shiantara’ was apparently inspired by Star Trek, and is a confident album opener with a catchy chorus, and crunchy guitars (even if the main riff sounds unnervingly like ‘Enter Sandman’!) setting the standard nicely for the what is to follow. Track two ‘The Die is Not Cast’ continues with Sabine’s angelic vocals taking centre stage, amongst guitar solos and pompous orchestrations giving us exactly what we have come to expect from Edenbridge.
‘The Moment is now’ pushes the boundaries a little more with more melody within the vocal lines, bringing to mind peers Nightwish as certain points, and for me this is one of the outstanding tracks on offer here. The pace drops for the mellower ‘Until the End of Time, which further showcases Sabine’s stunning vocals. The band are accompanied by guest vocalist Erik Martensson for this track, and although he complements Sabine’s vocals well I am left curious, wondering how this would have sounded without him…..I suspect he is simply a distraction from how good Sabine actually sounds here.
The pace picks up again for ‘The Visitor’, and this is kept up on ‘Return to Grace’, which opens with the guitars almost having middle Eastern feel, before returning to safe ground, and it was at this point that my attention began to wander a little. Ballad ‘Only a Whiff of Life’ grabbed my attention again and the piano orchestration was the perfect accompaniment to the powerful vocal delivery. ‘A Turnaround in Art’ is a magnificently produced piece with good use of a backing orchestra, and although the musicianship and vocals are all top notch, the songs are beginning to blend into one. The album is brought to a close with 12 minute opus ‘The Greatest Gift of All’ which takes the listener on a roller coaster journey of emotions and is perhaps the jewel in the crown of this album.
Overall, this is a majestic, epic slab of exquisitely produced symphonic metal. The musical talent on display is beyond doubt, and Sabine’s vocals are sublime. The orchestration is opulent, and the production is second to none. However, despite all of this, it all feels a little formulaic and lacks that special something, and I ultimately felt a little deflated. It’s one I will revisit for a few more spins, and it may well ‘click’ after a few more listens……Time will tell.
(7/10 Andy Pountney)