I have to admit that I have something of a love hate relationship with symphonic metal. When done well it is absolutely stunning, but if not then it can be mediocre at best and over the years I have swung from one side of the fence to the other with Austrian symphonic metal brigade Edenbridge. Having been around since 1998, they have released some outstanding albums while others have fallen a little short of the mark. I was therefore intrigued to see what their tenth album ‘Dynamid’ would bring.
The album opens with ‘The Memory Hunter’ and chugging riffs before the melody kicks in, followed shortly by the powerful vocals of Sabine Edelsbacher which are consistently the focal point of the album. Although the track starts with a lot of potential it soon falters and loses momentum feeling generic and restrained. Second track ‘Live And Let Go’ is a little more promising as vocal melodies build towards a catchy chorus reminiscent of the Europop heyday. The album continues with ‘Where Oceans Collide’ which is business as usual with groovy rhythms and more catchy melodies, but ultimately it still feels “safe” and one dimensional.
There is a welcome change in pace with ‘On The Other Side’ and its clear Irish influences both during the intro and the Celtic melody of the chorus as the lyrics explore the phenomenon of the grass always seeming greener on the other side. This for me is a stand out track on the album
‘All Our Yesterdays’ has a dramatic intro which builds nicely but soon drops away to an anti-climax as restrained vocals take the lead. All the elements are in place with great guitar work, galloping percussion, memorable melody and powerful vocals but it somehow misses that special quality and it all feels too safe and formulaic. A bombastic intro leads into ‘The Edge Of Your World’ but this subsides once again leaving an all too familiar pattern. Towards the end, the track slows a little into sublime melody before launching into a shredding guitar solo before the vocals take up the reigns again and for me, it is when they mix things up that we get a glimmer of the true potential of the band.
‘Tauerngold’ showcases some great musicianship and utilises more stripped back vocals. Overall the track feels slower but more measured and this gives it more impact than other tracks where the same formula is followed. However, it is soon back to business as usual with ‘What Dreams May Come’ and although there is enough melody here to get your head nodding you will likely have forgotten it five mins later.
And so we come to the showpiece of the album, ‘The Last Of His Kind’. Clocking in at over twelve mins, this opus, gives the band the opportunity to explore differing tempos and atmospheres as this builds and reveals itself, even including proggy guitar passages as well as the more standard fare, but this variety really benefits the overall impact of the music. The album. Is brought to a close with title track ‘Dynamind’. This short piece is only just over two minutes long and sees powerful, almost vulnerable, vocals set to minimal musical accompaniment. This is the second highlight of the album for me.
This was a really frustrating listen. The band are clearly loaded with talent and have huge potential. There are glimpses of this when the band step outside their standard formula but in between times, despite all the pomp and bombast it is lacklustre. I would love to see Edenbridge let themselves go and really push their boundaries, mixing things up with more urgency as they are clearly talented musicians with all of the raw ingredients but this time they haven’t fulfilled that potential. Maybe next time.
( 7/10 Andy Pountney)