The Finnish band Amberian Dawn was established in 2006 by Tuomas Seppälä (guitar, keyboards) and Tommi Kuri (bass). They found a vocalist in Heidi Parviainen, who also became the band's main lyricist. These three musicians recorded an impressive demo that immediately led to a record deal. After two albums, River Of Tuoni (2008) and The Clouds Of Northland Thunder (2009), I received their latest release End Of Eden. Meanwhile the band have had a few line-up changes, but are now completed to a sextet with Kasperi Heikkinen (guitar), Emil Pohjalainen (guitar) and Joonas Pykälä-Aho (drums). This line-up seems to be consistent now. This means that on stage, the keyboards are played by Tuomas Seppälä. He only plays guitar in the studio and for writing purposes.
When you read 'a female fronted Finnish band', the first name that comes to mind is Nightwish. Well, to be honest: as far as the vocals and their process of writing are concerned, Nightwish must have been of great influence. However, Amberian Dawn added a guitar that sounds like Yngwie Malmsteen. You can now describe their music best as symphonic power metal with classical opera vocals and many impressive guitar versus guitar or guitar versus keyboards duels in the neo-classical vein. Apart from the guitar, the opener Talisman could have ended up on one of the Nightwish-albums; the resemblance is very strong here. The following Come Now Follow sounds quite similar: great melodies, musically very strong, but lacking an identity of its own. The single Artica is a bit more accessible for a wider audience with its high soprano vocals and great interaction between the guitars and the keyboards. The steady quality keeps continuing until the end of the album. The song Field Of Serpents has been built on the melody Flight Of The Bumblebee by classical composer Rimski-Korsakov. This classical piece has been played over a million times by pianists and guitarists who like to prove how fast they can play. City Of Corruption contains a keyboard solo, done by Jens Johansson, who also plays an intense solo on War In Heaven, the final song of the album. Virvatulen Laulu is nothing more than a showcase for the classical voice of Heidi Parviainen, who pays a tribute to their Finnish roots on this song together with the opera baritone Markus Nieminen. Nice to listen to for once, but this has nothing to do with progressive rock whatsoever and can only be seen as a classical interlude. War In Heaven completely differs from the rest of the songs. This one is slower, darker and by far the best piece of the album, maybe due to the additional vocals of the original singer James Goodman. I wish Amberian Dawn had used this combination more often on End Of Eden; it would have been a big influence on my final judgment.
I think Amberian Dawn has played a bit on the safe side with their third album. The first part of the album contains neo-prog, gothic and power metal that we've heard so many times before, but the performances of the musicians are excellent. The second part of the album has just that little extra: marvellous keyboard solos by Jens Johansson and the majestic song War In Heaven. The classical interlude is strange, but it shows that the band have the guts to be different. When they combine their neo-classical roots with the classical and darker end of this album, I think Amberian Dawn will create a style of their own. Let's wait for the next album, progression expected!
*** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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