Monday, April 15, 2024

Edenbridge – Shangri La

Edenbridge can best be described as a symphonic rock/metal band from Austria, fronted by Arne ‘Lanvall’ Stockhammer, guitars as well as several other instruments, plus the vocal talents of Sabine Edelsbacher. In fact, the case for stating Edenbridge are just a vehicle for the not-inconsiderable talents of Lanvall and Sabine, despite three other members of the band, is quite a compelling one.

Since forming in 2000 and, throughout their time together, they’ve been bracketed in, possibly unfairly, with bands like Nightwish and Within Temptation, largely because they’re a female-fronted band; but also many of their pieces of music often feature considerable degrees of bombast and, depending on your view of symphonic rock, some very OTT arrangements as well.

On this, their eleventh studio album, we’re taken on a trip to the mythical paradise known as Shangri La where ‘people live in peace and harmony,’ and according to Sabine, it’s “a place casting a mystical allure over we humans, a place to enter, not on foot, but with your hearts.”

Opening up with the eight-minute ‘At First Light’ – right from the outset everything you ever associate with Edenbridge is immediately on display – a fast driving beat, lots of guitar shredding, the occasional orchestral dramatics, a choir in the middle eight and even a part where they sound like Pink Floyd. It’s fair to say they’ve not strayed too far from their core sound. But where Edenbridge differ from bands like Nightwish is they’re far more guitar-oriented and employ more fast riffing, as can be seen on heavier tracks like ‘Hall Of Shame’ and ‘Freedom Is A Roof Made Of Stars’, and if there’re keys being used, they’re well back in the mix. ‘Call Of Eden’ and ‘Road To Shangri La’ are also hard rocking tracks, but they attempt something different with the quieter Savage Land, with just guitar and Sabine singing, and the use of flute adds another dimension to their sound. ‘Arcadia (The Great Escape)’ is in a similar vein, and both tracks demonstrate they do have subtlety in their skill set.

They save the best for last, with a sixteen-minute epic ‘The Bonding (pt 2)’, which is five pieces under one heading, and it’s even possible to hear the keyboards clearly. It’s a piece of contrasting moods and images and is a mix of thrash riffs, rock and orchestral, with Sabine sharing vocal duties with Erik Mortenssen. This is overall a superb piece of music and ends the album on a very positive note.

Edenbridge are considered by their fanbase to be a much-underrated band, that deserve to be better known. There’s no doubt they’re a good band, and they can play (though Lanvall is often guilty of over-playing with too many notes), but they’re also very much a ‘niche’ band who, unlike Nightwish and Within Temptation, don’t have the quality of songs to project themselves across to a wider audience. Which means, despite making good albums, they’ll probably continue to hover in the slipstream of the above-mentioned bands, making albums for a dedicated fanbase but missing out on wider acceptance. But if you like Symphonic rock, this album should be something to listen out for.

Edenbridge Shangri La is released via AFM Records on 26 August 2022.
Laurence Todd
Laurence Todd
Took early retirement after many years as a teacher in order to write books as well as about music. A long-time music obsessive, has wide and eclectic tastes but particularly likes prog rock and rock in general. Enjoys going to gigs and discovering new acts.

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