Edenbridge are an Austrian symphonic metal band who through the years of their existence, have been bracketed into the same category as bands like Nightwish, Epica and Within Temptation, amongst others – largely because their songs often feature considerable degrees of bombast and, depending on your perspective, OTT arrangements.
After their first retrospective album, 2007’s Chronicles, pt1, their second such album is released as the band celebrate their twentieth anniversary, with all tracks included selected by fans and taken from their five studio albums released since 2008’s My Earth Dream.
This is a lengthy double CD containing 26 tracks, offering almost 2 and a half hours of music for your aural delight. You’d better be ready if you attempt to listen to this all in one sitting because there’s some quite intense stuff going on here, some very muscular riffs on tracks like ‘Live and Let Go,’ sitting alongside a few slower almost power ballads such as ‘Tauerngold’ and the twelve-minute ‘Greatest Gift of All,’ and on the eponymous title tracks from their albums ‘My Earth Dream’ and ‘The Bonding’ – there’re also a couple of prog epics, which come in at almost thirty minutes between them.
‘Higher’ is a powerful opener, and it’s included again on the second CD, but this time with just the delightful vocals of Sabine Edelsbacher and a piano, and is a gorgeous version. They reverse this with ‘Paramount,’ with just Sabine and a piano on the first disc but given a much harder edge on the second. Where they draw comparisons with bands like Nightwish can be heard on tracks like ‘Alight a New Tomorrow,’ ‘Shadowplay,’ ‘Mystic River’ and, ‘Brothers in Diamir,’ where the playing is powerful, direct and with full-on bombast. There’re some exceptionally good songs in this collection, but especially ‘Skyline’s End’ and ‘Into a Sea of Souls.’ To add a little variety, there’re a couple of instrumentals, including ‘My Earth Dream Suite,’ ‘Inward Passage’ and the short though exquisite ‘Eternity,’ where guitar man Lanvelle excels on solo acoustic guitar.
Whilst it’s undeniable Sabine Edelsbacher has a good voice, there’s little in the way of power or aggression in her voice, which would lend some of the songs a little more oomph. Her tone rarely varies which, on tracks like ‘Bon Voyage Vagabond,’ makes her voice sound thin in front of some driving thrash riffage. Floor Jansen would have eaten this song alive.
Overall, though this is a fine collection of songs from across a decade’s worth of studio albums, and the album deserves to do well, ultimately, Edenbridge exist in a rarefied ‘niche’ bubble and it’s highly unlikely this album will broaden their appeal beyond their fanbase. This is music you have to be able to connect fully with – there’s no ‘just dipping in and out’ here, and while the overall quality is not in doubt, it’s unlikely to enable the band to do more than cruise along in the slipstream created by Nightwish and Within Temptation.