Review: Edenbridge – 'The Great Momentum'

‘The Great Momentum’ is the latest album from Austrian symphonic metal act Edenbridge, their eighth studio album, in fact, but the first with new powerhouse drummer Johannes Jungreithmeier. Much has changed on the musical landscape since 2013’s ‘The Bonding’, most relevant being that acts like Within Temptation have been accused of toning down the symphonic bombast in favour of a more traditional sound. That’s certainly an accusation that can’t be aimed at Edenbridge, as composer and multi-instrumentalist Lanvall throws everything in, including the kitchen sink, and numerous other clichés that escape me for the moment.   Massive choral and orchestral arrangements, gorgeous layered vocals, pounding drums, and shredding… and that’s just the opener ‘Shiantara’! The emotive vocals from Sabine Edelsbacher are as powerful as ever as she delivers an impressive opening salvo. It’s quite a subtle performance, without any of the over-singing that can blight many symphonic vocalists. ‘The Moment Is Now’ is the current single/video, and is as good a slice of symphonic, melodic metal as you’re likely to hear this year. It features another unassuming vocal from Edelsbacher, as Edenbridge produce four minutes to rank alongside anything that Within Temptation recorded on the ‘Hydra’ album. The clean vocals are what turn many people away from the genre. There’s not many death growls throughout the history of symphonic metal, but when the material is as strong as ‘The Moment Is Now’, who cares? ‘Until The End Of Time’ follows on, and slows the tempo down. Eclipse vocalist, Eric Martensson guests on the track, and it’s easy to see why he is so highly regarded. Standard power-ballad fare, but the vocals from both excel.  ‘The Visitor’ ramps it back up a notch or two, before the middle eastern intro of ‘Return To Grace’ heralds the arrival of one of the highlights on the album. Atmospheric and mysterious, with a relentless bass drum sound from Jungreithmeier, it rattles headlong into a stunning guitar solo with a cinematic string arrangement in the background. Everything bar the kitchen sink this time… including what I believe is a bouzouki right at the end? At over 50 minutes in length, the album is expansive. 20 of these 50 minutes are taken up by the final two tracks. Musically, ‘A Turnaround In Art’ has a classic mix of orchestral arrangements, sweeping cinematic movements, and plenty of riffs. The opening drum sound screams Rainbow Rising to me. The song carrying an old school vibe in places. ‘The Greatest Gift Of All’ can only be described as epic. It’s 12 minutes long, with many twists and turns along the way, guitar solos from Lanvall and Dominik Sebastian on every corner, emotive piano, and killer vocals from Edelsbacher. If you are mourning the apparent lack of ‘epic’ from Within Temptation, then check this one out. Weep no more. The choral arrangements mid song are massive, straight out of the Omen movies, only this time it’s 2017, and the haunting vocals are sitting right next to you. As they end, the riffs crash in, along with the battering ram bass drum. This would be spellbinding played live with an orchestra and a choir along for the evening. It’s brave and bold to attempt this type of grandiose storytelling. Thankfully, it works and the album gets better with each listen. ‘The Great Momentum’ is available now on Steamhammer/SPV Review – Dave Stott  

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