Edenbridge – The Bonding
Reviewed by Arno Callens
To me, female-fronted metal has always been a mediocre wasteland of too many similar acts playing too-similar music. An excuse for reasonably good singers to dress up prettily and depress the band that’s backing them. Of course there are healthy exceptions, albeit a minority, and Edenbridge is right on top of that list, along with Epica and not much else (I like a few other groups, but not with the same intensity or frequency), as far as I’m concerned.
Not only has Edenbridge stepped up the songwriting game with intensity since MyEarthDream, these Austrians possess one of the most unique voices in all of the genre. Sabine Edelsbacher is not easily categorized as “poppy”, “angelic”, “ballsy” or “some soprano”, but instead has a commanding and ceremonious tone, as if she’s declaring her lines instead of singing them.
And what lines she gets to sing. A brilliant voice is not enough, you need a brilliant musician to write for her. Luckily, Lanvall is that musician. As if to prove such to us further, he did write the whole orchestral score (a bonus on the limited edition) himself, presenting excerpts in the album booklet. Aside from that, he’s a pretty kick-ass guitarist, and Edenbridge is still firmly footed in the metal scene.
Take opener “Mystic River” for example. There’s no bullshitting around with a long-winded intro, but instead riffing it up straightaway. The mesmerizing chorus shares a passing resemblance with Vanden Plas’ “Scarlet Flower Fields”, but such is easily forgiven and surely coincidental. “Alight A New Tomorrow” is the closest Edenbridge will consent to radio-friendliness: a catchy tune in the vein of “Higher” from predecessor Solitaire. Other standouts include the absorbing “Into A Sea Of Souls” and entrancing “Far Out Of Reach”.
Of course, we need to talk about the fifteen-minute closing track, an epic woven of philosophical debate. While I despair at any first sign of a lengthy affair like that, Lanvall sucks you right into it, presenting Sabine trading arguments with some Erik Mårtensson, whom I know from nothing, but would now like to. The first eight minutes fly by, and then there’s the obligatory instrumental noodling, building up to a stunning climax. It would be a downright shame to follow that up with a bonus track, and Edenbridge is smart enough not to comply to industry needs.
While overall it’s a little heavy on the ballads and may need some time to properly sink in, The Bonding nevertheless cements Edenbridge’s reputation one step further as a band rising above the crowd in a terribly overcrowded scene. Edenbridge is the real deal: passionate artists in it for more than trend-hopping and making a quick buck. Worthier of your time than all of the Metal Female Voices Fest in Belgium combined.
4.0 // 5