The music of Austria's Edenbridge has often earned the labelling of "Disney metal". Just like Disney functions within its own hermetically sealed, sugar-coated world of unpretentious entertainment with happy endings and perfect closure, Edenbridge compose and create music within their own self-styled space. And, within that space, they load their musical aesthetic with succulent melodies; "safe" metal foundations; smooth-toned vocals; sweeping orchestral symphonies; inoffensive ballads; and a touch of Euro pop cheese... all dressed up in an uber polished production. 'The Great Momentum', the band's ninth studio album, is no exception.
Formed in 1998, only guitarist/composer Lanvall and vocalist Sabine Edelsbacher remain from the band's inception. New sticksman Johannes Jungreithmeier (who remarkably tracked all his drum parts in a mere nine hours for this release!?!), and another guitarist, Dominik Sebastian, recruited in 2009, complete Edenbridge's current formation. Lanvall was also responsible for all bass on the album, as well as contributing piano, hammered dulcimer, bouzouki, and 6 + 12 string acoustics. Add to that mix the Junge Philharmonie Freistadt orchestra, and there's much breadth to Edenbridge's overall sound, which has been exercised in some finely crafted compositions.
There's a heavier, darker vibe in songs like opener 'Shiantara', 'The Die is Not Cast' and 'The Visitor', but these compositions' contraposed moments of elation and optimism overshadow any sense of lingering gloom, so it always feels like positivity triumphs. Elsewhere, it's more full-on Disney in what is an album largely characterised by upbeat, feel-good music. 'The Moment is Now' is Eurovision through and through (in a good way), 'Until the End of Time' is overtly Disney, and shifts from gentle ballad to power-ballad. Likewise, 'Only a Whiff of Life' (complete with a naff titular metaphor) sounds straight out of a Disney movie, and this track's melodies are just beautiful. 'Return to Grace' is a slightly more diverse effort as it transitions between all of its parts, although the song's bridge does sound like it's been lifted directly from Queen's 'Now I'm Here' ("Whatever came of you and me, America's new bride to be").
Performance-wise, all the musicians have done a fantastic job here. And Edelsbacher's vocals are as lusciously graceful and resplendent as they've ever been. One minor criticism I do have, though, is the orchestra. Or, rather, how the orchestra has occasionally been deployed. It's not rife or prominent throughout but, sometimes, it feels slapped on as an afterthought, rather than integrated in any kind of organic sympho-metal fusion. 'A Turnaround in Art' is the worst offender in this respect, with too many misplaced, sweeping strings. The song sounds cluttered as a result, and detracts from the composition's core, rather than adding an element of, no doubt intended, drama. It's a fantastic tune; it's just been marred, at least in my opinion, by the orchestral arrangement. Although this track does have some gorgeous, minimalist lead guitar work at around the 5:30 mark. Elsewhere on the album, the orchestra sounds magnificent, such as on the lengthy album closer, 'The Greatest Gift of All'. In the middle of this 12+ minute closer, the orchestra and choir are epic, and genuinely add something to the composition... at first in isolation, then metal elements are gradually reintroduced to build the song up into a perfect sympho-metal amalgam. This one works brilliantly. The orchestra's great on the album opener, too; it's over-the-top in places, for sure, but is integrated well.
Overall, 'The Great Momentum' is another fine addition to an ever-reliable band's cumulative back catalogue. While the production comes across as a little too polished and clinical for my personal tastes, it works perfectly for Edenbridge's sugar-coated metal leanings. There is an element of playing it safe at work here but, at the same time, they've delivered an undeniably strong album that sets out in its indubitable purpose to entertain in a totally unpretentious way.
THE GREAT MOMENTUM
Review by Mark Holmes
17th February 2017
2) The Die is Not Cast
3) The Moment is Now
4) Until the End of Time
5) The Visitor
6) Return to Grace
7) Only a Whiff of Life
8) A Turnaround in Art
9) The Greatest Gift of All
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"While the production comes across as a little too polished and clinical... it works perfectly for Edenbridge's sugar-coated metal leanings."