Written by: PP on 17/08/2010 15:17:33

Female fronted gothic metal is the genre with perhaps least innovation and decent bands out of any in the realm of rock and metal. This genre spits out more derivative clone bands than pop punk and heavy metal together; the great bands are so few and far in between that most of us here at Rockfreaks.net have long ago given up hope on finding a new bombshell of a release in the genre. Introduce Edenbridge, who will single-handedly blow your mind with "Solitaire", hands down the best gothic metal album since Nightwish released "Dark Passion Play" a couple of years back. It's supremely dramatic and symphonic, stuffed with magnificent orchestral passages that re-define the descriptor word majestic when it comes down to music. The composition and songwriting is breathtaking all around, with focus on cinematic musical landscapes that, for once, don't sound like they belong in Lord Of The Rings soundtrack, but instead have their own spark and feeling. Lets not forget the vocals of Sabine Edelsbacher either, who on "Solitaire" proves she has one of the most powerful and awesome voices in the genre. Tarja Turunen / Annette Olson, you have a new contender for the throne, beware.

Don't be fooled by the symphonic intro track "Entree Unique" that lumps the band into a pigeonhole alongside so many other bands in the genre. It gives a false generic stamp on the album, but it is a necessary evil to lure the listener into the idea that this is without a doubt a symphonic metal album, because the track that follows, "Solitaire", may be the best gothic metal song I've heard in as long as I can remember. Not only is the orchestration jaw-dropping in nature, but Sabine's vocal performance is truly otherworldly here. She starts with medium-range singing but quickly rises into near-operatic heights, only to suddenly switch into a silky style mid-sentence, adding flair and character to the chorus, bound to give any listener back chills for its sheer brilliance. Her voice contains much rich detail, but yet it's able to dominate the sound with pure strength, or to just fall underneath and allow the instruments lead the way, if necessary. It's all there.

Such moments aren't just an exception to the rule on the album. They are the rule. Whether it's "Bon Voyage Vagabond" or "Higher", Sabine delivers an elite performance unmatched in the genre. While the guitars take more of a power-chord, supporting stance in Edenbridge's music most of the time, they are supplemented by a staggeringly good orchestral section which carries many similarities to Nightwish's ambitious effort "Dark Passion Play". The composition in many places rivals the genius of Tuomas Holopainen, who is according to many the best songwriter in the genre. That said, Edenbridge is also able to morph into balladic territory too, with touching, soft guitar solos echoing all around the huge soundscape, creating a saddened enough atmosphere necessary for pulling off what is normally such a debacle with style and class. The classical piano on the background helps, too.

Not much more can be said about "Solitaire". Edenbridge have always been considered to be near the top of the gothic metal genre, but after this album, I don't see any reason not to consider them as the best band in it alongside the likes of Nightwish and few other greats. Gothic metal simply doesn't come any better than on this album.


Download: Solitaire, Higher, Further Afield
For the fans of: Nightwish, Epica, After Forever
Listen: Myspace

Release date 02.07.2010
Napalm Records

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