Tag Archives: 2016

Album Review: Eden’s Curse – Cardinal (2016)

28 Nov

edenscurse-cardinal

Okay, okay, I’ll admit it. I’ve been slow in getting to the party that is Eden’s Curse. A very good friend recommended them and I’ve finally gotten around to taking a listen. So, first off, who are they? Formed in 2006, they have released five studio albums and one double live album. They have had a few line-up changes but the band currently consists of long-time members Paul Logue (Bass) and Thorsten Koehne (Guitars) alongside Nikola Mijic (Vocals), John Clelland (Drums) & Christian Pulkkinen (Keyboards).

They’ve released a new album in October called Cardinal which marks the first time Clelland and Pulkkinen appear on an Eden’s Curse studio album. Let’s check it out.

“Prophets of Doom” starts us off, full of pomp and polished writing which buries itself into your brain and has, my favourite, a catchy chorus! After a short intro build up the song kicks into gear with its double bass attack and crunchy riffing, add to that the hook-laden vocals and layered keyboards and it’s a strong start to what I found to be a fantastic album. It’s Eden’s Curse signalling their intent from the off, and how cool is “Prophets of Doom” as a title in the first place?

“Sell Your Soul” is the first single and is amongst the albums highlights for sure. It is an uplifting track, very upbeat. Strong keyboards and superb guitar playing throughout with lots of melodic hooks and again a really slick AOR polish. It has an 80s Journey sound to it and there is some deep sexy bass going on thanks to Mr Paul Logue. Mid-way through though it changes into a slightly slower direction and the dual solos of guitars and keyboards take the song into a powerful conclusion.

“The Great Pretender” continues in the same vein: catchy hooks galore and has a Bon Jovi feel about it. The track starts off with colossal riffs and has this massive instrumental intro. There are Symphonic Metal elements at play here. Vocalist Nikola Mijic possesses some epic pipes and this song gives him a chance to show off his outstanding range and the guitar work of Thorsten Koehne showcases what he can do also. “Messiah Complex” comes in a bit harder than the previous tracks with a cool riff and Mijic’s vocals containing more of an edge, before once again breaking out his upper range with vocals that remind me of DragonForce. Another song and another catchy chorus. There is an energy throughout as the song builds up the momentum. Possibly the albums heaviest song overall and it features another cracking solo.

“Find My Way” sees Eden’s Curse slow it down with a ballad. As you’d expect, the music is very powerful and grandiose and the song, epic. We’re in full Journey/AOR Power Ballad mode here with the Symphonic/Hard Rock edge. Whilst I can see why some people wouldn’t enjoy this song, I am quite partial to belting out power ballads now and then and this fit right into that for me. This track has it all really, cheesy keyboards, subtle piano, huge rhythms, Orchestral strings, passionate vocals and crushing guitars. An anthemic tour de force. Get those hands in the air.

Oh sorry, my playlist skipped to the Chili Peppers…oh no wait, this funk slap bass is “Kingdom of Solitude” – my mistake! Another piece of brilliance from Logue. It’s a bit of a stylistic change from all that comes before but it quickly settles back into full on rock territory with a killer riff. There is aggression mixed with some electronic elements. The band wanted to get a bit more heavy and technical on Cardinal and this is a song that I think showcases that for sure. “Utopian Dreams” starts off with some glorious lead keyboard riffery with its Symphony X/Dream Theater stylings. This is a song on speed. There is such a manic, hyper intensity about it, like they had one take and 5 minutes to nail it and they just blew through it. Power Metal levels turned to 100 on this one.

On first listen “This Is Our Moment” seemed to lack something to me and this is probably down to the fact that it has to follow the bonkers, ADHD affected track “Utopian Dreams” BUT that’s not to say that the song is bad, because its not. It rocks hard, it has fantastic keyboard and guitar work throughout and once again Nikola’s vocals are spot on. On subsequent listens it actually grabbed me the way it should have first time. It is an uplifting song and I would recommend it. I would advise that if you feel it lacks something on your first listen, to not fully dismiss it. “Rome’s on Fire” continues in the same vein with its Hard Rock/AOR sound and soaring chorus. I really enjoyed this track, it bounces around and the band are on point here. The galloping double bass drumming throughout gives it that extra punch and it’s very hard not to be singing along by the end of the song.

On “Unconditional” the band collaborate with ex-Leaves Eyes vocalist Liv Kristine. This is a classic 80s rock ballad right here and very radio friendly. The way Mijic’s and Kristine’s vocals weave around each other works really well. The contrast between the two is just superb.  It is slow and mellow and features a gorgeous bluesy rock solo in the middle before shifting gears into more of a shred whilst still retaining the melody. It’s sugary, it’s sweet but it’s certainly not bad for you. Again, if you have a penchant for the old power ballad, then you will enjoy this. However, if you pressed skip, you’ll be taken instantly to “Saints & Sinners” which goes back into double bass drums, monstrous riffing and takes us back into Power Metal territory.

“Jericho” closes the album out and at 7 minutes 50 seconds is the albums longest track. The song is based on the Biblical tale of the battle of Jericho. The keyboard and guitar work on display here is out of this world. Koehne and Christian Pulkkinen on top form here, as they are throughout the entirety of Cardinal to be fair. There is a long instrumental section, epic lyrics that outline the entire battle itself and the song musically shifts dynamics taking in multiple styles. One word. Epic. Actually two words! Epic Greatness!!

Going in, I hadn’t heard any previous material from Eden’s Curse other than “Sell Your Soul” but coming out of Cardinal I will be checking out everything and hope to catch them live very soon. If you like your bands with a bit of Power Metal, a dash of Symphonic Metal, a pinch of Hard Rock and a sprinkle of AOR then Eden’s Curse will be the band for you. Heavy instrumentation with soaring, powerful vocals singing catchy melodies. What more could you want?

More hooks than a pirate convention, catchier than a bout of crabs. You need Cardinal and Eden’s Curse in your life!

David

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Album Review: Astral Path – Ashes Dancer (2016)

15 Nov

astral-path-ashes-dancer

Astral Path are a Post Death Metal band from Italy (not to be confused with the black metal band of the same name from Canada) and consist of Eugene Yu (vocals), Gabriele Papagni (lead guitars), Simone Catania (rhythm guitars), Jasmine Ljuba Canti (bass), Leonardo Santini (keyboards) and Francesco La Porta (drums). Ashes Dancer is their debut album.

We start off with the instrumental “Journey”, a two minute, dark piece with some chilling atmospherics and what I felt was an almost horror movie feel to it. A discordant soundscape. “Blinded” is the longest song on the record at 7 minutes 29 seconds and instantly kicks off with a cool guitar riff. There is a big energy with this track, lots of double bass, crunchy riffs and excellent vocals. Really enjoyed the riff and the Opeth vibe that the song gives off. There is a definite hint of the Gothenburg melo-death sound here, as well as throughout the album as a whole.

Up next is track three “B.L.C” and, speaking of the Gothenburg sound, here comes a song that is parts Dark Tranquillity, parts Opeth and parts At The Gates. The death vocals are unforgiving, the cleans are full with an excellent tone. The guitar riffage is raw and aggressive. “Prelude” is track four and it’s another atmospheric instrumental (1 minute long) containing harmonics and, what sounds like, behind the nut picking. As the title suggests it acts as a prelude to “Ashes Dancer” which starts where “Prelude” finishes off and sounds like something Tool should be singing. Eugene transitions between growls and clean singing with ease. The bass and drums keep a thunderous groove as the songs moves up the gears and we have, I believe, our first guitar solo. Very tasteful and melodic and serves the song well.

“Drag Me Down” is possibly the strongest song on the record and it’s more of same At The Gates style riffing and thrashy/melo-death sound, before it slows down into clean electrics and more of Eugenes fantastic vocals. He is channelling his inner Mikael Akerfeldt on this one and we get another cool, melodic guitar solo from Gabriele. The record finishes up with “Silent Whispers” and “Oblivion” – the former offering up more of the same that has come before, switching between frenetic riffing and slowed down, clean passages as well another really tasteful solo. This is something that the album, overall, lacks for me. Solos! When they are played, they are played really well. As I said, always tasteful, always melodic and serves the songs. I would have liked more throughout. “Oblivion” is another song that starts out like a Tool song with it’s Eastern flavours before an awesome riff kicks in.

Overall this is a well produced, solid album that is worth checking out. The band are clearly influenced by the likes of Opeth, Between The Buried And Me, At The Gates, Arch Enemy and bands that define the Gothenburg sound. There is plenty of talent on display and hopefully this will enable them to develop their sound even more on future releases.

If you like Swedish Melodic Death then you will no doubt find something to enjoy with Ashes Dancer. As I mentioned previously, my only negative would be that I would have liked to have heard more solos but that is just a personal preference.

Official Astral Path Facebook

David