Tag Archives: Symphonic Metal

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

28 Nov


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!



Album Review: Delain – The Human Contradiction (2014)

24 Apr



Delain’s debut album “Lucidity”, released in 2006 was, in some ways, a perfect Gothic Metal album filled with atmosphere, fantastic song-writing, and excellent vocals from lead singer Charlotte Wessels and the various guest vocalists scattered throughout. They followed this up with “April Rain” (2009), an absolutely stunning album, catchy and poppy while remaining heavy. 2012′s “We Are The Others” was another good album, but offered more filler than previous efforts. Now comes their latest release “The Human Contradiction”, and it’s easy to wonder whether they would continue to deteriorate or return to the lofty standards they had previously set. Thankfully it’s the latter, as the album is absolutely fantastic.

The albums opener “Here Comes The Vultures” is an absorbing cut, with an ingenious melody, heavy guitar riffs, and a sort of horror movie-esque atmosphere courtesy of creepy keyboard melodies; making for a shivering combination. I’ve heard the lyrics are based off Charlotte’s nightmares and the song does indeed conjure up nightmarish imagery. It’s very cinematic with sweeping orchestrals and a fantastic guitar solo. An absolute true Symphonic Metal epic.

The second song “Your Body Is A Battlefield” is very aggressive and when I heard it I thought to myself “This guy sounds like the dude from Nightwish”  and as it turns out the song does indeed feature an appearance by Marco Hietala (Nightwish, Tarot). No stranger to working with Delain, Hietala has also appeared on their previous albums. This track is another epic, with both singers at their best, giving really powerful performances. It’s an incredibly catchy song, with brilliant vocal lines, excellent heavy riffs, while again the sweeping keyboard melodies just give the song a much more grandiose air than found on previous albums.

“Stardust” and “My Masquerade” are both extremely catchy and anthemic with pounding drums and guitars, creating songs that should go down well in their excellent live shows.  “Tell Me, Mechanist” contrasts lush sounding keyboards and Charlotte’s beautiful vocals with more heavy guitar riffs and the excellent growls of guest vocalist George Oosthoek (Orphanage, Celestial Season). The song represents the heavier side of “The Human Contradiction” but is still tender, and that is what makes it one of the best songs of the album.

 On “Sing To Me” we get another vocal from Marco where he and Charlotte take turns singing the chorus which adds to the epic vibe of the track. The duet is truly excellent and I think they have a real chemistry together. Adding to this is perhaps the best symphonic sections ever featured on a Delain song. Certainly one to send shivers down the spine. “Army Of Dolls” starts off as another typical catchy Delain track before it breaks down into a slower section in the middle, featuring electronic drumbeats, creepy keyboards and a groovy bassline, which creates an unsettling atmosphere, before the song breaks out into an awesome guitar solo. The album closes with “The Tragedy Of The Commons” featuring guest vocals from Alissa White-Gluz, the new vocalist of Arch Enemy, contributing demonic screams to a track laced with expressive, melodic lead guitar and beautiful choirs. It’s interesting to listen to Alissa’s deep growls married up against the bright, beautiful vocals of Charlotte. This hybrid provides a nice contrast and a great way to conclude the album.

 “The Human Contradiction” is an absolutely incredible effort. Delain have taken the elements that made them good and improved on every aspect of their sound to produce an album which, from start to finish, sounds complete. For me, there is no filler with every song standing out on its own. As I said earlier, there was a worry that they would continue where “We Are The Others” left off and strip down their sound and concentrate on pop anthems with that metal edge but, band leader, Martijn Westerholt has stepped up his game and offered a more symphonically driven sound than ever before. The band sound inspired and thus have released their heaviest and, in my opinion, their best album to date.

With “The Human Contradiction” Delain should be able to satisfy old fans whilst picking up some new ones along the way and stand out in a genre that already has a lot of female fronted bands. If you like heavy music, symphonic music and have an ear for melody, then you will find something on this record to enjoy. If you’re a fan of Nightwish, Within Temptation, Epica and Lacuna Coil then you will definitely enjoy “The Human Contradiction”