End of Eden is Amberian Dawn’s third album, keeping up with their one album a year output since 2008’s debut River of Tuoni. The band has always played a brand of neoclassical influenced symphonic power metal and Eden of Eden breaks no new territory in that regard, as most of the album follows this same formula as their previous two efforts. The band tries to break some new territory, such as by including an entirely classical piece, Virvatulen Laulu, on the album. Unfortunately that song doesn’t do them any favours, sounding out of place entirely. In all honestly elsewhere on the album Amberian Dawn isn’t exactly providing anything that breaks any new ground in their sound, but fortunately what End of Eden does give the listener is some of the band’s best songs to date, even if as a whole, End of Eden isn’t as solid as River of Touni or The Clouds of Northland Thunder, and may with time be seen as a bit of a stumble on their musical journey.
Two good examples of Amberian Dawn’s best songs are actually the first two tracks on the album, Talisman and Come Now Follow, especially the latter which is one of the album’s best songs overall. There is some really excellent neoclassical guitar going on here (think Yngwie J. Malmsteen style). If you looked at them you’d be forgiven for thinking that Amberian Dawn would be just another Nightwish clone, since all the key elements are present – soprano singer, keyboardist, some heavy guitars, you get the picture. But Amberian Dawn as a band is so much more. Yes, they have those elements of the typical symphonic metal band but they’ve honed that sound to perfection and expanded on it. True, End of Eden isn’t exactly something new for them, so what we really have to look for here is a solid album from a band who promise better to come.
With that said, End of Eden is probably their weakest album to date, and tracks like the aforementioned Virvatulen Laulu and lead single Arctica are the reason why. If you put Virvatulen Laulu aside as an experiment that didn’t really pay off (though it must be said it would sound so much better with just Heidi Parviainen’s vocals and not with guest male vocalist Markus Nieminen), Arctica may just be the band’s weakest song to date. Though it has its moments overall it just generally bores me that sometimes I want to skip it. Why the band choose this track as their lead single I’ll never know. In all honestly after hearing this for the first time I was severely worried about End of Eden being terrible. Fortunately it isn’t, far from it, but this and Virvatulen Laulu really drag down my enjoyment of the album as a whole.
Other highlights include Ghostly Echoes, Sampo, Field of Serpents and City of Corruption. The good does far outweigh the bad on End of Eden, but overall it is just a solid album and very far from a masterpiece, which after two strong albums I was hoping for on their third effort. They do however save one of the really best for last, the seven and a half minute War in Heaven. There is another guest singer here, Peter James Goodman, who has appeared on every Amberian Dawn album to date, but this time with some less clean vocals. Not growls, but somewhere in between. He’s a much more welcome guest than the opera singer from the previous track. Noted keyboardist Jens Johansson also provides some guest keyboard lead here and on the earlier track, City of Corruption.
Despite a couple of dud songs, the band is generally on top form with their performance, especially singer Heidi Parviainen and the guitar work. In fact if it wasn’t for those duds this album probably would be exactly what I had hoped for, but as it is Amberian Dawn still haven’t quite delivered us their masterpiece. Close, but no cigar. It's still worth a fan of the band owning, but I wouldn't advise it as the best starting point for a new listener.