DARKNESS OF ETERNITY
Darkness of Eternity sounds like some sort of wild adventure through the afterlife, at least that's the picture I painted from the title of this album. Before today I had only heard the name Amberian Dawn in passing and heard that one person wrote all the music ( Tuomas Seppälä ) and another wrote all the lyrics ( Päivi "Capri" Virkkunen ). This combination of musical duties within a band is something that I have seen go either very well or very poorly with no in-betweens. However, I had always meant to check them out since the people who spoke so highly of them shared the same love of music as I do. So I considered it to be serendipitous that I should be asked to write a review of their latest album "Darkness of Eternity". The majority of bands I listen to put out an album about once every 2 years. This is probably an unspoken standard that dictates the frequency by which bands need to put out new material in order to remain relevant within their fanbase. Amberian Dawn's first studio album came out in 2008. On the 10th of Novermber this 2017, the band has dropped their 8th studio album, Darkness of Eternity.
1) I'm The One
2) Sky Is Falling
5) Golden Coins
6) Luna My Darling
9) Breathe Again
10) Symphony Nr. 1, Part 2 - Darkness of Eternity
11) Anyone (Bonus Track)
That large of a discography, in such a short amount of time, is impressive. Before giving the album a first listen through, I hesitated for a moment and considered: 'Is quantity better than quality?" Is it possible that with one person working solely on music and the other on lyrics that they can eventually achieve mastery of both? I decided that I was definitely interested in finding out more.
Initially I had heard people refer to them as ABBA metal or disco metal, neither of which sounds appealing to me, and for the most part I found those descriptions to be true. But whatever Amberian Dawn is doing is working wonderfully. It feels like a somehow tragic disco coupled with an upbeat and whimsical metal. Most of the songs have a very 70's pop sound blended in and the rest are reminiscent of pop from the 80s. The sound subtly remimds me of the band Kamelot, though Amberian Dawn is different enough that they have their own unique sound. I found the energy on this album to be very charged and fresh, which came to me as a great relief having not heard anything new like that in a while. The intro song "I'm the One" is a great piece and probably the best introduction to the band on this album. From the very first bar, I knew I wasn't hearing "just another metal band". The song cements itself in unique and fierce melodies right away. They are sweet and haunting, harmonized with some of the most beautiful counterpoint I have heard in a while. At points it is unclear whether you should be dancing or headbanging, but really there probably isn't an incorrect answer.
Emil "Emppu" Pohjalainen
Päivi "Capri" Virkkunen
Overall, I greatly enjoyed most of the music on here and felt that it was kept interesting. It avoided the fall into that void of repetition that so much of metal slips into, especially when a band keeps pumping out music in such a short span of time. The two songs I connected with the most were "Luna My Darling" and "Breathe Again." "Breathe Again" would probably be the song that is relateable to most people as it sings of the human experience struggling with heightened fear and anxiety. "I can't get up/ I stumble the hardest way/ The darkness comes my way/ I feel like I'm paralyzed/ All my being in this world is vanishing, fading". Although "Breathe Again" was definitely all together one of my favorite songs, my favorite lyrics on the album were in their piece "Abyss." The song is a dark yet inspiring heroic power ballad that describes the vocalists adamance to protect the one she loves, no matter the cost.
"I will comfort you my love, never ask me why/ Time will heal your heart my love, as time goes by/ I will wait for you my love, till the end of time." For those who find themselves listening to songs on repeat, this will probably be one of them.
If I had to rank and pick two songs I liked the least, "Golden Coins" and "Ghost Woman" would just make those slots . I felt as though those two songs didn't really have that same unique sound the rest of the album is teaming with. I didn't think them to be lacking in anything specifically, I just wasn't awed by them (which I realize could be demanding a lot from an otherwise fantastic album). They felt a little more like Spotify had started playing a various metals playlist. "Maybe" was also lyrically bland for my tastes but the melodies, particularly the harmonies in the background, were thought out and executed so purposefully that it made up for the the lack of depth in lyrics. The main point of contention for me was that throughout the album, many of the lyrics in songs just weren't as good as the music itself. I am definitely a lyrically driven metalhead so while some of the lyrics were raw and emotional, others felt a bit like they were describing someone else's emotions and the combination of the two pulled me out of my immersion.
A pleasant little gift they added onto the end of the album was the continuation of a piece from their previous album Innuendo. Darkness of Eternity's outro is the second part of "Symphony Nr. 1 Part 1." "Symphony Nr. 1 Part 2" is an excellent example of the band's ability to beautifully craft a marriage between their music and lyrics. I had to dive back a few years and listen to Part 1 and Part 2, back to back. Epica used to similarly break up their songs into various parts and movements and this one particular artistic choice was one of the reasons why I loved Epica more than other metal bands. Amberian Dawn's "Symphony Nr. 1" was planned so well and executed so masterfully that it actually gave me physical chills. Since a symphony traditionally has four movements, I eagerly wonder if we can look foward to a Part 3 on their next album.
All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by Amberian Dawn and their album Darkness of Eternity and I would give it a 7.5/10. I thoroughly enjoyed it but I feel that there could have been a way for the lyrics to comingle with the music on a higher level. Even with that said, one person writing lyrics and another writing the music didn't stick out as much as I had feared. Though a bit of room for improvement or not, it was an over all enjoyable experience. However, I will say if you are absolutely against any pop being in your metal you probably wont enjoy this band. I personally feel that in this instance, the two musical forms strengthen each other and add a bit to what the other was lacking. From everything I had heard previously, this album was nothing like I expected it to be. I will definitely be listening to it in the future.
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