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Edenbridge - Shangri-La Award winner

by Kevin Lewis at 27 August 2022, 4:15 PM

EDENBRIDGE is an Austrian Symphonic Metal band that brings Power, Progressive, and Neo-classical Metal elements into the mix with sublime, exquisite skill. Shangri-La is their 11th full-length album since formation in 1998. This album will be released via AFM records on August 26, 2022.

The album opens with “At First Light,” a bombastic composition that begins with a complete onslaught of instrumentation. Everything from the guitars and keyboards to massive orchestration hits you square in the face from the first note. At eight minutes long, there are plenty of opportunities for shifts and changes, and we get them. Lone vocals in the verses, choir in the pre-chorus/chorus, and precipitous drops where everything but the guitar or the orchestration vanishes for a few bars. There is even a PINK FLOYD style gospel section!

The Call Of Eden” has an almost pop influenced tone while retaining all the heaviness necessary to keep this firmly in the Symphonic Metal realm. The vocals are crisp and clear, soaring high into head voice. Sabine delivers the goods, sounding more angelic than at other points on the album. “Hall Of Shame” follows and goes in a heavier, darker direction. The tempo is a bit faster and the rhythm is definitely heavier. The contrast in the songs gives a hint of just how diverse EDENBRIDGE has become as they’ve matured musically.

Going completely the other direction, “Savage Land” is a ballad that spends a lot of time with nothing but an acoustic guitar and a lone voice. Discordant electric guitar notes filter in sporadically, adding a bit of tension. Short orchestrated pieces enter and leave again. Ambient keyboard tones shift the tone from light to dark, ethereal to eerie. Then there is the flute that comes in on an almost tribal section that leads to the powerful bursts of full band ensemble. This is a almost a pause in the action before the songs go heavy again.

The album continues to build running through “Somewhere Else But here” and “Freedom Is Roof Made Of Stars,” two massive compositions that fill the entire soundscape with heavy riffs, epic orchestration and bombastic rhythms. Both songs go heavy, but contain excellent melodic sections that give an almost Progressive metal texture to the story.

Arcadia (The Great Escape)” starts quiet and peaceful, lulling you into a sense of calm, yet building to a major climax. Halfway through, you get a nice crest with layered vocals and a swell of music that bridges to the next section. There is an  even bigger build at the end, driving the track to conclusion with an awesome held note from band and singer alike.

Next comes the Arabesque feeling “The Road To Shangri-La.” The Middle Eastern influence is felt and heard in sections throughout the song. While the guitars have been really good on this entire record, they need special note here. The solo uses both dueling and harmonized phrases that are just phenomenal. The massive choir backing the vocals just feels bigger after those epic guitar solos. The whole thing just sounds bigger than many of the other songs.

The conclusion of this record is a 16-minute epic track in five parts collectively known as “The Bonding.” With a few DREAM THEATER style Progressive Metal changes, this song tells a tale, informs of an epic journey. This is a song full of twists and turns, a sonic escapade that thrills the senses. The peaks and valleys are fantastic, giving us a musical landscape to wander through, sometimes getting lost in a reverie, then finally finding our way to final destination.

EDENBRIDGE has created a work of art with Shangri-La. This a journey through sound, going from a peaceful walk to a wild ride on a river full of rapids. The tones and textures are intricate, woven to create a tapestry like none ever seen before. They have found the path to musical enlightenment, and are currently on “The Road to Shangri-La.”

Songwriting:  10
Musicianship:  10
Memorability:  10
Production:  10

5 Star Rating

1. At First Light
2. The Call Of Eden
3. Hall Of Shame
4. Savage Land
5. Somewhere Else But Here
6. Freedom Is A Roof Made Of Stars
7. Arcadia (The Great Escape)
8. The Road To Shangri-La
9. The Bonding (Part 2) – I. Overture
10. The Bonding (Part 2) – II: Alpha And Omega
11. The Bonding (Part 2) – III. The Eleventh Hour
12. The Bonding (Part 2) – IV. Round And Round
13. The Bonding (Part 2) – V. The Timeless Now - Finale
Sabine Edelsbacher – Lead Vocals
Steve Hall – Bass
Johannes Jungreithmeier – Drums
Dominik Sebastian – Lead Guitar
Lanvall – Lead and Rhythm Guitars/6 and 12 String Acoustic Guitars/Nylon String Guitar/Piano/Keyboards/Orchestration/Electric Sitar/Bouzouki/Swarmandal/Ukulele
Record Label: AFM Records


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