Amberian Dawn – Magic Forest (Napalm Records)Wednesday, 2nd July 2014
Really tough sledding with this one, particularly the Magic Forest title, which invites all sorts of easy-breezy bashing of trolls, elves, and men that inherit such a wondrous place. (Years of listening to Blind Guardian has conditioned DR to think as such.) For Finland’s female-fronted Amberian Dawn, their uppity, certainly symphonic, definitely hokey take on the sound proves to be a mixed bag on this, their sixth album. If it succeeds at anything, it succeeds at being utterly cheesy, which is a bit of a problem.
Because they’re Finnish, Amberian Dawn has a natural pogo in their symphonic stylings. It comes with the territory, as predicated by prime-era Stratovarius, double-prime-era Sonata Arctica, and Nightwish circa Angels Fall First. However, a vamping, daunting, cue-up-the-orchestra-pit album this is not. Magic Forest lays out the pop on opener “Cherish My Memory,” the silly synths and double-bass peddles on “I’m Still Here,” he/she operatic trade-offs on “Memorial,” and prerequisite power metal hum-drum on “Son of Rainbow,” which if you listen closely, could be sung by a dude as much as a female. Whether this is a detriment to vocalist Capri is your call.
But going down and up through the track listing of Magic Forest, one gets the sense Amberian Dawn couldn’t wrestle their way out of a daisy-picking paper bag if they tried, as in, there’s a bit too much fluff, poorly-executed melodies, and lack of real drama to make this thing pass. And it’s not because of the whole “female-fronted” thing. Magic Forest would tread water even if a fine, handsome gentlemen was out front. Nothing worth investigating here.