Amberian Dawn - Magic Forest (Napalm Records)

Yes, it sounds like you know who.. But who cares?
Release Date: 
27 Jun 2014 (All day)

Finns Amberian Dawn make all the right moves on Magic Forest, which by my calculations is their sixth full length offering since forming in in 2006. The trouble is – and it’s the usual trouble for female-fronted symphonic power metal bands – all those moves have been made before, usually in better style, and usually by the likes of Nightwish and Within Temptation.

Still, if we take that fact as a given and decide just to enjoy the album for what it is, as opposed to what it isn’t and never will be, there’s much fun to be had in the company of Amberian Dawn.

The first three tracks pack the most punch, and in opener Cherish My Memory the band has a sure-fire Euro metal classic on its hands. Newish vocalist Paivi ‘Capri’ Virkunnen has a classy set of pipes on her, and she carries real authority throughout the album with a set of self assured performances that cover every style required in this genre. She may not quite pack the punch of a Floor Jansen or possess the fragile finesse of a Sharon den Adel, but there’s a pleasing underlying grit to her voice that neither of those fine singers display, and that gives this record perhaps its strongest point of difference from Nightwish and Within Temptation. That said, some of the arrangements she’s given to sing over are so close (especially on Dance of Life, album closer Green-Eyed and the title track) to Tuomas Holopainen and company you’d be forgiven for thinking that that very difference was actually something of a problem for Virkunnen. Or maybe I’m just being hyper cynical?

Whatevs. As I said, if you try not to think about this album’s similarities to other albums in the same field then what you’re left with is actually pretty exciting. Cherish My Memory is pure class, whilst the excellent Son of Rainbow is the sort of kick drum-led extravaganza  any band of this ilk would be proud to put its name to. Lower your expectations, increase your enjoyment. Simples.