EDENBRIDGE – The Grand Design

EDENBRIDGE - The Grand Design
  • 7.5/10
    EDENBRIDGE - The Grand Design - 7.5/10


Release date: May 19, 2006

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Let the succession wars begin: Since Tarja left Nightwish, the Female-Fronted Symphonic Metal Scene needs new leadership! The princess Epica, Within Temptation, Evanescence, and Edenbridge now scent the chance to inherit the throne, and of the four, Edenbridge is the first band to release a new album (on a side note: Lacuna Coil is left out for good reason: their last album strayed from the old paths and is a refreshing change to their former style; they will not lead this pack after all …). So, is this the big hit? Read on …

The Grand Design marks the fifth release of Austria’s finest, who always have been quite close to the sound and style of Nightwish, something they were accused of regularly, but that never made them falter. If you dig deeper, there are obvious differences. For one, Edenbridge albums contain fewer fillers. Also, their roots are less heavy, you could say Edenbridge emerged from a solid Rock foundation, while Nightwish came from Metal. And, of course, Sabine Edelsbacher’s voice is less Operatic and more Rock oriented.

The album opens with a rather complex song, but “Terra Nova” is definitely the high art of bombastic, epic, dramatic Metal. The song greets you with a “welcome home,” and then it engulfs you in great melodies and moving arrangements that, at times, are reminiscent of movie scores, especially from the James Bond series. This is the best track on the album, but this song would be best on almost every album. The cream on top is the guitar solo by Karl Groom from one of England’s leading Progressive Metal bands, Threshold, who also mixed the album. This song is indeed a treat.

Following next is “Flame Of Passion,” and you’d be hard-pressed to name a song with a better fitting title. Bombastic keyboards initially, and then Sabine sets in, but not in the high-pitched I-have-to-show-you-how-much-soprano-I-can-sing voice, instead here she just rocks. The track is slightly too long, though. “Evermore” is next, which has the most dominant guitar parts on all of The Grand Design and it reminds positively of, well, Threshold. Did this riff come up in a nightly session between Lanvall and Groom?

Unfortunately, Edenbridge is not immune to the ballad disease. The notion that every album needs at least one ballad seems to be the consensus, so they slow down the pace, only this ballad truly would be better placed at the end of the album! Fortunately, at a little over 3 minutes, this is straight to the point and offers just enough time to get a beer before “See You Fading Afar,” with its great chorus, gets the album back on track. It has a classical intermission with a nice guitar solo, which disturbs the flow of the song, but it’s still an interesting change.

This is the point where the album leaves the path of brilliance. “On Top Of The World” is a filler, roughly as heavy as a Feargal Sharky song, a melody that you heard a thousand times before and were just happy to finally have managed to forget, and definitely too long. Up next is another ballad. The whole genre already is filled with melody, feeling, emotion. Does this type of music really need an abundance of ballads? Again, it is one of the shorter tracks, and, admittingly, it is quite good … the piano background is really nice. Sabine is great on every single track, and she has become an incredible singer.

The album closes with the title track, a ten-minute opus combining Virgin Steele drama, straight Rock riffs, heart-gripping vocals, and a wonderful chorus. But, surprisingly, after about four minutes, the song stops and changes into a mandolin plus keyboards part with a guitar solo, then becomes bombastic again, just to be interrupted by yet another different interlude that reminds of old Western scores, and so on until a longer Queen-ish section ends the song. That all together makes the track seem erratic. But, there is hope for this song yet — the new single contains not only a Sheena Easton cover version of “For Your Eyes Only,” but also an edited version of “The Grand Design,” condensed to just 4 minutes. That is the form that this killer track deserves!

Although towards the end, Lanvall and his companions could not keep the quality of the compositions at the height of the first tracks, this is one of the best albums of this very specific subgenre. If you’ve ever liked this style, well, you should get this album. Or, at least, request “Terra Nova” when a DJ is online here on MER!

The limited edition of The Grand Design contains a bonus track, an instrumental with a very nice guitar somewhere in the wake of early eighties Gary Moore or Michael Schenker.


  • Frank Jaeger

    Frank was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, based out of Bavaria, Germany. He has worked in the games industry for more than 20 years, now on the manufacturing side, before on the publishing end. Before this, he edited and handled the layout for a city mag in northern Germany ... maybe that is why he love being part of anything published. Frank got hooked on Metal at the age of 14 when a friend introduced him to AC/DC. They were listening to The Beatles, Madness, and The Police, and he decided they should move on. Well, they did, Back in Black became Frank's first Metal album, and since Germany is reasonably close to England, they had some small New Waves Of British Heavy Metal washing up on their shores: Tygers Of Pan Tang, Samson, Gillan, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Sweet Savage, Diamond Head, etc. If he had to pick his favorite styles, Prog and Power Metal would be at the top of the list.

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