Hot on the heels of their exceptional debut Sunrise in Eden, Edenbridge have returned with the equally powerful Arcana. While the band has chosen to stick to a similar formula, their brand of melodic progressive metal featuring soaring female vocals, classically- tinged guitar work, and symphonic arrangments is consistantly impressive here and should help them continue to bring in new fans.
The emergence of guitarist Lanvall as a force in the six-string community is immediately apparent upon the first few spins of Arcana. Previously, Lanvall was more adept at Steve Hackett-inspired prog, and while he still churns out some beautiful acoustic based passages, as on "A Moment of Time", it is his more agressive side that is featured in Edenbridge. "The Palace" features some ripping, melodic leads, squarely in the neo-classical school ala Malmsteen, MacAlpine, or Romeo, but never enters the realm of eccess. Vocalist Sabine Edelsbacher turns in another fine performance, giving songs like "Fly on a Rainbow Dream" and the epic title track a majestic quality not heard since the glory days of Annie Haslam and Renaissance.
The production throughout Arcana is top-notch, whether the songs are heavy, speedy metal numbers, or dreamy, symphonic progressive rock excursions. Lanvall, in addition to producing, wrote all the songs, tackled guitars and all keyboards. Second guitarist Andreas Eibler is listed as contributing rhythm and lead guitars as well, but it's not clear how much. Returning once again is drummer Roland Navratil and bassist Kurt Bednarsky, who both put in solid performances. If you are lucky enough to pick up the Sensory edition of this CD (from the Lasers Edge), it comes with a few bonus tracks, one being the gorgeous "Velvet Eyes of Dawn." This song features perhaps the most intoxicating vocals from Sabine, and gentle guitar and keyboard parts from Lanvall. It's a nice break from some of the heavier, more bombastic moments on Arcana, and shows the depth that Edenbridge can perform at. A recommended release, and a great way to start off 2002.