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Edenbridge: The Bonding

Through turbulence, despair, and tribulation, often it's your best and most epic efforts that emerge. And so it goes that Edenbridge has created their most epic recoding with the release of "The Bonding". It's has been 13 years since Edenbridge first created a ripple in the vast ocean of symphonic metal with the release of their debut 'Sunrise in Eden'. They have since compounded that growing tsunami wave with seven additional albums of epic hits which include the vast title tracks full of music and themes which expand beyond time and space.

Their last album, "Solitaire" was released in 2010, to a sea of favourable reviews globally. The band developed some of the themes they would use in "The Bonding" shortly after completing "Solitaire". But then life interrupted the writing and creative process, delaying the expected release of the new album past the 2012 original release. Family tragedies, band member and record label changes pushed out the process. As guitarist and main songwriter Lanvall states, "We had to come to terms with a number of personal setbacks, which is why the production of the album took longer than originally scheduled," In addition, Lanvell suffered the loss of his father.

Lanvall also wanted to create something as special as the band's epic creation, "My Earth Dream", which included support of an orchestra and choir. Lanvall eventually enlisted the support of the Klangvereinigung Orchestra of Vienna under the direction of Georg Luksch, and believe me it will stun you when you experience the power that the orchestra brings to "The Bonding".

The new line-up in place: Sabine Edelsbacher, lead vocals; Lanvall, rhythm & acoustic guitars, bass, keyboards, kacapi & piano; Max Pointner, drums; Dominik Sebastian, lead & rhythm guitars; and Wolfgang Rothbauer, bass, grunts on ´Shadows Of My Memory`; the band is now ready to take on the world again.

And so we begin our journey down the 'Mystic River'. The orchestra and band lay out a wonderful channel of music for the powerful river of vocals that is Sabine Edelsbacher. Unleashed like a stream from a mountain in springtime, she fills the soundscape well with that other-worldly operatic voice of hers. We are off on a free – flowing and spring like deluge of talent. The symphony picks up headway as the timbre starts to rise. The momentum is threatening to take everything with it.

Then, a slow bend in the river. The choir surrounds you for a moment of pause. Wonderful. Then Lanvall and Dominik Sebastian masterfully lead the rhythm and melody with power guitars. The drums from Max Pointner threaten to cross all natural barriers. "The Mystic River seizes you". Yes. Brooding power, motion, and emotion fill this album starter. They fill all gaps with that priceless orchestra. Yah, this band definitely knows how to open an album!

Stellar keyboards create eerie mood music to open 'Alight a New Tomorrow', before the bruising guitars, bass, and drums enter the soundscape. Then Sabine is back, "Fraying, straying, decaying, the world's at sea. Are we resigned to our fate?" But like Kirk, she always cheats fate. "The world is waiting for change within our hearts. The last card for us all, a new era starts. So hit the road out there, alight a new tomorrow". Follow that with…what else…piano. (Thanks for that). Then hit 'em with full on orchestra and drums. WOW! Her voice so clear and calmly lays out the story. Two power bullets spent…and we've only just begun. What a ride!

'Star-Crossed Dreamer' opens with full on orchestra. If you got it why not flaunt it? Yes, you will love this one. Sabine slows it down, so you can hear each note and word…crystal clear. I've waited for something like this in their catalog…and now it's here. Sit back and let the story begin. "Back all those years, when all just used to be. Those memories in me". The full orchestra joins in support. You just have to hear…or better yet, experience it. "But it's your own world you are free to create". "And in the next world I'm perfectly alright". "Take me on and on. I am just a Star-Crossed Dreamer. A fancier is all I wanna be". "I fly in the face of reason". Then the guitars wine and moan…loudly before cascading down around the soundscape to a soft piano fade – out.

'The Invisible Force' opens with cool synths and keyboard effects before the blast off with full on drums and earthquake loud guitars and bass. Hold on to your hat…it's a tornado of sound. The orchestra joins in…just for fun, making this one of the best openings on the album. Followed by some of the best guitar work on the album. Then Sabine, "Stay with me. Join the eulogy of comforting souls, guided by words unseen. Welcome, the Invisible Force". Followed by drop dead drums and full orchestra.

Heavy bass, eerie keys and effects that you might expect with a song titled, 'Into a Sea of Souls'. Sabine returns to the sound of soft guitar, "Cold, dark, silence at night. Feel seclusion in the absence of light. Bygone, so hopeless in this solitary shell. Seamless. Painless. Too late to bid you farewell", set to the wonderful patter of soft piano. Yah, you get the picture. Like floating after death. But with Sabine guiding you through this labyrinth, it's not so bad. "So strange, so bizarre. Crossing the 'Great Divide'. Life hereafter to the Other Side". You can feel the emotion in her voice like never before, as she drifts. "Into a Sea of Souls". The power and emotion in this song alone is worth the price of admission. But we're only hallway through the album. You feel that the orchestra is with you in the room.

'Far out Of Reach' opens with that beautiful full piano I have always enjoyed on all of their albums. This is one of Sabine's best vocal performances. The emotions on this one will grab your heart, as she sings, "It's the waterfall falling. It's the cross on the hill. It's the fork on a crossroads. It's the freedom I feel. And it's tearing my heart. If I must leave again. It's the beauty of nature unseen. It is endlessly green. I feel a little bit closer. It's the air that I'm breathing. It's the spirit of life", her voice feels for more words. To me it sounds like Genesis' 'IT'… But sung with much more emotion. Then the orchestra and band drive your emotions to the peak. "And if the sky is the limit…I would walk on and on". Then she lifts her voice like an eagle searching for the mountain's peak.

I'll add a few of my own words to the lyrics if I could. For me the sound of this section is like when black and white changed to color in 'The Wizard of Oz', or better yet, when the lost souls finally reach the opening on the ice cold mountain to glimpse Shangri-La in 'Lost Horizon'.

Sabine sings, "I am entranced by you!" Acoustic guitar and piano, before more orchestra and the band takes over. "I have seen their faces. I have seen in their eyes. All celestial places, where dream and day allies". Piano takes us out. Easily the second best song on the album.

'Shadows of My Memory' bolts open like some of their rockers of the past. In fact, I think I even hear the rhythm and some of the familiar guitar licks from "My Earth Dream", under that mean growl. Sabine combined with the 'grunts' of Rothbauer, is an interesting mix after all that has passed so far. The full orchestra section lifts this one beyond the rockers of the past with the power and majesty left from the shadow of 'My Earth Dream". Those blistering signature lead guitar chords are excellent. "I see daylight now. I am changing horses in mid-stream. Heaven only knows. Where the journey goes".

Sabine and piano open 'Death Is Not the End'. "Taking a stroll down on 'Memory Lane'. One moment. One lifetime. We'll meet again. 'Cause I still believe, death is not the end". Amen. "All mortal clay, but my sole transcends". This one will grab your heart, filled with piano and emotion.

Closing an album is just as important as opening it. 'The Bonding' will go down in history with all of their epic title tracks as the best on the album. Over 15 minutes of epic music filled with orchestra, no holds barred.

The orchestra whirls with intensity at the opening…drums blaring and full orchestration at the max. The feast of the table is being set, yet…there is no way to prepare for what is coming.

Then, a soft quiet keyboard breeze blows in with only piano and effects, before Sabine, "Here…Here you stand. All seems to be in the air. For no reason at all? Facing the world in despair. Ok, now the solution, "If you could only come to know this hope, the infinite now. The dream to arrive. Floating in seas of doubt". Then the awesome choir takes the stage, along with the orchestra and the band. The drum rolls ignite the soundscape.

Power up the heavy guitar, drums, strings, choir, and all ashore that's going ashore. Sabine, "I'm beyond belief. The one you will recall. I'm the timeless now. The reason of it all". This band has always been epic, but this is not only over the top, it's otherworldly…and we have just begun.

Sabine, "It's how the waves can change their form, but the ocean stays the same. A different born in a storm. The same water to tame".

Then guest vocalist Erik Martensson arrives with lead vocals, "How can I feel you? When it's all beyond belief? Why can't I see you? Is your being to deceive? How can I touch you? As it's my philosophy. When I can't hear you. It's beyond theology? It feels like we've somehow drifted into a scene from an Arjen Lucassen production. Only much larger and all encompassing.

The guitar work is relentlessly beautiful. Sabine's back, "I am unborn and immortal. I am the light in the dark. Eternal formless power. The guardian of the Arc". Wow! Take some time to digest that.

Then Sabine, "I'm the boundless now. The well that can't run dry. Infinity in deep. There's no beginning, no goodbye".

Sabine, "Humans and flowers, stones, water, trees, feelings, intensions and our dreams. Mountains and planets and even the sun. I stay untouched, I am one". You can't wait for the interview answers right? Me either.

A soft interlude with acoustic guitar, chimes, and a moment to collect your thoughts, before the big finish. Screaming signature guitars surrounded by heavy bass and expertly placed drums.

Then Sabine, the band, and orchestra take you out like something I haven't heard in a long time, maybe since the end of Genesis's 'Supper's Ready', drawing to a close this album with feelings and memories that will last long after the song ends.

Yes, it is intense. This is the money track where the full orchestra will rock the walls. You will leave this song and album better than when you arrived. It is an experience. Like I said in the opening sentence, from grief, loss, and tribulations, sometimes our best work emerges. This is Edenbridge's best work…so far. Like Indy said, 'Trust me". I'm in! Can't wait for the next!

I once asked Lanvall in an interview if he used an orchestra in the opening of the last album's "Entree Unique". His answer then was, "Working with a real orchestra costs a fortune of money and the sad thing is that most people do not recognize if it's a real one or not". Well, some of us do…and appreciate it very much on albums like 'My Earth Dream", and now "The Bonding".

Some albums must be heard. Like Jimi's work, this one must be experienced. I hope I have at least given you a glimpse into this excellent recording. You can tell Edenbridge put a lot of work into this album. So much love, emotion and feeling. I wrote this during the first day of receiving the promo, and I know I haven't covered everything I wanted. I will add more later…once I have the lyrics sheet.

The artwork is excellent. The orchestra and Robby Valentine's backing vocals & choirs help make this memorable. The Klangvereinigung Orchestra of Vienna was an excellent choice. There is nothing missing. They create at the gold standard, they "shall serve no wine…before its time". The wine is ready to be served in June and July. Don't miss this experience. Few bands are using full orchestras any more. Your ears will be rewarded by the work and feeling put into this album.

Let "the Bonding" begin!

Track Listing:

01. Mystic River (07:13)
02. Alight A New Tomorrow (03:53)
03. Star-Crossed Dreamer (04:01)
04. The Invisible Force (05:27)
05. Into A Sea Of Souls (04:57)
06. Far Out Of Reach (06:09)
07. Shadows Of My Memory (05:37)
08. Death Is Not The End (05:45)
09. The Bonding (15:26)

Added: June 3rd 2013
Reviewer: Mark Johnson
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Hits: 6358
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Edenbridge: The Bonding
Posted by Simon Bray, SoT Staff Writer on 2013-06-03 13:55:02
My Score:

Edenbridge are a band for which I have had a lot of time for, for quite a while. They have always been on the edge of the big time. They never made it as big as similar band such as Nightwish, Within Temptation, Delain or even (because I liked them) After Forever. I interviewed guitarist and songsmith Lanvall once and was impressed with his dedication as at the time he was touring and was both performing and acting as his own stage manager – clearly too much for one man to take on. This is why I am so pleased that The Bonding is such a resounding success.

In the great scheme of things there isn't much that I can add to Mark Johnson's excellent thorough review of the album other than to say that recording with an actual real orchestra gives proceedings some real oomph. Yet despite this, the standout track for me is the wonderful "Death Is Not The End" which showcases Sabine Edelsbacher's pure voice beautifully. This is by far the most complete and fully-rounded Edenbridge album yet and deserves support from anyone who likes female-fronted metal.

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