Starting out in 2008 as a neoclassical power metal act, Finnish band Amberian Dawn have continued to evolve and refine their sound over the years. Now, with their ninth full-length release, Looking For You (Napalm Records), the band have decided to fully embrace their already less than hidden inner Abba, even recording in Benny Andersson’s own studio and using some of the legendary Swedish pop band’s original equipment.
Right from the opening bars of ‘United’, the Abba influence is in your face and rarely eases up. Fans of the band’s older material are likely to be split as there is little here to compare to those early years, but those who have listened to their last couple records shouldn’t be surprised in the least. Tracks such as ‘Ladyhawk’ and ‘Sky is Falling’ from the last couple of records alone have shown this move has been coming for some time.
Songs like ‘Eternal Fire Burning’, ‘Go For a Ride’ and ‘Butterfly’ are lightweight and frothy little head-nodders, and even those with a slightly more sombre edge like ‘Two Blades’ and the balladic ‘Universe’ never really venture too far into dark places. The band does return to their earlier neoclassical and symphonic styles with the fantastic ‘Symphony No.1 Part 3 – Awakening’ which features former Rhapsody of Fire vocalist Fabio Lione duetting with hugely talented Capri Virkunnen.
Coming as a surprise to nobody, a cover of Abba’s ‘Lay All Your Love on Me’ is included. An excellent choice as it meshes perfectly with the album’s overall sound. A slightly reworked and remastered version of ‘Cherish My Memory’ follows the instrumental closer ‘Au Revoir’ and arguably sounds better than it did on 2014’s Magic Forest (Napalm).
An expertly produced ’80s influenced pop-metal album where the vocals, keyboards, and drums take the front seat, Looking For You certainly isn’t the heaviest thing you’ll hear all year (or probably even all day), but it’s a perfectly enjoyable record, bouncy, happy and full of positivity. And Abba.
7 / 10