It would be fair to say Amberian Dawn is not necessarily the first, or possibly even the fifth or sixth name, you’d think of when throwing the term “Symphonic Power Metal” about (or powerful, melodic metal with classical female vocals, as the band prefer to be described). Their career has flown well and truly under the radar, releasing to date a solid if unspectacular back catalogue with former singer Heidi Parviainen, and the Finnish troupe have yet to have that breakthrough album, or step up in class. A shuffling of the pack has seen the band reunite with several of its former line-up, and bring in the classically trained Päivi “Capri” Virkkunen take over the vocals and lyric writing, and both moves have strengthened their hand significantly.
Magic Forest (Napalm) combines up-tempo guitar-driven melodic metal, a stage-musical bent with sweet, catchy, cherry-on-top choruses. Pulling out an unusual trio of Andrew Lloyd-Webber, particularly ‘Memorial’ replete with guest male opera vocals from Markus Nieminen, ABBA (‘Warning’ and ‘Cherish My Memory’) and Nightwish as core sounds, Amberian Dawn also combine classic Helloween and Metallica tinged riffs with a dramatic fantasy narrative feel to their songs.
Capri carries a strong, saccharine voice, reminiscent of Anette Olzen, and due to the Doctor Parnassus feel of some of their songs, the Nightwish comparisons that have plagued Amberian Dawn over the years are reinforced at times, both in excellent ‘Son of Rainbow’, and the title track with its dancing Labyrinth (the film) texture. Alongside this ‘Dance of Life’, with its memorable keyboard and guitar patterns, recalls Within Temptation.
Magic Forest in and of itself won’t catapult Amberian Dawn to stardom, but it should move them several rungs up the ladder to being a band worth paying some attention to what happens next. Now they’ve found a sound that combines Disney, Phantom of the Opera and symphonic power metal, they are finally finding their niche and developing the playful enchanted touches that give them a more distinctive and interesting sound. Push and develop their cinematic side and it might not be too late for Amberian Dawn to make a name for themselves.