Edge of Attack - s/t 4.5/5

Reviewed: 2-1-13


1. In hell
2. The haunting
3. Demon (Of the northern seas)
4. Take me alive
5. In the night
6. Edge of attack
7. Rise above
8. Forever
9. The damned
10. Set the world aflame

Here’s an impressive debut to get the 2013 metal year off on the right foot. Already attracting a healthy pre-release Internet buzz, Alberta, Canada quintet Edge of Attack are poised to make serious inroads in the international metal community in the post-Mayan apocalypse era. It is rare to hear a newcomer, independent band that’s so accomplished on so many levels. From great songwriting to stellar musicianship, from polished but powerful production to confident performances, from striking cover art to something resembling an “own sound” (as they say in the European press), Edge of Attack look to be the real deal. This debut CD would not seem out of place, and indeed would stand out favorably from most of its labelmates, if it were released under the aegis of Nuclear Blast or AFM Records. Yet Edge of Attack are signed not to one of these flagship labels, but instead to the under-the-radar Spread the Metal Records. More’s the pity.

Because Edge of Attack aren’t a prefabricated, cookie-cutter act, their style is not so easy to pinpoint. The promotional materials tag them as a power/thrash combo that should appeal to fans of Nightwish, Kamelot, Epica, Blind Guardian and so on. Honestly, I don’t hear the thrash, although some of the riffs are certainly quick-paced and aggressive. (Gamma Ray and Primal Fear have fast, aggressive riffing too, but no one would call them thrash.) Nor would it be fair or accurate to lump Edge of Attack in with the sea of symphonic Nightwish/Epica clones. My best cut at describing the band would be to place them broadly under the umbrella of female-fronted modern melodic power metal. Reasonable comparisons could be drawn to fellow Canucks Unleash the Archers (although the bow-and-arrow crew make far more pervasive use of harsh vocals, aside from Edge of Attack’s track “The damned”) and Minnesota titans Cwn Annwn. You know, crunchy power metal with lots of bite, flash and melody in the guitar department, soul-stirring songwriting, and non-operatic, powerful female lead vocals with a good bit of distinctive character, and the occasional nod to modern stylistic flourishes such as downtuned chug riffs and harsh male vocals in a complimentary role. It is my firm conviction that Edge of Attack would appeal to a wide swath of this site’s readership, from the traditional/true metal warriors to the European powerheads to the more symphonic/operatic female-singer aficionados. This CD really checks all the right boxes and touches all the right nerves for a top-flight melodic power metal outing in 2013.

One of the most striking features of this CD is how well-rounded and cohesive it is in terms of songwriting. The tracks are different enough from each other to avoid repetition, but similar enough to fit together like pieces to the same jigsaw puzzle. “In Hell” melds furious tempos with a decidedly folky melody and groovy riffing. “Set the world aflame” (featuring guest vocals from Pellek) is the kind of happy speedy workout that once was Sonata Arctica’s stock in trade back in the heady ‘Ecliptica’ days. Songs like “The haunting” and “Forever” have a slicker midtempo anthemic vibe, without forgetting the heavy, headbanging guitars. “The damned” brings in a slightly more extreme approach (thanks to larynx-shredding guest vocals from Ryan Bovaird), while remaining well within the Edge of Attack musical framework. And “Demon (of the northern seas)” and “Take me alive” are the sort of magical pure metal tunes that so many bands aspire to write, but so few actually achieve, with the former showcasing a nautical motif and the latter veering from speed-metal verses to a big triumphant chorus. Although a variety of male vocals (clean and growled) pop up from time to time, the predominant voice is that of Roxanne Gordey, who capably belts out the lines in a traditional rock/metal style rather than adopting the flowery diva approach.

I could be a hard-ass and give Edge of Attack a 4/5 rating, with an accompanying curmudgeonly rant about how they need to prove themselves, earn their stripes and blah blah blah. I can’t do it. Not here. This CD is too good, too masterful and too addictive to saddle with a 4/5 score. Edge of Attack deserve better. So I’ll instead dole out a rare 4.5/5 score, with the glowing, gushing justification that this is the first must-hear melodic power metal CD of 2013. The good news is that distribution via Spread the Metal Records should be excellent in the U.S., with ready availability at cheap prices at Amazon and other outlets, so there’s no excuse not to pick this up after the February 19, 2013 street date. Hats off to Edge of Attack for doing the Great White North proud and proving that melodic power metal can still be every bit as exciting, vibrant and alive as it ever was back in the good old days.




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