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Amberian Dawn - River of Tuoni 4/5

Reviewed: 4-25-08


1. River of Tuoni
2. Wings are my eyes
3. Lullaby
4. Valkyries
5. Fate of maiden
6. My only star
7. Curse
8. Passing bells
9. Sunrise
10. Evil inside me

Amberian Dawn has already caused some waves with their debut 'River of Tuoni', and as I write this, the CD has yet to be distributed worldwide and reviews haven't really begun to pop up. Still, words have quickly been spread about this female fronted band from Finland, and they've even been compared to early Nightwish, including the years of their masterpiece 'Oceanborn'. While Amberian Dawn features members of numerous past and present bands, only the neo-classical power metal band Virtuocity has stood out to me. Apparently, Virtuocity is now defunct and Amberian Dawn was created by Tuomas Seppala (lead guitarist and keyboard player) from Virtuocity.

Well, rest assured (fans of early Nightwish), Amberian Dawn does somewhat mirror the popular symphonic power metal band, but not so much that they're a clone. Far from it in fact - although Amberian Dawn can easily fall in the group of Nightwish and many other similar bands, they definitely stand out from the pack. Firstly, even though they're very similar to early Nightwish, Arya and Wildpath as far as speed, they're not as symphonic as these bands. Visions of Atlantis, Legenda Aurea, Overdream, Imperia and Rosa Ignea are comparable too, but Amberian Dawn has more speed than these bands (and also isn't as symphonic). Next up, neo-classical power metal bands like Kapel Maister, Caravellus and Demether are also similar, but Amberian Dawn doesn't contain near as much of the neo-classical parts that these bands do. So, Amberian Dawn doesn't have the extra-strong symphonic or neo-classical presence that these bands have, and instead sits somewhere in the middle, drawing slight influences from each side. Actually, the best direct comparison I can come up with is probably Operatika.

Vocally, wow! Heidi Parviainen has such a beautiful voice, and she's truly as special as Tarja Turunen (ex-Nightwish), Claudia Hofer (Legenda Aurea), Christina Sprenger (Arya), Slava Popova (Operatika), and both Luciana Queirolo and Mariela Lemos (Kapel Maister). Seriously, you folks probably have no idea how much I love the voices of these phenominal chicks, and Heidi has now joined them in my mind. She has wonderful control and her soaring voice is truly flawless. The more you listen to her and allow the vocal melodies to become embedded in your head, the better 'River of Tuoni' is.

But while Heidi really stands out, the guitar work does too, and it's quite impressive; every single song contains terrific riffs that are very catchy and the band's rhythm section is simply awesome. Although we get plenty of speed and the band definitely belongs in power metal, the tempo is mixed up enough to keep things interesting. For example, the pounding and powerful "Lullaby" totally grabs your attention, as does the slow and memorable track 6 "My only star", where Heidi really shines. I like every song though, and I really can't pick favorites. I do however, want to emphasize that nothing is overdone on 'River of Tuoni' - there isn't too much of a symphonic presence, the neo-classical parts don't dominate the rest of the music, and Heidi's voice is never overbearing.

So we end up with a CD that I like a lot, though I know many of you don't crave female fronted power metal bands like I do, and if that is the case, then you probably won't be greatly amazed like I am. I only wish the CD was longer, as 36 minutes is too short of a running-time, especially when none of the songs are close to 5 minutes in length, and most are between 3 and 4 minutes. Still, I'm very happy with this debut and I hope this is a band that sticks around for a long time.




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