Reviewed: October, 2022
Released: 2022, AFM
Metal-Rules.com have championed this band since the very early days, reviewing their debut album way back in 2001. We have followed them ever since and speaking for myself only, they have been become my favourite band in this style.
Like clockwork the band have just released album #11. There is a great symmetry about this band. I like the way they do things. Every three albums they do a live album. Every five albums they do a double Greatest Hits with a bunch of rare and unreleased stuff. The lineup is still stable over the past few albums and I suppose this is the 25th anniversary of the band.
As always, AFM does a good job in terms of the physical product, there is a nice booklet a digipak with liner notes, lyrics, lots of photos and so on. There is also a bonus disc of instrumental versions of the songs. They did this last album and I am repeating myself but Sabine’s voice is a highlight so I’m not sure how much I’ll listen to the instrumental versions, but it is nice to have.
Shangri-La picks up where its predecessor DYNAMIND left off, maintaining a heavier, more metallic sound. I’ve mentioned this before having a couple of members who also paly in much heavier bands adds a welcome sonic intensity to Edenbridge, something that competitors Nightwish have been lacking lately. Despite opening with an eight-minute-long song the band brings a lot to the table and they only pick up the intensity with the next faster, shorter track, ‘The Call Of Eden’. The band has, ever-so-slightly, scaled back some of the minor celtic/folk influences found on the last record making this a more straight-ahead affair.
Sabine’s voice…I’m not sure how to say this but maybe the first little cracks are staring to appear. It’s only natural that after signing professionally in the band for 25 years that her voice is starting to show signs of wear and tear. She sings in a slightly lower register, which is still beautiful but she isn’t stretching out like she used to do all those years ago on songs such as ‘Fly On A Rainbow Dream’. The band is self-produced and has been for years so it might even be a matter of that the band could benefit from an outside producer to guide her and push her to slightly higher heights. Aside from the production is top-quality, crystal clear and balanced.
The songcraft is superb as always, a highlight being the dynamic and orchestral, ‘Freedom Is A Roof Of Stars’ which flows with ease between really heavy guitar crunch, orchestral flourishes and subtle acoustic moments. You might think a track called ‘Savage Land’ would be heavy on fast but in this case Lanvall experiments with all sorts of exotic instruments in this progressive ballad. It would not be an Edenbridge album without a long song, the last four albums each having an epic tune of over 12 minutes! This time they revisit ‘The Bonding’ a track from an album of the same name from 2013. ‘The Bonding Part 2’ is a five-part suite that runs 16 minutes and is the longest song they have ever done. A strong ending to a strong record.
This very high rating for SHANGRI-LA betrays my bias and favouritism towards this band but with dozens, maybe even hundreds of bands in this style, Edenbridge remain at the top of pile.
Lanvall-Guitar (lead & rhythm) Piano, Keyboards, other
1. At First Light
2. The Call of Eden
3. Hall of Shame
4. Savage Land
5. Somewhere Else But Here
6. Freedom Is a Roof Made of Stars
7. Arcadia (The Great Escape)
8. The Road to Shangri-La
9. The Bonding (Part 2) [The Bonding Overture; Alpha and Omega; The Eleventh Hour; Round and Round; The Timeless Now – Finale]