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Amberian Dawn - Innuendo

Label: Napalm
Format: CD download
Released: 2015
Reviewed By: Jack Mangan
Rating: 7.5/ 10


Full disclosure: While Amberian Dawn have been around for a number of years and albums, 2015's "Innuendo" is my first exposure to the band. This is singer Päivi "Capri" Virkkunen's second record with them since replacing Heidi Parvainnen on lead vocals in 2013.

 

The label of "Symphonic Metal" applies neatly to two of the most interesting songs: the ballad, ‘Angelique’, and ‘Symphony Nr 1, pt 1 - The Witchcraft’. The rest would be best described as good, straightforward Power Metal, without too many surprises. What truly distinguishes Amberian Dawn, however, is Virkkunen's elite-level vocal ability. Wow. Her voice may sound reminiscent of numerous other strong female singers, but her refined talent sets her at the head of the class. Someone cast her as the lead in Carmen, immediately. Doing my homework on their past, it would seem that previous singer Parviainen is also a major talent, but was a bit more operatic. Capri's style seems more along the lines of Idina Menzel or (sorry) Celine Dion.

Capri's soaring tenor, combined with the evocative images and stories in the lyrics, plus the high-adventure, cinedramatic music behind her, set the stage for a new Power/Symphonic genre offshoot: Disney Princess Metal. If the Disney animation overlords were ever progressive enough to add some edge to one of their soundtracks, it would likely sound a lot like "Innuendo". All that's missing is the male lead's token song of yearning and the obligatory comic relief number.

This aspect does make some of the fodder songs really groan-inducing. ‘Knock Knock Who's There’, I'm looking at you. Fortunately, the strong material carries the album. The aforementioned Symphonic tunes, plus ‘Rise of the Evil’, ‘Your Time - My Time’, and ‘The Court of Mirror Hall’ are enough to make "Innuendo" worth a listen. The folklore-based lyrics and tone sometimes make it sound sometimes like off-Broadway Metal Showtunes; you can almost picture the crew moving set pieces around on the stage. Other times, the tunes are more reminiscent of Yngwie's "Trilogy" album.

So there you go: Metal Disney Princesses, Celine Dion, lyrics of medieval folklore and magic, Showtunes, and Yngwie Malmsteen. If that doesn't pique your curiosity, I don't know what will.

 
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