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Edenian : Winter Shades

Edenian are a young Ukrainian band influenced by Draconian. Frankly, it would be astonishing had they been anything else.

Recently, the review albums I've had have been quite a treasure trove of enjoyment, so much so that it was beginning to look like an undiscerning recommend for anything that came my way. Fortunately, there is an antidote.

As is usual with Solitude and their associated labels, it arrived in a nicely-presented and well-produced package. In this particular case, one that makes no attempt to hide exactly what it is going to contain. Band name - one word ending in "ian"? Check. Band logo - first and last letter in larger type than the rest? Check. Cover picture solitary gothic figure against a moody background? Check. Booklet - full of atmospheric, foggy photos? Check. It's almost a wasted effort to look them up on the internet and discover they are a young Ukrainian band influenced by Draconian. Frankly, it would be astonishing had they been anything else.

Well, that isn't automatically any kind of a bad thing and, in any case, any Gothic Doom band going down the symphonic "beauty and the beast" route is going to find it difficult to avoid comparison with (imho, at least) the absolute epitome of that style. Blatantly inviting it at least shows a certain acceptance of the challenge faced by the members of Edenian: Max Molodtsov (all instruments) and Samantha Sinclair (vocals), assisted by a trio of male vocalists.

Musically, the sound is crisp and professional, and the individual elements are all present and correct in the mix. The drums may be programmed, but every effort has been made to give them some character and depth. The guitar, taking most of the instrumental lead, is well-played and takes in a number of styles from semi-acoustic strumming to frantically soaring riffing. Keyboards and bass mostly fill in background texture, although there are moments of pure synthesised piano and violin that carry a pleasant enough melody. The female vocals are high, pure and clear somewhere between Tristania's Vibeke Stene and Draconian's Lisa Johanssen and the male vocals are suitably gruff, in places sounding quite a lot like Saturnus' Thomas Jensen.

How those various abilities are used, however, is the great weakness of 'Winter Shades'. It's basically a formulaic take on the Draconian blueprint, with a nod to Illumination-era Tristania and a couple of brief forays into more Saturnus-like territory. Compared to other bands moving in the same sort of circles fellow-countrymen Symphonian, for example it doesn't resonate with the same degree of conviction or passion. Ironically, the most emotional involvement comes from the main male vocalists, who can both sound as if they are trying to achieve something with the parts they are allocated. The remaining vocals, and a lot of the music, pitch in with the right level of technical symphonic bombast, but in a frequently mechanical and somewhat laboured way. The high point is probably 'When I Gave Her My Eden' but even that isn't going to win any prizes for originality. The low point is David Duchovny's pointless, nasal spoken introduction to 'The Field Where I Died', which is so trite as to be almost painful.

It's not that this is a desperately awful album, in all honesty, just plain and derivative in its rigid adherence to the most obvious definitions of the genre and a good five years too late to add any great value by repeating them. It does sound as if Edenian could have the potential to deliver more, but this clear and somewhat soulless tribute to their major influence isn't the way to demonstrate that. One to consider only if in the market for an album completely devoid of any surprises and that can be pigeonholed with a single glance.

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Reviewer's rating: 6/10


Tracklist :
1. Decadent Blossoms
2. Thy Heavens Wept In Mourn
3. Winter Shades
4. The Field Where I Died
5. When I Gave Her My Eden
6. Embittered Silence
7. Beauty Entwined
8. Fall The Dusk
9. Burning Horizon
10. Beneath An Abstract Sun

Duration : Approx. 54 minutes

Visit the Edenian bandpage.

Reviewed on 2012-05-28 by Mike Liassides
Thermal Mass
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