Amberian Dawn – “Magic Forest” (Napalm Records)
Formed in 2006, these Finns are onto their 6th album but now with a new soprano vocalist in Päivi “Capri” Virkkunen, who replaced original vocalist Heidi Parviainen. Musically, the band play symphonic rock graced by founder Tuomas Seppälä’s virtuoso neo classical guitars and keyboards – although it’s all done in a very uplifting style with plenty of impetus in the uptempo material. Crucially, rock fairy tales like ‘Cherish My Memory’ and ‘Dance Of Life’ feature loads of catchy melodies and almost pop like harmonies that could give ABBA a run for their money in their addictive potential! Capri’s vocals are nothing short of stupendous – clearly hitting the highs yet ethereal and not being too operatic – working a treat in giving Seppälä’s compositions a very accessible feel that any femme goth / symphonic rock fan, especially in the lighter end of the spectrum would appreciate. The “Magic Forest” certainly lives up to its name, being wondrous and enchanting with material that doesn’t just lure the listener but actually envelopes them in its pleasurable sounds like on the superb duet of ‘Memorial’, where Capri is complemented by a male tenor. Closing with ‘Green Eyed’, a quiet but epic ballad that builds as it brings together Seppälä’s delicate keyboards along with Capri’s vocals whilst backed by moving orchestral passages, I cannot think of a better example reflecting both the band’s sophisticated style as well as being a perfect reflection of this albums truly magical appeal. Although Amberian Dawn’s lightweight style might appeal less to some, their potential to embrace to a huge audience especially in the US is undeniable given their obviously suave songs, but moreover their amazing ability to introduce us all to a world far beyond our own.