We all have our needs and priorities in life. While for some people it could be romance; to travel around the world; good tasty food, or simply that addictive thing known as bacon (I know you people love bacon.), I’d have to say that for me it is music. Especially symphonic metal. Dude… Give me a good symphonic metal album and I’ll be happier than a dog with two tails. And today, my dearest reader, the reason of my joy is an album called Magic Forest, by Amberian Dawn, a band known by connoisseurs of the genre across the seven seas, perhaps by their vast years of career; perhaps because of the sweetness and unmatched versatility of Capri’s voice (vocalist of the band since 2012 till date); or maybe because their music inevitably smells like legend, a haunted forest, a fantasia… Those things that in modern times we forget to dream but that still live in some dusty, but significant corner of our minds.
When I found out that Amberian Dawn comes from Hyvinkää, Finland, I inevitably wondered if the album could be actually about the real Finland’s Magic Forest, which, if my memory serves me correctly, is one of the creepiest forest in history. If so, it could give this album a whole new meaning for me. Anyway, the band, consisting currently on vocalist Päivi “Capri” Virkkunen, keyboardist and guitar player Tuomas Seppälä, guitarist Emil Pohjalainen, Kimmo Korhonen (another guitarist), and drummer Joonas Pykälä-Aho, has released 6 albums to date, including Magic Forest. Being their music known as a classy mixture of power metal and catchy melodies with grand symphonic touches and heavy riffs, this album is the logic evolution to what they have been doing so far, and puts them on a whole new level of awesomeness in my vast epic symphonic metal list.
So, it’s been a while since the last time I wrote about a band led by a woman, and I hate to say it, but to be honest the term “female fronted metal” has become a bit too much inappropriate in my eyes, and about as irritating as “male-dominated”. They are simply things we need to stop saying. Now, I’m not deaf, I know that since Nightwish fever became fashionable the symphonic metal genre has been quite discredited thanks to bands that deplete again and again the same riffs, gothic keyboards and operatic vocals, repeating this over and over to drive us up the freaking wall. As a fan of the genre this hurts me, a lot, but in my own and humble opinion, these bands have killed any possibility that a voice exclusively operatic can work for me again in any metal subgenre.
Amberian Dawn, however, is not just another of those infamous “female fronted metal” bands out there. First, we don’t have those operatic vocals, ok maybe at some specific little moments, but that’s it. Instead, we have tons of a very sweet and charming voice, feminine in all that the word may encompass, which even manages to have some metal edges at its most extreme notes, and that makes you feel, in fact, standing there in the middle of the magic forest. A voice just perfect for power metal. The structures are pretty generic but I must say they work perfectly for the genre and vibe of the band, the riffs are simple generally, except for the small solos that are spread all over the album, little but significant moments for guitars to shine in the spotlight. Most generally surrounds the album a mysterious and magical atmosphere created by the keyboards, which also have small but significant solo performances. So, Magic Forest is plagued (and when I say plagued, is basically riddled, completely infested) of catchy riffs and melodies that hook you in one second, and sweet vocal harmonies and choruses, everything very easy to digest and accessible to every non trained ear, but still enjoyable for those of us who live and die for music. Songwriting seems to be oriented to be catchy and rhythmic, I would never headbang to this kind of music but I admit I was bouncing my head from side to side… oh who am I kidding? I could dance like a crazy goat with this! And most probably I’d dance wishing Snow White could come out from nowhere and takes me to the cottage of the seven dwarfs, and maybe I could be the eighth. I know it’s not going to happen, but a girl can dream. Then again, I digress.. where was I? Oh yeah, the melodies, structures, vocals, everything so easy to digest and yet worthy of your full attention, because it can literally collapse your mind with a beautiful, clever and majestic Pandora’s box.
Songs that stand out for me: The title track Magic Forest, One of the few songs that features short and cleverly placed operatic passages and some enchanting spoken words. Son of Rainbow, there’s a single vocal line that it’s just impossible to get out of my head, you’ll know when you hear it. Memorial, a tenor with a discreet but memorable participation and a song in which I especially enjoy the fact that Capri’s voice acquires a sharpie edge at, signing off a little of the usual warm and friendly voice. Their voices sound just perfect as a duet. And also Green Eyed, for all I was expecting out of it was a cheesy ballade, but oh no, this is rather an epic an emotional track, with such a good orchestration and so many vocal turns that it turns to be specially touching.
The key to this formula is the proper dosage, are not reinventing the wheel, but giving small injections of each element in such a smart and correct way. The whole album is awesomely enjoyable and may even leave you wanting more. Overall softer and uplifting sound, full of that magical and pure vibe of power metal, one of that albums that make you smile of rejoice a powerful yet sweet voice, a style that transcends as Amberian Dawn’s watermark. Magic Forest is a quality, properly satisfying album of symphonic power metal, and for lovers of the genre, a must have. Still, with a few spins and the right mood, every person with a good heart for this old and melancholic spiritual food we affectionately call music, should be able to enjoy the hell out of this album. In fact, I challenge you to dislike it… I CHALLENGE YOU!