Frontiers [Release date 08.11.19]
Currently on a major European tour, Edge Of Paradise came up the hard way, slogging their away around the LA circuit, creating fans, making a name. It got them minor label recording contracts and two consequent album releases in 2011 and 2015. But it was the addition of David Ruiz on guitar and their “Alive” EP, both in 2017, that raised the band’s profile to an international level.
Now, on Frontiers, with a decent budget and Mike (Buckcherry/Halestorm/Flyleaf) Plotnikoff at the production helm we can truly see what this band is made of.
That EP, “Alive” indicated a move away from your conventional symphonic rock toward a more industrialised style. Adding Ruiz’s guitar to that of band founder, David Bates has led to an album’s worth of densely constructed musical passages, perfect context for singer/pianist, Margaret Monet’s expressive, distinctly operatic tone.
Experiencing opener, ‘Fire’ (and it is an experience) is like listening to a provocatively tense thriller. We’re not really sure where it’s going, but Monet’s whisper-to-a-scream vocal keeps us on the edge of our seat, as it rushes for the finishing line’s climactic chorus. It’s a prime example of how to marry the classical and the modern, creating a concoction that sounds both eerily familiar and unsettlingly contemporary.
Second track, ‘Electrify’ goes yet another step further. Monet can easily push her voice into dark corners and scale significant heights unreachable by other vocalists. And so she and the band take us on a magic carpet ride, bringing together several ethnic musical influences, recalling Kamelot, the band whose song ‘Edge Of Paradise’ gave them them their name.
After only two tracks then, it’s clear that “Universe” is the work of a wiser, more worldly band with a point to prove. The effect is distinctly cumulative. However, beyond those two cracking openers, there are a handful of standout tracks here. On ‘Universe’, ‘Hollow’, and ‘Alone’ Bates and Plotnikoff ensure that the music stays the sensible side of elaborate, blending dark shades of electronica with slick slices of industrial strength metal. By its very nature, symphonic metal is bombastic, ornate, but they ensure that all the elements deployed here are whipped up into something that is theatrical and entertaining.
No wonder this band is attracting so much attention. ****
Review by Brian McGowan
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